The Parras PTSA participates in the PTA Scholarship Program each year. A committee of volunteers carefully reviews the applications of Parras alumni graduating from Redondo Union High School. To apply for PTA scholarships, students must be PTA members for the two years prior to graduation, including their senior year and be alumni from the RBUSD school district (elementary and/or middle and/or high school).
To say that these students are accomplished is a great understatement; they are incredible, and the Parras PTSA was delighted to award 25 scholarships, the highest number in Parras PTSA history, to the following students:
Congratulations! We know that big things are in store for all of you!
PARRAS PTSA HONORARY SERVICE AWARDS
Each year the Parras PTSA has the opportunity to recognize outstanding volunteers within our school community who go above and beyond, to enrich the experiences of our students and make our community a better place. We are incredibly grateful for their ongoing contributions and are thrilled to recognize their support.
Honorary Service Awards are awarded annually and designed as a unique way for PTA units, councils and districts to publicly acknowledge both individuals and organizations for outstanding community service to children and youth in a community.
The net proceeds from sales of Honorary Service Awards are used to support California State PTA’s scholarship and grant programs.
- Very Special Person Award (VSP) – This award is given to recognize an individual or organization for their service to PTA.
- Honorary Service Award (HSA) – This award is given to recognize an individual or organization for outstanding service to children and youth in your community, going above and beyond what is asked of them.
- Outstanding Teacher Award (OTA) – This award may be given to recognize a teacher for outstanding service to children and youth through PTA, school, or community.
- Outstanding Administrator Award (OAA) – This award may be given to recognize an administrator for outstanding service to children and youth through PTA, school, or the community.
The Parras PTSA is delighted to recognize the following individuals:
Manuela Diethelm - VSP Award
There are few volunteers more deserving of this recognition. Manuela gives of her time continuously, always putting the needs of everyone else before herself and does this all from her heart. The Parras PTSA and school community is beyond lucky to have her on our PTSA.
Manuela is the Parras PTSA current hospitality chair, however, she wears many hats within the PTSA. Her contributions are numerous, including helping at registration, e grams to our students and their families, handing out covid tests, picking up the 8th grade blankets and helping to get them ready to be handed out, providing the food for Camp Parras and setting up a back-to-school coffee cart. Manuela not only provides food for all of the in-person PTSA meetings, but she also bakes everything. She makes sure that our Parras faculty and staff always know that the PTSA is supporting them by providing delicious treats for Thanksgiving, Chinese New Year, Teacher Appreciation Day and more! In all of her free time (?!) Manuela has supported Girl Scouts for over ten years, including serving as a co-leader, cookie mom, troop driver and chaperone. At Beryl Elementary, Manuela ran the gardening program for a year, served as a LiveWell Garden docent and volunteered for events including the Father/Daughter dance, classroom support and served as Book Fair Chair. She has also served as a team mom for countless sports teams and led multiple fundraisers to support her daughter’s travel team. During the pandemic, Manuela was one of the first to step up and support our community by helping Beach Cities with their onsite covid testing. She also served as a Lead Garden docent at Beryl and also a Gardening docent.
Thank you Manuela, we appreciate you very much!
Casey Schwartz - VSP Award
Casey has been a very active volunteer at Parras for the last three years and prior to that, three years with her eldest graduating son. Casey is available to support each and every program, fundraiser and event tirelessly and donates her time, business (FlowerDuet), energy and cheerful attitude to everything she touches. It is extremely rare to find an event that Casey is hosting that does not support a particular organization in some manner, including sports teams, our schools, the district and RBEF. At Parras, Casey has led and supported Greek Day, Renaissance Day and the 8th grade dance. She has led floral designing classes to benefit our schools and while a parent at Tulita Elementary, served as the Garden Lead Docent for over 9 years. She also organized and led the Tulita Running Club for over 10 years. Casey is always the first to lend a hand to decorate and volunteer at an event, always with a smile, and to provide gorgeous flowers donations. During the Pandemic, Casey and her business partner hand-sewed hundreds of masks and provided community support with flowers, meals and gift cards. We are truly fortunate to have had Casey volunteering for so many years. We hope that we will still see her, as in true Casey style, she has volunteered to support anything needed after she leaves Parras.
Thank you Casey, our school and school community are better places because of you.
