Rock, comedy and Broadway: La Mirada Theatre releases 2018-19 schedule

LA MIRADA — La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts has announced its 2018-19 calendar of special events, packed with performances by Paul Anka, Lee Ann Womack, the Blues Brothers, and more.

Below is the full schedule, which kicks off next month.


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Lee Ann Womack
Saturday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m.
$35-$60

Lee Ann Womack was born August 19, 1966 in Jacksonville, Texas. Her debut album, Lee Ann Womack, was released in 1997. The next year she was back in the spotlight with Some Things I Know. Her next effort, I Hope You Dance (2000), became her biggest success so far. Something Worth Leaving Behind (2002) was less successful. In 2005 she came back victorious with a return to traditional country music.




The Simon & Garfunkel Story
Thursday, Oct. 11, 7:30 pm
$35-$55

‘The Simon and Garfunkel Story’ is a critically acclaimed concert style theatre show about two young boys from Queens, New York who went on to become the world’s most successful music duo of all time. Using state of the art video projection, incredible lighting and a full live band ‘The Simon & Garfunkel Story’ is a moving and powerful concert featuring all the hits such as ‘Mrs Robinson’, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, ‘Homeward Bound’, ‘Scarborough Fair’, ‘The Boxer’, ‘The Sound Of Silence’ and many more.


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Paul Anka
Nov. 16-17, 8 pm
$55-$180

One of the biggest classic pop performers, Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Anka moved from teen heartthrob to adult artist with a slew of hits. "Diana" sold millions of copies and set him up as a top teen idol with prolific songwriting abilities. He then appeared in several films, headlined a Vegas act, hosted TV variety shows and wrote hits for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones. He rose to the top of the charts again with the 1974 duet "You're Having My Baby."

In this show, Anka honors Frank Sinatra by performing all his hits.


A Carpenters Christmas
Saturday, Nov. 24, 8 pm
$15-$44

Based on The Carpenters’ beloved holiday albums and Christmas variety shows, “A Carpenters Christmas” features “Merry Christmas, Darling,” the jazzy “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and all the hits.

Lisa Rock and her six-piece band keep The Carpenters’ holiday traditions alive.


The Ten Tenors
Saturday, Dec. 1, 8 pm
$45-$65

Join Australia’s rock stars of the opera The Ten Tenors as they amaze and enthral with their unique selection of traditional and contemporary seasonal favourites. With soaring versions of Joy to the World, White Christmas, Amazing Grace, Winter Wonderland, Feliz Navidad and more.


The Young Americans
Dec. 6-16
$25-$65

The Young Americans transform the La Mirada Theatre into a winter wonderland, bringing holiday cheer to theatre-goers of all ages.

Featuring a cast of 250, the theater comes to life with 45-ft. digital screens, over 6,000 costumes, 30 festive scene changes, and even snow. There are also dancing Santas, toe-tapping penguins, The Nutcracker Suite, and your favorite Christmas songs.


The Nutcracker
Saturday, Dec. 22, 2 pm and 7:30 pm
$25

The beloved holiday classic comes to life in the acclaimed production from Santa Barbara’s State STreet Ballet. The majestic sounds of Tchaikovsky’s legendary score are matched by colorful sets and costumes.

Join young Clara on a magical adventure with her Nutcracker Prince, as she travels through the Land of the Snowflakes to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Kingdom of Sweets.


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Back to the 80s Weekend: Berlin featuring Terri Nunn
Friday, Feb. 8, 8 pm
$10-$52

One of the greatest synth electro-pop bands of all time, Berlin made its first national impression with the provocative single “Sex (I’m A…)” from the gold-selling debut EP “Pleasure Victim” in 1982.

Berlin topped the charts in 1986 with the single “Take My Breath Away,” the love theme from the Tom Cruise movie “Top Gun.”




The Princess Bride Quote-Along
Saturday, Feb. 9, 8 pm
$15-$18

A special screening of one of the most beloved romantic comedy adventures of all time. It’s an interactive experience with the beautiful Buttercup and “as you wish” Westley as they face kidnapping, sword duels, R.O.U.S. (rodents of unusual size) and more.

Costumes are encouraged for this quote-along screening, which comes with a fun pack of props and pre-show excitement including costume contests, trivia, and recitations of “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!”





Moana Sing-Along
Sunday, Feb. 10, 2 pm
$15-$18

The epic journey continues for “Moana” fans with Disney’s sing-along version of the hit comedy adventure. With all the lyrics on screen, experience the joy of singing along to the songs you already love in the company of other delighted, enthusiastic fans.

Free goodie bags are included, and come dressed up for a costume contest.





O Sole Trio - From Pavarotti to Pop
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2 pm
$10-$20

Songs made famous by legendary singers Enrico Caruso, Louis Prima, Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis and Andrea Bocelli are given new life by combining virtuosic musical feats with the engaging program of well-known classics. It’s fast-paced, funny and touching, with two stellar voices and one commanding accompanist.

Enjoy an afternoon performance that takes you on a musical journey, revealing how Italian Americans influenced popular music throughout the decades. From humorous storytelling to their innovative and unique arrangements, this trio of artists is incredible fun and a true tour de force.



Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus
Thursday, Feb. 14, 8 pm
$10-$44

A Valentine’s Day date night special. This hit comedy is a one-man fusion of theatre and stand-up based on the New York Times No. 1 best-selling book.

Moving swiftly through a series of vignettes, the show covers everything from dating and marriage to the bedroom. Sexy and fast-paced, the show is definitely for adults.






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The Choir of Man
Friday, Feb. 15, 8 pm
$20-$39

The runaway hit of numerous international music festivals is hitting the road for its first U.S. tour. Known across the globe as “the ultimate feel-good show”, The Choir of Man offers up 90 minutes of part party, part concert, with foot-stomping choreography, high-energy dance, and live percussion.

The cast of nine men sings everything from pub tunes, folk, Broadway and classic rock.





Luis Bravo’s Forever Tango
Saturday, Feb. 16, 8 pm
$20-$42

This long-running Broadway smash features 14 world-class tango dancers, one vocalist and an on-stage 11-piece orchestra that celebrates the passionate music and dance of Argentina.

“Tango is passionate, it’s melancholic. It’s tender, violent,” says creator Luis Bravo. “More than just a dance, the tango is music, a drama, a culture, a way of life.”



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The Clairvoyants
Friday, Feb. 22, 8 pm
$30-$50

Thommy Ten and Amelie Van Tass, collectively known as The Clairvoyants, were 2016 finalists on “America’s Got Talent,” chosen from more than 100,000 contestants.

They first leapt to fame when they were offered a featured spot in “The Illusionists,” the largest touring magic show in the world, which took them to Australia, Mexico and the Middle East. Since then, they’ve lit up Broadway, were awarded the “German Champions of Mentalism,” and “Magicians of the Year.”




The Magic Theatre
Saturday, Feb. 23, 7 pm and 9 pm
$45

Five of the top magicians in the world -- all of whom have triumphed at the unparalleled Magic Castle -- will transform the La Mirada Theatre into the Magic Theatre for one night only.

Every space will become a private room featuring close-up magic, including lobbies, backstage, onstage, and even the bar.

Never attempted anywhere else, this night out will have only two showings limited to just 125 patrons each.




Mystic India: The World Tour
Sunday, March 10, 3 pm
$15-$59

The internationally-acclaimed Bollywood dance spectacular is inspired by ancient India’s transition into modern India.

Lavishly produced and featuring renowned musicians, brilliant dancers, aerialists and acrobats, and over 750 opulent costumes, the show is a fusion of dance, theater, and special effects.




Corazon de Mana - A Tribute to Mana
Friday, March 15, 8 pm
$15-$38

Corazon de Mana is a tribute comprised of five fans of the beloved Mexican rock band Mana. It’s a celebration of all their hits, including “El Verdadero Amor Perdona,” “Oye Mi Amor,” “Labios Compartidos,” “Como Te Deseo” and the breakout smash, “Rayando El Sol.”

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Paul Reiser
Saturday, March 16, 8 pm
$35-$55

Paul Reiser, known for co-creating and starring in the hit sitcom “Mad About You,” brings a comic view to his tales of love, life and the funny things about relationships.

A seasoned actor, writer, stand-up comedian and musician, Reiser has spent the last 30-plus years acting in Oscar and Emmy Award winning movies and TV shows, most recently Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”

Along with roles in the hit films “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Diner,” “and “Aliens,” he’s written two No. 1 best-selling books: “Couplehood” and “Babyhood,” the latter featuring his trademark humorous take on the adventures of being a first-time father.




Glenn Miller Orchestra
Sunday, March 17, 2 pm
$15-$40

With its unique jazz sound, the Glenn Miller Orchestra is considered to be one of the greatest bands of all time. The present band was formed in 1956 and has been touring consistently ever since.




Turn the Page: Tributes to Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
Friday, March 22, 8 pm
$15-$34

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band provided the soundtrack to a generation. With 10 consecutive platinum albums between 1975 and 1995, the library of Seger’s beloved hits is nearly endless.




Blue Brothers Revue
Saturday, March 23, 8 pm
$15-$46

There are many imitators, but there is only one duo in North America sanctioned by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi to don the official hat and sunglasses and walk in the footsteps of Jake and Elwood Blues.

Discovered in Las Vegas, performers Wayne Catania and Kieron Lafferty capture the humor and unbridled spirit of the Blues Brothers.




Hamiltunes
Sunday, March 24, 2 pm and 7 pm
Free (must reserve online at lamiradatheatre.com)

Fans of the Broadway blockbuster “Hamilton” can let their collective voices ring out in this singalong, using tracks prepared by Lin-Manuel Miranda himself.

In addition to singing along from your seat, you can sing up to be one of the singers who leads songs from the stage. To be considered, visit LaMiradaTheatre.com. Singers are chosen at random and informed in advance. Costumes are encouraged.




Classic Albums Live: Damn the Torpedoes
Saturday, April 6, 8 pm
$25-$75

Classic Albums Live performs rock’s most influential albums live on stage. Featuring a roster of world class musicians, they will perform Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ 1979 album, “Damn the Torpedoes” in its entirety, followed by a set of greatest hits.




