Saturday, April 25, 2009

{The Sun 4/24/2009}

Parents pledge to continue battle to change high school name in Grand Terrace
Stephen Wall, Staff Writer

GRAND TERRACE - Supporters of renaming the new high school vowed Friday to continue their fight. The Colton Joint Unified school board failed to take action Thursday night to start the process to change the name from Ray Abril High School to Grand Terrace High School.

The $82 million campus at the corner of Taylor and Main streets is expected to open in fall 2011. The board deadlocked 3-3 on a motion to place the matter on the agenda for a vote at the next meeting.

Board President Marge Mendoza-Ware and board members Kent Taylor and Patt Haro favored putting the name change on the May 14 agenda. Board members Mel Albiso, Robert Armenta Jr. and Frank Ibarra opposed the idea. Board member David Zamora was absent.

The board voted 6-1 in March to name the school after former trustee Ray Abril Jr., upsetting many Grand Terrace residents.
More than 300 people, many wearing t-shirts and carrying signs in favor of Grand Terrace High School, attended Thursday's meeting to urge the name change.

Taylor said he decided to support renaming the school, "Grand Terrace High School honoring Ray Abril," after hearing the outcry from the community.
"I thought it would be a great compromise to heal our community," Taylor said.
Armenta said that he would not compromise his "values and vision" by supporting a name change.
"I do have a message for individuals who have been sending the board irrational,
threatening and hateful e-mails as well as encouraging students not to participate in the classroom. I will not be bullied or intimidated," Armenta said.

Supporters of the name change said they will continue asking parents to boycott a state-mandated achievement test that starts at district high schools next week.
"We're going to redouble our efforts to opt the kids out and send a message to the school board," said former trustee Tobin Brinker, a San Bernardino councilman who has two children attending Colton district schools.
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Ed Gregor said...

Grand Terrace might be LUCKY that the matter did not pass to address the name change at the May 14th. meeting. If it had the testing waivers would have been withdrawn and testing would have gone on as usual. Then guess what? May 14th. rolls around and the Board decides that the name will stand. Someone on this site warned against a drawn out battle and I feel he/she is correct. As time passes intensity and support tends to wane, now is the time to step it up,and not be patient that one more of the already decided will opt to place it on an upcoming agenda. What is the guarantee things will change if there is a revote, they are just saying they will revisit it and no change vote could still emerge. By the way the residents especially the kids of Grand Terrace and the surrounding communities owe you people that are dedicating countless hours and resources to battle this Board Blunder Many Many Thanks beyond what words can convey. You are wonderful and respected

Amanda Betten said...

Thank you Ed for your wonderful comment! I really do appreciate all the support we have received. I have been overwhelmed by how supportive ALL the residents of the Colton School District have been. It is nice to see all three of our communities banding together.
Amanda Betten

ED GREGOR said...

I know that you active people must be using your personal finances to pay for printing, paper and other necessary items, and that is not fair or right. Please post a name and address that persons with donations can send them to so that this endeavor can continue without a financial burden to those leading it. I will gladly send or deliver the 1st $100.00, and more if necessary which is very inexpensive in light of all you are doing. If in the end there is money remaining it could be put towards a scholarship or a tree or any other item that will benefit the students of the surrounding communities that will attend Grand Terrce High School

Amanda Betten said...

Actually we do not have a non-profit status at this timie, but supporters have been giving reams of paper and ink to a local business owner who is making all our copies.
We would like to turn this group into the GTHS Booster Club after the name is changed.
My email address is, feel free to contact me at any time!
Amanda Betten

Citizen D said...

I have to question the agenda of Mel Albiso and the Board when they voted to name the high school after Ray Abril. The Superintendent's Symposium from the district website states the following about Ray Abril and why the High School was named for him; "Throughout his tenure, his commitment to improving student performance and ensuring student safety was paramount."

In 2001, the year Mr. Abril retired, 17% of 11th grade students scored at or above "proficient" in the California Standard Tests English/Language Arts Standards. 83% of the students were BELOW the proficiency standards set by the State.

Mr. Abril was on the Board for all of the 11 years these students were in the CJUSD system. I wouldn't call this a ringing endorsement for Ray Abril and his dedication to the education of children. Just because you show up at the game, if you don't put the ball through the hoop, they don't retire your jersey.

