West Sacramento’s first mayor to discuss city’s formation at public library event

West Sacramento’s first mayor to discuss city’s formation at public library event

The history of the birth of the official incorporated city of West Sacramento will be recalled and revealed by its first mayor, Mike McGowan, at a special community event on Sunday, Sept. More »

Two West Sacramento parks get upgrades

Two West Sacramento parks get upgrades

Playgrounds at Elkhorn and Bryte parks will soon benefit from significant upgrades. The City has been awarded a $40,000 Play Spaces Grant from the National Recreation and Park Association and The Walt More »

Broadway Bridge on the horizon but where will it land in West Sac?

Broadway Bridge on the horizon but where will it land in West Sac?

By Monica Stark Back in May, a big piece of local news was that Shell Oil Products was selling its West Sacramento refinery to the Port of West Sacramento. At a Broadway More »


A Day in the Life of A Palestinian Immigrant

By Stacy Grow

A stay-at-home mother of three children, West Sacramento resident Nasreen F.’s life is currently filled with caring for her children and home.
Born and raised near Jerusalem in a tight-knit community in Palestine, Nasreen exudes warmth and joy as she remembers her life back home. “Everyone knew everyone else. You might think of us as a third world country, but we had so much fun!” Every day, her family typically received 7-9 visitors at their home, a constant stream of camaraderie.
Once, her family’s apartment complex was on lockdown for several weeks due to the Israeli occupation. Neighbors pulled chairs into a shared courtyard; cards and other games were played; food, favors, and necessary supplies were exchanged freely between households. This strong sense of community and interconnectedness are the things she now misses most.
Her life changed forever when she was 23. She had her Business Degree and was working at a bank at the time. An acquaintance from the neighborhood grocery store set her up with a Palestinian man who had settled in America, but returned to his homeland to look for a bride. After their first encounter in front of Nasreen’s parents and 4 siblings, the couple got to know each other through a supervised courtship. She soon decided that “he was a good man,” and 4 months later, they were married.
When she joined him in America, she didn’t know much English and how to drive a car. She was greeted with a large, empty house and no friends or direct relatives. For several years, she toggled back and forth between Palestine and Sacramento, uncertain where she wanted to permanently settle.
Eventually, she learned English and how to drive, and decided that she wanted to raise her family in America. She cites the opportunity for upwards career mobility here and the difficulty and dangers of living under occupation. Back in Palestine, life was constantly disrupted by locked checkpoints and violence.
Now, she keeps in touch with her family every day with Facetime and WhatsApp. She stays in touch with her culture by preparing the Palestinian foods she loves, such as maqlobh, a layered dish of cauliflower, eggplant, meat, and rice.
Still, being a Muslim mother in America carries a degree of fear. She brings her 5-year-old son to the Masjid Annur Islamic Center in Sacramento for Sunday school every week, but chooses to walk around and wait 4 hours rather than leave him here unattended. Her worries are twofold: that a “crazy white man” will attack the mosque, or that a “crazy Muslim extremist” might do the same. Indeed, just six months ago, a Muslim man was killed in front this mosque after attending Friday night prayer services.
If there was one thing she would tell Americans about Muslims, she says it would be this: “We are all humans in the same community, which we need to build together and not destroy. What hurts one hurts all.”

Our Lady of Grace Parish Honors Sister Michael Henry on her 80th Birthday

By Jan Dalske for the News Ledger

Parishioners of Our Lady of Grace Parish in West Sacramento gathered in the church hall last month to celebrate Sister Michael Henry’s 80th Birthday. Sister Michael Henry has served the children of the Our Lady of Grace Parish for forty four years.

Sister was born on December 10, 1936 at her family home in Moosup, Connecticut. She was given the name Lorraine Catherine Moulin, and was baptized a few weeks later. Three years after that her only sibling, her brother Henry, was born. Sister graduated from All Hallows Elementary School in 1950.

She attended Putnam Catholic Academy in Putnam, Connecticut, and graduated in June of 1954. After her graduation she was hired to work in the local 5 and 10 cent store where she stayed for six months. When a local dentist asked her to work for him as a dental assistant, she decided to do that. A year later he told her that he would like to send her to school. He offered to pay for her education to become a dental hygienist. She thanked him for the kind offer but turned him down.

Lorraine had always wanted to be a religious Sister. She entered the Novitiate of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit in Putnam, Connecticut where she made her Profession of her First Vows on August 23, 1957. She took her final vows five years later, on August 23, 1962. At that time when you took your final vows, you could select three names that you would be called when you became a Sister.