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Angela Ingersoll Sings Judy Garland
Saturday, April 13, 8 pm
$15-$45

Angela Ingersoll celebrates American icon Judy Garland, as seen on her current PBS television special. Ingersoll won acclaim for her portrayal of Garland in the hit production of “End of the Rainbow” last season.

In this live concert, Ingersoll captures Garland’s emotional and vocal power, and crafts stories with a naturally winning humor. Songs include the signature classics “Over the Rainbow,” “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “The Man That Got Away.”





Slapstick Sillies
Saturday, May 18, 1 pm
$9

Slapstick Sillies is a series of wild comedy shows, appropriate for all audiences. Highlights include live, composed-on-the-spot musical scores by pianist/historian Ben Model and a performance of Buster Keaton’s “Sherlock.”






An Evening with James Barbour
Saturday, May 18, 8 pm
$15-$48

Fresh from his Broadway run as “The Phantom of the Opera,” James Barbour takes the audience on a song-filled journey of show tune classics and pop hits that highlight his award-winning performance style.





Aspen Santa Fe Ballet
Friday, May 24, 8 pm
$32.50

Showcasing a European sensibility glossed with American ebullience, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s unique brand of contemporary ballet have fostered a jewel of a dance company in the American West. Entering its third decade, the company maintains its focus on commissioned works and compelling, innovative dance.





Randal Keith in The Music of Robert Goulet
Wednesday, June 26, 2 pm
$20

With movie star good lucks and one of the most beautiful baritone voices of all time, Robert Goulet’s rise to fame was instantaneous with his Broadway debut in “Camelot.” Soon, he was starring in films and on television and producing award-winning albums.





Kenny Metcalf as Elton: The Early Years
Saturday, June 29, 8 pm
$10-$35

Kenny Metcalf is a superstar performer -- and a La Mirada native. His show was featured twice on “The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands,” launching him as a national touring act. It’s an on-your-feet night of nostalgia, with all of Elton’s hits of the 70s and 80s, compete with all the glam and bling.





Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
Sunday, June 30, 2 pm
$10-$27

This program offers a stirring look at George Cohan’s life and music, including “Give My Regards to Broadway,” “H-a-rr-i-gan,” “The Yankee Doodle Boy” and all his other hits. As a special treat, Cohan’s great-granddaughter will be in attendance for a rare talk-back.

All events are the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Tickets can be purchased online at LaMiradaTheatre.com or by calling the box office at (562) 944-9801.

Shared Stories: Our Little Douglas Fir

There are so many themes in this story by Kacie Cooper – a mother and daughter road trip, a turning point, a fresh start, and a simpler time. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns

By Kathy “Kacie” Cooper

Back in 1973, while my mother was searching for an escape route to divorcing my father after 28 years of marriage, I was searching for a way to get my boyfriend of three and a half years to commit to marriage.


She and I were directed in our paths, unknowingly, when my mother was called back to her hometown of Provo, Utah. Who says you can never go home again? Sometimes one must go back to their roots to reclaim their lives and start anew.


My mama Jeri’s father Benny had just died, so we would be taking him back to his hometown in Utah to bury him.


Three days later, Mom and I hopped on a Greyhound bus, carrying only two suitcases apiece, and set out for the 700-mile trip. We knew we were going to Provo, but we were oblivious as to where our lives would head after the funeral.


Grandpa Benny’s funeral was lovely, as funerals go. Luckily, we were invited to stay with Keith and Shirley Jacobson for a few weeks. They were childhood friends of my parents.


During that time my mother never brought up the idea of divorce. I never spoke of my wanting an ultimatum from my guy. Instinctively I guess we just knew what needed to be done.


Within weeks we both got a job together working at Signetics, an electronics company located in Orem, making a whopping $2.00/hour. Soon we found the cutest little one-bedroom apartment for the outrageous amount of $90 a month. We split the rent. The apartment was fully furnished. We didn’t have to buy even one piece of furniture.


It was Christmas Eve in Provo and the air was fresh and crisp and freezing. But we bundled up accordingly. The coldness was something I had never experienced in sunny California. I loved it. I never felt so alive.


From the sweet smile on my mother’s face, she looked like she had just returned to her roots. She was home.


Since we didn’t have a car yet, we decided to walk the six blocks down the street from our apartment to where the tree lot was located. Families were laughing and tying Christmas trees on top of their cars, happily throwing snowballs at each other. We saw all these huge 8- and 9-foot trees, some flocked, some green.


“Well, we can’t carry them home. They’re too big,” I told Mom. Then it suddenly began to snow and we decided we’d have to choose a smaller one quickly.


Then we saw it – our Christmas tree. It was standing there all alone, away from all the other larger trees as if it were being punished for its short height.


“How rude,” I thought. But it looked like it was ready for a new environment – like we had been. It looked so lonely. But it looked the loveliest to my mother.


I quickly paid the man and while the snow kept falling even faster, together we carried this cute, pudgy little 4-foot Douglas fir tree back to our little castle.


We entered the front door with the tree in our arms as if it were a baby coming into its new home. It smelled like the woods, it smelled like heaven. It was fresh and full of life. It was made by God. It was the only thing we would actually own in our little furnished apartment.


