RANCHO MISSION VIEJO — A reservoir capable of holding 1.6 billion gallons of recycled water is set to sustain south Orange County by the end of 2019.
Once completed, the Trampas Canyon Reservoir will store enough excess treated water in the winter months to meet irrigation demands in the region during the summer.
It will also be the largest surface water reservoir in south Orange County, with the capacity to hold more than one-half of the recycled water the district will generate from its nearby Chiquita Water Reclamation Plant, officials said.
Officials with Santa Margarita Water District and Rancho Mission Viejo celebrated the beginning of construction on the $123 million project with a groundbreaking ceremony near Rancho Mission Viejo’s Esencia neighborhoods, Thursday, Feb. 22.
“The rate of wastewater being produced by residents remains level, but the demand for irrigation is higher in the summer,” said Dan Ferons, general manager for the Santa Margarita Water District. “Right now, during the cooler season, there isn’t as much demand for irrigation, so some of that water is going to the ocean instead of storage.”
The reservoir was originally built in the 1970s as part of a sand-mining operation in the hills south of Ortega Highway. Now, SMWD is repurposing and reconstructing the reservoir to provide additional storage for use during dry periods.
More importantly, it will also capture rainwater runoff, which would ultimately wind up in the ocean, said Justin McCusker, SMWD board president.
Ferons said the district loses about 24,000 acre-feet, or 7.7 billion gallons, of recycled water per year. The Trampas Canyon Reservoir will allow the district to retain some of that excess.
The Chiquita Water Reclamation Plant produces approximately 5 million to 6 million gallons of recycled water per day, Ferons said.
“These types of projects don’t come along often,” McCusker said. “We haven’t seen a new reservoir in 30 years. This is a real infrastructure investment.”
Santa Margarita Water District serves Mission Viejo and Santa Margarita south to Rancho Mission Viejo and some parts of San Juan Capistrano. The district’s drinking water is imported, but the district uses recycled water for most of its irrigation.
The $123 million project will be paid through a State Water Resources Control Board low-interest loan, a Proposition 1 grant, Rancho Mission Viejo, designated district reserves and other funds, officials said.
Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said south Orange County still relies primarily on imported water and creating local reliable water sources is beneficial to the region.
“This allows us to be in control of our own destiny,” Bartlett said. “When it comes to water, it’s a critical thing for all our residents.”
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/22/officials-break-ground-on-1-6-billion-gallon-recycled-water-reservoir-in-south-o-c/
Lake Forest city officials plan to reach out to residents to get their thoughts on having Boys & Girls Club programs at El Toro Park.
The City Council’s 4-1 vote to proceed continues momentum for Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach officials, who have been working with the city to find a local site for activities since October 2016.
Children in Lake Forest – most of whom are students at Gates Elementary or Olivewood Elementary – have been transported since 2013 to the Boys & Girls Club in Laguna Beach for after-school and summer programs.
The idea is to provide less expensive options closer to the neighborhoods using a portable trailer at the park. The city would build a 10-stall parking lot to serve the clubhouse.
“We have kind of two different cities here. We have part of the city that is extremely affluent and one that isn’t as much so,” Councilman Dwight Robinson said. “It needs some help. It’s an area we need to focus on in so many different ways.”
Mayor Jim Gardner was the lone dissenting vote in moving discussions forward because he said he was unsure about city policy on providing public land for programs that aren’t open to everyone. While he agreed with Robinson’s comment about giving that part of the city an identity, he also wondered about giving up park space in an area of town where space is limited, a point originally made by former mayor Kathryn McCullough during public comments.
Gardner also questioned the impact opening up a club would have on the other after school programs in the city, including the city-run Kids Factory and Saddleback Valley Unified School District’s The Learning Connection.
Most residents who spoke at the meeting were in favor of the proposal, though some also questioned why the park couldn’t instead host a Veterans of Foreign Wars club or Boy Scout activities.
The Boy & Girls Club would provide after-school programming from 2:30 to 6 p.m. weekdays, a staff report said. Parents who spoke said Kids Factory is only open until 4:45 p.m. and is subject to cancellation due to weather.
Ursula Willis said she takes her three grandchildren to the Boys & Girls Club in Laguna Beach because its services have been “the most important and influential thing in my three little grandkids’ lives.”
