ERIC DAVIDSON of UniHi, at WVRC on March 17th.
ELLIOTT TURNER gave the Invocation - an Irish Prayer, in honor of this day. “May those who love us, love us; and those who don’t love us, may God turn their hearts; and if He doesn’t turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles so we’ll know them by their limping.” Very touching, really - thank you, ELLIOTT. PP STEVE DAY led the Pledge, and then slipped one over on us by standing in front of the last verse of The Four Way Test but of course we muddled through, as you would expect. RICK BROUS provided An Irish Lulla-by, and we didn’t do so bad.
There were lots of guests. MARIE ROLF and PAT BUMPAS were there. CAROL COLLINS was with PP JIM, and PAT ANDERSON accompanied PDG ANDY. SUNNY was with LENNY, and PEGGY had her helper along. A teacher from UniHi was there, - Ms BOTCO, along with two UniHi students, Eric and Edgar.
It was considered important to be wearing something green (I was lucky, forgot but had on a green shirt, accidentally). Those who didn’t meet the standard were fined ten bucks, each. However, you won’t be surprised to learn that TOM BARRON tried to insist that his green undies fulfilled the requirement, which cost him double Twenty bucks. And we added to the usual confusion by having PP PETER MORE wear LEO TSENG’S badge, with LEO doing the opposite. This led to a fine of 25 dollars for LEO, but I’m not sure if the right person was ID’d… PP STEVE DAY presented BILL EDWARDS with a pin with TWO rabies, signifying he has given eight thousand plus to R.I.! MIKE YOUSEM was presented a pin with a sapphire, for giving two thousand.
There were some announcements.
April 12th is the District Breakfast, the last one for this year. The speaker will be Christine Hind, who brings a lot of background and knowledge to her presentation.
Later that same day, the Auxiliary will meet at the home of CAROL and JIM COLLINS, starting at 11:30. Harpist Sunny Ahn will play classical and light melodies for this spring Tea. Guests will park on Bundy and be ferried up to the Collins home by JIM and DON NELSON. As usual, MARGE DOWNIE can take your reservation, cost is $5.00, and all are invited.
April 21st we will be serving dinner to the Daybreak Group at OPCC. The District Conference at the Grand Hyatt Champion in Indian Wells will take place from May 12th to the 15th, and several members have already signed up. Right after that, the R.I. International Convention will be in New Orleans, from May 21st to the 25th. Bill Gates will be the featured speaker.
At our Board Meeting last evening, the Board voted to match gifts up to $10,000 for those sending a check to R.I within the next 30 days. These funds will be administered by Rotary, and as you know there is no administrative cost everything given will be used in Japan. Someone asked what a Shelter Box costs, and the answer is $1,000.
SEAN MCMILLAN came forward as the sole representative from Ireland, having been born in Killarney! Naturally he had some Irish history, relating that while St. Patrick chased all the snakes out of Ireland, it was also known that he was the only one who saw the snakes. St. Patrick was born in Wales, and at age 16 was sold into slavery by marauding Irish pirates. During his captivity he found God, and escaped six years later. He went to Gaul to study in a Monastery under St. Germaine. His mission was converting the pagans to Christianity. He established monasteries across the country and this lasted thirty years. He eventually retired to County Down, and died on April 17, 461 A.D... so we celebrate his death date, not his birth date.
SEAN felt it was necessary to point out that not all Irish are drunkards just most of them (should he have said, US?). He provided a rambling story about an American asking questions of an Irishman fishing, and smoking his pipe. The American pointed out to this man that if he wasn’t just sitting there, he could spend more time fishing, grow his business, and soon be a rich man like he was. The Irishman asked, “What do I do then?’ “You can really enjoy life!” “What do you think I’m doing now?” SEAN then told us of the office worker who called home one day to announce that his boss had invited him to go fishing, for a week. Since they were to leave that evening, he asked his wife to pack for him and he would pick up his clothes and fishing rod right after work. Be sure to include my new blue silk pajamas. Returning a week later, his wife asked him if he had caught many fish. “Oh yes, lots of trout and salmon. But why didn’t you pack my new blue pajamas?” Her reply, “I did, John they were in your tackle box!” His almost-final sally was to point out why Irish jokes are so simple so the English can understand them. But he added, Hell hath no fury like the lawyer of a woman scorned. And, don’t get married, just find the woman you hate and buy her a house. It’s a lot easier on you. Somebody wanted to know what the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish Wake was. The obvious answer one less drunk!