As I heated up the hot chocolate, Mother sprinkled her favorite silver tinsel onto our 4-foot Douglas fir. It was fun watching her decorate the tree. It felt as though she were throwing magic fairy dust onto our lives.


After stringing the white lights around the tree and plugging them in, we opened the drapes behind our Douglas fir. Instantly we were transformed into a magical new world.


In front of us was a huge, fenced-in yard with two of the most beautiful Palomino horses – my favorite, gold-colored horse. Beyond the horses, in the distance, our eyes caught sight of those beautiful, moonlit, snow-covered Utah mountains that actually illuminated our sweet little 4-foot Douglas fir.


It was an omen. Things began to happen quickly after Christmas. My mother sadly received the divorce papers. Days after listening and crying to sad Patsy Cline records, she finally signed them. Also, my boyfriend agreed to get married in June of the following year. Thus, our new lives would finally begin.


I have been living in my home in California for decades now. And you could say that I am living in a very fully-furnished home– too many material things. I don’t need all this stuff.


Then I think back to 1973 when the only thing Mom and I owned was a cute little God-made, 4-foot Douglas fir. It was really all I needed – a wonderful, 4-foot Douglas fir and an even more beautiful, God-made mother. Life was so simple, but amazing, back then.

Tickets on sale for State of the Schools breakfast

DOWNEY – Downey Unified superintendent Dr. John Garcia will host the school district’s sixth annual State of the Schools, taking place Friday, Oct. 5, at the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s west conference center.


The breakfast begins at 7 a.m. and is scheduled to end at approximately 9 a.m.


Breakfast will be served as attendees listen to keynote speakers share the district’s achievements and strategic direction. This event will also enlighten guests about the major programs being implemented throughout the district, while serving as an opportunity to meet the school district’s Board of Education members and staff.


All proceeds will go to TLC Family Resource Center, which partners with more than 50 agencies dedicated to providing support to children and families. These services include providing the help needed by parents to become better participants in our schools and the community.


TLC also ensures that each referred student receives the physical and emotional support they need.


Last year’s State of the Schools was a sold out event, with 350 guests in attendance and over $5,000 in proceeds benefiting TLC.


Downey Unified invites the community to attend this year’s informative event; tickets will be via presale only and are $35 per person. Tables of eight and sponsorships are also available for organizations or individuals. This event is tax deductible.


To reserve your seat for the sixth annual State of the Schools or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Ashley Greaney at (562) 469-6513 or email agreaney@dusd.net. The final day to reserve your seat or a sponsorship for this event is Sept. 27.

Downey beats San Pedro despite being without starting quarterback

DOWNEY – The Downey High School football team traveled to San Pedro last Friday night and defeated the Pirates, 52-21.


The Vikings played without starting quarterback Kijjon Foots and still came away from the contest with a decisive 31-point win. Downey will travel to Alemany of Mission Hills later today to face a 3-1 Warrior team.


The Vikings jumped out to a commanding 19-0 lead as the first quarter came to an end. Downey outscored the Pirates 8-7 in the second quarter and led 27-7 going into the locker room at halftime.


It was more of the same in the third quarter as Downey outscored San Pedro 19-7 and took a commanding 46-14 lead into the fourth quarter. The Pirates outscored the Vikings 7-6 in the final quarter but Downey had already sealed the win.


Viking quarterback Pedro De and a completed 10/15 pass attempts for 82 yards. The Viking rushing attack accumulated 444 yards on 38 carries. Malcom Perry led that Viking ground game with 17 carries for 247 yards and three touchdowns.


Alex Cortez had 10 carries for 93 yards and three touchdowns, Isaiah Burton had one carry for 12 yards and a touchdown and freshman Antonio Ruiz had seven carries for 49 yards.


The Viking receiving corps were led by Lawrence Joseph’s five catches for 43 yards, Danny Ruiz’s four catches for 32 yards and Brenden Hodge’s two catches for 35 yards.


The Viking defense was led by Anthony Lopez’s 10 solo and three assisted tackles, Danny Ruiz’s five solo and three assisted tackles, Isaiah Burton’s five solo and three assisted tackles, Justin Cardenas’ three solo and five assisted tackles and Vincent Willis’ three solo and three assisted tackles.

WARREN FOOTBALL: The Warren High School football team suffered their first defeat of the season last Friday night at Culver City, 34-28.


With the win, the Centaurs improved to 3-0 and with the loss the Bears fell to 2-1. Warren will travel to Mayfair later today to play the 3-1 Monsoons. Mayfair is coming off a 55-7 loss against Santa Margarita at Trabuco Hills last Friday night.


In the Warren/Culver City game the Centaurs led 7-6 at the end of the first quarter. The Bears answered right back in the second quarter and outscored Culver City, 14-7. Warren took that 20-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.


The Centaurs scored the only touchdown and extra point of the third quarter and took the lead back at 21-20. Culver City outscored Warren 13-8 in the fourth quarter and held on for the hard fought, 34-28 win.


Warren quarterback Chris Venegas completed 20/34 pass attempts for 230 yards and three touchdowns. Venegas had an impressive quarterback rating of 108.7.


The Bear ground game accumulated 140 yards on 37 carries, an average of less than four yards per carry, with one touchdown while the Bear receiving corps had 20 receptions for 230 yards.


