Monday, May 28, 2012

PUSD Graduations 2012 - Porterville,California

Porterville Unified School District's Class of 2012
Scholarships, Graduations and Perseverance stories by Esther Avila

California State Seal of Biliteracy
* Honor Roll Schools
* Monache, Granite Hills, Porterville - make list of top USA high schools

Photo by Esther Avila

Monache High School
Scholarship Night
Perseverance story: Andrew Velasquez

Granite Hills High School
Scholarship Night
Perseverance story: Ernestina Quintero

Recorder photo by Cheiko Hara

Porterville High School
* Scholarship Night
* Graduation
* Gates Millennium - Lucero Martinez
* Perfect attendance - Raziel Castro Garcia

Photo by Esther Avila

Butterfield Charter High School
* Graduation
* Perseverance story: Mary Bushnell

Harmony Magnet Academy
* Scholarship Night
* Perseverance story: Diana Ramos

Recorder photo by Reneh Agha

Citrus High School
* Graduation

Strathmore High School
* Scholarship Night

Recorder photo by Cheiko Hara

Porterville Adult School
* Graduation

The following 2012 graduations were covered by other reporters:
GraniteHills, HarmonyMagnet, Strathmore,
Recorder Photo by Cheiko Hara - Strathmore High School Commencement - May 25, 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Porterville College 2012 Graduations

Class of 2012
Porterville Scholarships, Graduations and Perseverance stories I have written 

Kern Community College District
Recorder photo by Cheiko Hara

Porterville College
Scholarship Night
Perseverance story: Phil Duncan, 2012 PC Scholar of the Year
RN Graduation

Phil Duncan - PC Scholar of the Year - Recorder photo by Reneh Agha

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


A recent photo that ran in our newspaper has received a lot of comments from people who find it distasteful. The photo is of a city refuse truck that hit a motorized wheelchair in a cross walk.

The wheelchair was dragged and is seen under the front passenger tire. The man's legs/feet are seen laying midway between the front and back tires. Is it disturbing? Well, yes. But so were the photos from 9-11, tsunamis, earthquakes, and other horrible catastrophes.

Ok, so this is not a national catastrophe. But it's just as important. It's journalism.

Yes, I know it is sad for the family. It's also sad for the driver of the vehicle. I can only imagine what that poor man is going through. God bless him and all the families involved.

It's actually a mild photo. It could be worse. One local television station said (to us, not to the public) "If it bleeds, it leads." 
May 22, 2012 Recorder Photo by Reneh Agha 
That's just the way it is in journalism.

We're there to be the eyes and ears and report what has happened. If we aren't there, we get criticized. If we are, we get criticized. It comes with the territory. 
Are we desensitized? Maybe. I know I'm not shocked by things that happen daily.

Yes, I feel for the families and am respectful to them, giving them space and backing off when they ask me to during certain incidents.

But there are other times when we have to be there, asking questions and reporting. In my job, people either love me or hate me.

I know this sounds morbid, but as an emergency-room nurse, I always got excited with the sound of sirens. Not that I wanted anyone to be hurt but as a way to prepare for whatever was to come in next. You never knew what would come in through the door.

I've seen my share of "horrible" accidents when I worked at the Emergency Department at Sierra View District Hospital. Many of them were horrid - a 3 year old child raped and sodomized; a high school classmate (four years after graduating) with third-degree burns (later died) from a stove explosion; two high school friends who were killed in a car accident; two college friends who had moderate to major head injuries (and neither was ever the same again) after a car accident and a boating accident; two young children (the smell of burned human flesh is probably the worst thing I ever dealt with and it stayed with me a long time) who were brought in from a house fire and died after we tried for two hours to save them; a homeless man whose leg was crawling with maggot; and a man who was shot in the abdomen and brought to the ER by his friends. The car pulled up honking and friends screaming for help. Back then, we'd run out and get them. I was wearing a white nurses' uniform and, as the nurse on duty, helped pull the man out of the car. His blood, feces, vomit and alcohol smeared all over my uniform. Totally disgusting but I was unable to change until we stabilized him. He lived.

In each case, my heart hurt - especially when we had to tell the family that their loved one did not make it. The doctor and a nurse always did that. Many times I was the nurse who went in with the doctor. It was always the same way. We'd call the family into a private room -- usually they suspected what was coming -- and then the two of us would go in. When a different nurse went in, it still got to me. You could never hear the doctor, the news was always delivered in a low, sad voice. But outside the doors - you could suddenly hear the loud wailing and if I happened to glance through the window, could see bodies collapsing to chairs or the floor as they heard the devastating news. I remember times when a person would grab me and cry on me until I helped them to a chair or until another family member stepped in to take the person away. 

