The abrupt end to the end of on-campus classes at schools in the Delano Joint Union High School District meant there was no chance for a fitting tribute to several teachers in the district who closed their teaching careers.

Two retirements at Delano High School were that of David Hammelman, whose construction classes put their skills to work in building several campus storage buildings, and Rene Gutierrez, the music department chairman who created several outstanding choirs during his days at his alma mater.

Earlier in the spring, Cesar Chavez band teacher Alex Gonzales, whose Titan bands earned numerous honors in recent years, announced his retirement.

At the May meeting of district trustees, several resignations were approved by the board from the Chavez campus. Resignations for retirement were accepted from Aurora Delgadillo, foreign language teacher, and Donaciano Valdez. The school board also accepted resignations of Kenneth Moore, assistant principal as director of special education, and Christian Thies, English teacher.

Reemployment of the following certificated staff at Robert Kennedy High were Christopher Anfoso and Kimberly De Santiago, both mild/moderate special education; Roden Leynes, moderate/severe special education; Joshua Mendoza, mild/moderate special education; Roxanne Salinas, physical education; Angel Villalobos, business; and Paige Winders, mild-moderate special education.

Also approved at Kennedy were Jennifer Allen, learning director; Deanne Sanchez, moderate/severe education specialist; James Robinson, English teacher; and Marissa Stuart, math teacher.

Numerous donations from Wonderful Giving to Robert F. Kennedy High were approved — $500 each on behalf of Juan Gamboa for school baseball; on behalf of Leonila Baldelomar for the donation account; on behalf of Maria Ruiz for baseball; on behalf of Jupiter Alejo for baseball; on behalf of Damaris Medrano for baseball; on behalf of Jayvie Lee for baseball; and on behalf of Arlette Ramirez for baseball. Wonderful gave $250 each on behalf of Marvin Quiocho and Eavin Castillo, both to the donation account.

Delano High received a donation of $700 from Wonderful. Also accepted was a career technical education incentive grant of $357,989.

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It was with a big smile that I read an article in The Californian that announced Delano High alumna Glendy Ardon as one of four Cal State Bakersfield students to earn top honors. They were selected for their academic achievements and impact on the community.

When I filled in for an English teacher at Delano High years ago, one class I sat in on was composed of senior honor students, and one of them was Glendy, who had a positive attitude and drive to be successful

I knew only of a piece of the hurdles she faced, but the article pointed out details I was unaware of.

A Cal State graduate with a master’s degree in educational counseling, she was named the President’s Outstanding Graduate Student for the School of Social Sciences and Education and even had the president and provost go to her house in Delano to make the presentation.

At age 18, Glendy lost both parents and she raised her three younger siblings. She also overcame personal health challenges, surviving stage IV non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

After high school, I spotted her and several supporters at Delano’s Cecil Avenue Park for a fundraiser as she was fighting her battle with cancer. It was years later when I ran across her working at the Delano’s Pioneer School office, and just this spring she was working at Delano High School. Often in the hallway I would hear her giving a greeting as she approached her office.

What a deserving person who survived so many obstacles in reaching her goals. A great girl!!

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When Richard Smithey became Delano High’s principal several years ago, he brought Dave McDaniel, his football coach from Strathmore High, with him a year later in an attempt to revive a football program that had five straight losing seasons.

McDaniel, who had earned the 1998 small-school valley championship at Strathmore, posted a 33-33 record during six seasons guiding the Tigers. One season, 2005, was a disastrous 0-10, but that was because Delano split into a second school — Cesar Chavez — and all but three players from the freshman team went to Chavez and Delano had only two of those players contributing as seniors.

McDaniel then went into the administrative field at Delano High and served as athletic director until leaving the district in 2015 to take a position in a small school closer to his home and parents.

Well, McDaniel since his retirement has, according to an article in the Porterville Recorder in May, been active in working with GLOW International Ministries which provides education, nutrition, health, hygiene and spiritual resources to regions all over the world.

Through that work he and his wife, Nancy, traveled extensively to destinations that included Israel, France, Belgium, Sri Lanka, Japan, Great Britain, Canada and Norway.

It was following the week of March 16 that the couple flew out of Amsterdam to LAX that somewhere along the line both contracted the coronavirus.

According to the article, Dave felt bad for a couple of days after his return and then “it really hit him hard.” Finally, on his third test, he tested negative, but the process took even longer for his wife.

Dave and Nancy both gave a great deal of credit for their recovery to what was prescribed by their Porterville doctor, Dr. Stephen Meis.

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Katrina Sandoval, a bus driver for the Delano Joint Union High School transportation department, has been recognized as one of the 2020 Kern County Classified Employees of the Year.

The Californian article said she had safely transported students for the district for 17 years. She currently serves special education students with “compassion, caring, and a keen understanding of student needs.” She is involved in numerous school and community activities and inspires others to contribute their time to school activities.

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One death notice I recognized in The Californian was that of Melba Abello Kimpo, 98, of Playa Vista on May 20. I assume she was living with or near her daughter, Sally, and husband, Eddy, who moved to that area after their retirements in Delano.

Kimpo was small in stature as a nurse, but strong in her stance during her many years at the Delano hospital when it was located at Jefferson Street and 14th Avenue. She was head nurse before the hospital was relocated to its present Garces Highway site and she retired.

Her children, Sally, Heddy, and Anthony, were students of mine, and I knew of Diana, but wasn’t sure if there were other siblings. Granddaughters Angela and Allison were later in the cheerleader program at Delano High, and I enjoyed working with them.

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Winter sports athletic awards were given out only in girls basketball before the pandemic broke out, and it was late May before the other Delano High winter sports award recipients were revealed.

For varsity boys basketball, Jerrick Alestre was named Most Valuable, Thomas Perez received the Big Man Award winner, and Tony Ponce received the Fantastic Finisher Award. Kymark Retamal was Most Valuable and Anthony Mojarro was Most Inspirational for the JV team. Christian Almendares was Most Valuable and Miguel Salmeron won the Tiger Award for the frosh team.

For boys soccer, Yovani Espino was Most Valuable for the varsity team, Arturo Villa was named the Defensive Player of the Year and Raul Landeros received the Coaches Award. For the JV team, Omar Gutierrez was selected for offense and Edgar Hinojosa was named Most Valuable.

Maria Tobon received the Most Valuable award for varsity girls soccer, with Yaritsca Iribe named the Super Goalie winner, and Yareli Lorenzano awarded the Hustle Award. Abigail Ayon was Most Valuable and Verenice Diaz was Most Versatile for JV girls.

In wrestling, Irvin Ayon was Most Valuable for the varsity team, Will Santos took the Coaches Award and Angel Valdivia received Most Improved. For JV, John De Guzman was Most Valuable and Joel Cardenas was Most Improved.

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Because of the pandemic, I am certain that schools and the city of Delano will be feeling (or already have) the pinch in funds.

If my source is correct, the city has purchased the Methodist Church site at the southeast corner of 11th Avenue and Jefferson Street. I would guess that the cost of destroying the church will be almost as much as the site itself. I just wonder if the city plans to build something at the site or just to have it as a parking lot since employees were hesitant to use the lot that the city had a block and a half away.

The big question is how the city can afford the expenditure at this time?

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