Meeting with a Chef on the Road to Adulthood

Chef Thomas Rider

photo by Gabby Miller

Chef Thomas Rider prepares Strawberry Caprese Crostini with local strawberries.

by Gabby Miller

He stood before a crowd of college students and alumni. On the table in front of him was a basket full of fresh fruits and vegetables displaying the colors of the rainbow. A grey Chico State Wildcats baseball cap sat on his head, and his black chef’s jacket was lined with red trim and embroidered with his name and title on the front.

It read: “Thomas Rider, Executive Chef.”

“I’m on the Food Network at Chico State,” he said, receiving chuckles from the audience.

On the rainy Thursday evening before spring break more than 60 students arrived at CSUC’s Bell Memorial Union to watch Rider—the executive chef for Associated Students—put on a show. read more

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Continuation Schools Struggle to Beat the Odds

Diana Chavez

photo by Leslie Layton

Diana Chavez: “Fair View changed my life around in a lot of ways. I felt people cared about me.”

by Leslie Layton

During her freshman year at Chico High, Diana Chavez ditched all but about 20 days. “We’d go to the mall, do anything to fill up the day,” she said of herself and a friend. “Then we’d go back to school to get picked up.”

Chavez enrolled at Fair View continuation high school in fall 2009 after failing her freshman year classes. There, she was able to make up lost credits and get on track with emotional and academic support from school staff. Chavez will graduate from Fair View May 23 with plans to attend Butte College next fall. read more

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Chico-based Book Press Publishes Cuban Writers

Disconnect Book Cover

by Leslie Layton

In her spare time, whenever that is, Professor Sara Cooper has taken on the modest task of building a footbridge between two nations with icy relations. Cuba is far closer to the U.S. mainland than any of the Hawaiian Islands, but to most Americans, far more a mystery.

The footbridge is a non-profit book press, Cubanabooks, which Cooper launched in May 2010. Cubanabooks today released its second book in this country, a bilingual edition of “Disconnect” — in Spanish “Desencuentro” — by Cuba’s popular Nancy Alonso. Without Cubanabooks, Alonso’s short-story compilation probably wouldn’t have made it across the Florida Straits. read more

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see slideshow Occupy Chico State

slideshow by Erik Aguilar

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Charter School Interrupted

by Leslie Layton

Sydney Cambra, who spent her sophomore year at the fledgling Chico Green School, scrambled this week to enroll at another school a week after classes had begun in the Chico Unified School District.

Cambra, who chose Chico High School, was forced to make the switch after CUSD revoked the Green School’s charter and reported it in violation of state law. Representatives at the school subsequently announced it was closing its doors to fall-term students.

Chico Unified School District says the charter high school has violated the Brown Act, California’s open-meetings law. The decision to pull the year-old school’s charter was based also on its failure to become a candidate for accreditation after a spring visit by an accreditation committee, but it was the Brown Act allegations that dealt the hardest blow. Violations of state law trigger a cut-off in funding to charter schools that are run independently but financed by public monies. read more

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Mr. Vig’s Lesson: Failure Not Acceptable

Bernie Vigallon

photo by Leslie Layton

by Leslie Layton

For the past 20 years, Fair View High School Principal Bernie Vigallon has roamed his continuation school campus and beyond, busting pot-smokers and herding kids to class. At the end of the school day, he often visited families, sometimes bought them groceries and on one occasion, pulled a student who was missing the critical days prior to graduation from a den of methamphetamine use.

Vigallon, who during his 30-year tenure in the Chico Unified School District came to be known as “Mr. Vig,” retires June 3 as Fair View principal and as director of alternative education for the district. In the latter position, Vigallon built a program that now serves 500 students — kids who suffer from alienation or abuse, who struggle with learning issues, or who became immersed in delinquency or drugs. read more

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