She selected her three choices. Her first choice was “Sister Agnes Marie”. The second choice was “Sister Anna Marie”. This was her mother’s name. For her third choice she picked her father’s name: “Michael Henry” as she did not want him to feel left out. Lorraine did not really want a man’s name when she became a Sister. But, to her surprise that was the name that was selected for her.

After her Profession of Final Vows, the local newspaper listed the new Sisters names. There was a prisoner in Connecticut who had the same name: Michael Henry. He got her address and wrote her a letter. He felt that if a Sister would pray for him, maybe he could be saved. Sister Michael Henry felt that if God could help one person through a name that she did not really want, she would keep that name.

At that time, after Vatican II, the Sisters were allowed to go back to their baptismal or birth name, but Sister MH chose not to do that. The prisoner and Sister MH corresponded until he died. Between the years that Sister had taken her first vows and her second vows she earned her B.A. and her Connecticut Teaching Credentials. She was sent to teach first grade at St. Joseph’s in Waterbury, Connecticut.

The day after Sister MH made her Profession of her final vows, she was driven to New York where she boarded a flight to California. She was twenty one years old. She had never been to New York, She had never been on a plane. And, she was going to California! There was a saying that if you died on or soon after your Profession that you would go straight to Heaven. As soon as Sister MH got seated on the plane, she said an Act of Contrition. She was convinced that she was going to Heaven.

Our Lady of Grace School opened in 1960. Sister Michael came to the school to teach second grade in 1962. After teaching there for four years she went to teach third grade at St. James School in Davis, CA. She was there for four years. Then, she taught for two years at St. Rita’s in Fairfax. Following her short time at St. Rita’s, she returned to Our Lady of Grace School in West Sacramento.

Every summer she studied at Dominican College in San Rafael. At that time it was the Pacific Coast Branch of the Catholic University of America which is located in Washington, D.C.-where she received her Master’s Degree in Education. After her return to Our Lady of Grace School she taught 2nd Grade, then 5th Grade. She then became the Principal. She replaced Sister Joseph, another sister with a man’s name. Sister Joseph was the founding Principal of the school. She moved to San Francisco in 1984.

From 1984-85 until she retired, Sister Michael taught for twenty two years and was Principal for twenty two years. And, she will tell you that she enjoyed every one of those years. In 1997 she was selected as one of the twenty five most influential individuals in Catholic Education. She has been honored by the Diocese of Sacramento for outstanding service and leadership.

Some years were more difficult for Sister. She had two cancer surgeries. From September 1995 to September 1996 she lost her father, her mother and her brother. She celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 1982, and in 2017 she will celebrate her Diamond Jubilee with sixty years of being a Sister.

She has been working as a teacher or a principal for all of those years. Most of the children that she taught have grown up and they came to honor her on her 80th Birthday. They appreciated her dedication. The cards they gave her expressed their feelings. “There is not just any way to sum up how much you mean to everyone! You are the essence of OLG School. God blessed us with you and kept you with us all of these years. You will always be in the heart of so many people whose lives you touched with your beautiful spirit and love, and of course, your beautiful smile. I feel so blessed to call you my dear friend.”

“You see the good in everyone, must be because there is so much of it in you;” “You are the essence of OLG School’” “You are a treasured friend of our family;” “You put such wonderful energy out into the world;” “Our family was very blessed to have you in our lives;” “In 80 years you’ve touched so many lives, shared so much wisdom, and made such a difference to the world;”

“We would like to express our deepest gratitude for all you have done for our family over the years. As an excellent educator and spiritual guide to our children they have grown to be productive citizens and able to provide for their own families. But most of all, we thank you for the love and affection you have always shown them. In turn, our children have grown to be kind and generous adults whom we can be very proud of. We love you and wish you the very best.”

Sister Michael is not really retired. She is the Spiritual Director for the OLG Women’s Council, plays the piano at Mass, and works with the kindergarteners at school. Sister Michael feels that teaching is one of the greatest professions. When you are a teacher you never forget the students that you have taught over the years. And, it is plain to see that all of Sister Michael’s students have never forgotten her. There are many people who come and go in our lives. Very few of them touch us in ways that change us forever, making us better in many ways just by knowing them. And, Sister Michael is one of those special people.

