Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, March 18, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:7



Mountain Views-News Saturday, March 18, 2017 




By Deanne Davis

“Bluegrass is wonderful music. I’m glad I originated it!”

“Bluegrass has brought more people together and made more friends 
than any music in the world.” Bill Monroe

This morning I visited Sierra Madre Elementary School where the second 
graders – about 110 strong of them – were presenting their portion of 
Road Trip USA – Nashville! And, not only were the second graders 
amazing performers but their special guest, Evan Marshall, is a world-
renowned musician himself. Needless to say, I had a fabulous time! A 
bit more about Road Trip USA: Each grade level had a destination with 
appropriate music. 5th grade did Folk and Rock ‘n Roll for Los Angeles. 
4th grade traveled to Detroit for Motown. 3rd grade visited New York for 
Broadway and 2nd grade took us to Nashville.

 Meeting Evan Marshall was an absolute pleasure, and being 
introduced to him by Gayle Bluemel, former principal of the school 
and namesake of the Gayle L. Bluemel Auditorium was also a pleasure. 
Gayle was the pianist for today’s trip to Nashville and her husband, 
Dan, played a mean guitar to compliment Evan Marshall’s excellent 
fiddle work. Trained as a classical violinist, Evan fell deeply and 
permanently in love with Bluegrass Music in high school. His first 
band, “Smokewood,” was formed with his brother, John. Evan has the 
distinction of playing Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe for 10,000 shows 
– give or take a couple! Friends with Gayle Bluemel for at least 50 years, it 
was her Dad who handed Evan his first mandolin, which led to a lifetime 
of taking the mandolin places it had never been before. For example, 
Evan has played mandolin solos with symphony orchestras and is well 
known in classical music circles for his solo version of the William Tell 
Overture on the mandolin. He has written many arrangements for 
mandolin which are available as sheet music and instruction books and 
he recorded and put out his first album, “Class Grass” in 1981. Evan 
has several solo mandolin CD’s recorded on Rounder Records and a 
number of CD’s you can find on his excellent website: HYPERLINK 
“” Take a 
look! I have my eye on “The Mandolin Mystery Tour” and “A Mostly 
Mozart Mandolin Concerto.”

 As we were chatting, the auditorium stage began to fill with exuberant 
second graders decked out in cowboy hats, bandanas and boots. They 
took their places on the risers, sat quietly...which was pretty impressive...
while the rest of the students in grades three through five took their 
seats. “Achy Breaky Heart” blasted away. Miss Emily, the music teacher, 
who, I do believe is a Force of Nature achieved wonders with these little 
folks. Incidentally, Evan Marshall is the very first professional musician 
to grace one of these assemblies and what he added to their music was 
just perfection. Accompaniment, some amazing breaks and each time 
he had a solo part, all the second graders turned in his direction. Miss 
Emily, Force of Nature!

 The Pledge of Allegiance was recited, “America The Beautiful” was 
sung and the second graders were on! The lineup included “Keep On 
The Sunny Side,” a terrific solo presentation of “I Go Out Walkin’ After 
Midnight,” Hank Williams, Sr.’s “Hey! Good Lookin!” There was a 
fantastic Elvis doing “You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Hound Dog” complete 
with the moves, and all the while, Evan Marshall added absolutely 
stellar interludes.

 There was line dancing, square dancing, a duo of ukulele players 
performing “You Are My Sunshine,” and the School Song ended the 
program, as performed in the style of “The Tennessee Waltz.”

 I was astonished at how quickly the time flew by and delighted 
when Evan treated the audience to “Orange Blossom Special” which 
brought down the house. The Spotlight Assembly – Road Trip USA was 
outstanding. Kudos to Sierra Madre Elementary School for showcasing 
their kids with opportunities to shine.


200 N. Michillinda Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024

(626) 355-3463 Head of School: Julia V. Fanara

E-mail address:

Arcadia High School

180 Campus Drive Arcadia, CA 91007

Phone: (626) 821-8370, Principal: Brent Forsee

Arroyo Pacific Academy

41 W. Santa Clara St. Arcadia, Ca, 

(626) 294-0661 Principal: Phil Clarke

E-mail address:

Barnhart School

240 W. Colorado Blvd Arcadia, Ca. 91007

(626) 446-5588 Head of School: Ethan Williamson

Kindergarten - 8th grade


Bethany Christian School

93 N. Baldwin Ave. Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024

(626) 355-3527 

Preschool-TK-8th Grade

Principal: Dr. William Walner

website: www.