The Bear defense allowed 555 yards of total offense to the Centaurs. Culver City accumulated 332 yards on the ground and 223 yards through the air.


The Bears need to tighten up their run defense in order to defeat Mayfair tonight.

WARREN CROSS COUNTRY: The Warren High School boys’ cross country team competed in the Laguna Hills Invitational last Saturday morning, finishing in seventh place overall with a team time of 1:22:34.5.


Santa Ana finished first in a team time of 1:20:43.1, J Serra finished second in a team time of 1:21:01.9, Murrieta Mesa finished third in a team time of 1:21:36.4, Aliso Niguel finished fourth in a team time of 1:21:56.9 and Mira Costa finished fifth in a team time of 1:22:11.6.


To round out the top ten team finishers, Capo Valley finished sixth in a team time of 1:22:29.3, Warren finished seventh in a team time of 1:22:34.5, San Clemente finished eighth in a team time of 1:23:04.0, Vista Murrieta finished ninth in a team time of 1:23:24.8 and Corona Del Mar finished tenth in a team time of 1:23:25.2. There were over 50 schools competing in Laguna Hills last Saturday.


Warren’s Fabian Gomez finished 16th overall and was the first Bear to finish in a time of 16:10.8. Owen Franco finished second for the Bears and was 24th overall in a time of 16:21.0. Antonio Munoz finished third for the Bears and was 35th overall in a time of 16:32.7.


Warren’s Alex Guardado finished fourth for the Bears and was 36th overall in a time of 16:33.2. Gerardo Rubio finished fifth for the Bears and was 88th overall in a time of 16:56.8 and Andres Serna finished sixth for the Bears and was 95th overall in a time of 17:00.5.


Warren has been working hard this summer in preparation for their fall cross country schedule. Head coach Ramon Miranda, assistant coach Eduardo Rodriguez and their Bear runners are looking forward to the cross-country running season and the San Gabriel Valley League cluster meet schedule.

MIDDLE SCHOOLS: The first rotation of middle school sports has begun. Football and girls’ volleyball is currently in season and the first games of the 2018-19 school year were played on Monday.


There are six teams currently competing. Three grade level girls’ volleyball teams and three grade level football teams. Griffiths traveled to Stauffer and Doty traveled to Sussman.


At Stauffer, the Spartans 8th grade football team defeated the Indians 7-6, the Spartans 7th grade football team defeated the Indians 14-7 and the Spartans 6th grade football team defeated the Indians 8-0. In girls’ volleyball, the Lady Indians 8th grade team defeated the Lady Spartans 25-11 and 25-9, the Lady Spartans 7th grade team defeated the Lady Indians 25-19 and 25-21 and the 6th grade Lady Indians defeated the Lady Spartans 25-19 and 25-15.


At Sussman, the Knights 8th grade football defeated the Pioneers 14-0, the Knights 7th grade football team defeated the Pioneers 6-0 and the Knights 6th grade football team defeated the Pioneers 7-0. In girls’ volleyball, the Lady Knights 8th grade team defeated the Lady Pioneers 19-21, 21-16 and 15-7, the Lady Knights 7th grade team defeated the Lady Pioneers 21-10 and 21-11 and the Lady Pioneers 6th grade team defeated the Lady Knights 21-18, 14-21 and 15-11.


Wednesday games and matches saw Stauffer travel to Sussman and Griffiths travel to Doty (results unavailable at press time). Coaches and players are all looking forward to competitive games, matches and meets.


All schools are looking to claim the Champions Cup Trophy. Doty has held the Champions Cup Trophy for the last five years and look to defend it again this year.

Shared Stories: My own best medical advocate

Mary Nieraeth contended with periodic epileptic seizures in childhood, and episodes reappeared under the stress of being a full-time working mother and wife.  She urges everyone to be actively involved in their own medical treatment.  Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program.  Curated by Carol Kearns

By Mary Nieraeth
Ready for summer vacation, my parents, two younger sisters and I packed into our 1960’s Chevrolet station wagon. Headed about 400 miles from Illinois to Minnesota to visit relatives, I recalled playing Go Fish, I Spy and other games with my sisters to pass the time. While driving, my father suddenly veered off the road into a shallow ditch to avoid a head on collision. 


We were jostled around since there were no seat belts in our vehicle. My sisters and I were thrown to the right side of the middle seat and my head banged into the window. This trauma to my head was disregarded by my parents. However, it has lingered in the back of my mind since it may have been a contributing factor to the story that follows.


A few weeks later, I began second grade. My parents and teachers both observed incidents when I stared out into the room in a trance-like state for about 30 seconds. I never had any recollection of these incidents. After referred to a pediatric neurologist, an EEG and MRI of my head revealed normal results. 


Because these staring episodes continued, the neurologist diagnosed this as epilepsy. Anti-seizure medication was prescribed but it took many months before finding the correct medication and dosage for my condition. In my mid-teens, the neurologist weaned me off the medication, with no further seizures during my high school and college years.


During my mid-twenties, I moved from Los Angeles to Boston for graduate school and employment as a registered dietitian. This was a stressful time with many life adjustments. Shortly after starting my job, some coworkers observed me doing a peculiar behavior while eating lunch together. I had no recollection of this but knew I needed to see a doctor. 


My primary care physician expedited a referral to a neurologist. Following an EEG and MRI of my head, the results were normal. I was started on medication and instructed not to drive. Fortunately, I did not have a car and was using public transportation. Within a few months, my seizures were completely controlled.


The next twenty years were without any reported incidents of seizures. In my early forties, however, I was married, working full time, and had three children in middle school. On a busy Friday morning, the weekend of the annual school festival, I drove to the grocery store then planned to drop off some items at the festival. I was stressed from anticipation of being outside many hours that weekend in the hot September weather. 


Returning home from the grocery store, I missed the turn into the school due to loss of consciousness. I had no recollection of this happening but, apparently, ran into a truck waiting at the traffic light. The impact caused my van to veer to the right, up onto the lawn outside a medical building, instead of into oncoming traffic.  


After the accident, my life drastically deteriorated.  I lost my driver’s license, my job was terminated, and I continued to have uncontrolled seizures. My doctor referred me to a new neurologist. 


Anxious, frightened and depressed, I had my first appointment. After a quick knock on the exam room door, a male doctor entered the room. Without making any eye contact with me, he announced, “I’m Dr. Indifferent.” He picked up the clipboard and glanced at my completed medical form. 


“So, you are here for seizures. When was your last one?”  


“I’m not sure since I don’t know when I have one. My husband said I had one last night.” 


“Do you know what happens when you have one?”


“No, my family says I rock back and forth with my upper body or move my right arm in and out.”


The doctor verified my seizure medication and dosage. Next, he checked reflexes in my elbows, knees and ankles, arm and leg muscle strength, peripheral vision, coordination, balance, hopping, and walking.  He asked basic math computations, current history questions and checked my short and long-term memory. The process was exhausting. 


Without comment on my test results, he took out his prescription pad, scribbled a higher dose of the same medication and handed it to me. As he walked out the door, he told me to return in one month.


During the following weeks, I decided to keep records of the date and time of my seizures, at least those seen by my family. Feeling proud of my efforts, I brought my notes to the doctor, but he refused to look at this information. 


I felt discouraged about not having any improvement in my seizures with the higher medication dosage. He did not perform an assessment of my physical and emotional state. I felt invisible in his presence, anxious and depressed about my severely limited lifestyle. 


Finally, he handed me a prescription for a second medication and again told me to return in one month. Clearly, connection with his patient was low priority for this doctor. 


Almost immediately, I became restless and drowsy on the new medication. I called the office but was told to continue the medication. My symptoms and seizures continued. I was losing hope about my worsening condition but refused to give up. 


During my follow-up appointment, the doctor interrupted me and rudely exclaimed, “You have to learn to live with these symptoms. There is nothing more I can do!”  


Feeling appalled and dismissed by his comments, I left the office and vowed to myself never to return to Dr. Indifferent.


A few weeks later, my husband showed me an article he read in the Parade magazine of the Los Angeles Times newspaper entitled “Their Best Chance for a Normal Life“ (9/18/2005). This article discussed medical and surgical options for people with epilepsy. 


My feeling of hope returned as I explored the referral process with my medical insurance to the UCLA Seizure Disorder Center. 


Several months later, I had my first consultation with an epilepsy specialist. He assured me that the medical team’s goal was to find the root cause and best treatment for my seizures.
During the next year, I completed many tests and medication changes as part of the preoperative protocol for epilepsy surgery. The functional MRI test found a noncancerous lesion in my right temporal lobe which appeared to be the cause of my seizures. My case was reviewed by the department’s neurophysiology board. 


The team of doctors concluded that removal of this lesion by surgery had a high probability of ending my lifelong seizures. In December 2006, I had brain surgery at UCLA and miraculously, since then, I have never had another seizure. 


Many people seeking medical care place a blind trust in doctors’ opinions which may lead to substandard treatment. I learned it was imperative to do an independent medical investigation of my condition and search for a doctor who was committed to finding the root cause and best treatment of my seizures.  Not accepting the status quo in medical treatment launched my journey of becoming my own best medical advocate. That journey has no end in sight.
 

Warren traveling to Paramount next week, with cross-town match against Downey looming

DOWNEY – The Warren High School girls’ volleyball team currently has an overall record of 2-3 and began S.G.V.L. play when they hosted Lynwood yesterday (score unavailable at press time). The Lady Bears defeated Norwalk at Warren 3-0 (25-23, 25-18 and 28-26) on August 23 in preseason play.


Warren was defeated by Valley Christian at Warren on August 28 3-2 (25-21, 25-16, 17-25 and 25-16) and defeated El Rancho at Warren on August 30 3-0 in other preseason play. 


The Lady Bears will travel to Paramount on September 11 to face the Lady Pirates and will host the Lady Gladiators at Warren on September 13 before their scheduled league match against Downey.


Warren will travel to cross-town rival Downey on September 18 for the first of their two highly anticipated matches against the Lady Vikings. 


The Lady Bears will then host the Dominguez Lady Dons on September 20 in the last game of the first round of league play. Coach Lane, his staff and players are all looking forward to the start of league play and qualifying for C.I.F. postseason play.