Diane Kokes - VSP Award
Diane is the dynamo behind our amazing Parras PTSA weekly newsletter but also runs all the Parras communications which is a huge job. The weekly newsletter and the special announcements, requires her reaching out to the PTSA board for contributions and searching for community information and designing event flyers via Canva. She also manages the PTSA website, Facebook and Instagram pages, seemingly 24 hours a day. Diane has a long history of volunteerism; at Beryl Elementary, Diane co-chaired and chaired the 100 Mile Club for 8 years, co-chaired Trash Free Tuesday, served as the Auditor and Membership Chair for the PTA Executive Board, Chaired the Box Tops program, ran the Beryl website, PTA webstore and served as a LiveWell Nutrition docent. She received a VSP and HSA award at Beryl. At Parras, she has served as the VP of Communications, Auditor and has done the administrative work for the WaveRunners program. Diane has also served as a Girl Scout Treasurer and Mom’s Club leader. Diane is always ready to lend a hand to help at any event and is a true team player, independent of anything that she has going on in her own personal life. She always shows up for the Parras PTSA and the collective school community. Even when injured she made sure the newsletter was out on time! Diane is a true asset to our PTSA who will be greatly missed as she moves on to RUHS.
Thank you Diane, we appreciate you very, very much!
Linda Buck - VSP Award
If the average volunteer résumé reads like a novel of accomplishments, our recipient’s is a set of encyclopedias. Linda has done every volunteer job imaginable from A to Z. There isn’t anyone in the Redondo Beach or in the PTA community who hasn’t been touched by this wonderful person.
She is best described as giving, caring, energetic, enthusiastic, and unbelievably present! Her list of accomplishments is too long for this newsletter, so we are listing just a few. In addition to being a Kiwanis and RUHS lacrosse parent volunteer, Linda has served as the Redondo Beach Council of PTAs Financial Secretary, and Health and Wellness Chair; at RUHS she has served as Membership chair, Spirit Wear chair, Hospitality, Staff Appreciation, Car Show, Scholarship and the Health and Wellness Chair. At Beryl Elementary, Linda was there day in and day out. She led the morning exercises for many years. She started the 100 Mile Club, Trash Free Tuesday, served as PTA President, Vice President and as the Lead LiveWell Nutrition and Garden docents. Some of the few things she did at Parras was serving on the Executive Board for 3 years, took over the Wave Runners when Laurie Baker left and continues to support this program, despite her daughter graduating from RUHS in June of this year. She has also committed to running this program at Parras next year. We are truly fortunate for the time and energy that Linda gives to Parras; she is truly remarkable and a great gift to all of our kids and community!
Thank you Linda and congratulations!
Deborah Williams-Stiffler - VSP Award
Deb goes above and beyond in all that she does as the PTSA VP of Volunteers (2021), and Executive Vice President (2022). She has filled in on the PTSA Executive Board throughout the pandemic wherever she was needed, always with a smile. Deb is creative and always has great ideas that she willingly shares, including unique fundraising opportunities for the PTSA, prizes for PTSA events and she even persuaded our principal to make a YouTube video dancing. Selecting, ordering, and delivering our spirit wear in pandemic conditions is no small feat, but Deb also found time to keep our documents organized on a google drive so we could work as a team remotely and as EVP supervised our transition to a Google Suite that will serve our board communications for years to come. As EVP, Deb has been a relentless event coordinator, pioneering our parent/student "learn something together" events, flower-arranging and candle-making, the Paint & Pour for parents, and fundraisers like the promotion signs, Valentine and Earth Day Grams. Deb has also served as a Girl Scout Troop leader for the past 8 years, supporting her Silver award projects within her troop and many, many service projects and outings. At Beryl Elementary, Deb chaired Movie Night for four years, served on the Father/Daughter Dance committee, was a Room Parent for four years, and assisted with anything and everything from Valentine Grams, silent auctions, book fairs etc. She is going to be our first VP of Fundraising and is already working on new ways to secure sponsorships from local businesses. She is unstoppable, reliably "on it", always there, always helping, and always with a smile.
The Parras PTSA thanks you, Deb, for all that you do!
