New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 27 - Section 1

June 5, 2005 (June/July Edition)

Return to Home Page
Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos - More photos are in Section 2

Trinh Vu,


Rogelio Gonzalez,





Mariposa Tulip in
Alum Rock Park


New "Terribly Talented Teachers"

Back to Thai
White Rock Cafe


EHPS Monarch
Butterfly to be




Cristo on Alum Rock Avenue?


McKee Road


PACT Action for
Small Schools

Who's this
racing legend?

It's our neighbor
Joe Leonard

San Jose Grand Prix car on Alum Rock


Finding Natives
for your garden


Drive Deer


Maintaining the
Crothers Road

Flowers from
the firebreak

Newsletter Headlines

bulletNNV Takes a Break, Next Edition in Early August - This is the June/July edition
bulletStation 2 Firefighter to be Eliminated and Water Tender Moved by a Resident/Firefighter
bulletCouncilmember Campos Promises her Support for Water Tender by Nora Campos
bulletFire Chief Jeff Clet: Moving the Water Tender is better than eliminating it
bulletNNV Analysis: The East Side takes it on the chin again
bulletCounty Supervisors Approve Contract for RMC Trauma Center from Pete McHugh
bulletRegional Medical Center's UrgentCare Clinic Open 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM
bulletWonderful High School Kids Surmount Real-Life Hair-raising Challenges!
bulletLick High School “Turn-Around” Success Sits for NNV Interview
bulletJLHS Awards Scholarships to High Achievers - Outstanding graduating seniors rewarded
bulletCalvary Cemetery - 1882 to the 21st Century, Part I - “Sanctuary of Peace”
bulletThe Silent Place Where Local History Is Written in Stone by Patricia Loomis
bulletFinding my Great Grandmother at Calvary Catholic Cemetery - A poem by Lara Gularte
bulletNNV Briefs
bulletRichard Brown’s Alum Rock Park Photo of the Month - Once-in-lifetime find?
bulletAppreciating First and Second Year Teachers in ARUSD - BTSA Colloquium
bulletCounty Names Plaza after East Hills Notable Neighbor Jim McEntee from Pete McHugh
bulletMothers Day Eve Draws Neighbors Out for Thai Food Experience
bulletEast Hills Preschool Event Draws Real Crowd by Peggy Susoeff
bulletHere and There: Stanford professor emeritus Googles NNV
bulletARUSD Technology Showcase at Alum Rock Youth Center
bulletSupport Our New Library With Your Gift by Eleanor Weber Dickman, SJPLF
bulletSanta Clara County Library passes Measure A, not Measure B by Melinda Cervantes
bulletAlum Rock Park Earth Day Report by Park Ranger Roger Abe
bulletHistory San Jose - Admission is Now Free!
bulletOn the Avenue – The Colorful Avenue: Bright togs on Alum Rock Avenue
bulletOn the Road – McKee Road: NNV Reader cites unkempt Quality Tune-Up business
bullet650 Ardent Parents and Kids Come Out for PACT “Action” on Small Autonomous Schools
bulletLooking for a Fun Date on Saturday? Try Alum Rock Park! by Park Ranger Roger Abe
bulletAlum Rock Avenue’s Joe Leonard, a True Local Legend of Motor Sports by Dan Gentile
bulletYou Dig It?
bulletJune Hot Topics by UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede
bulletHow to Succeed With Native Plants - A plant is not a couch by Arvind Kumar
bulletMore Plant-Resistant Deer Needed - The fawns’ll eat ivy too, wouldn’t you?
bulletPenitencia Creek Flood Flow Bypass Channel for Toe of ARP Landslide from Chuck Reed
bulletWildfire Awareness Week 2005 - Maintaining the Crothers Road Firebreak
bulletFAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
bulletIs it true that several new “McMansions” might be built on the Alum Rock Stables property?
bulletDo any of the slimy mail thieves who rob us of our mail (and peace of mind) ever get caught?
bulletHave the new Yield to Pedestrian signs in Alum Rock Village had any effect?
bulletOn May 2nd, I saw a strange white circular object. Was it a flying saucer by any chance?
bulletWhen will the new businesses in the dilapidated lot on White Road be developed?
bulletWill the Mexican Heritage Plaza host a Farmers’ Market this summer like they did last year?
bulletWhy does the religious statuary tableau at Calvary Cemetery keep moving around?
bulletIs the old Alum Rock Library going to sit there closed? Will my card work at the new library?
bulletWill Rafiki’s Coffee Hut have the coffee concession in the new Alum Rock library branch?
bulletCan we pick up printed versions of New Neighborhood Voice anywhere?
bulletHow do I enroll my child at Renaissance Academy? He’s going into sixth grade this fall.
bulletHow do parents find out about enrolling their children at Renaissance Academy?
bulletWho is eligible to enroll? Do kids who would attend George get preference?