The Lady Bears finished last season with an overall record of 9-7 and a S.G.V.L. record of 6-4. Warren finished league play last season in second place behind league champion Downey (18-8, 10-0), respectfully. Warren was defeated by Mayfair 3-0 (25-16, 25-13 and 25-16) in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 4 playoffs. 


DOWNEY VOLLEYBALL: The Downey High School girls’ volleyball team currently has an overall record of 2-5. 


The Lady Vikings recently competed in the Molten Tournament where they finished with a record of 2-2. Downey was defeated by Edison in their first game 3-0 on August 18 25-10, 25-16 and 25-14 and defeated Long Beach Jordan in their second game 3-0 on August 22 25-5, 25-12 and 25-8.


The Lady Vikings defeated Valley Christian in their third game 3-2 on August 25 25-18, 21-25, 23-25, 25-21 and 15-11 and were defeated by Torrance in their fourth game 3-0, also on August 25, 25-10, 23-25, 25-16, 21-25 and 15-8.


Downey was defeated by Schurr of Montebello at Downey 3-2 on August 30 25-20, 23-25, 25-16, 21-25 and 15-8 and was also defeated by Mayfair at Mayfair on Tuesday 3-1 16-25, 25-20, 25-22 and 25-21. 


The Lady Vikings opened S.G.V.L. play yesterday when they traveled to Paramount to play the Lady Pirates (score unavailable at press time). Downey will host cross-town rival Warren on September 18th in the first of their two much anticipated matches. 


Coach McCarthy, his staff and players are all looking forward to the start of San Gabriel Valley League play. Downey finished last season with an overall record of 18-10 and a S.G.V.L. record of 10-0. The Lady Vikings were defeated by El Segundo 3-1 (25-12, 25-20, 24-26 and 25-17) in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 4 playoffs.

 

WARREN FOOTBALL: The Warren High School football team defeated Huntington Park at Warren last Friday night, 59-0. With the win the Bears improved to 2-0 on the season and with the loss the Spartans fell to 0-3. 


Warren will travel to Culver City later today to face the 2-0 Centaurs. Culver City defeated West Torrance 62-20 in their first game and defeated Peninsula 61-27 in their second game.


In the Warren/Huntington Park game the Bears scored early and often. Warren led 28-0 at the end of the first quarter and led 42-0 going into the locker room at halftime. The Bears picked up right where they left off in the second half and did not allow the Spartans to score. Warren kicked a field goal and led 45-0 at the end of the third quarter and added two fourth quarter touchdowns to win 59-0.


Bear quarterback Chris Venegas completed 7/9 pass attempts for 200 yards and four touchdowns. The Warren ground game was led by Nikko Fierro-Tuala’s six carries for 74 yards and two touchdowns, Eimajah Hunter’s two carries for 22 yards and one touchdown, Carlos Parra’s two carries for 35 yards and Arvionte Sheffield’s two carries for 10 yards and one touchdown.


The Bear receiving corps were led by Eimajah Hunter’s one catch for 52 yards and one touchdown, Robbie Colenzo’s one catch for 37 yards and one touchdown, Stephen N. Austin II’s one catch for 29 yards and one touchdown and Jabari Hughes’ one catch for 18 yards and one touchdown.


The Bear defense was led by Gerald Hickman III’s five solo tackles, Arvionte Sheffield’s three solo and two assisted tackles and Kevin Arias’ two solo and two assisted tackles. Coach Lara, his staff and players are all looking forward to handing Culver City their first loss of the season later today. 

 

DOWNEY FOOTBALL: The Downey High School football team was defeated by Kapolei of Hawai’i last Friday night, 23-14. With the win the Kapolei Hurricanes improved to 2-2 while the Vikings fell to 1-2. 


Downey will travel to San Pedro later today to play a 2-1 Pirate team. Downey defeated San Pedro at Downey last season in an offensive shootout 56-42.


In the Downey/Kapolei game the Hurricanes scored an early touchdown but missed the extra point and took an early 6-0 lead. Kapolei added a field goal before the second quarter ended and led 9-0 going into the locker room at halftime. The game got interesting in the fourth quarter as Downey closed the score to 16-14 with under a minute to play. Kapolei added a late touchdown and extra point and came away with the hard fought, 23-14 win.  


Viking quarterback Kijjon Foots completed 13/36 pass attempts for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Downey’s run game was led by Foots’ seven carries for 55 yards, Malcom Perry’s twelve carries for 49 yards and Jaden Allen’s eight carries for 32 yards. The Viking receiving corps were led by Brenden Hodge’s seven catches for 113 yards, Danny Ruiz’s two catches for 43 yards and Lawrence Joseph’s two catches for 23 yards. 


The Downey defense was led by Isaiah Burton’s six solo and one assisted tackle, Vincent Willis’ four solo and two assisted tackles, Anthony Lopez’s one solo and four assisted tackles and Noah Skobis’ four solo tackles. Coach Williams, his staff and players are all looking forward to evening their record at 2-2 against San Pedro later today.
 

Martha Sodetani named grand marshal of Downey Christmas Parade

DOWNEY – The theme of this year’s Downey Christmas parade is “Christmas of Giving,” and there are few who embody that message more than this year’s grand marshal: Martha Sodetani.


