By Allen David
TUESDAY, APRIL 19
Back in the olden (read: insensitive) days before it came to be commonly known as Spring Break, this is the week—the one leading up to Easter—that all children used to be out of school for what was always called Easter Vacation. My goodness, how times have changed—and are changing. In fact, if current trends hold, children will someday be out of school every week. Take the Corona-Norco Unified School District, for example. In the past four years, it has slashed its budget by $90 million, cut 353 jobs from its staff, reduced the salaries of remaining employees by about 5 percent . . . and knocked five days off the school year. Superintendent Kent Bechler says that any more cuts could shrivel the going-to-school experience into something that might be unrecognizable as anything adults remember. It’s already on its way. Student competitions such as spelling bees and science fairs have been cut back to all-volunteer events, ninth-grade sports have been reduced, bus transportation almost eliminated and the kids left so disheartened that few can even be bothered hawk up saliva for a spitball.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20
But of course, it’s all a matter of perspective. That is, someone can focus on the disintegration of the school system and the crushing quality-of-life consequences for our children—or they can turn their attention to the bright side: Norco’s new Animal and Bird Veterinary Medical Center in Norco is costing multi-millions of dollars to build . . . will be 27,000 square feet, nine times larger than the current facility . . . will feature 17 dog kennels, each with a different theme (outer space, princess, Las Vegas), each with luxury beds for the animals, each with dog-themed movies playing on the TV, each with a webcam that the pet owners can access to check on their little poochie . . . walls of soft lavender, aqua and blue pastels . . . examining rooms themed around cheetahs, elephants and giraffes . . . rooms illuminated by special skylights that focus the sun’s rays . . . a memorial wall and memorial garden for deceased pets . . . and employee restrooms decorated with murals. It’s truly something the residents of Horsetown, U.S.A. can be proud of—except for the fact that it doesn’t include any accommodations for horses.
THURSDAY, APRIL 21
Another year, another Last Supper.
FRIDAY, APRIL 22
It sounds physically and spiritually draining, but many of the Christians in Big Bear Valley say that the annual Good Friday Prayer Walk—a carry-the-cross-like-Christ-did journey through the city—say that sort-of reenacting the torture that Jesus endured on the way to his death actually works to revive the local youth. This year’s Prayer Walk began at 9 a.m. in the parking lot of the Big Bear Christian Center . . . well that’s where the prayer half of things began, anyway—and after sending some good wishes heavenward, everybody got in cars to drive to Easy’s General Store in Sugarloaf, then Big Bear High School in Big Bear City, followed by the Big Bear Lake Convention Center at the corner of Big Bear Boulevard and Division Drive, Big Bear City. From the Convention Center, participants walked through The Village and culminated at Veterans Park on Big Bear Boulevard in Big Bear Lake. Yes, that is a lot of walking, and yet, the youth truly did appear to be revived, because . . .
SATURDAY, APRIL 23
. . . less than two full days later . . .
SUNDAY, APRIL 24
. . . they ran their asses off in the Easter Egg Hunt.
MONDAY, APRIL 25
Alejandro Castillo, the 58-year-old former pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Ontario, pleads guilty to one count of committing a lewd act on a child as part of a plea bargain that will likely mean only a year in county jail and subsequent registration as a sex offender. Castillo, who has also served as a priest in Rialto and San Bernardino, had been charged with eight felony counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts two years ago with a 12-year-old boy. Ted Campos, a longtime friend of Castillo who had helped organized efforts—including raising $24,000 for bail—to exonerate the priest, didn’t know Castillo had copped a plea until a reporter contacted him for comment. “Personally, I’m sad it’s come to this point,” said Campos. Except that, well, this latest evidence of child molestation by Catholic priests is not what it has come to. It hasn’t come to anything—because it’s still going. Or did you miss the news that San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Nathan Gastineau is out on bail—and placed on administrative leave—after his arrest Friday after the department received information he may have had sexual relations with a 16-year-old girl? Gastineau worked at the Highland station, where he was a leader of the Explorers program—which gives law-enforcement training to students from 14 to 21 years old.