“It’s a hike, but one I’m willing to make just to provide the professionalism and the safety,” she said. “I need the kind of services where they can learn something and be safe at the same time.”
City staffers will reach out to the community to gauge its interest in using the park. The city will also invite residents to a meeting to discuss the topic, though no date has been set.
Should the plan be accepted, the Boys & Girls Club would start a capital campaign to raise about $1.5 million to purchase a portable facility, while the city would spend $451,000 to construct the parking lot and make improvements to utilities at the park, the staff report said.
Club officials described El Toro Park as being within walking distance of students at both schools.
“Today, it is more important than ever that we reach out and care for this extremely vulnerable segment of our community,” said Pam Estes, executive director of the Laguna Beach club. “We want to help the families who need us most, the children that are most at risk of falling through the cracks and an area of the city that needs reinvestment.”
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/21/el-toro-park-eyed-for-boys-girls-club-satellite-center/
Ready to take a hike through the trails of Majestic Oaks Preserve? See the natural habitat around Trabuco Rose Preserve? Maybe an animal or two along Lion Peaks Preserve?
The Orange County Transportation Authority will announce one of those three as the new name for the Ferber Ranch Preserve in Trabuco Canyon during a group hike at nearby O’Neill Oaks Preserve on Saturday, Feb. 24.
Since Jan. 22, OCTA has been asking residents to pick one of three possible names for seven natural areas in the county it has purchased since 2011 to offset the environmental impacts of transportation projects.
Most of the areas purchased were named for the families that once owned the large swaths of land, said Marissa Espino, who has conducted the survey and puts together hikes and rides for the community to visit some of the preserves. “We want the names to reflect the purpose of why OCTA is doing this, which is to preserve natural resources.”
The surveys wrapped up Feb. 16 and officials this week have been preparing for their announcement on Saturday.
The other six preserves that will be renamed are: Aliso Canyon Preserve in Laguna Beach, Hafer Preserve in Trabuco Canyon, Hayashi Preserve in Brea, MacPherson Preserve in Silverado Canyon, O’Neill Oaks Preserve in Trabuco Canyon and Saddle Creek South Preserve in Trabuco Canyon.
These areas are largely untouched.
Three of those preserves, Ferber Ranch, O’Neill Oaks and Aliso Canyon, are opened once every two months for docent-led hiking, Espino said. Ferber Ranch is the only preserve available for equestrian tours.
The county intends to keep access to the preserves limited. They were purchased by the agency with funding from Measure M, the county’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, as habitat restoration projects in exchange for streamlined approvals for 13 freeway improvement projects throughout Orange County, officials said.
The program is an effort to offset the environmental impacts of the freeway projects by protecting the plant species and rare animals that live on the land and provide connectivity to other natural lands for migrating animals.
The seven parcels of land – approximately 1,300 acres – were previously slated for development, officials said.
“The purpose of this open space is to help with our environmental permitting process,” Espino said. “There are specific laws and regulations and whenever we do a freeway project, it is impacting a certain habitat. The freeway environmental mitigation program allows us to purchase large swaths of land that allow us to get assurances and approvals all at once.”
Espino said OCTA received a pretty good response from residents on the naming survey and more attention on social media.
“That was important to us as well,” she said. “We want to let more people know why we’re doing this.”
The name unveiling will take place during an hour-long hike at 9 a.m. in O’Neill Oaks Preserve. The staging area for the Saturday hike will be Trabuco Canyon Road at Trabuco Creek Road. To register for the hike, visit PreservingOurLegacy.org.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/20/new-names-to-be-announced-for-nature-preserves-purchased-by-octa/
STANTON — A pedestrian was transported to a local hospital in critical condition after he was struck by a vehicle, Friday, Feb. 16, police said.
At about 9:25 p.m., the 59-year old pedestrian was struck by a red 2004 Honda while crossing Beach Boulevard on Garden Grove Boulevard, Lt. Steve Gil of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said.
The Honda was traveling along Beach Boulevard, but it wasn’t immediately known which direction it was going, Gil said.
The driver of the Honda remained at the scene and cooperated with police. The driver was not arrested and it is believed he was not under the influence at the time of the accident, Gil said.
