July 13th -- A Visit to the Principal's Office
A major part of every Kiwanis meeting is the guest speaker, so when a guest speaker is so relevant to our local community, it’s not surprising to see our room full of guests! Today we welcomed some new and familiar faces, including Allied Gardens Historian Edie Odierno, Chris and Gay Holbrook representing Grocery Outlet, and a return visit by Paul Girard of Pacific Coast Harmony. (Sadly, Paul didn’t bring the rest of the quartet with him, so there would be no barbershop entertainment for us today!) First-time visitors included Jennifer Gama, a local kindergarten teacher, and Jeanette Reinig, PTA President of St. Therese Academy in Del Cerro.
We also had an Interclub from the Kearny Mesa Kiwanis Club, including Division 21 Lt. Governor-Elect Doug Beckham, Mary Bostwick, and Al Demorest. And, of course, with their principal as the meeting’s main attraction, PHHS Key Clubbers Hafsah Alzamari, President Bill Huynh, Brandon Huynh, Ryan Lieng, and recent graduate Lisa Nguyen all joined us for breakfast. We even had our Division 21 Key Club Lieutenant Governor, Vy Nguyen of Serra High School, come and visit for the day. Welcome!
Edie Odierno, a longtime friend of the club, started things off by telling us the story of her brother, Don “Smitty” Smith, a past President of the Clairemont Hills Kiwanis Club who passed away almost a year ago. Smitty was a dedicated volunteer who gave a lot of his time to the Clairemont High School Key Club. His legacy will be permanently honored with a memorial plaque on a park bench in his adopted neighborhood of Clairemont.
Songmaster Gary Blume turned up the karaoke machine and led us in a tribute to Tom Jones, with big hits like “What’s New, Pussycat?” and “It’s Not Unusual.” Gary certainly gave it his best effort!
We received some big news about our pal Jay Wilson, a dedicated volunteer and the first-ever Executive Director of Mission Trails Regional Park. Jay will be officially retiring on August 11th of this year! Congratulations, Jay!
We also heard the exciting news that our local Allied Gardens Little League 8-10 year old All Stars have won the San Diego sectional tournament and will be traveling to Palmdale, California to compete for the state championship on July 27th. The league is hoping to raise funds for travel expenses, since they have players, coaches, and parents in tow! An account has been established at GoFundMe.com for anyone interested in donating online to help these young champions!
Upcoming events include the upcoming Passport to Life event at City College on August 18th, the Grocery Outlet grand opening celebration on August 3rd, and the Kaiser Kids beach picnic for pediatric oncology patients and their families on July 22nd at Mission Bay. These are all wonderful opportunities for our members to get out and serve the community – that’s what Kiwanis is all about!
Today’s featured Kiwanian of the Day is Valerie Crawford, an English teacher at Patrick Henry High School. Valerie has been involved in the Kiwanis Family since she was a Builders Club member in the 7th grade, and she continues to inspire young leaders as the faculty advisor to our Key Club at Patrick Henry. Valerie quizzed us on some facts about the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), which includes Patrick Henry and many other public schools in our area. SDUSD is actually the second largest school district in California, but it all started 163 years ago in a rented facility! The school district was founded in 1854, and has grown to include 226 different educational facilities today.
SDUSD is led by Superintendent Cindi Marten and five voting board members, each elected by the public to four-year terms. With an annual operating budget of one billion dollars, SDUSD includes 13,559 paid employees and over 131,000 students. We heard about some amazing figures – more than 59 percent of those students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches each day . Eleven percent of the student body are designated as “special needs” students, while another 4 percent are considered homeless. Surprisingly, only seven percent of public school students in the district come from military households. Currently, SDUSD maintains a high school graduation rate of 91.2 percent, but locally at Patrick Henry, that rate jumps to an impressive 98 percent! Our Kiwanis Club is proud to be partners with such a successful school!
Valerie then introduced her school principal, Elizabeth “Listy” Gillingham, as our special guest speaker today, who then described some ambitious new changes that will literally change the way people see the school.
In terms of real estate, Patrick Henry High School has a small footprint and little room for growth, forcing administrators and the school district to find creative solutions to modern problems. Principal Gillingham illustrated a four-phase plan that will give the campus a 21st century appearance on the outside, and a professional learning atmosphere on the inside.
Phase One of the project is already complete. The development and construction of the new PHAME building gives the school an attractive new centerpiece and a state-of-the-art facility for the performing arts. This first stage of renovations also improved lighting, Internet connectivity, and air conditioning for some of the original buildings on campus.
The second phase of the project is in progress this summer, with students out of school. Entire sections of the main office building are being ripped down and replaced with open areas to enhance department planning and communication among the school’s faculty. The Maria Theodore Memorial Rose Garden and the often-vandalized Patriot statue from the school’s front façade have been removed and will be replaced appropriately. Greeting students upon their return to campus this fall will be a brand-new entrance plaza, keeping in line with the modern look of a newly-constructed high school. A new language arts and mathematics building is now being constructed on the south side of campus, giving students a greater opportunity for international understanding.
Phase Three of construction turns to the school’s athletic facilities, which will be brought into compliance with ADA requirements. The aging football stadium will be modernized to include a new snack bar, scoreboard, bathrooms, press room, and field access. Baseball and softball improvements will follow, and eventually there will even be a school swimming pool!
Finally, solar panels will be installed into the parking lots and other areas of campus to help improve energy efficiency for the 21st century.
Principal Gillingham gives us every reason to believe that the future is bright at Patrick Henry!
Artist's conception of the new main entrance plaza to be completed soon at Patrick Henry High School
Artist's conception of the new PHHS mathematics and language building under construction today.
Kiwanis member Valerie Crawford, PHHS Principal Listy Gillingham, and six of our local Key Club volunteers!
PHHS Principal Elizabeth "Listy" Gillingham alongside G.A.G. Kiwanis President (and Patrick Henry alum) Kathy Wiskur