River City High School Weekly Sports

River City High School Weekly Sports

2/8/2017 to 2/15/2017

Wednesday 2/8/2017
Boys’ Basketball @ Yuba City – FR 4:00/JV 5:30/Varsity 7:00

Thursday 2/9/2017
Girls Basketball vs Woodland – JV 5:30/ Varsity 7:00 Senior Night

Saturday 2/11/2017
Wrestling @ League Tournament @ Yuba City – TBA
Boys’ Rugby vs Cougars – JV 9:00am/Varsity 10:30am
Girls’ Rugby vs Chico – 12:00pm

Monday 2/13/2017
Boys’ Soccer vs Woodland – JV 5:00/Varsity 7:00 Senior Night
Boys’ Basketball @ Woodland – FR 4:00/JV 5:30/Varsity 7:00

Tuesday 2/14/2017
Girls’ Soccer vs Woodland – JV 5:00/Varsity 7:00 Senior Night
Girls’ Basketball @ River Valley – JV 5:30/Varsity 7:00

Wednesday 2/15/2017
Boys’ Soccer @ River Valley – JV 5:00/Varsity 7:00
Boys’ Basketball vs River Valley – FR 4:00/JV 5:30/Varsity 7:00 Senior Night

Showing Options and Building Confidence

By Michele Townsend

linda lunaA community meeting was held and hosted by Washington Unified School District for the families of Holy Cross Academy to introduce them to our school district. Many of the students that attend HCA are the second or third generation in their families that have attended that school. WUSD wanted to reassure the families that if their children transfer to Washington Unified, at HCA’s closing this spring, their children will not be forfeiting the quality of their education. “Our school district is nothing like it was 15 years ago,” said Superintendent Linda Luna.

Many years ago our school district was very poor. The buildings needed updating, not a single one of our schools tested at grade proficient, and our curriculum in all grades needed a complete updated overhaul. WUSD, every level of the entire staff, and all of the students and families have completely changed that.

Superintendent Luna explained the structure of our district, followed by an introduction of the Board of Education members in attendance, assistant superintendents, other administrators and principals from several elementary schools. She explained their positions, and the duties they perform. In addition she explained how we have evolved to our current district structure. As our district has grown and changed, there has been a need of altering existing positions and developing new ones. The teachers have all learned the new curriculum first, so that they can effectively teach it. New schools have been built, old schools have been renovated, and technology has been brought current. We now have award winning schools and students. We have students being recruited and being awarded scholarships from major universities nationwide, and we have a 95 percent graduation rate! We are definately NOT the district we used to be.

In preperation of school enrollment, many parents look at our schools state test scores and become concerned. However, if you look at a school’s state test scores, it does not project an accurate picture of their eduaction quality. Here’s why… Testing is done at a certain time, and ALL students must be tested. There are many sub groups that the children are grouped in to, however they do not include, and do not make adjustments for things like how long the student has been in the country, what kind of education were they getting prior to coming here, what language do they speak, is the test given in their language and in a structure that they understand, etc? As you can imagine, the accuracy of those numbers representing our quality of education quickly becomes faulty. So WUSD would like those interested in enrolling in our district to look what we have to offer, and the outstanding things that are occuring with our students and schools. Washington Unified has amazing programs and technology at every level for almost every demographic of student. Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Services, Amber Lee said “We try to know every student by name and by need, and if there is a need that we cannot help you with, we do our very best to rectify that!” The beauty of the programs that WUSD has addopted, is that they arent just “a class”, they are life changing, career building programs that are set up to transition from primary to secondary to college to career.

River City High School is now an amazing place. If you have never taken a tour of it, you really should! (They offer them every year shortly before the new school year begins – however you can arrange it if you need to at any time) The departments and special programs range from robotics, to forensics, to engineering, to culinary, to farming to the fine arts and so many more. We have career and community building opportunities and more students attending college than ever in the history of school in West Sacramento.

One mother of an HCA student expressed her concern of bullying. Amber Lee in combination with Westfield Elementary Principal Roxanna Villasenor explained that in addition to the no tollerance rule, they go beyond that by teaching and incorporating anti-bullying techniques on a daily basis.

They bring in the Reach One Alliance, with Kevin Bracy throughout the year. (He is amazing!) Principal Villasenor also told about a monthly get together for coffee between parents and principal that is informal and casual where they discuss any topic, creating a family type of community within the school.. Another father/grandfather of HCA students asked about prayer, and religeon practices at school.

Much to most people’s surprise there is a Bible club at River City, as well as a group of Muslim students that pray together. One thing that was consistant throughout every administrator, principal, board member or teacher who attended the meeting was that there is an open door policy throughout the district. All families are encouraged to call, come in or log onto the district website with any questions, concerns, or needs!