Manzanita Public Charter School celebrates with 'Pawsitivity Parade'

Manzanita Public Charter School celebrates with 'Pawsitivity Parade'

Manzanita Public Charter School students, their families and school staff were celebrated Wednesday in the school’s first-ever “Pawsitivity Parade.”

The event served as a way to bring together the school community, which had been mostly separated since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the end of physical classes in March.

The parade, which took place near the school’s campus just outside the Vandenberg Air Force Base north gate, took its name from the school’s PAWS program, which recognizes citizenship and kindness on campus and gets its name from the school’s mountain lion mascot.

About 200 families participated in the event, and many of the attendees became emotional, according to Manzanita Principal Suzanne Nicastro.

“The parade was important because it brought us all together again and reminded us of how much we have to look forward to when our campus eventually reopens,” Nicastro said. “There were lots of ‘Love you’ and ‘miss you’ signs and shout-outs during the parade. Our new COVID-19 slogan ‘Manzanita Strong’ was certainly lived loudly.”

Manzanita Public Charter School, which is a tuition-free K-6 campus, serves students from VAFB, Lompoc, Vandenberg Village, Mission Hills and the Santa Ynez Valley.

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Lompoc High student Jennifer Ayala took out a $1,000 loan this year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase a pig with the intent of selling it, ideally for a profit, at auction during this summer’s Santa Barbara County Fair. With the coronavirus outbreak threatening the likelihood of the fair, Ayala is now scrambling to find a buyer as soon as possible so she can repay that loan.

The former Cabrillo basketball standout will major in kinesiology and, “Azusa Pacific got a new kinesiology lab there, and I was really impressed with it.” Hicks hopes to become a physical therapist. “I was able to shadow a physical therapist in Lompoc, and that really got me interested in that as a career,” he said.

Besides, at Azusa Pacific, there may be a chance Hicks can continue with his basketball career.

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