The intersection was closed while OCSD’s Major Accident Reconstruction Team investigated the cause of the accident.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/16/pedestrian-hit-by-car-in-stanton-is-critically-injured/
SANTA ANA — An adult and a juvenile, both males, were arrested after a short pursuit led to a vehicle crash Friday, Feb. 16, on First Street between Elk Lane and Wright Street, police say.
The incident occurred at 5:20 p.m. when the vehicle failed to yield during a routine traffic stop, said Cmdr. Michael Claborn of the Santa Ana Police Department.
The crash closed off that portion of First Street, but it was unknown if the road remained closed as of 8 p.m.
Shortly after the pursuit began, the suspect’s vehicle collided with multiple vehicles, and both occupants were taken into custody.
Santa Ana police are investigating the incident. It is unknown if there were injuries as a result of the crash, or what led police to attempt to pull over the vehicle.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/16/two-arrested-after-short-pursuit-crash-in-santa-ana/
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — In the wake of Wednesday’s school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead and 14 injured, Capistrano Unified School District Superintendent Kirsten Vital sent a letter to parents informing them of safety measures taken on the district’s campuses.
“Today, our hearts are heavy for the families, friends and entire Parkland, Florida, community as we mourn the devastating loss of life that occurred yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” Vital said in the letter.
She also reminded parents the district has a safety plan in place that is specific to each school site and has been reviewed annually since 2012.
“We have an incredible relationship with law enforcement that includes daily interaction and communication, as well as collaborative participation in safety exercises and planning,” she said.
The district works with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and with the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center. The district also utilizes the Sheriff’s Department’s School Mobile Assessment and Resource Team, which is used for school situations or incidents related to violence, threats, possession or use of weapons, unstable behaviors and suicidal actions or tendencies, the letter said.
Ongoing drills and simulated emergency exercises are conducted for staff, she said, and that training is reviewed and modified as needed. The district also trains staff to speak up and report suspicious activity, the letter said.
Lastly, Vital urged parents, students, teachers, administrators and staff to report any unusual and suspicious activity. She also asked parents to talk to their children to remind them that they can report anything suspicious.
“We want everyone on our campuses to be empowered to speak up about anything that looks out of place,” Vital said.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/15/capo-unified-reassures-parents-of-safety-measures-after-florida-school-shooting/
Challenged over its election process, Mission Viejo council votes to keep its system but research alternatives
While city officials acknowledge minority groups may sometimes be overshadowed in Mission Viejo elections, they don’t think dividing up the community in voting is the solution.
After three months of public hearings and outreach, the City Council decided Tuesday, Feb. 13, to keep in place the current process for having voters across Mission Viejo choose council members from the same field of candidates.
The city got a letter demanding it change how leaders are chosen so residents are voting for representatives from geographic districts, the argument being that would make it easier for minority groups to elect representatives to the council.
Council members committed to further researching racially polarized voting in hopes of finding an alternative solution. For example, officials said, maybe transportation or translation materials could be improved to increase Latino voter turnout.
“What we’re looking for is a solution that really is a solution,” City Attorney William Curley said. “We have the science that shows going to districts doesn’t solve it. We’re trying to seriously solve it and that’s going to take a little time.”
In the last several years, a number of Orange County cities and school districts have received demand letters from Shenkman & Hughes threatening a lawsuit if they didn’t voluntarily switch to district-based elections.
“They’re begging for a lawsuit,” attorney Kevin Shenkman said Wednesday of Mission Viejo. “I’m not sure what else to say.”
The demand letter alleges Mission Viejo’s at-large voting system violates the California Voting Rights Act because it dilutes the vote of the Latino community, pointing to 2010 census data that puts Latinos at 17 percent of the city’s population.
Throughout the series of five public hearings held, city officials have said the Latino population is evenly spread throughout the city, which would make it difficult to create a district that would give the Latino population an advantage.
“If they take us to court, fine, we admit we’re wrong and that’s why we’re looking for the solution and not just a knee-jerk reaction solution,” Mayor Ed Sachs said. “There’s no real reason to sue the city now, unless we drag our feet and take five years to solve the problem.”
The City Council held five public hearings and created a section on its website dedicated to district-based elections, where residents could submit comments online and create maps with district boundaries for consideration by the council.
Sachs said a large number of the 218 public comments the city received on changing to district elections were in favor of the city keeping its at-large voting system.