The ground-breaking ceremony was proof that Mel Albiso has an agenda other than education. I was incensed by the condescension shown by him and Superintendent James Downs at the ground-breaking. I listened to Albiso's "speech" and there wasn't one word about education, or students, or community. Just what IS Mr. Albiso's agenda if not education? We know Mr. Downs' agree with Mr. Albiso and keep his job.

Saundra@ItalianMamaGoneCrazy said...


Well put... well written... and hopefully well heard!

I have a question for Mr. Armenta... who "won't be bullied or intimidated"...

HOW WOULD YOU FEEL TO BE OUT OF YOUR JOB! You see.. .Mr. Armenta... YOU WORK FOR US! WE have say in whether or not you keep your position. WE are the ones you are supposed to represent... YOU'RE NOT DOING YOUR JOB VERY WELL!!... SO WE ARE GONNA HAVE TO HAVE A LITTLE CHAT WITH OUR POLLING TICKET!!!
You may be all big and bad now...spouting your war cry... but rest assured... YOUR NAME will not be on ANY building, road, sign or even lavatory wall in GT.

Won't be bullied indeed! You know and I know that what you consider 'threatening and hateful" emails are just TELLING YOU THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUR BOARD AND YOURSELF! The truth tends to hurt, so if your ego is bruised... SO WHAT... Remember... you are a big bad school board member... you can take it... at least until the next election... sir... (I use that term loosely) You have not only lost my vote... you have also lost my respect.

Have a nice rest of your stay on the school board... make good use of it... because come election time... I will spend every waking moment making sure that each and every member that voted so boldly in front of my fellow citizens of GT at the very first meeting, to vote in Abril's name, will NOT be voted in again.

Brian Reinarz said...

You're speaking my mind Italian Mama! Politicians often become enamoured with the "power" of the elected position and forget why they're there and who sent them. They often get the idea that they're "in charge" and setting the agenda. The best public representatives continue to realize throughout their terms that they serve the public by whom they were elected.

The best realize that there is no shame in making a decision, hearing public outcry, and changing that decision based on the outcry. This means that you, as an elected representative OF THE PEOPLE, are listening.

Now, I am aware that no elected official can please everyone. Most issues have two sides and any decision made will upset one of the sides (development vs non-development...etc). I call these 50-50 issues and don't typically fault the official with whom I personaly disagree.

This is clearly not the case here. The only supporters of the Abril name are from Abril's family...this IS NOT a 50-50 issue. This is a slam-dunk from a policy point of view...unless there are personal agendas involved. Ya think? Perhaps the only way to rectify this is to send a message via recall or at the ballot box. If this remains unchanged to the next election, I'm with you ItalianMama. I will walk the streets, I will make signs, I will donate money, and I will take vacation time from work if that's what it takes to unseat these uncaring, unknowing politicians.

Someone told me the other day that, "the election is a long way off...people will forget and remain apathetic." Wrong! I won't forget...ever. I have a very long memory.

KAugsburger said...

Re: Brian Reinarz

The best representatives ideally look at the best interests of the community that they serve. That isn't always going to be popular. If you back down every time somebody complains you aren't going to accomplish much of anything.

In the case of naming the high school it is pretty clear that the majority of the board in favor of "Ray Abril High School" isn't concerned with popularity. Their agenda is aligned with the likes of Gil Navarro whose political concerns don't coincide with the interests of the students.

Saundra@ItalianMamaGoneCrazy said...

KAugsburger... I actually agree with you about Gil Navarro.

Gil Navarro and his cronies are aligned to make it a racial issue.

I also believe that serving the best interest of all in GT would have been to name it after our fair city.

Brian Reinarz said...

That is precisely why I said that no elected official is going to please everybody...I am fully aware of that. If you, as an elected official, truly believe in your heart that you have done what is best for your constituents..and you are serving for the right reasons, there is no need to back down in the face of complaints. We all know that's not the case here.

The point of my previous post is that this is a different sort of situation than is usually encountered by elected oficials. If they change this name...nobody is upset (with the exception of Gil Navarro), not even Ray Abril. This was a decision that really cannot be justified as a "you can't please everybody" type of situation.