Other Sections:  Letters to the Editor  Deer Resistant Plants  Community Bulletin Board  NNV Archives

Return to Top

NNV Takes a Break, Next Edition in Early August

This is the June/July edition

No NNV in July! Your editor needs a breather. This edition of New Neighborhood Voice is the June/July edition. The next edition will be published in early August.

Meanwhile, the Community Bulletin Board and the Letters to the Editor will be updated as new material comes in (the Letters page has a couple of letters Schuster received on his articles in earlier editions). We have also added many more links to our Favorite Links page. If you’d like to suggest a link we don’t already have on our list, please e-mail

We hope more of you will note that NNV is a monthly newsletter for, by and about the people who live in the foothills and neighborhoods east of San Jose. “By” means that you are our writers and reporters – please send us your stories, articles, photos, poems, letters and community events. More “Voices” = a richer NNV. E-mail or call (408) 272-7008.

If not having a new NNV to read in July causes you any anxiety, you could spend the month perusing all the archived NNV’s on our Web site. It’s all there, every word is there. Click here for the archives.

But first you'd better read the next article on what's about to happen to our fire protection - and the response from Councilmember Nora Campos and San Jose Fire Chief Jeff Clet.

And the articles on Regional Medical Center's new Trauma Center and UrgentCare Clinic so you know where to go if you need help.

And we are starting a new series on Calvary Cemetery in this edition.

No, there's really no connection between the Fire Department, Regional Medical Center and Calvary Cemetery articles - but you may not believe that after you read about the plans to reduce our fire protection.

If you prefer to read NNV on paper, every back issue has been available at the Alum Rock Library – in a box near the front door on a shelf with Chinese literature. The old County branch is closed now (permanently) until it is torn down. NNV hears that the collection of back editions of the newsletter will be part of the collection at the new branch which opens on July 9th. Recent editions are in the new Berryessa library in the adult periodicals area. The library copies don’t circulate, however.

Have fun!

Return to Top

San Jose Fire Department Faces Tough Times

Station 2 Firefighter and Water Tender to be eliminated or moved

City Councilmember Campos agrees and promises her support for Water Tender

By an Anonymous Resident/Firefighter

The San Jose Fire Department is currently facing tough times. There have been many proposals put forth to cut costs. One of them is eliminating a firefighter position from Station #2 and moving Water Tender 2 to Station #16.

Station #16 is on King Road at Cunningham in the middle of a residential area with an abundance of fire hydrants.

Water Tender 2 has been at Station #2 for more years than anyone can remember. It was put there for a very good reason, the Alum Rock Hills. There are many homes in the Alum Rock Hills that are not in close proximity to fire hydrants. The Alum Rock Hills is what is called a Wildland Urban Interface, which is an area that has residential homes in wildland high fire hazard areas.

A standard fire engine carries 500-600 gallons of water. This is usually enough water to commence a fire attack until a continuous water supply is obtained from a fire hydrant. In most residential areas you have hydrants spaced on average 300 feet away from each other.

In the Alum Rock Hills this is not always the case. There are many homes in this area that are not served by fire hydrants. Take a look for yourself or ask an Alum Rock Hills resident to measure the distance from their home to the nearest hydrant. If the distance is more than 800-1300 feet away, they are at great risk. The reason why I say 1300 feet is that the longest distance a fire engine can lay hose from a hydrant to a burning home is 1300 feet. This is 1300 feet of 2.5” inch hose. The 2.5” diameter hose is usually enough to supply a reliable and continuous water supply. However, this depends on what is burning.

Ideally a 5" inch water supply is recommended. As a matter of fact, this is the supply line of preference. Fire Engines carry only 800 feet of 5" supply line.

Water Tender 2 is basically a fire hydrant on wheels. It carries 2,200 gallons of water. The water tender is called on Tier fires or when a hydrant is not available in remote locations. Please refer to an earlier article written by the San Jose Fire Dept. Wildland Officer, Captain Ralph Ortega. The purpose of a water tender is to provide a water supply to areas that are not served by fire hydrants or do not have a hydrant in close proximity (800-1300 feet).