The city has had four Latino councilmembers since 1988 and three of them, Robert Breton, John Paul Ledesma and Gail Reavis, have served as mayor. The mayor position – largely ceremonial – rotates among the council members.
Shenkman disagreed with city officials’ argument that Mission Viejo’s Latino population is too evenly spread out to create a district with a majority of voters. He cited a case against Palmdale, where that city ultimately racked up $4.5 million in legal fees in a losing battle.
“I don’t think that’s true,” Shenkman said. “I’ve heard that from all sorts of places.”
His recollection, he said, in seeing a map of the voting age population, “is that Mission Viejo is not exactly a model of integration where everyone is evenly spread out.”
“Palmdale claimed to be the most integrated city in the country,” Shenkman said. “In the end, the map that was drawn in Palmdale had two Latino majority districts.”
Huntington Beach received a letter from the same law firm in April, but responded with a letter of its own saying it was prepared to defend a lawsuit. To date, no lawsuit has been filed, officials said.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/14/challenged-over-its-election-process-mission-viejo-council-votes-to-keep-its-system-but-research-alternatives/
Laguna Hills-based Olympica Gymnastics churned out more podium finishes during a pair of recent competitions.
The club sent 15 gymnasts to the New Orleans Jazz Invitational on Feb. 2-4, and earned a team gold medal and 21 top-three finishes. That was two weeks after taking 70 podium finishes at the Bratayley Great Destinations meet at the Disneyland Hotel on Jan. 20-21.
In New Orleans, Olympica’s Level 8 team won its third consecutive team gold medal. Ladera Ranch’s Sarah Quan took second place in the all-around competition with a score of 36.750 and took gold medals on the uneven bars (9.575) and balance beam (9.475).
Natalie Bray of Dana Point took a gold medal on floor exercise (9.650) and took silver on vault (9.050), while Laguna Niguel’s Allison Karner won silver on vault (9.350) and Mission Viejo’s Zita Conot took silver on the balance beam (9.550) in the Junior Level 8 division.
San Clemente’s Julia Rojas led Olympica in Level 7 competition, taking gold on balance beam (9.275), silver on vault (9.625) and silver in the all-around competition (36.850). Kaitlyn Driessen of Rancho Mission Viejo won gold on vault (9.800) and floor exercise (9.400) and took bronze on the balance beam (8.950).
Ladera Ranch’s Ella Proctor won silver on floor exercise (9.375) and bronze on vault (9.775), while Lake Forest’s Madison Thrall won bronze on the balance beam (9.125), Dana Point’s Misha Parsons took silver on vault (9.625) and Hannah Richards of Laguna Hills won a silver medal on the balance beam (9.200).
In the Junior Division, Dana Point’s Kaelan Brough took silver on vault (9.525). The Level 7 team won a silver medal overall.
In Level 10 action, Kayli Tran of Las Flores took two bronze medals on vault (8.875) and balance beam (8.800).
At the Disneyland Hotel, Olympica took its Level 3-10 teams and took three team gold medals and one team silver medal.
Among the highlights, Olympica’s Level 5 team earned the top medal count with 20 podium finishes and the Level 5 Junior A team swept every event. San Clemente’s Chloe Smith took gold in every event, including a 37.350 score in the all-around competition.
Olympica’s Level 4 and 8 teams also won gold medals while Level 7 took silver.
Addison Malue led the Junior B Division Level 4 competition with an all-around gold medal (36.650) and gold medals on vault, balance beam and floor exercise. Laguna Niguel’s Audrey Jackson and San Clemente’s Madelyn Snedeker took silver and bronze in the Level 4 Junior A division competition.
Bray took silver in Level 8 all-around competition, while Rojas took silver in the all-around competition in Level 7.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/14/olympica-gymnasts-continue-to-succeed-in-national-competition/
LAKE FOREST — Barker Ranch Dog Park will be closed through Feb. 22 as new shade structures are installed to keep residents cool while their furry friends play.
The dog park, which opened in late 2015, included benches with small overhead shade structures, but no large shade structures.
The city is putting $45,000 into the installation of two shade structures, one in the small dog area and the other in the large dog area. Each shade structure measures 30-feet by 60-feet and is 10-feet tall, said Scott Wasserman, director of community services. The work started Monday, Feb. 12.
