It is often said that, to succeed academically, students need just one adult on campus to believe in them. For Kevin Qualls, a recent graduate of El Segundo High, that person was the school custodian.
If anybody knows the secret to life, it's Torrance's very own Louis Zamperini, the 94-year-old folk hero who has captivated the world by the miraculous ways in which he's cheated death. The secret, if there is one, seems to be this: Stay cheerful through it all.
For Jason Ferguson, captain of the varsity football team at St. Bernard High in Playa del Rey, the first day of this past season was pretty normal: everybody showed up, ran some laps and went home. But that was the beginning and end of "normal."
What the Carson High robotics team lacks in resources, it more than makes up for in resourcefulness. The scrappy robotics program began two years ago with a shopping cart, which served as the team’s laboratory.
Three years ago, Francisco Sanchez of Torrance was working as a train welder at the Port of Los Angeles when he inexplicably passed out and fell backwards into the empty boxcar six feet below. His head slammed into a metal bar on his way down. His brain began to bleed.
Much as the singers, dancers and actors who attend the fictitious Performing Arts High in New York City grapple with learning disabilities, weight issues or drug addiction, some of the real-life California kids portraying them come from families that have faced the hardships of poverty, abuse, neglect -- even murder.
For 15-year-old Hawthorne resident Thelma Godslaw, fear of failure was instilled at an early age, when teachers in her native Nigeria rewarded wrong answers with whacks from a cane. But the bigger motivator for her was the elementary school's hard-hearted ranking system. Instead of grades, every child was publicly assigned a number, from one to 35, based on his or her standing in the class.
On May 5, in an instant, Heavynle Ceasar's charming senior year was marred by a nightmare. On that afternoon, in her parents' bedroom, Heavynle's father aimed a gun at her mother, Lisa Brown, and pulled the trigger. Carlton Ceasar then turned the gun on himself and fired again -- as Heavynle was struggling to open the locked bedroom door.
The couple who suffered severe burns in last month’s Tea Fire are gradually improving. The husband remains unconscious under sedation and is hooked up to a ventilator; his wife has begun to breathe on her own.
When Russell Smelley, a Westmont College kinesiology professor and the school’s cross country and track coach, saw the Tea Fire racing down the mountain toward his neighborhood of faculty housing Thursday, he and his wife, Allison, went straight for their daughter Alyssa’s room. Alyssa had died of a brain tumor 2½ years before, at age 15, and her belongings in the bedroom were precious.