Kate Hastings - VSP Award
Ms. Hastings goes above and beyond the standard requirements of a ‘teacher’. She truly cares about the social and emotional well-being of her students and makes special efforts to check in with them on their emotional health. This was especially important during the pandemic. Parents commented that Ms. Hastings not only provided excellent teaching to her students but also served as a critical support system and safe space throughout the pandemic.
The Parras PTSA and Parras school community appreciate you very much!
Precious Young - VSP Award
Precious Young is a special kind of Special Ed Program Director. She deeply cares about the students and listens with an open heart & mind to the parents, students, teachers & administrators that are involved. She genuinely acts as a ‘collaborator’ in working with parents & students to ensure that their educational and social-emotional needs are met.
Thank you, Precious, for all that you do!
Dr. Sara Thompson Stewart - VSP Award
Sara served as the Parras PTSA’s BCHD and RBEF representatives, keeping our entire school community aware of all updates and activities, which was very important during the pandemic. When our Parras school community lost a beloved 7th grade student, Levi Robertson, Sara served as the PTSA and school liaison with the Robertson family as they navigated through unimaginable grief. She was at the core of the PTSA response with regards to organizing a vigil to bring our school community together, all while a pandemic surge was raging. Her incredible empathy and consideration for everyone involved were essential and deeply appreciate by not only the PTSA, but also the entire school community. Thank you Sara, for supporting our community during one of its most difficult times.
Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition.
Priya Ramcharan - VSP Award
Priya founded The Parras Roar as a solution for isolation during the pandemic. As a newcomer to Redondo and enrolling in a new school that was all virtual, she wanted to develop an outlet for others to share ideas and build a virtual community. Her head was filled with ideas and thoughts, and she wanted to connect with kids and help build a community of likeminded kids. Even though classes were virtual she identified two girls whom she recognized might share her vision and be willing to start something new. She reached out and found partners who helped her start what is now called The Parras Roar. She hopes to transfer her experience here to the Redondo Union High Newspaper as well. Outside of The Parras Roar, she started the first feminist club at school. Beyond Parras she also holds a position as Parras representative for Beach Cities Health district in representing youth voices in developing programming for youth in the area. With her inclinations towards politics, she works with the Redondo Mayor directly in supporting various ballot initiatives. She is also a junior member of the League of Women’s Voters and sits in on their board meeting monthly to discuss how to influence policies impacting the community. She also swims competitively with Beach Cities Swimming Team and hopes to continue that in High School. Priya was recently recognized as the 2021-2022 Parras Student of the Year.
The Parras PTSA is delighted to recognize this outstanding student and citizen. Congratulations Priya!
Daniella Gross - VSP Award
Daniella Gross has been an honor roll student throughout her time at Parras and has been recognized as a 7th grade Student of the Month, been awarded numerous PTA Reflections awards, including at 1st place for music composition at the district level and a 2nd place for her digital art. She co-founded the Parras Roar Newsletter and has served as a staff writer and digital art editor for the last two years. She has founded two Parras clubs; the Reptile Club and Dungeons and Dragons Club, and participates in the Alexades and American Sign Language Club. This talented musician not lonely plays the trombone at Parras, playing in the wind ensemble (6th grade) and Jazz band (7th and 8th grade), but also the piano, guitar, banjo, ukulele and drums and is a talented vocalist. She can often be found on the weekends playing guitar and singing at local gigs with her band and multiple other musical collaborators. As a student at Coast Music, she made two music videos and is an avid writer and composer, creating a short film titled “The Doll”. She has played soccer from kindergarten through her 6th grade year, is a member of the Blue Angel Ski Club and an avid surfer. Daniella has started several non-profit organizations to raise money for various underprivileged students across the globe including a refugee camp in Kenya and is currently curating her ETSY site where she will sell homemade music-inspired jewelry and crafts with the proceeds going to children who receive music therapy. She is a lifelong advocate for Kabuki syndrome, spreading awareness and raising funds for over 9 years. Additionally, Daniella has been a vocalist for ACT II and ACTIV, a non-profit concert that raises money for underprivileged youth to learn music. This summer will find Daniella working on initiatives to support increased inclusion at RUHS, supporting a surf club that she was created for teen female surfers and spending time with family, friends and her animals (a snake named Geraldine and her two Beagles, Mandy and Luna). Look for her camping in Big Sur, crafting, writing, performing, traveling and volunteering at the Aquarium of the Pacific.
