La Mesa News Briefs – May 26, 2017

La Mesa named Playful City USA

La Mesa is an exceptionally playful place to be.

This is according to KaBoom!, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing all kids with opportunities for balanced and active play, which is awarding La Mesa a Playful City USA designation for the 10th time.

Playful City USA honors are given to cities and towns across the country that put the needs of families first so kids can learn, grow and develop important life skills. These communities transform ordinary places into playful spaces and use play as a solution to the challenges facing their residents.

Since 1996, KaBoom! has collaborated with partners to build, open or improve nearly 16,700 playgrounds, engaged more than 1 million volunteers and served 8.5 million kids.

“We are thrilled to recognize La Mesa for putting kids first,” KaBoom! CEO James Siegal said in a press release. “The well-being of our communities starts with the well-being of our kids, and play is critical for them to thrive. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all kids get the childhood they deserve filled with play.”

Find out more about La Mesa’s parks and public play spaces by visiting Community members can learn how to help renovate La Mesa park playgrounds or participate in programs in the parks at

To see a list of all 258 communities named 2017 Playful City USA honorees, or for more information on the program, visit   

Lemon Avenue Elementary wins Carton 2 Garden contest

Lemon Avenue Elementary won the grand prize of $5,000 in the Carton 2 Garden contest put on by Evergreen Packaging.

The competition, administered by KidsGardening, gives students a hands-on experience in repurposing empty milk and juice cartons to build or enhance their school gardens. This project promotes creativity, leadership and teamwork, and teaches students about healthy eating and the eco-friendly benefits of cartons.

Some of the 500 cartons collected at Lemon Avenue elementary (Courtesy of Evergreen Packaging)

Lemon Avenue’s “Saving the Monarchs” project involved recycling, composting, planting, creating an official ‘Monarch Waystation’ on school grounds, conducting community outreach activities, and providing milkweed plants — the butterflies’ source of food — throughout the local community for distribution and planting.

By introducing STEM, sustainability, and health educational content through creative hands-on lessons and activities, the project made a lasting impact on the attitudes and behaviors of participating students, educators and the local community, giving them a new appreciation of the butterflies and the environment as a whole.

In total, the school transformed 500 cartons into planters for the project. 

St. Andrew’s Day School celebrates 70 years

Seventy years ago, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Day School opened in La Mesa. On June 16, the school will be having a celebration honoring its history with fun activities followed by the Spring Festival. Alumni are all welcome and encouraged to come.

Andrew’s was originally a junior kindergarten through sixth-grade traditional school started by Father Boone Sadler in 1947. Over the years, the school has changed to meet the needs of the growing community, taking 2-year-olds through kindergarten.

(Courtesy Andrew’s Episcopal Church)

As time went on, the demand for younger care was needed within the city of La Mesa. In April 1997, the school opened a nursery which cares for babies 8-weeks to 18-months old. Today, there are 145 families served by St. Andrew’s.

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Day School’s 70th anniversary celebration begins at 4 p.m. June 16 in the school parking lot.

Summer camps through the city

La Mesa Community Services Department reminds the community about its upcoming summer programs that offer recreation for all ages, including swimming and day camps.

La Mesa offers summer camps for ages 4 to 16 that include activities such as archery, art, cooking, game design, dance, engineering with Legos, fencing, flag football, golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, jump rope, Mad Science, tennis, woodworking, volleyball, yoga and traditional day camp.

Enrichment opportunities for children include classes in babysitter safety, dance, gymnastics, swimming, tiny tot adventures, tot speech and tennis.

Adult classes offer ballet, martial arts, painting, tap, urban line dance, water exercise or Pilates. Classes begin the week of June 26.

Register online at For more information about recreation programs and camps offered through La Mesa Community Services, call 619-667-1300 or email

Climate groups host La Mesa Solar Experience

On May 16, San Diego-based nonprofit organizations, Center for Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Campaign, and sponsor Sullivan Solar Power, joined forces to host the La Mesa Solar Experience.

The event, held at La Mesa Community Center, featured an educational seminar on solar power and electric vehicle showcase.

One of the main topics covered was how the rapid growth of solar has resulted in some solar installers engaging in high-pressure sales tactics. Companies have offered misleading and outdated information about financial rebates, as well as other incentives that no longer apply to solar power system purchases, according to industry watchdogs.

Go Solar California, a leading solar power industry advocacy campaign, recently issued a consumer alert about companies “throughout California attempting to generate sales through unscrupulous methods.”

EV cars on display at the La Mesa Solar Experience (Courtesy Sullivan Solar Power)

To clear out the misinformation, experts from Climate Action Campaign and Center for Sustainable Energy, as well as certified energy practitioners, confronted the growing confusion about going solar.