The dog park is the only facility in the city that allows dogs to be off leashes.
“We want to ensure Barker Ranch Dog Park is as comfortable as possible for residents who want to let their dogs run and play freely,” Wasserman said.
The half-acre dog park is at a cul-de-sac off of Bake Parkway in the Baker Ranch development and features separate play areas for large and small dogs and water fountains. The ground is covered with artificial turf designed for dogs.
The park is city-owned and the city pays $10,000 to $12,000 annually for maintenance.
Lake Forest officials have discussed the possibility of opening a second dog park near the Glenn Ranch Road and Saddleback Ranch Road intersection.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/14/lake-forests-barker-ranch-dog-park-closed-for-10-days-to-add-more-shade/
Mission Viejo is hosting a Pickleball Round Robin Social 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Sierra Recreation Center, 26887 Recodo Lane.
All players will be guaranteed four 30-minute matches against different players in a round-robin format. No partner is needed and the team to record 11 points first will win each round.
Medals for each division will be awarded to first- and second-place winners and a pizza lunch is included.
The event is $15 and residents can register in-person, by phone or online. For more information, visit cityofmissionviejo.org/events/pickleball-round-robin-social-1.
IF YOU GO
What: Pickleball Round Robin Social
When: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17
Where: Sierra Recreation Center, 26887 Recodo Lane
Information: 949-859-4348, option 3
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/12/play-pickleball-and-meet-new-friends-in-mission-viejo/
The Rancho Santa Margarita Landscape and Recreation Corporation will host a New & Now Member Welcome Reception, allowing new residents to obtain information about gate access, architectural submittals, events and navigating the corporation’s amenities.
The reception will take place 9:30-10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 10 at the Lago Santa Margarita Beach Club Fiesta Room, 21472 Avenida De Los Fundado. A light breakfast will also be hosted for attendees.
For more information, call 949-709-0013.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/09/new-rancho-santa-margarita-residents-can-obtain-useful-information-at-reception/
Residents can enjoy live music, appetizers and wine for a good cause from 3 to 5 p.m. on Feb. 17 at the Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center, 24932 Veterans Way.
For $25, residents can taste more than a dozen different wines from the San Clemente Wine Company and proceeds from the event will benefit the Wars of Freedom Veterans Tribute, designed to recognize veterans who have served the country from 1975 to the present.
Tickets can be purchased at cityofmissionviejo.org/recreation or at the community center. For more information, call 949-470-3061.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/09/support-military-veterans-through-wine-social-event-in-mission-viejo/
MISSION VIEJO — Capistrano Valley High students Andrew Melford, Curren Nezak and Charles Lemieux watched as the mayor drove off in the project on which they’d spent the last six months.
The three students and their auto shop classmates built the electric vehicle from scratch.
But as they watched Mission Viejo Mayor Ed Sachs and his passenger drive off, it wasn’t the state of the vehicle that concerned them.
“As long as they don’t injure themselves, we’re good,” Lemieux, a junior, said.
Capistrano Valley is one of three schools in the Capistrano Unified School District to introduce the building of the electric vehicle to their curriculum this year.
They invited city officials and Scott Paul, owner of Mission Viejo Jaguar and Land Rover dealerships, to be among the first to test drive the vehicle.
San Clemente and Aliso Niguel High Schools have also been using kits from the SWITCH Lab, a company founded by former community college instructors focused on electric vehicles for career training.
“The kids get to build this out of nothing,” said Nick Perkins, auto shop teacher at Capistrano Valley High. “It’s completely hands-on. Not many have the chance to do that.”
.@MissionViejoCA mayor Ed Sachs and Jaguar/Land Rover Mission Viejo general manager Scott Paul test drive an electric vehicle built by @CapoValleyHigh students, Wednesday afternoon. It was a success! @CapoUnified @CapoForward pic.twitter.com/6al12PJDSC
— Nathan Percy (@NDPercy) February 8, 2018
The kits were purchased for the three schools by the district’s College and Career Advantage program using a Career Technical Education Incentive Grant Program. The district received $3.5 million in grant funding and each kit cost approximately $27,000, said Nicole Berkman, program support specialist with College and Career Advantage.
Students started assembling the kits at the beginning of the school year in August. When the kits arrive, only the framework of the vehicle is intact.