Currently Water Tender 2 is located at Station #2 on Alum Rock between White and Capitol. Station 2 serves the Alum Rock Hills. This area is comparable to the Oakland Hills. The Alum Rock Hills area is considered by many to be the highest wildland fire hazard in San Jose.

The current Fire Chief wants to move this water tender to Station #16 to save money. The response time from Station #16 in comparison to Station #2 is an increase of 15-20 minutes. Your home can burn down in a fraction of this time. The life safety impact and possibility of spread due to lack of water is tremendous.

Many firefighters have voiced this concern to the Chief and anyone else who will listen. However our input and recommendations seem to be ignored, despite our concerns the fire department plans to move the water tender to a station in the middle of a residential area that clearly has no need for this piece of equipment - just to save money. Station #16 is one of the busiest stations in the city. If the Station #16 fire engine is out on a call, which is anywhere from 6-15 times a day, there will be no one available to drive this water tender should the need arise in the Alum Rock Hills. This is true because the Station #16 fire engine is often driven by the same fire engineer who would drive the water tender.

Please talk to your local elected officials such as Councilwoman Nora Campos (, the Fire Chief Jeff Clet (, the firefighters at Station #2, the firefighters at Station #16, the Wildland Program Manager Juan Diaz and the Firefighters Union President Randy Sekany. They are easy to find.

Click here for the article by Fire Captain Ralph Ortega. Click here for the locations of the SJFD Fire Stations. Click here to read more about the firefighters at Station #2 and here to read about the water tender.

But what can you really do? Drive right down to Station #2 and ask them about it (park in the west parking lot in front of the office, not in front of the station doors, please). They will be glad to talk to you. Let us know what you learn – e-mail

Return to Top

City Councilmember Campos agrees and promises her support for Water Tender

By City Councilmember Nora Campos, District 5

I agree with the points brought up in the article above about the water tender at Fire Station #2.

That is why I am once again uncompromising in my efforts to save the water tender at Fire Station #2 just as I did, successfully, during last year's budget session.

For me, public safety is a core City service and though we are faced with budgetary challenges that require the Council to make very difficult choices, in my opinion moving the water tender from Fire Station #2 is not an option and I will continue to advocate for the retention of the water tender at Fire Station #2 throughout the City budget process.

As part of the budget process, I have submitted a budget document to the Mayor with a plan to retain the water tender at Station #2. My plan retains the water tender by reallocating funds from the City Vehicle Replacement Fund and the Mayor's response to that plan will be part of his budget message that the Council will discuss at the City Council meeting on June 14th.

The next public hearing on the budget will be on Monday June 13th at 7:00 pm at City Hall in the Council Chambers. The final City Council vote on the 2005-06 budget will be on June 21st. Residents should feel free to contact the Mayor and Councilmembers with their input on this item. The contact information for the Mayor and City Council can be found by going to the City of San Jose web page at

Nora Campos
District Five

Return to Top

Response from San Jose Fire Chief Jeff Clet

There's a $59 million City budget shortfall

We have to reduce the Fire Department Budget by $10 million

Moving the Water Tender to Station 16 is better than eliminating it

Fire Chief's over-riding responsibility of mitigating impacts to core emergency services Citywide

By Geoff Cady, SJFD Resource Deployment Administrative Officer

Thank you for the opportunity to respond. I am forwarding the following on Chief Clet's behalf:

The Fire Department is just one of many City departments requested to make substantial budget reductions in light of a 59 million dollar City budget shortfall. To comply with requested reductions, the Department conducted a rigorous analysis to determine where reductions could be made that would limit impacts on core emergency services delivery. This analysis included a review of community risk (e.g., wildland urban interface areas), resource requirements and geographic coverage needs. The outcome of the analysis was a budget reduction strategy that does not result in fire station closures; a strategy executed by many cities facing similar fiscal challenges.

Reducing field resources is not a proposal that any Fire Chief wants to forward, but one that had to be forwarded as a small part of a larger strategy to reduce the Department's budget by $10 million dollars. In light of competing service demands and the fiscal environment, this strategy enables the Department to maintain Water Tender 2's availability instead of eliminating it. The proposed relocation of Water Tender 2, as a budget reduction strategy (e.g., estimated reduction is $300,000 - $350,000 dollars), supports the Department's objective of maintaining core emergency service delivery within the eastside communities. Water Tender 2's relocation will reduce the number of personnel assigned to Fire Engine 2, resulting in staffing levels consistent with staffing found on other fire engines City-wide. Furthermore, development in the southeastern areas of the City has increased service demand for Water Tender 2 south of Station 2. Analysis of the most current data available (e.g., Fiscal Year 03-04), found Water Tender 2 supported operations at 11 incidents north of Station 16 and 10 incidents south of Station 16.

