Feature stories: 2023 in review

Senior class speaker Nasira Bilqis Watts is all smiles following Pomona College’s commencement ceremony on May 14. Watts graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

By Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com

From highlighting history to welcoming new businesses to the Village, the Courier published a wide and informative array of feature stories in 2023.

Mount Baldy resident Sean Co began 2023 as the new owner of Sherwood Florist.

At Claremont High, Mohammad Mangrio assumed full creative control of the theater program, which he took over from 27-year director Krista Elhai in 2021. Mangrio told the Courier he would be focused on telling stories that reflect today’s happenings.

Sycamore Elementary sixth-grader Avery Pringle works in May to cover up graffiti that defaced a mural she painted at the school. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

In February the Courier learned that despite vacancies the Village remained bustling.

Oh, and it snowed in Claremont.

Older adults demonstrated at Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase banks in March, demanding they divest from the fossil fuel industry as part of the “stop dirty banks” rallies across the U.S.

Pomona Valley Special Olympics coaches Janine Williams and Doneva Wickwire let the Courier in on their unique Saturday ritual: getting athletes from across the inland valley prepped for the upcoming Special Olympics games. Julian Teal, a 30-year-old Claremont athlete with mild dyslexia, said the Saturday sessions held at Claremont High School were a good place to make friends, and “just have fun doing what we actually love.”

In May officials from NASA and Lockheed Martin thanked HiRel Connectors founder Fred Baumann for manufacturing parts that aided NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

Sycamore Elementary School sixth-grader and artist Avery Pringle celebrated a big high and big low in June, when a colorful mural she had been painting was vandalized with a derogatory slur before it could be completed. The plucky 12-year-old wasn’t fazed, and finished the mural with a smile on her face.

Profiles of the three candidates vying in a July 25 special election for Claremont Unified School District’s Board of Education began in June. Dr. Alex McDonald was elected in a landslide the following month. The contentious election was said to have cost CUSD $273,000.

In July, Claremont got back to celebrating the Fourth of July the old fashioned way, with fireworks at Pomona College’s Strehle Track.

Pilgrim Place resident Karen Chapman Lenz was one of 22 demonstrators calling for a cease-fire in Gaza on November 29 at Indian Hill Boulevard and Arrow Highway. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

July also saw Grafted Cellars Winery set up shop at 135 W. First St.

Father-son duo Hao and Micah Huang spoke with the Courier about their newest podcast, “Iron Horse Road: a Tale from Gold Mountain,” which explored the development of the Central Pacific Railroad by Chinese and other East Asian immigrants from 1863 to 1869.

August centered around change. Six CUSD schools including Claremont High welcomed new principals; meanwhile Theresa Smith was celebrated as The Webbs Schools’ newest and seventh head of schools.

We learned the next steps for Amy’s Farm and how the Ontario-based plot would attempt to continue supplying food to Uno Tre Otto, a Village restaurant run by Amy’s Farm co-owner Brad Owen, and other local food pantries.

The Courier kept up with several Claremont Little League All-Star teams, including the 11-and-under squad that won the Southern California 9-11 Year Old Little League Baseball Tournament title, the city’s first state championship since CLL’s 1959 inception.

History was highlighted throughout September, from Claremont Heritage’s “Stories from the East and West Barrios” exhibit at the Ginger Elliott Exhibition Center, to Scripps College’s Indigenous peoples performance and exhibit, “Remembering the Caretakers of the Land: Materials on Southern Californian and Southwest Native American Peoples.”

Internationally acclaimed poet Roger Reeves came to town in October to read from his newest work, “Best Barbarian: Poems.”

Also in October, Webb student and former Courier intern Jenny Wang, 17, published her first book, “Universal Faith: Conversations with 15 Religious Leaders in Southern California.”

Local musician and songwriter Anamaria De La Cruz spoke to us about the genesis of her debut album, “Gone,” which is due out in 2024.

La Popular Restaurant opened its doors in November at the former Rhino Records location.

Pomona’s dA Center for the Arts unveiled its latest installation, “Sounds of Pomona: The Golden Era of Music 1955-1975.”

After a three year hiatus, Pilgrim Place hosted its 75th festival in November.

In December the Courier documented the weekly protest by Pilgrim Place activists at Indian Hill Boulevard and Arrow Highway calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

We also reported on protests at Pomona College, which included students blocking the entrances to Frary Dining Hall, among other actions, all aiming to pressure Pomona College to divest itself from weapons manufacturers they said were profiting from the war in Gaza.


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