Students assemble the suspension, brake systems, batteries and wiring.
The finished product is a three-wheeled vehicle capable of an hour-worth of drive time on a 24-hour charge. Vehicles range in top speed – Capistrano Valley’s model could reach upwards of 45 mph, Perkins said.
“It’s cool that we get the chance to see how these vehicles work,” Melford said. “These are the modern cars, this is where the industry is going.”
Students worked as a team, with each class picking up where the previous class left off, Perkins said.
Communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills were among the skills gained through the building process, students said.
Paul, who visited the school three months ago when the vehicle was just a frame, said he was impressed with the finished product. He said the dealership wants to invite students for internships to give them the opportunity to learn from trained technicians.
“It’s really impressive what these kids have done,” Paul said. “There’s nothing better than giving students hands on experience rather than staying in a classroom.”
The vehicles can be disassembled so future students can start the building process over again.
But for a few days, students got to test the vehicles themselves and allow others to experience the thrill.
“It’s so much fun,” Lemieux said. “If only it went a little faster.”
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/09/capistrano-valley-students-build-electric-vehicle-let-mayor-take-test-drive/
Five students worked computers in a Mission Viejo High lab, rapidly clicking and typing, forming a strategy to push their champions forward on the playing field unfolding before them.
But before long, they were overpowered by a five-member Woodbridge High team, falling in a best-of-three format and posting their first loss in the new Orange County High School eSports League, which debuted Jan. 31.
“That was a really bad fight,” conceded senior Trenton Wallington.
As friends, his team had spent the past seven months playing League of Legends – a role-play fantasy video game – taking on any, and all, challengers in their free time.
But on this day, as they waited for their next match to begin, there was a sense of anticipation. They were nervous.
Something new was on the line: School pride.
eSports already has professional gaming leagues signing players to six-figure contracts and has become prominent on college campuses.
Now, the sport is expanding to high schools, and officials in Orange County, who recognize the increasing popularity of gaming and computer science, hope the move will engage a student population that – unlike, say, football players or teenage thespians – hasn’t had a place on campus to explore its passion.
The county’s first official league boasts 38 teams from 25 O.C. campuses – further fueling the rapid rise of this relatively new genre of competition.
“We knew with eSports, the tide was coming,” said Sam Kelso, an English language development teacher who is acting as the general manager at La Habra High School. “The only question was how could we fit this onto a school campus.”
Gaming in school
To create the league, officials said they knew they had to bring legitimacy to an otherwise strictly recreational field. And it had to be educational.
The Samueli Foundation, which supports financially educational, medical and charitable institutions, is underwriting the cost for the league’s first year.
The foundation saw the “international interest” in eSports, said Executive Director Gerald Solomon. “There is this whole potential around tech and engineering and STEM education we’re involved with as a philanthropy. We thought, how could we use these forks as a tool for learning?”
The league is structured so teams practice twice a week and play opponents once a week for eight weeks. The top 16 teams will head to the quarterfinals with the championship match on April 28 played at Santa Ana’s 15,000-square-foot eSports Arena that opened in 2015.
Riot Games’ top-grossing League of Legends was the game of choice for the pilot season because of its popularity.
Each player chooses a character, or “champion,” to use in the match. The champions each have a skill set, strengths and weaknesses, so players must employ critical thinking and strategy to give their team the best chance of winning, organizers said. During game play, teams try to destroy their opponents’ towers and overtake their base, while defending their own.
“A lot of people are saying you’re just playing a game, but in reality, I have to be at the peak of my performance the entire time because one mistake could screw everything up,” La Habra senior CJ Alexander said.
He said he feels in a lot of ways, the “only reason” people are trying to find fault with video games “is because I’m not running down a field to play this. I’m sitting down,” Alexander said. “When you get into the core aspects, there’s not a huge difference between the two.”
To make sure students also get educational value out of the league, officials added once-a-week workshops at UC Irvine’s eSports Arena, with topics ranging from building your own computer to physical fitness and nutrition. Professional players are also mentoring students.
“We want to break the mold of what people think, that it’s kids frying or rotting their brain in front of a screen,” said Anthony Saba, principal of the Samueli Academy in Santa Ana, which has two teams in the league. “It’s so much more than that. We’re giving our kids access to this stuff and connecting what they love, and are passionate about, to college and career opportunities.”