You’ve definitely seen or heard of Sodetani in the community at some point in time; it’s almost impossible to miss her with how active she is in several of the city’s volunteer and philanthropic organizations.

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She’s been a president of and is still currently a member of Assistance League, and Gangs out of Downey. She’s been a member of PTA, and held several positions. She’s a common helper at the PTA H.E.L.P.S. food bank. She’s connected to the Downey Sister Cities. You may even find her at Downey Coordinating Council. That’s just to name a few things.


Then consider her nearly 13-year-old tenure as part of the Downey Unified School District.

And despite all that, she says she doesn’t feel that she “does all that much.”


“I feel that where my value is a lot of times that I am made aware of someone in need and that I connect that need with an organization or a group that offers help there,” said Sodetani. “That’s where I feel that I’m of value.”


“Every organization to which I belong is really about safety, peace, outreach, and plenty – you know, where there’s plenty of things for people – empowerment, full self-expression…my stand in life for children, that then was a natural progression to run for school board…”


Sodetani won her seat on the board of education in November of 2005, and was sworn in December of that same year.


“I’m not a politician. I’m not pushing a particular agenda,” says Sodetani. “I’ve just been a parent.”


Sodetani has lived in Downey since the 1970’s when she and her husband Gordon moved into the city. She and Gordon married in 1997 and fostered and adopted several children. They were married until Gordon passed away suddenly in 2006.


Sodetani keeps her family life more private than others, not out of secrecy but out of respect to her children, even if their last name tends to be a dead giveaway.


“Being a person who’s out in public so much, I just want my children to feel that they can go about their life and not have a microscope on each part of it,” says Sodetani. “It’s amazing – we have a small town, it’s a connected town – people hear the name and they say, ‘Are you related to?’ and that’s how things happen.”


Sodetani says that her family celebrates diversity, as it is made up of every ethnicity from African American, to Japanese, to Hispanic, to Native American, to Caucasian.


“All of those races and all of those ethnicities make us stronger,” she said.


Last year, Sodetani rode in the Christmas parade as part of the School Board, with her son Gordon sitting by her side. This year, however, she may keep things a surprise as to who will join her this year.


She says that she is humbled having been named the Grand Marshal.


“I feel that so many do so much more,” said Sodetani. “There are so many people who do so much. I’m so thankful to be able to serve. Serving does not mean you have to do everything…


it’s just looking around and doing one thing with a happy heart.”
The Downey Christmas Parade will be held on December 2.  

Warren High named ESPN Honor Roll school

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DOWNEY – What started as a social club a decade ago at Warren High School is now a nationally recognized program.  Warren High School, one of Downey Unified’s comprehensive high schools, is one of 30 Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools selected last Thursday as part of the first class of ESPN Honor Roll schools.


The school is also the first Special Olympics Southern California Unified Champion School to be recognized as a National Banner Unified Champion School, joining the class of 2018. 
By earning national banner recognition, Warren High School has demonstrated inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence in areas such as unified sports, inclusive youth leadership, whole-school engagement and sustainability.


“Receiving the national banner validates the work and effort of our staff into creating an inclusive environment,” said Christine Spino, a special education instructor in her 11th year at Warren High School. “It gives us an idea that we are headed in the right direction, keeping us motivated to continue along this path.”


Warren High School makes a number of activities available to its students – both with and without intellectual disabilities. The school hosts everything from movie nights and dances to unified sporting events and tailgate parties, in addition to the traditional dances – homecoming, prom and winter formal – and, three years ago, one of Spino’s students was voted to the homecoming court by the senior class.


As far as sports are concerned, Warren High School hosts basketball camps and games, kickball and a unified P.E. program.


New this year, Spino and a general education teacher collaborated to create a unified art class. Spino said the students “have access to any club or activity they want to be part of” and are recognized for their achievements.


“If they require support or help, we make it happen,” stated Spin “Our students are acknowledged at all award ceremonies with their general education peers.”


Before connecting with Special Olympics Southern California, the school started its shift to a more inclusive environment through Spino’s social club Teen Connection, which started 10 years ago. The goal was to promote inclusion and create opportunities for her students to build friendships.


Spino invited 10 general education students to her classroom at lunch, sharing a pizza and playing board games, and by the end of its first month more than 50 general education students were attending. It became an official club on campus the following year, with 200 general education students involved.


“Each year it has grown and each year I have more people supporting it,” Spino said. “It’s amazing to be part of such a supportive campus from top down – administrators, teachers, students, staff and parents. I am never told no when I have an idea, and always greeted with enthusiasm, support and positivity.”


As one of Special Olympics Southern California’s Unified Champion Schools, Spino noted that the partnership has enhanced the school by providing a curriculum, ideas and support to reach more teachers, students and staff.


“Students and teachers have a higher respect and understanding of what it is like to walk in the shoes of our students’ everyday life,” she added. “Our students are typical teens and contribute to our school in a positive way.


“These programs help us ensure that we are doing everything we can to provide a great educational environment for all of our students. … It raises awareness, and teaches tolerance, acceptance, compassion and respect.”

This story was originally published by the Special Olympics Southern California - WeAreSOSC.org -  on Aug. 30.