“It’s more important than ever to empower families with the freedom of clean energy and clean air. That’s why Climate Action Campaign has been inspiring, engaging and educating communities across San Diego with the tools to realize a 100 percent clean energy future,” Nicole Capretz, executive director of the Climate Action Campaign, said in a press release. “The La Mesa Solar Experience highlighted how rooftop solar can work for you, while supporting community goals, justice and jobs — all part of the American dream.”

Other topics included at the La Mesa Solar Experience were: how solar works, battery storage and integration, available incentives, financing options, how to choose a solar provider and new solar rules and more. In addition, participants were invited to showcase and/or test drive electric vehicles.

For more information about the La Mesa Experience or to attend an upcoming event, visit

Helix student wins video contest

Jack Hopper, a student at Helix Charter High School, was one of four students to win a $1,500 prize for a video contest sponsored by San Diego Chapter, an affiliate of the California Special Districts Association.

Now in its second year, the video contest provides educational outreach and awareness of special districts and their role in local government. The 1- to 2-minute entertaining and creative videos focus on educating the public about “What’s So Special About Special Districts?”

Ten videos were received and four videos were selected to receive $1,500 in cash awards to be split between the school and the student.

A graphic used in Jack Hopper’s winning video (YouTube)

Hopper’s video, “Special Districts,” uses bold graphics interspersed with scenes around La Mesa to highlight the various special districts that govern in our area, such as the Helix Water District and the Grossmont Healthcare District.

Hopper and the other three winners were honored at an awards ceremony on Thursday, May 18 at the San Diego Chapter California Special Districts Association Quarterly Dinner Meeting.

The 2017 winning videos, as well as details about the contest, can be found at

Boys to Men expand in region

Boys to Men Mentoring (BTM) is expanding its network of school-campus-based programs. Since raising close to $100,000 from the 2017 1 Wave Challenge and Torrey Pines Adventure Run — two fundraisers hosted in late January on the closing weekend of the Farmers Insurance Golf Tournament — the La Mesa-based nonprofit has added four new schools to its partnership circle:

  • Sunset High School, San Dieguito Union High School District
  • Rancho Buena Vista High School, Vista Unified School District
  • Ivy Fallbrook High School, Fallbrook Union School District
  • El Cajon High School, Grossmont Union High School District

At the beginning of the fall 2017 school year, BTM will collaborate with 28 San Diego middle and high schools, hosting 38 group meetings each week, led by adult male role models, who will guide 724 at-risk, fatherless boys on their journey from boyhood to manhood.

The BTM groups help these high-risk boys face their past, learn accountability, improve their grades, and experience school from a new perspective because of fewer disciplinary issues.

“Boys to Men is fueled by the generosity and compassion of a team of bighearted San Diegans who believe every boy deserves the chance to reach his full potential,” Boys to Men co-founder and Executive Director Craig McClain said in a press release. “With the support of our corporate sponsors, business partners and the surfers and runners who make our fundraising events possible, our organization is on the move, reaching more at-risk boys than ever before.”

First phase of Collier Park improvements completed

The city of La Mesa celebrated the opening of the first phase of the Collier Park Improvement Project with a ribbon cutting on May 25. The project renovated the entry way to La Mesa’s oldest park, located at Palm Avenue and Pasadena Avenue.

A new park sign, decorative hardscape and a rose garden were installed at the entrance. A new sidewalk lined with LED lights was installed to better connect pedestrians from the street to the park. Eight new parking spaces were added along Pasadena Avenue, where none previously existed, to better service this heavily used park. The grade of the area was raised slightly to improve its visibility and accessibility. Six California sycamores and a Jacaranda tree were planted, surrounding new grass and picnic areas. In addition, the electrical service was upgraded and security enhancements were made to the restroom building. The project was funded by Community Development Block Grant Funds. 

The Collier Park Master Plan calls for the renovation of the park to be completed in phases. The dates of construction for the remaining areas will be pending available funding. 

For more information on this project and all projects and events, visit and

La Mesan wins water-wise landscape contest

Helix Water District has named Chandrika “Dusty” Patel-Lynch of La Mesa as this year’s winner of its WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

The annual contest recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes, which are judged on overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection and maintenance, design and efficient irrigation methods.

After converting to a low-water landscape, Patel-Lynch’s single-family home on Highwood Avenue uses just one third of the water it consumed a few short years ago, averaging 12 units per two-month billing period in 2016. One unit is 748 gallons.

“About five years ago, I decided to beautify the exterior of my home,” Patel-Lynch wrote in her contest entry statement. “The front landscape was covered with ivy, which must have been popular in the 1960s when the house was built.”

Chandrika Pate;-Lynch’s winning water-wise yard (Courtesy Helix Water district)

Patel-Lynch noted that she had always admired the water-wise yard of her nearby neighbor and friend, Angela Shaw.

