Today’s column acknowledges Los Banos residents, past and present, who have made our lives more vibrant. Young and old, they have provided a dash of spice and a splash of vigor.
Leilani Cano graduated two years ago from Pacheco High School and already has distinguished herself at UCLA. A political science major, Leilani has an interest in, and talent for, music.
At Pacheco High, she was involved in theatrical productions. At UCLA, she has widened her musical and patriotic horizons. Among many other students, she auditioned to sing the national anthem at university sporting events.
She was selected to sing the anthem, first before volleyball matches and then before baseball games. She also has sung the anthem before events sponsored by military veterans.
Leilani has an interest in music production as well as political science. Those interests, as well as her ability to sing, will lead to even more success for her in college, in her career and in life. To paraphrase a current television show title, Leilani is one example that shows Los Banos has got talent.
Another person who demonstrated creative talent was Maxine Young. Maxine passed away last month at the age of 93. Throughout her life, she had a passion for speed in cars, motorcycles and airplanes.
In the last nine years of her life, she also showed a talent for writing. As part of the Writing Your Life Stories class in Los Banos, she wrote more than 100 stories about her life and times going back to the days when she grew up in Nebraska during the Depression and lived through World War II.
Her stories (including one about a used hearse she bought and painted pink) were filled with excitement, adventure and humor. Her spirit, as seen in her stories and her life, delighted the people around her. She made many people smile, laugh and appreciate life lived fully. She will be missed deeply.
Another person who added so much to the lives of people in Los Banos was Phil Adamakis, who passed away in Las Vegas last month. A distinguished military veteran who served in Vietnam, Phil was an important part of the growth of the Los Banos Campus of Merced College in the 1970s and 1980s.
Anyone who knew Phil remembered his ability to get things moving. In the 1970s, he helped create an effective veterans program when the campus was in a rented building on L Street, which served many military men and women returning from Vietnam.
Behind the scenes, Phil had many political connections, which he used to advance the Los Banos college campus and its programs. In the early 1980s, Phil used his influence to help persuade the college and the community to build a campus on a new site on Mercey Springs Road, thanks to the donation of land by Richard Menezes.
I was lucky enough to know Phil and his family when they lived here before they moved to Nevada. Like other friends of Phil, I appreciated his help, his humor and especially his concern for people who might be forgotten or unappreciated, including but not limited to Vietnam veterans.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge not a person, but a group, the local chapter of LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens. LULAC has been a national organization since it was founded in 1929.
The local council of LULAC is sponsoring its eighth annual Youth Leadership Conference on July 25 at Pacheco High School, from 8 a.m. to 12:30. The goal of the conference is to encourage local young people to pursue further education at colleges and universities.
The theme for this Tuesday morning is “Serving Your Community and Country” with an emphasis on career and technical education, especially careers in law enforcement and the armed services.
The keynote speaker will be Dr. Ben Duran, retired president of Merced College. Other speakers include Los Banos Police Chief Gary Brizzee and Commander Ray Reyna.
Patricia Ramos Anderson, President of LULAC Council #3072 in Los Banos, expects between 800 to 1,000 students to attend the gathering.
I applaud the efforts of Ms. Anderson and her local LULAC council. I believe in the importance of higher education--from local community colleges to universities in California and throughout the country — providing for everyone the best opportunity to participate in the American dream.
Comments on the writings of John Spevak, a California Newspaper Publishers Association first-place award recipient for 2014, are encouraged, and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.