At this point, President GORDON asked those who graduated from UniHi to stand. CAROL COLLINS and YOE were the only two I did so in 1943, and CAROL several years later. GORDON then introduced our Speaker, Eric Davidson, who is the Principal of UniHi. Eric has degrees from Loyola Marymount University in Communication Arts, and a Masters in Education and Administration. He taught for seven years, then worked as a School Board Program Coordinator for six years. Following that he became a Program Specialist in English Learning. In 2004 he was appointed as Assistant Principal at Westchester High, and in March of 2008 became the Principal at UniHi. He is working closely with the Westside YMCA in their forthcoming building project at the southern end of the UniHi campus. Since then, he has absorbed a Magnet School, and overall achievement at UniHi has gone up by 42 points. Their graduation rate is up 11%.
Eric began by pointing out that he is Scotch-Irish, so he likes St. Patrick’s Day. He noted that he had prior experience with Rotary when he was at Westchester, where is daughter was an Interact Member. He is impressed with both the faculty and the students he found at UniHi. He believes schools are where you can celebrate the American Way of life, and he welcomes that opportunity. What they have done at UniHi is to establish five separate small schools, which are directly related to a career path. They are Engineering, Communication Arts, Environmental Sciences, Digital Media, and their new Magnet School. As he noted, whereas once finishing high school was a starting point, now, the expectation is to go to college for many students. Thus the students must be prepared for attending college.
They recently inherited the Magnet School from Palisades High School, due to some funding cutbacks on transportation within the District. Magnets focus on Computer Programming, Language, Math, and Science. These are all inter-disciplinary activities, of course. And he notes that the campus at UniHi is a much different place than it was some time ago. Since each of the small schools has about 400 or so students, they all attend classes together. Eventually UniHi will have a total of 2,000 students it was once 4,000. The Westside YMCA will begin construction of their new facility by this summer, which will provide 62,000 square feet of useable space. This facility will be shared with UniHi, which is a win-win for both of them.
Among other things, the Y will provide a swimming pool, which UniHi does not now have And their own gym as been declared unsafe, so they will be using the Y facilities. All this coordination and budgetary restrictions means UniHi will have to become involved in fund-raising, which is entirely new for them. They are looking forward to some help from the Y on this, of course.
The football program costs about $21,000 a year for equipment the students need up-to-date helmets and shoulder pads, which reduce injuries. This is one example of where fund-raising can help. Only about 50% of their students live in this district the rest are scattered city-wide. Thus, residency rules have been updated, allowing students who live outside the local district to attend schools of their choice. He feels that public accountability is vital to public schools, and we are seeing that taking place.
Q&A How are you working with UCLA? Among other things, UCLA will be sending 27 UniHi students in Computer Design to China for two weeks this summer. All it will cost is the airfare UCLA pays for everything else. UniHi is starting a Mandarin program this year, which adds to their Japanese and Spanish language programs. How are graduation rates figured? There are two methods first, each student has his own ID number, which allows them to be followed as long as they remain in the greater LA District. If you count those who start and finish at
UniHi, they are at 55%. If you look at those who have attended UniHi but graduate from any other high school in California, the number becomes 77%. Do you have outside income now? Yes, we charge for using out campus, and last year we had more footage shot than any other school in the U.S. it averages about $100,000 annually. When I came into Rotary, the Student Body President of UniHi was an honorary member - is there some way we can start this again?
Yes, and he wrote it down! Do you have someone tracking missing students? Yes, we do and they perform a most useful service, so that those who are missing don’t fall through the cracks. Do you work with disadvantaged students? Yes, we do it is highly specialized, and is on-going, staffed by specially trained teachers. Do you have Earthquake Inspections? Yes, we do. They have done away with 20 classrooms, which were right on the fault line that runs through our campus. This now includes our gym, which I mentioned earlier. Our original building was constructed in 1924, so several seismic refits have taken place. The first President of Westwood Village Rotary was Angus Cavanaugh, Principal of UniHi. and we used to have a Career Day. Can that be revived? Yes, and this is only the second thing I’ve written down it can be done. Has the focus on math and science been restarted? Yes, that’s what we are doing. Have you considered recruiting students locally? Yes, we are doing that at all the local elementary and Junior High schools, and it helps.
Eric Davidson, we thank you for an excellent and educational presentation.