While the concerns of Alum Rock Hills residents are understandable, the relocation of Water Tender 2 permits the Department to keep Water Tender 2 in service and maintains the initial fire attack capability of the Brush Patrol housed at Station 2. Responding engine companies in combination have the capability of "laying" or placing 1,600 feet of hose to obtain water from hydrants if needed. Station 16's location and proximity to Highway101 and Interstate 680, as well as, King Road and Capitol create a variety of response routes. Additionally, Engine 16's staffing will be modified to respond as a two-piece "Water Tender" company by converting a firefighter to a fire engineer position. In addition to maintaining Water Tender 2's availability via its relocation to Station 16, lower response volume (i.e., approximately 800 fewer calls per year) experienced by Engine 16 in contrast to Engine 2, increases the probability of Engine 16's or USAR 16's (also housed at Station 16) availability to respond the Water Tender. And while Alum Rock Hills is in a significant wildland fire threat area, there are other wildland urban interface areas (e.g., Almaden Valley) that endure similar, if not equal, threats from wildland fires. In these areas of the City, Water Tenders are deployed in a comparable fashion to the proposed relocation of Water Tender 2.

An analysis of distance and travel time for Water Tender 2 from Fire Station 16 to Mt. Hamilton at Alum Rock Ave. identified an increase of 3.5 miles and 11:29 minutes in travel time as compared to Station 2. The analysis was performed driving without lights and sirens at a speed of 25 miles per hour and obeying all normal traffic laws. Station 16 is approximately 3.2 miles from Station 2. Relocating Water Tender 2 would reduce response times in the southeastern portion of the City, making response time performance for this resource more equitable across the eastside of the City.

In closing, the dedication of Department personnel to the residents and visitors they serve is without question. But, opinions expressed by our personnel must be put in the context of the Fire Chief's over-riding responsibility of mitigating impacts to core emergency services Citywide. All administrative staff and line personnel opinions are considered in relocation decisions. In reaching this decision, the Chief met with Battalion Chiefs from Battalion 2 (e.g., eastside of the City) and kept the door open for other opinions regarding the proposed relocation. The decision to relocate and maintain Water Tender 2's availability as an eastside resource using the discussed approach was based on an analysis of the risk and competing service priorities of the region and City. The relocation of Water Tender 2 results in less core emergency service degradation than other alternatives, in light of mandatory budget reductions.

For additional information, please contact: SJFD Fire Chief Jeff Clet at 408-277-5488, e-mail, or Geoff Cady at 408-277-8783, Resource Deployment Administrative Officer, e-mail

Return to Top

NNV Analysis

The East Side takes it on the chin again

The Fire Department response is very disappointing. It resorts to scare tactics by referring to “station closures” and alluding to elimination of the water tender altogether. These words are supposed to make us Eastsiders thankful that we have fire protection at all, bless our little hearts.

We don’t buy it. Water Tender 2 belongs at Station 2. That’s why it’s there. We can’t wait for this truck, with its eight tons of water, to lumber up from South King Road when there is a fire in the East Hills – or in Alum Rock Park or Berryessa.

At the risk of pulling the “Little Orphan Eastside” card, NNV proposes that it’s not fair to compromise on equipment for this wildfire prone area. Chief, go rejigger the numbers keeping in mind that the East Side and your unincorporated County coverage area take it in the neck over and over. And, could it be true that south San Jose already has two water tenders?

More power to Councilmember Campos whose plan to “borrow Peter’s car” to “save Paul’s life” (by reallocating funds from the City Vehicle Replacement Fund) puts the priority where it belongs - on human life.

Click here for the response from a firefighter about how Water Tender 2 saved a home during the big fire near Alum Rock Park in October, 2000. Additional inputs will be published on our Letters to the Editor page as they come in.

Return to Top

------ Reminder -------

ALUM ROCKS AGAIN!!! At thirty bucks, the price is definitely right!

Jazz enthusiasts, fans of Texas Barbecue, Alum Rock community supporters (or any combination of the three) will enjoy a deliciously satisfying evening of music and food on June 17th – the whole kit and caboodle for a mere $30. Please see “Alum Rocks Again” on the NNV Bulletin Board for particulars and to understand why this event is an excellent community-builder which you’ll want to endorse and support. Be there or be square!