They knew we cared. I didn't have to cry with them, though at times I did shed some tears - even the doctor had tears. I was not insensitive then and I'm not now. As I cover death and tragedies (not necessarily with death, but house fires and car accidents) I always remember that this could very well be a loved one. I try to be respectful and sensitive.

But back to the photos -- it's nothing personal -- we're not trying to go out of our way to "sell papers" as people like to say. That's not it at all. 

And if anything - I hope people will realize that this accident could happen to them or their loved one!

PLEASE - always make eye contact with the driver before crossing in front of them. I know that pedestrians have the right of way -- but it does no good if you're killed. Who are you going to tell? God? "But God, I had the right of way."

I've been at crosswalks and could start walking - but I look up at the driver and there have been several times where he's looking one way and then starts moving forward without looking back to my side. Had I started crossing in those instances, I would have been killed - well, hit for sure. Please teach your children and tell everyone - no matter what age - to see the driver. It really can be a matter of life and death.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's A MISSILE?

Photo by Esther Avila - May 18, 2012
Santa Barbara, California
I'm not one to say that I believe in the Chemtrail conspiracy. But I have friends who do. Still, I can't help but question, and be puzzled, with the strange markings that constantly plague the skies -- and yes, especially following a refreshing rain that has left the skies beautiful, blue and perfect -- a perfect clean slate for graffiti-marking gangs, each one with its' own agenda.

Perhaps there is some truth to what conspiracy-believing people say -- that the government is behind it all.

Two days ago, I witnessed a very strange "chemtrail" myself. It was Friday, May 18 in Santa Barbara. I was at my daughter's graduation -- when suddenly - out of nowhere - something shot across the sky slower than a speeding bullet. It was not fast.
It was not a contrail from a jet -- as there was no jet seen. So what was it? And how far up and how far away?

I remember contrails from when I was a little girl. That is different. I've also seen the so-called strange chemtrails - and am not sure what those are. But this thing Friday - I had never seen anything like it before in my life.

A friend of mine wrote that it could possibly be a missile. One supposedly was launched that same day from Vandenberg Air Force Base - just 33 miles from where I stood. I am guessing that's what it was. But honestly, I just don't know. The verdict is still out. Was it some kind of alien thing? No. Not that. This was too simple to be them.

Click here for another story on this strange phenomenon.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I only did this one little thing ...... not!

This is me - in April of 2011 and again April of 2012
No surgery. No drugs. Just changed a couple of things.
Since posting on my personal Facebook page that I have lost 30 pounds since December, many people have asked me for my secret. Fact is, I don't have one. I did joke on Facebook that all I did was follow "this one simple trick" -- basically, making fun of all the ads that say the same thing, but when you click on them, they never tell you what the secret is unless you send money.

But back to my situation. Yes, I am excited about my loss, but even more so about losing more. But I haven't. I've been at a stand still again. I say again because this happened when I hit a 25-pound loss. Thus the reason I finally decided to "come out" and post some before and after photos. Not for you, but for me! To encourage myself to keep going and not fall back and regain any of it back. The way I see it, if I admit the weight loss publicly - I will be more determined to keep it off. And, it's nothing miraculous I did and yes, I will share with you. But first - I want to share some info from my childhood.

SKINNY as a skeleton
I was always thin. Very thin. Too thin. I  literally got knocked over on super windy days. I could hide behind a telephone pole and not be seen. I was the kid who would cry every Valentine's Day because my little Valentines bag would be filled with every skeleton-picture valentine found in each sold box. Once, in fifth grade, I got 18 of them - "I can feel it in my bones - be my Valentine" they all said. I laugh now, but I cried back then. It was cruel and not funny. I was also tall - so I also got the giraffe valentines. I was teased and yeah, bullied, because of my thin frame.... probably the reason I was always so quiet. I tried not to bring attention to myself.

High school was different and fun - since I marched with the school band - first drill team, then banner girl, and my senior year as an Orange Blossom - I was the first "L" in "PORTERVILLE!"  I loved those years. I was still thin and tall - and still got occasional mean comments from mean girls, but I survived.

By college, I finally managed to get up to 110 pounds and loved it! I was very active too. I got brave and tried out and made it as a PC cheerleader. I also ran on the cross country and track teams for Porterville College for two years.

