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A Chronicle of the Passing Scene : Participatory Education


It was the extracurricular highlight of the school year.

All the third-graders in Miss McLean's class at St. Mel School were invited and almost all of her 30 students actually showed up for this optional, but highly anticipated, Saturday morning program.

Now they were assembled in the foyer of St. Mel Catholic Church in Woodland Hills at 11:15 a.m. waiting to take part.

Girls were in their prettiest dresses, each carrying a spray of white orchids. Boys, with hair slicked down, wiggled and tugged at their dress-shirt collars. Some wore ties.

"She looks so beautiful," a blonde girl in a flowered dress said, looking across the foyer at her teacher.

The teacher, Kimberly McLean, 29, was about to marry John Gilbert, and she had invited her class of 8-year-olds to share the experience.

"It was just something I wanted to do and when I told John I wanted to invite all the children, he just grinned," she said.

When she told her students in January about her upcoming ceremony and her plan to include them, they couldn't stop thinking or talking wedding.

"I would have to set aside some class time sometimes so I could talk about it with them," she said. "They were really excited about taking part."

In addition to her army of junior attendants, the bride's other attendants were family members and her best friend since first grade.

The bride could only be described as a Valley girl, in the best sense.

Her parents, Nancy and Terry McLean of West Hills, sent her through St. Bernardine Catholic School and Louisville High School in Woodland Hills and to Cal State Northridge. After a brief honeymoon, she and her construction engineer groom will live in Woodland Hills.

"This is just like a movie," a dark-haired girl dressed in blue said, looking at her teacher, who wore traditional white satin.

"My pants itch," said a boy, reluctantly resplendent in his new dress slacks, white shirt and bow tie.

"Stop that," said a girl to a boy trying to take her flowers.

Then the organ music started and the shenanigans and chatter stopped. Two by two, the children walked down the aisle.

They took their places in the forward pews reserved for family and members of the wedding.

Then the schoolteacher-bride began her long walk down the aisle.

She had a smile for everyone.

During the ceremony, at which Assistant Pastor Ray Morales officiated, Ryan Nucum and Jessica Dzundza--two of the bride's third-graders--read Scripture.

If they had been graded, they would have both received A's.

No Bunnies

Five years ago, Burbank periodontist Carin Kouri, now 36, was a new mother and grossed out. The item offending her was the too-sweet diaper bag she was carrying.

"Some people are the type who like birdies and bunnies and bears," Kouri said. "I wanted a black alligator bag I wouldn't feel like a fool with."

Since she couldn't find one, she had one made. And created Tickety Boo.

It's a too-cute name for a business that caters to no-nonsense working moms with a hip sense of style.

Kouri admits that the name is a little sweet, "but a British friend explained that in England, it means top of the line."

Tickety Boo is now a Toluca Lake shop that offers bags with patterns, including a black-and-white zebra print, a black alligator-like fabric and a tweedy type.

"After I thought about it, I didn't want to be carrying around a dead alligator any more than I wanted to carry around print bunnies. Besides, vinyl is definitely more practical," Kouri said.

The bags--which have built-in changing pads--are priced between $50 and $120.

Book 'Em

Deja vu again.

Local citizens, or in this case a local citizen, fighting to save a landmark.

Kerri Wong thinks that what's happening to the Burbank Book Castle is criminal. She is angered by the plans afoot to change it into an alcohol-serving, billiard-playing kind of place.

Folks in Sherman Oaks who fought to save La Reina Theater from becoming part of a shopping center will sympathize.

So will people in Studio City who fought to save their '50s-style gas station at Laurel Canyon and Ventura boulevards from becoming a gaping hole.

The rebel with a cause doesn't care if people want to drink or play billiards; she just thinks that they ought to do it somewhere other than the building that houses Burbank's largest used bookstore.

Wong, 31, moved to Burbank because she and her husband, Scott Toy, director of feature film advertising for Twentieth Century-Fox studio, liked the small-town atmosphere. She says operators of the trendy Charles Billiards in Glendale have already been granted permission by the Burbank planning board to get a liquor license for the space now occupied by the Book Castle at 200 N. San Fernando Blvd. The next approval must come from the Burbank City Council, which will first have to consider her appeal and others.

She says the Book Castle people say they can't pay the kind of money for the place that the billiard people can, so they will probably not be able to continue renting.

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