The Parras PTSA is delighted to recognize this outstanding student and citizen. Congratulations Daniella!
Alexandra Manss - VSP Award
Alexandra has been an exceptional student at Parras Middle School. She collaborated with two other students to develop, support and publish The Parras Roar Newsletter throughout the pandemic, an entirely student-run publication, created during the pandemic. She was also named the “Parras Athlete of the Year,” and has enjoyed playing clarinet in the North Torrance Youth Musicians Orchestra. Serving as a tutor, volunteering at the Lionsheart Volunteer program and playing soccer have kept her busy. In her free time, she loves cooking, baking and running. Indeed, she set a running record at Parras during the WaveRunners Jingle Bell Run, won the girls mile at Zamperini and has the Redondo Union High School Track/Cross Country coach Leetch expressing how excited he is for her to join his RUHS track and cross country programs. The Parras community will miss Alexandra and her infectious smile and kind heart.
The Parras PTSA is delighted to recognize this outstanding student and citizen. Congratulations Alexandra!
Dr. Karen Ford Cull - 2022 HSA Award
Karen has worked tirelessly for the community, including leading the district Hands on Art program, and serving legislative chair for both Parras and Alta Vista. Her volunteer efforts include founding the Club 21 South Bay Community, volunteering at the Beach Cities League of Women Voters on their education committee, as a board member for CALTASH and on the TASH Inclusive Education Committee. Karen served as the Alta Vista PTA President and as the Parras Middle School PTSA President and participates in the Redondo Beach Council of PTAs Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee.
The Parras Middle School PTSA community is delighted to recognize and honor Dr. Karen Ford Cull as our Honorary Service Award recipient.
Mr. Gregory Erskine - 2022 Outstanding Teacher
“Mr. Erskine is one of the most impactful teachers seen in any educational setting,” is typical narrative from parents whose students have been under the tutelage of Mr. Erskine. Parents comment on how he has guided and supported students not just in developing their musical skills, but also in navigating the challenging middle school years. He has created a community within the Parras band program, allowing the students to develop long-lasting connections with one another. Parras' families cannot speak more highly of him, suggesting that he deserves a grammy for best music teacher, calling him inspiring, motivating and hilarious. Our school community was deeply appreciative for providing excellent online instruction and for putting together the uber impressive virtual concerts. He provided a much-needed sense of normalcy during the pandemic, with fun, structure and incredible creativity. His extraordinary efforts kept the kids playing and loving music throughout the pandemic and he safely navigated the students back to playing in person. His energy, pride in the musicians and clear love of all things music shines through. Mr. Erskine is awe-inspiring and a true Parras treasure.
Thank you Mr. Erskine, the Parras PTSA and school community is delighted to celebrate you with this well-deserved award!
Dr. Jonathan Erickson - 2022 Outstanding Administrator
Dr. Erickson, our principal for four years, has led us through the most difficult years for any administrator, always with a smile and a sense of humor. His commitment to equity and diversity shines through the entire school community. Under his leadership the school has thrived and tried out new ideas which he rarely takes personal credit for. Through the pandemic Dr. Erickson has been diligent in respecting the need for safety while also recognizing the need for community. He is deeply thoughtful of the need to respect our differences while working together to create the supportive village our preteens and teens need. He is also greatly appreciative of our teachers, counselors, and classified staff through these most challenging times. His staff call him “an inspirational leader with a clear vision for the future of Parras who works tirelessly with our stakeholders to keep Parras number one in the South Bay”. Dr. Erickson, while a parent himself to two young sons at home, goes above and beyond his job, a true partner to Parras PTSA.
Thank you Dr. Erickson for your leadership and dedication!
The Parras PTSA would also like to take a moment and recognize our 2021 Awardees once again; we were not able to celebrate these fantastic individuals in person and we appreciate them and their contributions to our school community. Thank you to these amazing individuals!
2021 Honorary Service Award winner: Buffy Soule
2021 Very Special Person Awardees:
- Kristi Thompson
- Kristin Mardis
- Ashley MacDonald
- Lisa Williams
- Rachel Andrews
- Arden Hadley
- Clifford Shawver
- Virginia Schalck
- Lisa MacMillan
The Parras PTSA is incredibly appreciative to these amazing educators and parent volunteers who go above and beyond each and every day to make our school community a better place for our students. Thank you!