After PC, I attended Barbizon School of Modeling in San Jose (Any of you ever guess I used to be a model? ) For a short while I was - once earning $600 for a 30-minute modeling stint in Vancouver, Canada!  I was photographed a few times and then walked down a walkway twice - wearing nothing more than a fur coat and heels. But I was a good Christian girl and modeling required doing things I didn't feel comfortable doing. I talked to my pastor who agreed I shouldn't be there and I decided to let it go. I don't regret getting out of it - I'm sure life would have been a lot different for me had I stayed in that environment but it wasn't for me. When it came to big cities and modeling, I was a timid, shy, small-town girl. I didn't have the necessary personality for it. No regrets.

Fast forward - marriage, children, returning to school, single parenting.......
Not totally sure when I started gaining weight. Whenever it was, it happened gradually - over years.

But last August - during a wonderful Florida vacation with my three girls, I injured my right knee. I managed, in pain, but each day it got worse - not better. Finally getting to the point where I could not walk up stairs.

After I returned home - and to work - I was at a local high school for a story and I could not go up the stairs. (GHHS Pyramid) I stood there, with the high school girl looking at me, asking if I was ok. I said yes, but I wasn't. I told her I had an old leg injury and I was slow but I was fine. I told her I'd meet her at the top of the stairs (at least 20 of them) but she didn't leave. She took one step at a time with me. It was humiliating for me. That was when I knew I had to do something and went to see Dr. Tindall.

My orthopedic doc said I had a choice - surgery or lose weight.

Losing weight would be simpler and healthier. But too hard for me. Or so I thought. I was thinking exercise program and such -- something I never had time for since I work long hours, commute, and take care of handicap sister and my elderly mother with little help from anyone else.

In October my blood pressure shot up again - to 200/100 (normally it runs very low - almost too low) so for me it scared me. I did not want another Bells Palsy incident.
I got myself to Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara and restarted my medication - being careful to monitor my blood pressure - not because it could go high - but from going too low - which makes me super light headed when it happens.

I also decided I'd get a full physical. The physical involved not eating for a day and since I hadn't had time to eat prior to leaving for my 3-day full checkup - I was without food for 2 days. The next day, I just couldn't eat and by the fourth, fifth and sixth day - I just couldn't eat much. So I got a head start on a diet I hadn't really planned much for.

I just continued my new eating habit. It's not a doctor-recommended one -- so that's what I meant when i said to some of you that it worked for me but it's not necessarily a healthy choice I recommend. I guess this is where I say "check with your doctor first." But if you do, be prepared for him to say this is not good. :)

An APPLE a day:
From December to April and to present: Pretty much (except for rare occasions) gave up french fries, tortillas, bread and mexican rice.

Breakfast: I have always had coffee only in the mornings (an occasional bagel) - but mainly just coffee.

Snack/Lunch: I have a banana around 10 a.m., an apple at noonish (sometimes with a walk around town) I would have another apple and a Starbucks' Misto at around 2 p.m. and another banana on my way home around 7 p.m.

Dinner: A real dinner- mainly consisting of Tilapia fish, with vegetables and steamed rice. Or grilled chicken breast and a little pasta. Lots of spinach salad - love that. And, I've never been a dessert person, so I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything.

Late night snack: Cornflakes! which I happen to love! (but not too often - usually I just have coffee at 7 or 8 p.m.)

But I started noticing that certain days, I'd feel real light headed. So by April I changed my lunch to include an apple, string cheese and/or a small yogurt - and if I felt weak, a sandwich - no mayo, just mustard.
I do have an occasional lunch out - it's not like I can't. When I do, I just adjust and have cornflakes for dinner or late evening.

TricksI like placing my apple on the top of my computer at work - it motivates me and reminds me to eat healthy.

A banana on my way home helps me not to get home starving and munching. Drink lots of water - very important. And you must do some kind of exercise. I do wii dance at home - and while watching television, try to remember to do arm lifts - bending at elbow for biceps and above head to work on triceps with weights.  I've got a long way to go but feeling better.

So that's it. That's my secret. See, I told you it was not really a secret and not anything big. But it's been working for me. Yes, there are days I am hungry. And if it's close to lunch or dinner, I eat. That's how it works. So far I'm not starving all day long, but if I want something - there's always an apple.

The above photos are real photos. Not the best but it was two that showed the difference - and both were taken in April. The first one during our town's - Porterville Corporate Games 2011 - and the second one a year later, to the day, while I was at Diamondback's Salt River Fields at Talking Stick - Spring Training in Scottsdale, Arizona with my girls. I love baseball and spent a couple of weeks out there.