Good performances could lead to college scholarship opportunities.
In 2016, UC Irvine debuted its 3,500-square-foot indoor eSports arena, the first of its kind in a public university, and awarded five students scholarships. The school also offers a computer game science major.
“This industry is blowing the roof off everything,” Saba said. “It’s unstoppable. It really is the norm now.”
A SOCIAL SETTING FOR GAMERS
Along with providing more focused career education, the league aims to boost student interaction on campuses.
While most gaming takes place in isolation at home, educators hope the league’s structure will get students socializing with classmates.
During practices and games, the players will sit next to their teammates in computer labs on campus, rather than communicating on headsets. It’s in these computer labs students are recognizing the importance of teamwork, collaboration and communication.
“It’s an interesting experience,” said Eduardo Martinez Flores, a senior at La Habra High. “We’re used to mostly talking online, so this is different. There’s a lot more noise.”
Because the league requires students have at least a 2.0 grade point average and satisfactory marks in citizenship, officials say the league will get this group of students more engaged in school.
“The beauty of the whole eSports realm is creating a platform for kids to learn without thinking that they’re in a learning situation,” Solomon said. “And that’s important because so many kids get turned off to school.”
Now that the league has been introduced and embraced, the next step is expansion.
Tiffany Bui, Mission Viejo High biology teacher and team manager, has plans of putting games up on a projector screen in hopes of getting spectators. La Habra’s Kelso said he has students creating banners and social media platforms to promote the team.
Bui also hopes more girls get involved in the program.
A gamer herself, Bui is just excited that this program is now open to students.
“It gives them a place to be,” she said. “Video games, game apps, computer games, it’s all part of a huge industry that’s going to be huge forever. It’s always going to appeal to young people, and kids would love to have a place to belong like this.”
Participating high schools
Capistrano Valley (2 Teams)
Corona del Mar
El Toro (2)
Fountain Valley (2)
La Quinta (2)
Mater Dei (2)
Samueli Academy (2)
Sunny Hills (2)
Yorba Linda (2)
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/08/ready-player-new-orange-county-esports-league-puts-high-school-pride-on-the-line/
Residents with special needs are invited to enjoy a night of dancing, refreshments, picture-taking and meeting new friends at a Valentine Dance from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10, at City Hall, 25550 Commercentre Drive.
The free event is open to residents 12 years and older. Those who attend wearing red will receive a special gift.
The Valentine Dance is one of a handful of events put on by the city each year for the special needs community.
Caregivers are also welcome to attend. For more information, contact the city at 949-461-3450.
Nathan Percy, 714-796-2247
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/07/lake-forest-hosting-special-needs-valentines-day-dance/
OC Oral Surgery, based in Mission Viejo, will be holding a free Academic Advantage event for students interested in a career in healthcare.
Speakers from different areas of healthcare will give the attendees an insider’s look at the healthcare industry and local college and nonprofit organizations will provide information about their organizations for students to sign up for volunteer opportunities.
The event will take place 9 to 11:30 a.m. on March 24 at the Sea County Senior & Community Center, 24602 Aliso Creek Road in Laguna Niguel.
Those interested in attending must RSVP in advance at ocoralsurgery.com/academicadvantage.
Nathan Percy, 714-796-2247
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/07/oc-oral-surgery-to-hold-free-event-for-students-interested-in-healthcare-careers/
The Modjeska Canyon volunteer firefighters annual awards dinner takes place March 10 at the Mission Viejo Elks Lodge.
The event starts at 5:30 p.m. with appetizers. The dinner, awards and a raffle will start at 7:15 p.m.
Tickets for the event are $30 a person and includes appetizers, dinner and dessert. Raffle tickets will be available for $1 each and all proceeds will go to the Modjeska Firefighters Association.
Tickets will be on sale until March 3 and seating is limited. To purchase tickets, or for more information, contact Paula La Bar at 714-649-0664.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/07/awards-dinner-will-celebrate-volunteer-firefighters-in-the-canyons/
The Relay for Life of South Orange County will be holding a Kick-off Celebration from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Audi dealership, 28451 Marguerite Parkway.
The Relay for Life is a fun-filled overnight event that celebrates survivors and raises money for research and programs through the American Cancer Society, organizers said.