Board of Supervisors Approves Contract for Third County Trauma Center

Regional Medical Center Trauma Center opens in East San Jose

From Santa Clara County Supervisor Pete McHugh, District 3

On May 24, the County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a contract with Regional Medical Center to open a third trauma center in Santa Clara County. The contract will bring a trauma center to the east side of San Jose for the first time in the City’s history. Regional Medical Center’s trauma center will restore the level of trauma centers to three, a level that was reduced when San Jose Medical Center closed in December 2004.

The contract culminates a trauma center designation process that began in December 2004. County Supervisor Pete McHugh enthusiastically made the motion for approval. He stated, “I have believed since we began the trauma center designation process that Santa Clara County residents are better served by three trauma centers versus two.”

The new contract calls for Regional Medical Center to provide six months notice prior to a closure of the trauma center, which is three more months than the State requires. It also will post a $10 million dollar security bond that will be in place not less than five years, but no more than ten. Regional Medical Center may immediately begin caring for trauma patients that self-present, or bring themselves to the Emergency Room and require trauma services. According to the local Emergency Medical Authority, it may take up to one month to integrate Regional Medical Center into the emergency dispatch system and to begin routing ambulances and helicopters to its trauma center.

Supervisor McHugh believes the final vote for approval was necessary and appropriate. He stated, “Healthcare access is one of the most important issues facing our State today. In order to solve the problem, we must demonstrate bold leadership. I am pleased the Board of Supervisors has put aside the past in order to provide the best level of trauma services for all of our residents, particularly those on the east side of San Jose.”

NNV Note: Hallelujah! Thank you for your common sense approach to County government, Pete! If you would like to thank Supervisor McHugh for his leadership on this campaign, send an e-mail to His Web site is

Return to Top

Regional Medical Center's UrgentCare Clinic Open 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM

On pace to treat over 10,000 patients in its first year

Not to be confused with Regional’s new Trauma Center!

From Regional Medical Center

NNV Note: For non-emergency care (minor ailments, broken bones, lacerations), visit Regional’s UrgentCare Clinic. Here’s our summary of how to sort out the options:

• UrgentCare Clinic: Go to the UrgentCare Clinic first if the problem is not too serious and it is open (11 a.m. to 11 p.m.) and the patient is between 8 weeks and 80 years old. They can transfer you to the emergency room if needed.

• Emergency Room: Go to the Emergency Room if you don’t meet the UrgentCare Clinic guidelines above or if the UrgentCare Clinic is closed. Once you enter the Emergency Room they can’t send you to the UrgentCare Clinic for minor problems (see below).

• Trauma Center: The new Trauma Center is open now for walk-in patients; in the near future, ambulances will take you there if needed.

Since opening on December 13, 2004, the UrgentCare Clinic at Regional Medical Center of San Jose has treated more than 3,000 patients at the East San Jose neighborhood facility. According to hospital projections, Regional's UrgentCare Clinic is expecting to treat more than 10,000 patients in 2005.

"The community's response to our UrgentCare Clinic has been fantastic," said Cindy Flores, a physician assistant at Regional Medical Center who helps care for, on average, 800 patients per month at the clinic. "We're receiving patients who have been referred to UrgentCare from their primary care physician, insurance carrier, friends and family. On average, we're helping close to 30 patients per day."

Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week and 365 days per year, Regional's UrgentCare Clinic treats patients from ages eight weeks to eighty years suffering from minor ailments such as various illnesses, broken bones and skin lacerations, among other cases. The facility features six private treatment rooms and a family-friendly waiting room with separate children's area.

"At Regional Medical Center, patients benefit from the UrgentCare Clinic and our Emergency Department working in tandem," said Victor Benlice, RN, director of the emergency department for Regional Medical Center, who oversees the UrgentCare Clinic. "If we're experiencing a heavier flow at UrgentCare, we will rapidly adjust our staff to handle the increased traffic. This allows us to continually provide the utmost in care and convenience when treating our patients at UrgentCare."

According to Benlice, by law however, those patients who go to Regional's emergency room for treatment cannot be transferred to UrgentCare. However, should a patient's symptoms be deemed too serious for UrgentCare, clinic staff will work with the hospital's emergency department to ensure proper care.

"One of our main goals at UrgentCare is to conveniently treat a patient so they can get on with their lives as soon as possible despite their minor ailment," said Benlice. "Our emergency department is more than qualified to treat less serious illnesses or injuries, but UrgentCare can help in a much faster time frame."