Clairbourn School

8400 Huntington Drive

San Gabriel, CA 91775

Phone: 626-286-3108 ext. 172

FAX: 626-286-1528


Foothill Oaks Academy

822 Bradbourne Ave., Duarte, CA 91010

(626) 301-9809 

Co-Principals Nancy Lopez and Diane Kieffaber

Frostig School

971 N. Altadena Drive Pasadena, CA 91107

(626) 791-1255

Head of School: Jenny Janetzke


The Gooden School

192 N. Baldwin Ave. Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024

(626) 355-2410 

Interim Head of School, Merrily Dunlap 


High Point Academy

1720 Kinneloa Canyon Road Pasadena, Ca. 91107 

Head of School: Gary Stern 626-798-8989


La Salle High School

3880 E. Sierra Madre Blvd. Pasadena, Ca. 

(626) 351-8951 website:

Principal Mrs. Courtney Kassakhian

Monrovia High School

325 East Huntington Drive, Monrovia, CA 91016 

(626) 471-2800 Principal Darvin Jackson


Odyssey Charter School

725 W. Altadena Dr. Altadena, Ca. 91001

(626) 229-0993 Head of School: Lauren O’Neill


Pasadena High School

2925 E. Sierra Madre Blvd. Pasadena, Ca. 

(626) 396-5880 Principal: Roberto Hernandez


St. Rita Catholic School

322 N. Baldwin Ave. Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024

Principal Joan Harabedian (626) 355-9028 


Sierra Madre Elementary School

141 W. Highland Ave, Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024

(626) 355-1428 Principal: Esther Salinas

E-mail address:

Sierra Madre Middle School 

160 N. Canon Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024

(626) 836-2947 Principal: Garrett Newsom

E-mail address:

Walden School

74 S San Gabriel Blvd

Pasadena, CA 91107 (626) 792-6166

Weizmann Day School

1434 N. Altadena Dr. Pasadena, Ca. 91107

(626) 797-0204

Lisa Feldman: Head of School

Wilson Middle School

300 S. Madre St. Pasadena, Ca. 91107

(626) 449-7390 Principal: Ruth Esseln

E-mail address:

Pasadena Unified School District

351 S. Hudson Ave., Pasadena, Ca. 91109

(626) 396-3600 Website:

rcadia Unified School District

234 Campus Dr., Arcadia, Ca. 91007

(626) 821-8300 Website:

Monrovia Unified School District

325 E. Huntington Dr., Monrovia, Ca. 91016

(626) 471-2000 Website:

Duarte Unified School District

1620 Huntington Dr., Duarte, Ca. 91010

(626)599-5000 Website:


Finley, a human computer at JPL, visited Alverno’s 
Honors Physics Class

On Monday, March 13 Alverno Heights Academy’s Honors Physics 
class, as well as a handful of other students, had the opportunity to 
meet and hear from Susan G. Finley, the longest-serving woman in 
NASA. Finley has been an employee at JPL since 1958. Somewhat 
of a recent local celebrity, Finley’s notoriety has risen thanks to 
Nathalia Holt’s book, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who 
Propelled Us.

 During her visit on Monday, Finley shared more of her story 
with the girls, allowing them to ask questions and interjecting 
with other stories and anecdotes as she thought of them. Finley 
attended Scripps College for three years with the original intention 
of becoming an architect. Her knowledge of engineering was vast 
because of her talents in mathematical and computing courses, so 
she attempted to learn art, but later realized that engineering was 
in her future. During her college experience she majored in the 
humanities, which she explained to the girls allowed her to see the 
connectivity with everything in our world. At the age of 21, she left 
Scripps College to become an engineer with a thermodynamics 
group at Convair in Pomona.