“The decision to go drought-tolerant was a ‘no-brainer,’” Patel-Lynch wrote. “With cuttings from (Shaw’s) mature plants, I was able to cover quite a radius. Plus, in a quest to have variety, I have purchased succulents/cacti from various nurseries,” including barrel cactus, beaver tail cactus, fire sticks, sunbursts, and agave.

“I thought about height, texture and color. I didn’t create a design on paper. I just thought about it and planted.”

Helix awarded Patel-Lynch the prizes — gift cards totaling $250 and an award certificate — at a ceremony May 21 at the Water Conservation Garden in Rancho San Diego.

Patel-Lynch also received a WaterSmart contest winner’s sign to display in her yard. It will join a La Mesa Beautiful sign she said she was awarded about two years ago for a win in that competition’s “best color and design” category.

Helix student wins laptop

Helix Charter High School student Benjamin Lam was one of 40 winners of the annual Laptop Scholarship Contest put on by the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS). Lam eceived his new computer at a ceremony May 11 at the 12th & Imperial Transit Center in San Diego.

More than 165 students from 53 high schools entered the contest to win a Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 13.3-inch convertible touch-screen notebook computer.

Students in grades nine–12 wishing to compete were required to submit an advertising campaign strategy aimed at attracting new MTS Trolley and bus passengers. Students had to define a target audience, message strategy and create an original poster ad design with a slogan.

As a bonus, two of the winning advertisements will be displayed at an MTS bus shelter.

“These students are very creative. The advertising campaigns focused on important issues to San Diego transit such as helping the environment, realizing cost-savings and tourism promotion,” Harry Mathis, MTS board chair, said in a press release. “We appreciate the partnership with Coca-Cola and the San Diego County Office of Education to help promote this contest and make it a success. It’s a great learning experience for the students.”

La Mesa student named top 10 volunteer

On May 8, Meghana Reddy, 18, of La Mesa was named one of the top 10 youth volunteers of 2017 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards during the program’s 22nd annual national award ceremony at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC.

Selected from a field of more than 31,000 youth volunteers from across the country, the top 10 youth volunteers earn the title of National Honoree, along with personal awards of $5,000, engraved gold medallions, crystal trophies for their schools, and $5,000 grants from the Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.

(l to r) Michael Phelps, Meghana Reddy and Kenan Pala (Courtesy of Prudential)

Reddy, a senior at Francis Parker School, was named one of two California top youth volunteers, along with fellow Parker student Kenan Pala, at an event at the Smithsonian in February. Two volunteers from every state and the District of Columbia compete for the top 10 and it is very rare that the two students come from the same school.

At the February awards ceremony, each of the 102 State Honorees for 2017 received $1,000 awards as well as personal congratulations from Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps. The honorees each also received engraved silver medallions and all-expense-paid trips with a parent to Washington, D.C., for the May 8 event.

Reddy uses 3D printing technology to produce artificial hands for children and adults in several countries who cannot afford commercial prostheses. On a family trip to India in 2014, she visited an orphanage and was shocked to see two young children with missing limbs. Upon returning home, she did some research online and learned how 3D printers can be used to create inexpensive objects, including prostheses.

For more information about the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and this year’s honorees, visit or

Reading Cinemas Grossmont goes TITAN

On May 5, Reading Cinemas Grossmont unveiled a big-screen experience called TITAN Extreme Cinema at the release of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

“With the continued progression of digital cinema technology, Reading Cinemas is thrilled to provide San Diego with one of the very best movie-going experiences available anywhere,” said Terri Moore, Reading International’s vice president of operations in a press release. “With the new TITAN XC experience, the visuals are so enlivening and sound so exhilarating that our guests will experience the movie from head to toe.”

One of the theater’s largest auditoriums was redesigned to create a superior atmosphere.


Reading Cinemas’ TITAN XC with Dolby Atmos will feature:

  • Gigantic screen: Stretching more than 55 feet wide and 31 feet tall, the premium auditorium features one of the largest commercial movie screens in San Diego.
  • Pristine digital projection: All movies shown in TITAN XC will be presented with Barco digital projectors. Additionally, 3D blockbusters will be showcased using Dolby 3D’s full-spectrum color technology.
  • Immersive sound: TITAN XC will also feature Dolby’s latest cinema innovation, Dolby

Atmos, a multi-channel audio format where sound flows all around to completely immerse moviegoers in the action. Fifty-one individually articulated audio channels placed throughout the auditorium create a powerfully moving cinema experience. Dolby Atmos sound is offered on select movies, where available; all other movies featured in TITAN XC will be offered in Dolby Surround 7.1.

  • Big screen value: Tickets for the premium TITAN XC experience are only $10, all day, every day, for guests of all ages.

Reserved seating: For ultimate convenience, Reading Cinemas moviegoers will also be able to utilize a new reserved seating amenity to ensure that getting a seat in TITAN XC will be hassle-free. TITAN XC guests can reserve their seats online in advance by visiting

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