As you face the front of the hospital on Jackson Avenue, the UrgentCare Clinic is to the left (south) of the main building.

Offering a comprehensive array of inpatient and outpatient surgery services, pediatric care, critical care and general medical services, Regional Medical Center of San Jose has served the health care needs for residents of the greater San Jose area for 40 years. A full-service acute care hospital with licensed bed capacity of 204, Regional Medical Center's campus features an onsite outpatient surgery center, emergency department, UrgentCare Clinic and Wound Care Center.* This summer, Regional Medical Center will begin construction on a new, approximately 120,000 square foot medical office building featuring an ambulatory surgery center, outpatient diagnostic center, cancer care institute and increased hospital care space, due to be completed in 2006. Located at 225 North Jackson Avenue in San Jose, Regional Medical Center is owned and operated by HCA, the largest healthcare organization in the United States. For more information, please contact (408) 259-4000 or visit

* As of May 25th, Regional offers a full-fledged Trauma Center as well. Click here for the latest Mercury News report on the Trauma Center.

Return to Top

New Neighborhood Voice Founding Sponsors


Lifestyle Properties, Call Ellen Rauh at (408) 929-1925,
The REALTOR© You Choose Does Make a Difference, E-mail 


Caskey Country Club Properties, Call Larry and Barbara Caskey at (408) 926-5400


E.M.S. LLC, Environmental Management Systems, (408) 501-4200
A full service construction & demolition cleanup, hauling and recycling company


Eileen Parks, Windermere Silicon Valley Properties, (408) 251-5860
"When the follow through counts, call Eileen" - or e-mail 


Keith Bush, Artist/Sculptor, (408) 923-6666, 


MBA ARCHITECTS, Marvin Bamburg AIA, (408) 297-0288, 
Residential, commercial, industrial, historic preservation & mixed use projects; 


Call or click today or e-mail 


The financial planning firm PW Johnson, Jason Papier, (408) 747-1222
"Our best product is peace of mind."

And We'd Like to Welcome Our New 2005 Sponsors


RAM REALTORS - "Serving you since 1965" in Alum Rock Village
Call us at (408) 259-4920 or E-mail Frank B. Morales or Cecilia Echavarria


The Coffee Cup, Finest French Pastries, Country Club Plaza
Sun-Mon 6AM–2PM, Tue-Sat 6AM – 4PM, 3477 McKee Road, (408) 254-0755


Robin Edwards, Inc., Engineering Contractor, (408) 244-4791
CA Lic. 762792 A&B, "Basements, retaining walls, and complex foundations"

Return to Top

Wonderful High School Kids Surmount Real-Life Hair-raising Challenges!

Fifteen youngsters receive $1,000 scholarships from ESJ Kiwanis Club

Touching stories melt hearts of luncheon crowd

There was a box of Kleenexes on every single one of the elegant San Jose Country Club luncheon tables. Their utilitarian cardboardiness stood out awkwardly against the white linen cloths and contrasted with the colorful blue and burgundy napkins which alternated around the gold-rimmed placesettings. There was good reason for what seemed like a lapse in tablesetting decorum – many of the two hundred or so guests at the East San Jose Kiwanis Club Turn Around Scholarships luncheon needed to mop up copious tears and those mundane paper hankies came in handy!

The annual $1,000 scholarships are given to ESUHSD students (mostly high school seniors – one from each school) who have magnificently turned their lives around and are ready to move on with their education – after some of the most breathtakingly awful life situations imaginable. Many of these young people had been “throw-away” kids who believed it when their elders told them they were worthless (and worse). All had lost momentum somewhere along the way and found themselves approaching the end of their high school experience not even close to having enough credits – and no time to make up for the dismal showing they had made so far.

One charming young woman lost her zest for school when she developed kidney failure. In denial that she had a devastating disease, she went off her treatments, abandoned her school work and nearly destroyed what had started out as a promising high school career. Thanks to a miraculous “turn-around,” even though she’s been on a kidney transplant list for two years with no end to the wait in sight, she’s planning to attend San Joaquin Delta College and become a wedding planner. It won’t be hard to spend that $1,000!

Depression was a recurring theme among many of the scholarship recipients. Some live in foster homes. There was a suicide attempt by one young woman who was scorned by her church for her homosexuality. The students mentioned a mother with lung cancer, a blind mother, alcoholic or drug-addicted parents, absent fathers, their own struggles to overcome addiction to street drugs.

