Weekly roundup: Orangethorpe’s field of dreams, a tribute to SpongeBob’s creator, and more

Newspaper illustration

In a tip of the cap to her late father, an Orangethorpe Elementary teacher has started a softball club for fifth-graders at the Fullerton campus.

As the Orange County Register reported, Erika Cardenas played for her dad, longtime Pacifica High softball coach Mark Campbell, in travel ball and when she was in high school. She had only recently joined the staff at Orangethorpe when he passed away suddenly in March 2019.

“I think that was one reason why I wanted to continue this, because when I was done with softball, I didn’t think I was going to continue to do this,” said Cardenas, who also played for Oklahoma State and UC Riverside, “but I feel like a part of my dad is still living when I’m out at the softball field.”

Fifth-graders at Orangethorpe practice and play games for several months, culminating in a big game against their teachers. Most of the young players start out with little or no softball experience, but Cardenas makes it fun, and students want to keep playing afterward.

Oh, and if you’re keeping score, the Register reported that the fifth-graders beat their teachers in this year’s game by a score of 9-8, with a walk-off run coming just seconds before the school bell.

Let’s get you caught up on the rest of this week’s education headlines.

  • Savanna High School in Anaheim unveiled a bright yellow bench in honor of the late Stephen Hillenburg, who went on to create SpongeBob Squarepants after graduating from Savanna in 1979. In the quad, the influential animator was celebrated by his family, students, staff, Nickelodeon executives and the actors who lend their voices to SpongeBob, Patrick Star, Squidward, Mr. Krabs and Plankton.
  • Dr. Brad Mason, who has served as superintendent of the Brea Olinda School District since 2015, has been selected to helm the Whittier City School District. He’ll negotiate a contract before the hiring becomes official, according to the Whittier Daily News.
  • The Orange County Board of Education announced it will fill the Fourth District seat previously held by Tim Shaw with a provisional appointment. Candidates interested in serving must submit letters of intent and resumes by no later than noon on Nov. 30. 
  • As greater numbers of younger students get vaccinated, some parents and doctors want to know when California plans to lift its mask mandate and other mitigation measures, the Sacramento Bee reports.
  • Schools and community colleges are projected to receive an additional $20 billion in 2022-23 based on a preview of California’s budget provided by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, which characterized the latest windfall as “extraordinary.”
  • The Daily Pilot caught up with Dr. Brian Dozer, president of the Orange County nonprofit Vital Link, during a cycling tour to raise awareness of — and funding for — career technical education pathways.
  • A teacher from Laguna Beach High School was recently surprised in his classroom with the Navy’s Impact Influencer Award, which recognizes educators who have had a positive impact on the lives of future sailors.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates and following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.