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By Patrice Apodaca | October 26, 2013
An unlikely controversy has erupted in education regarding, of all things, cursive writing. The debate over cursive is reaching full throttle courtesy of the new Common Core State Standards and its top-to-bottom overhaul of K-12 curriculum, which is now beginning to be rolled out in our local schools. Cursive writing, while not expressly prohibited or discouraged, isn't included in the new standards. For now, California has opted to continue requiring cursive instruction, but many observers believe it's just a matter of time before that mandate becomes history.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | April 8, 2011
In the wee morning hours of Jan. 11, 1975, a police officer noticed smoke billowing from a block-long building on Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach. Firefighters were on the scene within three minutes, but it was already too late. The row of storefronts, which housed a cable company, a bank, a ski shop and other businesses, was engulfed in flames. Desperate to prevent the inferno from spreading, firefighters were stymied when they discovered that water pressure from nearby hydrants wasn't sufficient.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | September 28, 2013
Fall means football for most folks. But for me and many of my friends, autumn also marks the annual kickoff of another one of my favorite pastimes: league tennis. Here in Newport-Mesa, tennis is serious business. Blessed as we are with a climate that allows outdoor play year-round, and immersed in a culture that worships fitness and competition, it is almost obligatory to have a passing knowledge of the game. No one bats an eye at fellow shoppers or diners who haven't bothered to change out of their tennis clothes.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | March 29, 2011
Newport Beach has long had pretentions of being California's answer to the Cote d'Azur, with the wealth, waterfront living and that special something — that "je ne sais quoi" — of a Cannes or a St. Tropez. Some city officials are hoping to burnish that French Riviera feeling with their recent proposal to allow so-called mega-yachts into our harbor. These floating, pimped-out behemoths of 200 feet or more — like those found in the south of France — would bring more money and prestige to the community, boosters contend.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | April 29, 2011
I'm going to let you in on one of the best entertainment values in town: the Newport Beach Film Festival's Youth Film Showcase. The youth showcase, a regular feature of the festival since 2005, is a collection of short films made entirely by kids. High-school graduates need not apply. This year, the festival has selected 20 entries — out of about 125 submitted — that will screen at 6 p.m. Sunday at Triangle Square in Costa Mesa. Admission is free. I make a point of trying to attend the showcase every year, and it never fails to delight.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | June 14, 2013
"Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire. " - William Butler Yeats The end of the school year is upon us. Our brains are fried, we're exhausted from relentless term-ending activities and our kids checked out mentally weeks ago. When summer beckons, it's not usually the time when we ask ourselves the Big Questions that keep us awake at night. Still, before we flip the switch to full summer mode, it's worth taking a moment to consider the following: What is the purpose of education?
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | November 2, 2013
My son needed toadstools. In 20 minutes. We had just been through a hot, dry spell, and I had no idea where I'd find them, but extra credit in honors biology was on the line, so I put on my Super Mom cape and leapt to the rescue. I called Roger's Gardens and spoke to a nice employee who wasn't fazed a bit by my strange question. I was in luck. He had spotted some large toadstools on a patch of grass nearby. I grabbed some plastic bags, raced over, foraged enough mushrooms for my son and his classmates to share, hopped back in my car, and delivered them to school with a minute to spare.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | August 23, 2013
When I was young, I never dreamed about becoming a mother. I didn't fantasize about my wedding dress, choose my kids' names years before they were born, or spend time wondering how many babies I'd have or whether they'd be boys or girls. But when I did marry and have children, those decisions were the biggest and most important of my life, and I haven't for a second regretted my choices. Being a mother has been the making of me. In the more than 16 years since I've lived in Newport Beach, my kids have been the center of my universe, the primary force driving my social, work and travel schedules.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | October 1, 2011
I have interviewed politicians, chief executives, studio chiefs and celebrities. None of them has anything on PTA moms. In the nearly 15 years that I've lived in Newport Beach, I've been bowled over — OK, sometimes intimidated even — by these powerful women. Indeed, I've come to the conclusion that the world would be a much better place if PTA moms — the ones I know, anyway — were put in charge. They'd set the international debt crisis right, broker Middle East peace talks, solve homelessness in the morning and still have time for lunch and a nail appointment in the afternoon.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodca | October 18, 2013
The term "sandwich generation" has been around for a few decades, but the issue of caring for geriatric parents is gaining urgency as our population steadily ages. Increasingly, baby boomers and Gen-Xers find themselves caught between their responsibilities to their children and the needs of their elderly parents, all while hurtling toward their own impending dotage. It's an uncomfortable position, fraught with heartbreaking uncertainty and excruciating decisions complicated by the emotional baggage of family history.