“I was a destroyed human being. I was addicted to drugs; I was going to be a nobody,” one girl said with enormous emotion. She quit drugs because she didn’t want to break her mother’s heart, she said. The heart of everyone who was in that dining room broke a little bit (or a lot!) when she spoke of her trials and successes. She received straight A’s in her senior year and says she now cries “when I get a B.” She’s planning a career in interior design.

James Lick High School’s scholarship winner absolutely blew the crowd away! Young Rogelio Gonzalez arrived in San Jose just 2 ½ years ago from Mexico “looking for a better future,” he explained. When he arrived, he could not communicate, (nor read nor write) in English. At first he was put into special classes for ESL students. However, he felt that progress was too slow so he asked to be transferred to a regular English I class. He threw himself into after-school tutoring programs every day and has mastered English so thoroughly that he has earned a 3.6 GPA. As if that weren’t enough, he’s distinguished himself in track, cross-country and soccer and was named MVP for the Valley Soccer Division! Rogelio hopes to become a psychologist and plans to attend DeAnza College and San Jose State (see NNV interview with Rogelio later in this edition).

Foothill Continuation High School’s scholarship winner, Trinh Vu, sat next to her mother at the table which NNV shared. Trinh said she had “drama” in her life and that she had slacked off in a big way beginning in her freshman year - trading school work for having fun and staying out late. She chose her friends from among like-minded kids and was beaten up by a boyfriend. NNV was touched when Trinh reached out and gently patted her mother’s arm as she introduced her. Trinh had a lot of catching up to do - she was facing her senior year with only 68 credits. She is happy now to be making her parents proud and says confidently that in five years she’ll have a Master’s degree in accounting!

Another scholarship recipient with close ties to our part of town is Jose Hernandez who attends the San Jose Job Corps’ culinary training program on East Hills Drive. Jose is twenty years old and has survived physical and verbal abuse, he says. He’s lived with his grandparents since he was twelve. He took the microphone out of its stand and demonstrated an enormous stage presence. His message was that one must have “passion” for whatever one does and he says he truly loves the culinary arts. “College is a must! I’ll be studying Business Management,” he said. Traveling and studying in Europe are high on his priority list and he vows that he will open a restaurant. NNV sees a media star chef in the making!

Fifteen youngsters received the 2005 Kiwanis Club Turn Around scholarship. Fifteen challenged students changed the direction their lives were taking. Some were helped by their school counselors; some pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. All showed huge strength of character and all melted the hearts of the luncheon guests in that room on May 3rd. EHUSD Superintendent of Schools, Esperanza Zendejas, spoke briefly and told the room that she often is asked why she enjoys being in a tough job such as hers. “Today’s scholarship recipients are why I like being a superintendent!” Her advice to the students, “Hang around with people who give you energy.” Good advice to all.

Click here for photos from this event. The NNV Interview with Rogelio Gonzalez is below.

NNV Note: East San Jose Kiwanis has served the East San Jose community through civic and philanthropic projects since 1954. "Kiwanis International - Serving the Children of the World."

Return to Top

Lick High School “Turn-Around” Success Sits for NNV Interview

A “peach-of-a-boy” scholar-athlete wows all

Watch this young man make the community proud!

NNV Note: Rogelio Gonzalez and your editor were sitting in James Lick Counselor John Alcaraz’ office where Rogelio was answering interview questions for this NNV article. School Director Bill Rice popped his head in the open doorway and said, “Rogelio is a fine, fine boy!” Your editor’s enthusiastic response: “That’s why I’m here … to write about this wonderful boy!”

When was the last time you wanted to use the word “peach” as in “This kid’s a real peach!”? Well, Rogelio is the genuine article. A young man who is so smart and talented – and yet so humble and genuine – that you want to hug him!

Rogelio is Lick’s recipient of this year’s East San Jose Kiwanis Turn-Around Scholarship. When he spoke to the scholarship luncheon crowd, his story and his gentle confidence warmed the hearts of everyone in the room. Can you imagine the challenge of finishing middle school in Guadalajara, Mexico and, knowing only one English phrase (“Where is the bathroom, please?”), coming to San Jose to live with a sister and brother-in-law and starting at an American high school?

Rogelio moved here just two and a half years ago. He attended summer school and worked with a tutor his first summer here. When he started at Lick, he was put into an English Language Development course called ELD 1. He found it to be too easy so asked to be put into a more challenging English class. He began ELD 3 and ended up taking that course plus English I at the same time. He worked with a tutor every day after school before soccer and track workouts. He is such a talented linguist that he’s now completing English III and is ready to graduate and go on to college. His minimal accent is very pleasant and his vocabulary is phenomenal.

