Can-Do-Day Recap

The signature event of Friends of Ronald Reagan SP, an event each member looks forward to with anticipation, occurred on March 8th in the Recreation Center of the Ronald Reagan Sports Park! It was the eighth annual Can Do Day we have had. This is a day that’s all about honoring students who use their individual initiative to achieve something special, and about showing our appreciation for their making that extra effort to excel. As Jeff Minkler, Vice-President of FRRSP has said, “We like to think our Celebration is something like the Academy Awards for student accomplishment.” It is also an opportunity to commemorate the 31st anniversary of President Reagan’s March 3, 1983 speech praising the folks in Temecula for their “typical American spirit.” Jeff Minkler opened the meeting and called forward the Presentation of Colors which were given by the Temecula Valley High School JROTC, with Chief Master Sgt. Jeffery “Chip” Dodson.


Ed Dominguez, a Director of FRRSP led the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag and Andre Dyer, USN, Retired, a parishioner from Faith Bible Church, led us in the Invocation. The National Anthem was sung beautifully by Temecula Valley High School senior, Marissa Yzaguirre. This year’s Can Do Day Proclamation was read by Chuck Washington, Council Member of the City of Temecula. 


Introducing the winners of the 3rd and 4th Grade Essay Contest was Susan Weaver, Executive Committee Member of FRRSP. She reminded the audience that the prompt the students responded to was : “Why is individual initiative important, and why do we honor President Reagan and the Temecula volunteers who built our first sports park?” The Rising Stars (third grade participants) were as follows:


                                     Carmyn Shayne Chankheo, Temecula Prep

                                     Ben Misiti, Temecula Prep

                                     Daniella Schwarzbeck, St. Jeanne’s

                                     Mary Cachet, St. Jeanne’s


Two schools, St. Jeanne de Lestonnac and Temecula Prep, submitted enough essays to qualify three finalists each. Finalists from St. Jeanne de Lestonnac were as follows: 


                                     3rd Place: Simon Gutierrez

                                     2nd Place: Ana Pollack

                                     1st Place: Grace Beall


Finalists from Temecula Prep were as follows:


                                     3rd Place: Lilyann Apodaca

                                     3rd Place: Grace Elizabeth Zeller          

                                     2nd Place: Landon Ashton Hays

                                     1st Place: Nico Warren


The top three cash prize winners for the Best Overall Essays Citywide were as follows: 


                         3rd Place for $50 - Alexandra Asay,Temecula Prep

                         2nd Place for $100 - Susan Mc Cullah,Temecula Prep

                        1st Place for $150 - Marc Stephen Ramirez, St. Jeanne’s


We then had the pleasure of hearing Marc Ramirez, 4th grader at St. Jeanne’s, read his essay about gathering supplies for children in the Philippines who suffered from Typhoon Haiyan. Marc Ramirez and the other two winners, Susan Mc Cullah, and Alexandra Asay, will have their essays printed in the next issue of Community Little Book which will come out at the end of summer. Janese Reyes of Community Little Book has been printing the top winning essays for several years. Thank you Janese!


Also, the top winners were invited to ride in the convertible that leads the FRRSP entry in Temecula’s Fourth of July Parade together with the Mayor’s Trophy and the Medallion of Initiative winner. In fact, an invitation to all award recipients was extended. … Save July 4th as a date to come march in the parade with us! A special thanks was given to Tony Moramarco of Bigfoot Graphics who designed a decal of “Can –do Kangaroo,” which is given to EVERY 3rd and 4th grade studnet whose teacher submits their entry to the essay contest. Each year we give a $100 check to the teacher whose students produced the greatest number of qualified entries. Mrs. Cosio of St. Jeanne’s won this year’s prize. Way to go Mrs. Cosio’s class! Keep up the great work for your teacher!


