November 2018

Around Town November 2018

By Jordy Hyman

Chelsea Clinton Shows Off New Book to Santa Cruz Students

Westlake Elementary students were excited to have a visit from former first daughter Chelsea Clinton on Oct. 10, part of a tour promoting her new book for young activists that included an engagement at Bookshop Santa Cruz later that evening.

The visit was organized by Casey Coonerty Protti, owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz and mother of Devin Protti, a fifth grade student at Westlake.

Devin Protti introduced Clinton to an auditorium packed with 200 mostly well-behaved students. In an eloquent opening that his mother helped him write, he welcomed the author and thanked her for being a leader for the next generation of activists.

“I feel like starting to write a story because this story is so inspiring,” Devin Protti said later.

The audience of third to fifth graders buzzed with excitement, and the atmosphere was attentive, punctuated with some nervous screaming. The students didn’t seem to know exactly who Clinton was, only that she was like royalty, but they seemed to follow what she was saying.

“I feel like it was an honor to meet the president’s daughter and stuff,” said fifth grader Bo Goldstein. When asked if he had known who she was before she came, he said, “Not really, but now I definitely know. She’s pretty cool.”

Besides spending her teenage years in the White House, Clinton, 38, is the vice-chair of the global nonprofit Clinton Foundation. She has a doctorate in international relations from the University of Oxford and was a correspondent for NBC for three years. She is also the author of “It’s Your World” and “She Persisted.”

Clinton’s new book, “Start Now!,” is a guide for young activists that explains global issues from endangered animals to bullying and highlights some of the youngest people on the front lines, like seven-year-old Isiah Britt, who raised money for hand sanitizer for schools in Flint, Michigan.

In between the faces of students trying to figure out what was going on, many of the kids looked incredibly sad or angry to hear about the threat of climate change and species extinction.

But when Clinton asked, “Who here thinks that you’re never too young to make a difference?” a sea of hands went up.

“It was really cool,” said fifth grader Chloe Jezequel-Smith. “I liked it because she gave a lot of details of how kids can make a difference in the world.” What kind of difference? “The only difference I think I can make is to take shorter showers to save water.”

Devin Protti was similarly im- pressed. “I think she’s a really nice person,” he said. “She’s always inspired me to keep going, and same with the Clinton family.”

In the question-and-answer seg- ment after Clinton’s talk, many of the students seemed most curious the White House, asking what her fa- vorite room was (her bedroom), how it felt growing up there (“both ex- traordinary and ordinary”), and is it hard to live under her parents’ shadow (“I don’t feel that I live under their shadow”).

Westlake principal Clyde Curley thanked Clinton for her visit and for the work she is doing, and the stu- dents gave a thunderous round of ap- plause and started filing out in neat lines to get their favorite books signed. Even if they didn’t catch all of it, Clinton’s talk seemed to fire them up to make some change.

“It told me what was happening,” said fifth grader Diego Jasso-Diaz. “It told me that I can help the world a little bit.”

$235,000 in Academic Scholarships

Monterey Mushrooms presented 127 children of its employees with $235,000 in scholarship awards for the 2018-19 academic year. Dependent children of full-time employees are eligible to apply for a scholarship up to $3,000 and for up to four years.

The company’s scholarship program began in 1992 and honors Carl Victor Fields, the company’s past vice president of marketing. Since inception, 2,118 grants have been awarded for a total of more than $2.8 million.

Scholarships are awarded to those who pursue higher education degrees at accredited colleges, universities and vocation/technical schools. To apply, the student shares their educational background, academic goals and aspirations, school activities, work experience and personal achievements.

Shah Kazemi, president and CEO, is committed to giving the next generation of decision makers the tools needed to be successful in society and the workplace.

“We don’t just grow mushrooms; we grow people,” Kazemi said. “Education is the key to opening opportunities.”

For more information about the company visit

The Cost of Freedom

World War II history has always been a strong interest of mine. When I was 14, I remember telling my mom “I need to meet and talk to a WWII veteran.” The very next day, I saw an old man wearing a WWII combat veteran hat. I thanked him for his service and told him about my interest. He offered to arrange a meeting so he could further tell me his stories. His name was Joe, and he served in the navy on a destroyer ship in the Pacific. He passed away about a year after I interviewed him. Since then I have continued to interview veterans. – Cyrus Kamkar, Mount Madonna Class of 2018.

In March, Kamkar, then a twelfth grade student at Mount Madonna School (MMS), organized “Honoring the Greatest Generation,” a public panel discussion with United States veterans as part of a class project. The event was hosted by the school and attend by its middle and high school students. Interest in the discussion was strong, and on November 9, 2018, MMS will host a second event arranged and moderated by Kamkar.

“The Cost of Freedom” will be a panel discussion the U.S. service veterans through the lens of the WWII era to present day. This free event is open to the public and will take place on Friday, November 9 at 9:00am at Mount Madonna School, 491 Summit Road, Mount Madonna. Reser- vations are encouraged at [email protected]

“At Mount Madonna School we believe in the importance of empathy and that one way to connect and empathize with others is through the power of narrative,” commented Director of Upper School Shannon Kelly. “We can learn a lot by reading about experiences but nothing is as powerful as hearing about experiences first hand. If our aim is to educate our students to be fully engaged citizens, then it is integral that they understand the sacrifices our veterans have made for this country. It is my hope that by hearing the stories of the veterans on the panel our students will have a deeper understanding of this country’s his- tory and the positives and negatives that come with serving in the military.”

“We as citizens have an obligation in this country to honor and remember these heroes,” said Kamkar. “Our prosperity has been placed in their hands to protect. That is why I am hosting this panel discussion; to give the opportunity that so many young people do not get to have due to significant gaps between the generations. Every step we take in a free society, every movement, every breath was made possible by our veterans.

“Every freedom we have has been fought, bled and died for,” he continued. “The will to protect and preserve the ideas that shape us as Americans must continue to live on and show as a shining example for the whole world to see. We are a unique country that was formed off of a reaction of oppressive government rule, and we have successfully been consistent with those values by being the strongest enemy of tyranny and biggest preserver of freedom around the world.”

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