Asked what motivated him to work so hard, Rogelio said that he is the youngest of eleven children and all of his older siblings encourage him to succeed. The sister he lives with does not speak English well. However, she is wise and knows how important it is to master the language. She advises Rogelio to read, read, read in English and to watch TV shows only in English. He says that he always watches the news and enjoys the commentary on Washington D.C. (!) Only a few of his siblings have finished high school. None have attended college.

He also enjoys math and does very well in it, too. His only disappointment with himself at Lick is that he doesn’t do as well in Art as he thought he would. He supposed he would be good at it like he was in his middle school art course in Mexico, but he “can’t draw anything,” he says, and nothing turns out the way he wants it to. His GPA is a very healthy 3.6.

Would you believe that this lovely boy is an outstanding athlete as well? He doesn’t just “play” soccer and run track. He has been the MVP of the Valley Soccer Division for two years and was undefeated in the 400M and 200M runs last year and the 800M run this year. He’s happy to tell you about his athletic achievements, but does so with simple honesty with no hint of braggadocio.

Rogelio says that he loves this country and our neighborhood! His sister and brother-in-law would like to move out of the Lyndale neighborhood because of the recent increase in gang activity. Rogelio has noticed the increase over the last year and a half, too, but he wouldn’t like to leave his familiar, welcoming surroundings.

He told the Kiwanis luncheon audience that he planned to become a psychologist and would attend De Anza Community College. However, on the day of the NNV interview, he admitted that things were not quite that nailed down. He hopes to attend either DeAnza or West Valley, but is not sure which. He thinks he can play soccer at DeAnza, but he feels that his education is more important than sports. But he’d really, really like to be playing soccer! He says that he should find a job so that his sister and brother-in-law don’t have to bear the burden of his school expenses.

Probably because he was being urged to get his thoughts down on paper for his report to the luncheon crowd, he settled on Psychology as his pick. However, he has also considered becoming a teacher, policeman or business major. He will have to “find out,” he says. NNV has absolutely no doubt that Rogelio Gonzalez will excel at whatever he tries. Asked if he’d like to keep NNV readers apprized of his progress, he was quick to answer, “That would be fun!”

It would be fun! Let’s hope that he can find time to keep in touch from time to time.

Click here for a photo of Rogelio.

Return to Top

James Lick High School Awards Scholarships to High Achievers

Outstanding graduating seniors rewarded

On the evening of June 1st, thirty-four graduating Lick senior students received accolades and forty scholarships to be used toward their further education. Honor Night, a longtime Lick tradition, was held in the multi-purpose room. Awards were based on various parameters such as for students going on in math or engineering, the medical field, teaching, business, music or the performing arts. Students also were cited for their outstanding participation in athletics, leadership, and school activities.

Those receiving scholarships ranging from $300 to $1,000 were: Kyle Amaral-Coen, Iris Armenta, Oscar Ayala, Reyna Bonilla, Maria Conchas, Mary Crable, Ana Diaz, Daisy Diza, Zyra Duque, Esmeralda Flores, Rogelio Gonzalez, Sergio Gutierrez, Jessie Hernandez, Danielle Herrera, Ricardo Herrera, Meena Kaur, Natalie Linares, Cristella Marrufo, Cristina Martinez, Monica Martinez, Juan Montiel, Erica Moya, Jennifer Nguyen, Joanna Rabano, Mauricio Rangel, Anna Rosa Rodrigues, Carina Romo, Achidi Sama, Sharlyn Sarmiento, Luis Silva, Som Bat Thach, Jennifer Tong, Saira Toscano and Cristina Villalobos.

Click here for a list of the scholarships and the winners for each.

Return to Top

Click here for Section 2 of the June/July 2005 Newsletter

(This newsletter is in two sections to reduce the download time for this page)

--------------------------- Contact and Subscription Information ---------------------------------
Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
Phone: (408) 272-7008, E-mail: Fax: (408) 272-4040 
E-mail subscriptions are free. Your ideas and comments are always welcome. 
To Subscribe: E-mail with "Subscribe" in the Subject line. 
To Unsubscribe: E-mail with "Unsubscribe" in the Subject line. 
Privacy Policy: Your contact information will not be sold, distributed or visible to others. 
Opinions expressed by other writers and contributors are not necessarily shared by NNV.

Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 6/4/05.

Return to Top