The next part of the program was a favorite of the entire audience … the Can-Do Performance Interlude, by Rancho Elementary C.B.G. Students from first through third grades. Their leaders, Anne McDonnell McCann and Stacy Senecal, couldn’t have been more proud, and rightly so! The children were a delight! They even got the audience involved in a song as they swayed to the music, hands held high. Mrs. McCann was called to the podium for a heartfelt word of thanks; both ladies were given a certificate in recognition of their hard work with their students.


At this time, the big announcement of the winner of the Mayor’s Trophy was made by Councilman Chuck Washington. This is the sixth year of the Mayor’s Trophy competition. The first year, it was won by Temecula Luiseno Elementary School. Then came St. Jeanne de Lestonnac, then Linfield Christian, Helen Hunt Jackson Elementary, then St Jeanne’s won again. This year the travelling trophy went to …Temecula Prep and was proudly received by principle, Terri Marek!


This year, we did something which was unprecedented in our eight year history. We had two compelling stories, so we had to dig deep and award not one, but two $500 scholarships and Medallions of Initiative. One of the winners is Hailey Strode who when she was younger received a letter of thanks from Nancy Reagan, when Hailey wrote her a letter after President Reagan died. It was Carol Strode, Hailey’s mother, who urged the Council to name the park after the President, an idea proposed by then Mayor Mike Naggar. Carol and her father, Gene Tobin, were founding members of FRRSP.


Great Oak senior, Jeremy Stumpp, was also a recipient of the Medallion of Initiative. Jeremy’s success as a high school athlete is a Can – Do story, and that’s why his coach points him out as an inspiration for other runners on his track and field team. We’ve come to find out, where there’s a story of superior tenacity, there’s usually a back story. And Jeremy has one. He has an amazing story about two special sets of grandparents. His maternal grandfather came to America having lived through the horrors of Kristallnacht as a Jewish boy, needing to escape Nazi Austria. His paternal grandparents immigrated when his father was nine from a little village in Germany, whose quiet life was turned upside down in the turmoil of Hitler’s rise to power. He has learned a lot about how to live his own life, by listening to the stories of his parents and grandparents. You can READ HIS SPEECH by clicking on his picture under IN THE NEWS on the Home Page.


After Jeremy shared his winning speech, Mrs.Teresa Heine, History Teacher at Temecula Preparatory, talked about what her class gained from participating in FRRSP’s sponsored trip to the Reagan Library Discovery Center. Perry Peters, President and founder of Friends of Ronald Reagan SP later expressed how terrific he felt when last year’s students arrived back from the trip and spontaneously ran up to him with hugs, thanking him for their experience. (Some of their comments can be found under “Quotes from Participants” … also found under IN THE NEWS on the Home Page. Perry also noted that the docents at the Reagan Library remarked about how well-mannered the students from Temecula Prep were!


Before the close of the program, three people, Al Canales, Joanne Mayo, and Diane Stumpp received Can-Do pins for their much needed and appreciated membership in the Can-Do Club. Perry reminded the audience that on March 3, 1983, then President Ronald Reagan made our community famous when, speaking to the U.S. Olympic Committee in Los Angeles, he praised the folks in Temecula for our “typical American spirit” for building our sports park without government funding. That spirit lived on as some $500,000 was raised toward the cost of building the Community Recreation Center. It raised another $100,000 to build the Can-Do Monument’s first phase, located near the snack bar by the ball fields. He encouraged us all to continue that spirit, because we are now raising $60,000 to complete the final phase. To which we answer … “We CAN DO IT!!”



Acknowledgements: Teresa Heine, Temecula Prep 8th Grade History C.B.G. Music Director: Anne McDonnell, Rancho Elementary C.B.G. Music Director: Stacy Senecal, Rancho Elementary Marissa Ysaguirre, Temecula Valley High School Senior Temecula Mayor, City of Council and Staff Temecula Valley High School JROTC (Air Force) Andre Dyer (USN, Ret.) Faith Bible Church Parishioner Janees Reyes, Community Little Book Photographer: Emi Fuji Hailey Anne Weaver, Refreshments

Photos by Emi Fuji Photography