This year, five South County communities – Mission Viejo, Ladera Ranch, Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita and San Juan Capistrano – have teamed up to host the Relay for Life South Orange County from June 9-10 at Oso Viejo Park.
To RSVP for the kick-off celebration, email email@example.com. For more information, visit socrfl.org.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/07/mission-viejo-to-host-relay-for-life-south-orange-county-kickoff-celebration/
Michael Papadakis stood on the east side of Rancho Santa Margarita Lake, looking to recreate on his canvas the landscape with the Santa Ana Mountains in the background.
But instead of paint brushes and pencils, he harnesses the sun using magnifying glasses, lenses and mirrors to burn the landscape onto the wood canvas.
The sun is the real artist, Papadakis said.
“I’m the conduit to the sun and I’m just passing along the message,” he said. “So I don’t sign any of my stuff.”
On most days when the sun is out, Papadakis can be seen working outside in front of his easel. He also sets out several pairs of goggles and a makeshift viewing station with eye protection for those who would like to watch him in action.
Before he pulls out the lenses, Papadakis sketches his drawing using a graphite pencil. Then, using a combination of instruments and swift movements, he focuses the suns rays as he glides over his sketch to burn the areas not drawn with pencil.
It’s a skill he discovered while tracing the Silk Road in China in 2012. He got tired of carrying around a backpack heavy with drawing and paint supplies.
“My friend handed me a magnifying glass…it was second nature,” Papadakis said. “I started making art and it felt like I had done it before. There was no hiccup…I knew exactly where the focal point was and then after that, I scrapped all my drawing and painting utensils.”
From there, Papadakis said he traveled west on foot for 14 months to Turkey. Along the way, he would practice his newly found craft on bread, cloth, tree stumps, broken pieces of wood and paper.
“I gifted it as a thank you for allowing me to be a free traveler,” he said.
He also found another benefit.
Born with scoliosis, Papadakis said his process has helped him balance his exercise and creativity. Unlike painting and drawing, where he primarily uses one hand, he is now using both hands and is standing and moving for hours.
“That’s the key to this and how I’m able to work so fast,” he said.
Papadakis has since turned his artwork into a full-time job, founding his company, Sunscribes, and selling his work through his website, through Facebook and in person to people passing by. He said he donates proceeds from some projects to local charities and nonprofit organizations.
The base price for his work is $650 and it gets into the thousands as the size and detail increases, he said. He also offers services as a performance artist, creating live art or logos for private and corporate events.
Papadakis credits the community of Rancho Santa Margarita for shaping him into an artist. To give back, he plans on auctioning off his lake landscape piece and donating 50 percent of the proceeds to a Rancho Santa Margarita nonprofit or charity chosen by the purchaser.
Because the art form is so unique, he said he gets plenty of questions, including queries from residents enjoying their morning walk along the lake.
“Anybody that sees this, it’s always like a form of nostalgia because they think about their first memory as a kid and usually it’s a destructive thing,” Papadakis said. “I’m pioneering the safety aspect of this. What if somebody was there when we were kids and helped us to be creative as opposed to destructive? Maybe…through the power of creativity, we can be less of a destructive society.”
Papadakis grew up in Rancho Santa Margarita and attended Mission Viejo High School. He moved back to Rancho Santa Margarita from Colorado five months ago, but said he is itching to travel again with the idea of teaching his art to others, leaving his mark much like he does by gliding the lens over wood.
“You can’t leave heat on one place for too long, because it’s going to grow,” he said. “So you have to keep moving.”
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/07/local-artist-burns-his-masterpieces-on-pieces-of-wood/
Special needs residents are invited to enjoy a night of dancing, refreshments, picture-taking and meeting new friends at Lake Forest’s Special Needs Valentine Dance, 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10 at City Hall, 25550 Commercentre Drive.
The free event is open to residents 12 years and older and will include refreshments, music and a photo booth. Those who attend wearing red will receive a special gift.
The Valentine Dance is one of a handful of events put on by the city each year for the special needs community.
Caregivers are also welcome to attend. For more information, contact the city at 949-461-3450.
IF YOU GO
What: Special Needs Valentine Dance
When: 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10
Where: City Hall, 25550 Commercentre Drive
Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/05/lake-forest-hosting-special-needs-valentine-dance/