Each May South Pasadena’s Oneonta Club invites the Oneonta Club Foundation to take over the Club’s monthly meeting to award the Foundation’s Philip V. Swan $10,000 Scholarship to each of three worthy South Pasadena High School graduating seniors.
By Dean Sheldon Serwin
Since 1955, the Oneonta Club has awarded nearly 140 outstanding South Pasadena students with cash scholarships. The evening, hosted by Club Board member, Scott Moe, began with an elevated cafeteria inspired menu from the Club’s long-time caterer, The Fresh Gourmet, while the attendees enjoyed a spectacular musical performance by the SPHS Jazz Band, conducted by Howard Crawford. After dinner, the group sang a few songs (a staple of Oneonta Club meetings), including a rousing rendition of the SPHS Alma Mater led by the Club’s former song-leader joined on stage by not only this year’s scholarship winners, but all of the South Pasadena High School graduates in attendance (and even Superintendent Geoff Yantz).
Stepping to the podium, Foundation president Bill Cullinane declared, “Philip V. Swan created the Foundation in 1975 with nothing more than an idea and a clear vision of what he hoped to create,” to the gathering of nearly 100 Club members, South Pasadena School Board members, SPUSD officials, including Superintendent Yantz, awardees and their families, and other guests, “to recognize students with a passion for or about something, and who would use their talents to leave a mark on the world.”
Club President, Bill Cullinane announces his retirement
Cullinane then welcomed a very special guest, Philip A. Swan, son of the founder. Phil Jr. came to bear witness not only to the august tradition his father began nearly 50 years ago, but also to be present as Bill Cullinane surprised many by announcing his retirement as Foundation President. Cullinane named current Club president Dean Serwin as his successor. After a sustained standing ovation in acknowledgement of Cullinane’s decade+ of dedicated service to the Foundation, Serwin noted that it was during Bill’s tenure that the scholarship amount reached $10,000, and then he introduced the awardees:
Zack Quezada will study Global Health this fall at USC, with a Pre-med emphasis in the Keck School of Medicine. Zack is very proud of his work implementing the monthly Senior Tech Day at the South Pasadena Senior Center. He served for 4 years as Chair of the South Pasadena Youth Commission, and still works for the Department of Parks and Recreation. Zack played both hockey on a national team and water polo at SPHS, and he said “Too many young people give up fun for their perception of academic success. It does not have to be that way.”
Dana Soibel hopes to further her understanding of how a person’s implicit biases impact decision making when she matriculates at UCLA next year as an Applied Mathematics major with a minor in Economics. Her interest grew from a research project Dana did with a professor at the Caltech Center for Theoretical and Social Sciences. In addition to serving as an advisor on Teen Talk, a teen to teen global support hotline for 3 years, Dana has taught math for the STEM for Families Program since 7th grade, and received a grant to extend her teaching of complicated math concepts to students at Arroyo Vista elementary.
Charlie Betts will be heading back East to Dartmouth College and studying Biological Sciences, on his road to becoming an MD. Whether it is getting human stem cells to accept jellyfish DNA, being voted Commissioner of Academics of the SPHS student body, earning the position of Chief Financial Officer on the Varsity Virtual Business Team, or simply finding a way to effectively tutor a young math student at Mathnasium, Charlie meets challenges head on and succeeds through careful thought, determination and kindness.
Foundation Liaison Carl von Bibra introduced this year’s Teachers of the Year and presented each of them with a commemorative plaque and a check for $1000 in recognition of their outstanding service. From the Elementary schools, SPUSD selected 26-year veteran Arroyo Vista kindergarten teacher, Laura Ishibashi. Mrs. Ishibashi was introduced by Superintendent Yantz, who lauded “Laura’s unwavering passion and creativity… She is dedicated and loving with her students, inspiring them to do their best.” SP Middle School Principal Cheryl Busick selected the Foundation’s first two-time winner, 8th grade history teacher, Andrew Adanto. Busick feted Adanto’s “talent for story telling which engages his students and piques their interest in history.”
“We are all recognize how lucky we are to live in a community that not only values education and its educators, but is blessed with such talented and dedicated teachers like Laura and Andrew,” remarked Oneonta Club president, Dean Serwin.
Dean Serwin, an attorney based in South Pasadena, is the president of the Oneonta Club.
We hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, please consider supporting the Colorado Boulevard’s journalism.
Billionaires, hedge fund owners and local imposters have a powerful hold on the information that reaches the public. Colorado Boulevard stands to serve the public interest – not profit motives.
While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and climate crisis while supporting reproductive rights and social justice. We provide a fresh perspective on local politics – one so often missing from so-called ‘local’ journalism.
You can access Colorado Boulevard’s paywall-free journalism because of our unique reader-supported model. People like you, informed readers, keep us independent, beholden to no outside influence, and accessible to everyone.
Please consider supporting Colorado Boulevard today. Thank you. (Click to Support)