 Like most women of her generation, Finley took time off at the 
beginning of her career to raise a family. She left JPL twice in the 
first few years of her employment in order to support her husband’s 
education and also took maternity leave for some time for her two 
sons, returning permanently to JPL in 1969. According to Finley, 
balancing her work and family lives was difficult because of the “lack 
of good child care options” and commented that both JPL and Caltech 
today offer excellent childcare options that weren’t available at that 
time. When asked by one of the girls, Finley commented that she 
believes that women still face these struggles today and many others, 
especially in the STEM fields. One of her goals was to keep her work 
and home life separate, aiming to never bring her work home with 
her or “working late without making up that time at home.” She 
cooked all the meals for her family, but did not spend much time 
on housework. In fact, Finley explained to the class that her “lack of 
talent in housekeeping” was one of the reasons that she returned to 
work after her children were old enough.

 In 1958, she took a position at JPL. This job required her to perform 
“trajectory computations for rocket launches by hand.” In 1962, it was 
a calculation Finley made that showed that Ranger 3 had missed the 
Moon by 22,000 miles.

 The advent of electronic computers slowly changed what the all-
female computations group did. The women were trained to program 
in FORTRAN, the primary 
computer language developed 
for scientific applications. 
Male engineers largely didn’t 
want to do the programming 
themselves in the 1960s. It 
was still considered “women’s 
work,” not part of an engineer’s 
job description. Through her 
career, Finley provided both 
manual computation work and 
FORTRAN programs as part 
of JPL’s missions to the Moon, 
Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, 
Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, in 
the Ranger, Mariner, Pioneer, 
Viking, and Voyager programs

 In the 1990s and 2000s, Finley 
contributed to JPL’s further 
explorations of the solar system. 
She worked with the Mars 
Exploration Rover missions 
and developed technology in 
which musical tones were sent 
at differing phases of descent 
and were transmitted back to 
DSN. The engineers were then 
able to use this information to 
determine which landing stage 
the rocket was in at a given time. 
Finley was stationed at the Goldstone and Tidninbilla stations while 
the landings were taking place and was the first to hear the tones that 
confirmed the landers survived their trip to Mars. Unfortunately, her 
work went unrecognized in the media because they reported from 
JPL’s mission control only.

 She continues to work full-time for JPL and is involved in DSN 
support for NASA’s recent unmanned missions, including the recent 
Pluto flyby by the New Horizons spacecraft and the Juno mission to 
Jupiter. She told the class that she has absolutely no plans to retire and 
looks forward to seeing where space exploration continues to take us.

 Following the question and answer session, the students gifted 
Finley with some fun Alverno gear for her to sport around JPL, 
as well as some space-themed cupcakes they had baked. She also 
generously signed autographs and answered personal questions 
from the girls.

 “It was an incredible pleasure to welcome Sue Finley to campus,” 
said Alverno Heights Academy Science Teacher Ms. Monica Barsever. 
“She is truly a role model for young women looking to enter the 
STEM fields and the impact she has made on the history of the space 
program is tremendous. We want to thank her for coming and sharing 
her inspiring story with us.” 


A Pasadena Area Women’s Scholarship is available annually in 
$500-$1000 increments for any female who is currently enrolled 
or planning to enroll by Fall, 2017 at a college or trade/technical 
school at any level. This scholarship is sponsored by First 
Congregational Church of Pasadena, United Church of Christ as 
part of it’s community outreach program, however members of it’s 
congregation are not eligible for selection.

 Qualities to be considered by the Scholarship Committee are: 
goals, grades, financial need, college and/or community service and 
proximity to achieving degree objectives. Students are expected to 
enroll in at least nine (9) units per semester at the undergraduate 
level and at least six (6) units at the graduate or postgraduate 
level. Applicants must be current residents of the city of Pasadena 
or adjoining communities OR be enrolled by Fall of 2017 in a 
Pasadena college, university, technical or trade institution.

 Blank printed applications are available in the FCC church 
office, 464 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, CA 91101, on the church 
website: OR via email from: fccmonina@ In addition to the application, two references are 
required, as well as a typed 1-2 page autobiography. If currently 
attending college or trade/technical school, applicants must submit 
a photocopy of their transcript. The deadline for submitting 
applications is April 15, 2017. Scholarship awards will be announced 
on May 15, 2017 and presented on May 20, 2017.

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: