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San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra

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By Alena C. Gaede

Special to BVN

Carlo Ponti Conducts Sophia Loren attends

Hanging out with maestro - Mrs. Dotsie Bell (Rialto High School Teacher, retired) visits with conductor Carlo Ponti after his performance.
The California Theater for the Performing Arts was full to capacity on a warm evening in May. Patrons were treated to the imagination and innovative style of Maestro Carlo Ponti Jr. The conductor has enjoyed critical praise during his career as San Bernardino benefits from his presence.

In it's 79th season, the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra continues to lure top talent to it's program for the appreciation and enjoyment by the community. Maestro Ponti brings with him special attention, which he handles with grace, because he is the son of an international film icon, Sophia Loren. Ms. Loren was generous to patrons who wanted to greet her as she enjoyed the performance.

touch of class - The lovely Sophia Loren spends Saturday evening in San Bernardino watching her son (Carlo Ponti) conduct the San Bernardino Symphony.
The concert "Performance of the Masters"  included Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 4 in G Major and Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 3 in D Major. Piano soloist and featured artist Jungwon Jin played with marvelous energy as she brought Beethoven's piano concerto to life. Ms. Jin attended Julliard and the Manhattan School of Music.

Mr. Ponti was named the music director and principal conductor of the San Bernardino Symphony in 2001 and has signed on through the 2015 season. His talent is in great demand around the globe and we are fortunate to have him. Maestro Ponti won the prestigious Premio Galileo Award, one of Italy's highest honors. For the next seven years, Maestro Carlo Ponti Jr. can be savored and enjoyed by enthusiasts of fine music in Southern California.

County Education Medal Of Honor Winners Announced

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Six champions of public education - representing Chino Valley Unified, Colton Joint Unified, Redlands Unified and Silver Valley Unified, as well as the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools - were recognized with the 17th annual San Bernardino County Education Medal of Honor. Dr. Don Averill, chancellor of the San Bernardino Community College District and Janey Kozlowski, a former legislative analyst who spent 28 years with the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools were recipients of the 2008 Distinguished Service Award.

"These people represent all those in our schools, communities and businesses who are dedicated and committed to public education," County Superintendent Herbert Fischer said. "We celebrate our recipients for the vital role they fill with service to our schools and students."

The six categories, respective winners and districts served were: Volunteer in Action/Community Volunteer, Renee Kern and John Walsh, community volunteers for Redlands Unified School District; Volunteer in Action/Service Group, Rotary Club of Colton, Colton Joint Unified School District; Partners in Education/Small Business or Franchise, Cheryl Brown, co¬owner of the Black Voice News, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools; Partners in Education/Corporation, Chick-fil-A, Chino Valley Unified School District; Excellence in Education/Education Professional, Ernst Johnson, teacher, Silver Valley Unified School District; and Excellence in Education/Student Alumni, Larry Dodge, philanthropist, Redlands Unified.

Dr. Don Averill has spent 47 years in public education, the last eight as the chancellor of the San Bernardino Community College District. His ability to form effective partnerships among business, community and political leaders to benefit the academic pursuit of students has been one of the hallmarks of his educational career.

Back row (from left to right): Larry Dodge of Redlands Unified, John Walsh of Redlands Unified, Ernst Johnson of Silver Valley Unified, Don Averill of San Bernardino Community College District.

Like Averill, Kozlowski has made an impact on public education that extends far from the borders of San Bernardino County.

Serving as the staff to the San Bernardino County District Advocates for Better Schools (SANDABS) since its inception 20 years ago, Kozlowski was the glue that made discussions between educators and legislators stick together. As a recognized statewide leader on educational legislative issues, she provided a voice not only for San Bernardino County, but the entire region.

Volunteer in Action/Community Volunteers

As co-chairs of the bond committee to build a new high school in Redlands Unified School District, Renee Kern and John Walsh have left a lasting legacy for future students in the district.

"The successful passage of the Measure J Bond was due primarily to the tireless efforts of Renee and John," wrote Brad Mason, director of Human Resources for Redlands Unified, in his nomination of Kern and Walsh.

Despite facing some fiscally uncertain times, Kern and Walsh were beacons in the community to convince voters the value of supporting students with a new high school, which will be called Citrus Valley when it opens in 2009. The $65.5-million bond passed with 66.4 percent of the vote. "The school will stand for decades educating our community's youth and providing opportunities they need for a better life and much of the thanks goes out to two remarkable people, John Walsh and Renee Kern," Mason wrote.

Volunteer in Action/Service Group

Even though the Rotary Club of Colton has a small membership with 15 participants, it has made a big impact on the students of the Colton Joint Unified School District with its educational programs. The Rotary Club donates a dictionary to every third-grader in the district. That's more than 1,200 students at 18 different schools.

In the community, the club holds fundraisers like its annual pancake breakfast, golf tournaments and working a fireworks booth. It takes money earned from the fundraisers to finance a myriad of educational programs that benefit Colton Joint Unified students.

The group also provides funds for the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, a training program for youth leadership, citizenship and personal growth. It also takes part in the Personal Rotary Youth Development Experience, a leadership retreat for seventh-graders.

"The Rotary Club of Colton has contributed greatly to our children's education for many years and continues to do it with pride," wrote Cynthia Gonzales in her nomination of the group.

Partners in Education/Small Business or Franchise

Cheryl Brown, co-owner of The Black Voice News newspaper and its foundation, has brought history to life by organizing annual trips as part of the Footsteps to Freedom Underground Railroad tours.

"Her work in conducting the Footsteps to Freedom tours is a crowning achievement for public education in San Bernardino County," wrote Carolyn Tillman of County Schools in her nomination of Brown.

Having conducted 10 tours, Brown has taken more than 300 teachers, students and community members on the tours that start in Kentucky and trace the footsteps of the Underground Railroad all the way to Canada. The Underground Railroad provided escape routes for slaves between the 1830s through the end of the Civil War.

Participants in the tour said the events have been life-changing experiences. Brown has partnered with the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, as well as California State University, San Bernardino, and the Riverside County Office of Education, to arrange the tours.

Partners in Education/Corporation

When Chick-fil-A opened a restaurant in Chino Hills four years ago, it began providing sustenance to Chino Valley Unified students with educational programs that recognized achievement in the classroom.

Three programs Chick-fil-A has instituted have become popular with Chino Valley students. One, called Core Essentials, gives teachers and parents tools for enforcing key values like honesty, friendship, courtesy and compassion. All 24 of the districts elementary schools take part in the program.

Another program, Chick-fil-A Movers and Shakers, rewards character in secondary-level schools. The third program rewards students with perfect attendance for not missing a day of school during each semester. No matter what the event, the corporation's mascot, its costumed cow reminding people to eat more "chikin," has become a symbol for the restaurants popular involvement in educational activities.

"Chick-fil-A has created awareness for education in our area by continuing to be a sponsor of events to involve our schools, as well as our community members," wrote Edmond Heatley, superintendent of Chino Valley Unified, in his nomination.

Excellence in Education/Education Professional

Although his moniker for Silver Valley Unified is as a teacher, Ernst Johnson is seen as an institution by his students and among his peers. Johnson was one of the founding fathers of the district nearly three decades ago. As a teacher today of alternative education at Calico High School, Johnson has made a lifetime worth of impact on students throughout the school district.

"Mr. Johnson is an amazing collection of professional educational experience," wrote Calico Principal Jeff Baggett in his nomination of Johnson. "He has served astutely and successfully in a wide array of assignments from teacher to site principal."

To his students, Johnson is an icon who fuels their love for learning. His implementation of a computer learning program called Plato this year was done solely to advance individual student academic success. The computer learning program has been so successful in increasing student academic achievement, it is now used throughout the district.

"He has the ability to get students to reach desired outcomes," said fellow teacher Gunder Andreasen.

Excellence in Education/Student Alumni

Whether it's on the athletic fields or in the classroom, Larry Dodge and his family have made a profound impact on the lives of students in the Redlands Unified School District with an investment in a new stadium, as well as the AAA Academy program that benefits students district-wide.