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NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | May 3, 2014
Before you read any further, I must caution you: This column is about trigger warnings. Proceed at your own discretion. In case you haven't heard of them, trigger warnings are the latest controversy to infect the educational realm. These cautionary messages are similar to those you might see on the Internet and in other media that inform users of potentially distressing content. They first appeared on feminist websites to warn victims of sexual assault about information that might trigger post-traumatic stress disorder, and have since become more widely used.
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NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | April 26, 2014
If there's one conclusion that's easy to reach in the wake of recent school scandals it's that discipline is the most difficult, controversial, fraught-filled aspect of education. And considering that everything having to do with education is difficult, controversial and fraught-filled, that's saying a lot. We find parents, teachers, administrators, students and school board members battling among themselves, driven by competing agendas, varying vantage points and feelings of victimization.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | April 19, 2014
Every year around this time the Newport Beach Film Festival brings together open-minded audiences eager for interesting new material with aspiring filmmakers who want their labors of love to be seen and appreciated. Out of the entire weeklong festival, which begins Thursday, perhaps my favorite event is the Youth Film Showcase, which screens short films by moviemakers 18 years and younger. These films, like many of the young auteurs, can sometimes be a bit unpolished. But they are always a revelation.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | April 12, 2014
I've written frequently about the shift toward matching education with job-market demand, a trend that continues to gain momentum. Whether this change produces a winning record overall depends largely on the effectiveness of individual initiatives just now taking wing. One of the more intriguing of those experiments is a new California initiative to coordinate for the first time all 112 community colleges throughout the state in an attempt to better align curricula with the most sought-after skills.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | April 5, 2014
Frances Saldaña is a petite woman with a soft smile and big, kind eyes. But behind her gentle demeanor lies a will of iron that has proved essential to enduring a life of unimaginable tragedy. Saldaña generously shares her story with anyone willing to listen, an act of courage in itself. Yet her decision to speak out, while for the most part an attempt to marshal action against the scourge that has decimated her family, can also be seen as an act of self-preservation. It is perhaps the only truly effective means to keep grief from consuming her. The demon against which Saldaña fights is Huntington's disease, a devastating degenerative brain disorder that robs the ability to walk, talk and reason.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | March 29, 2014
It's no secret that significant changes are underway in education. But an easier-to-miss development is that these various paths to change, though often superficially unrelated, are converging on a central principle: Education must increasingly focus on real-world knowledge and skills. This shift from the esoteric to the practical, the ivory tower to the shop floor, is sometimes subtle, in other instances intentionally bold, and it has passionate supporters as well as critics. But in all cases it marks a profound rethinking of the nature and scope of our efforts to prepare students for the future.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | March 21, 2014
With the NCAA tournament underway, it's worth remembering that March Madness hasn't always been around to turn us into a nation of obsessed college basketball fans. Back in more provincial times, one man contributed as much as anyone to raising the profile of college hoops. But outside of the most knowledgeable basketball insiders, his role has largely gone overlooked. Perhaps that will change with the recent publication of "In the Shadow of a Legend," which chronicles the story of Jerry Norman, John Wooden's assistant coach during UCLA's first four championship seasons.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | March 14, 2014
An alarming trend is rapidly emerging, fed by a smoke screen of misinformation, clever marketing ploys and widespread ignorance. I'm referring to the growing use of electronic cigarettes by kids, a development that has health officials, educators and policy makers scrambling to catch up. One of their biggest tasks is to inform unwitting parents about the potential dangers of these insidious products and the possibility that their children might...
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | March 7, 2014
When Ellen DeGeneres staged a group selfie with Hollywood stars at the Academy Awards last week, it was widely heralded as a watershed moment. DeGeneres proudly announced that Twitter had momentarily crashed due to a record number of retweets of the image. The frenzied media coverage of the stunt ran from over-the-top praise for its brilliant melding of stodgy Old Hollywood with cutting-edge New Media to consternation over its calculated silliness. Either way, the general conclusion was that it marked a huge evolutionary step in our increasingly connected social-media world.
NEWS
By Patrice Apodaca | March 1, 2014
Since my dog lost his vision, I've listened to experts and consulted websites for advice about coping with a sightless pet. But aside from all the practical tips, I've learned that living with a blind dog is a lesson in patience, commitment and letting go of anxiety over carpet stains. It is, most of all, a lesson in love. I have no doubt that all you pet owners instantly recognize this kind of unconditional, unrestrained love. We cherish our animal friends, and take our responsibilities for their well-being as sacred and unshakable.
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