In 2003, Dodge donated $5.5 million to build an on-site stadium and upgrade facilities at Redlands High School. The new construction also resulted in renovations and upgrades to all the sports fields on the Redlands campus. Dodge, who is a 1957 graduate of Redlands High, also provided the start-up funding for AAA Academy. It is a fee-based academic, arts and athletics enrichment program that provides instruction outside the traditional school day. Thousands of elementary, middle school and high school students have benefited from the program.

"His two acts of generosity will last for generations to come as students of the Redlands Unified School District benefit from the legacy of Larry Dodge, his wife Kristina, and their family," wrote Brad Mason, director of Human Resources for Redlands Unified, in his nomination of Dodge.

Fundraising Campaign Kicks off in Honor of National Foster Care Month

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Most parents are dream builders. They are responsible for designing the blueprints upon which their children begin to dream.  By desiring their children to become responsible, self-reliant, trustworthy, honest, capable, positive and self-confident, thousands of seeds are planted.   However, there is one seed reportedly proven, to be watered and nurtured by a parent throughout a child's life. That seed is self-esteem.
Self-esteem is an amazing life-sustaining ingredient one needs to discover their self-worth and self-confidence in life. According to bestselling author, Dr. Nathaniel Branden, how we feel about ourselves crucially affects virtually every aspect of our lives. The process begins in childhood.  So the question is?  What happens to one's dreams or self-worth, when one has no parents or parental guidance as a child? In many cases, they tragically dry up and fly away. They die and/or become buried. Over the years, finding value in one's life becomes a problem and self-worth turns into feeling inferior and blaming others. It's a roller coast ride staying in the game of life to survive.
This is the plight of a children living in California's orphanages-politically known as residential treatment facilities or group homes. Therefore, this is the plight of a child waiting to be adopted or for a loving foster family to call their own. In California, there are nearly 79,000 children living in the foster care system.   

Mayor Grace Vargas joins restaurant manager Bobby Tsigkounis and Lea Cash for Fundraising kick off.
In these facilities and group homes there are multiple tools designed to deal with behavioral problems, broken hearts and downright defiance.  However, to a large degree there is no fundamental programming designed to encourage the single endeavor of building self-esteem in children who have been tragically abused, neglected and abandoned.
BVN columnist, Lea Cash has started a non-profit organization named "The Brightest Star" to address that need in children living in these facilities. For two years, with the help of some special celebrity friends, Cash has been working together with educators, administrators, counselors and mental health professionals to inspire these kids.  She has continually invited those of celebrated status in the fields of art, television, music, sports, politics, motion picture, radio, theatre, media, education, community service, and entrepreneurialship to empower, motivate and encourage the youth to build dreams and dream big. 

In honor of National Foster Care Month, The Brightest Star, Inc is having a fundraiser hosted by restaurants: George's Burgers located at 605 S. Riverside Ave., and Johnny Shrimp Boat located at 334 S. Riverside Ave. Both restaurants are in Rialto. Customers are invited to purchase a "Star" for $1.00.  All proceeds will assist in building dreams and self-esteem for abused and abandoned children.  
Cash said, "I have always believed that children in America's foster care system, if given the chance to understand the power of having a dream, can and will set goals they can achieve. These children are facing a wide range of emotional issues and life changing challenges... and often their self-worth is none.  Coupled with anger and depression that causes aggressive behaviors, these kids' ability to dream and believe that their life is of value is gone.  And these are the kids leaving the foster care system at age 18, feeling lost, hopeless and alone."
If you would like to make a donation, please visit the website www.thebrighteststar.org or stop by one of the two hosting restaurants and purchase a star.

SB Links, Inc. Host Annual Breakfast Ball

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On Saturday, May 10, 2008 the San Bernardino Valley Chapter of the Links, Incorporated held their 30th Annual Breakfast Ball at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario. The program recognized the accomplishments of seven talented and accomplished young students in the Inland Empire by awarding $10,000 in scholarships.

Members of the San Bernardino Valley Chapter of The Links, Inc.

The Links, Inc. 30th Annual Breakfast Ball presented scholarships to seven college bound students: Chelsea Beam, Deanna Carte, Jesaka Davitt, Blayze Evans, Byron Gardner and twins, Danyelle and Michelle McNeary who were all chosen for their academic excellence, talent and accomplishments. 

This stellar event had a touch of elegance as The Links' ladies showed off their gorgeous gowns.  Amongst the crowd was Congressman Joe Baca, 43rd District who after making a generous personal donation, took to the dance floor surrounded by several beautiful ladies who graciously and patiently taught him the "electric slide".  He was most definitely a hit at the Ball.  There is no doubt that the Congressman acquired an added list of supporters and possibly a dance partner or two.  In keeping with their motto "Seizing the opportunity to provide world class Leadership, Friendship, and Service", The Links, Inc. provided $9,250 in scholarships to its awardees.  For seven young visionaries, this Breakfast Ball was a dream come true. 

Scholarship Recipients: (front l-r) Deanna Carter, Michelle McNeary, Danyelle McNeary. (Back l-3): Bryan Gardner, Chelsea Beam, Lynne Kennedy (President), Rhea McIver (Scholarship Chair), Cynthia Terry (Mistress of Ceremony), Jesaka Davitt, Blayze Evans.
President of the local Links chapter, Lynne B. Kennedy, Ph.D. and chapter members, donned in elegant white formal gowns, greeted over 300 guests, and later danced to the music of Jett Black during the early morning event.

The San Bernardino Valley Chapter was chartered in 1979, and is proud to serve San Bernardino and Riverside counties through programs and services focused on youth, the elderly and others in need.

WCBPA Meet In Pasadena

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The West Coast Black Publishers Association held their quarterly meeting at the Pasadena Hilton on April 10, 2008. The organization is composed of 24 African American newspaper publishers from six western states including Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon and Washington and was organized in 1971 to bring Black publishers together at a time when they were excluded from other newspaper organizations.

Herb Hudson, founder of the popular restaurant chain, Roscoe's Chicken ‘N Waffles, spoke on the trials of getting his company off the ground. Hudson highlighted the launching of his national campaign for Pit Bull energy drink and Pit Bull energy bars. The drink is the brainchild of Hudson's Hip Hop Beverage Company and has developed a sugar free product which is safe for diabetics. It is the only Black-owned beverage production company in the nation.

Guests and publishers of West Coast Black Publishers Association, from L-R, are Willie Brown, Joe C. Hopkins, Peggy Hunt, Gloria Kennedy, Herb Hudson, Paulette Brown Hinds, Cloves Campbell, Jr., Deanna Michaux, Ruth Hopkins, Dee Slade, and Ellen Coley.

WCBPA will celebrate 37 years at its 25th Annual Conference scheduled for Las Vegas, Nevada in October, 2008. It is a trade association with a mission of advancing the cause of the Black Press in the western United States and to provide regional and national corporate advertisers with a vehicle for the effective marketing of their products and services to the Black community.

Member papers include the Riverside Black Voice, Precinct Reporter, Tri-County Bulletin, The Los Angeles Sentinel, Los Angeles Watts Times, The Bakersfield News Observer, Arizona Informant, California Advocate, Tri County Sentry, The Sun Reporter, Herald Dispatch, The Facts, Seattle Medium, Tacoma True Citizen, Post News Group, The Skanner Portland, The Skanner Seattle, Sacramento Observer, Las Vegas Sentinel Voice, San Diego Voice and Viewpoint, The Globe Newspaper Group, Inglewood Today, San Francisco Bay View, Portland Observer, Denver Weekly, and The Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley Journal.

Officers are President Joe C. Hopkins, Pasadena San Gabriel Valley Journal; 2nd Vice President Cloves Campbell Jr., Arizona Informant; Secretary Eleanor Boswell Raine, Globe Newspaper Group; and Treasurer Hardy Brown, Riverside Black Voice News. 

Advertisers may utilize the opportunity to participate in this year's conference, and sponsors can assist the organization in accomplishing their goals through the annual conference. Those interested are invited to contact the offices of Alescia Buford, Public Relations representative for the group at 818.995.6545. Events planned for the conference include trade industry workshops, Youth Day, Black Church/Black Press Day, and an Awards Banquet.

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