Kids will say the darnedest things

Dude_Wheres_my_Mad_Libs_book_detailStill undecided this election? This voters guide is handy but we won’t vouch for its usefulness

It’s election season once again. While my editor keeps his own counsel in these matters, I relied on my other boss — my five-year-old son — in preparing my own MAD-LIBBED slate of political endorsements.

Keep in mind; this in-depth analysis can be easily adjusted (to the right or the left) with a few flicks of your very own number two pencil.



With his years of experience as a (JOB) backhoe driver (ADJECTIVE), (SAME FAMOUS PERSON) Spiderman has the (NOUN) Power Puff Girls backpack and the (NOUN) Legos to lead us in (PLACE) the kitchen as well as in (PLACE) the Chicken Ranch. The fact that (NICKNAME FOR FAMOUS PERSON) Spidey has (another FAMOUS PERSON) Yu-Gi-Oh! as his vice president, makes him a very (ADJECTIVE) pretty choice for President.

U.S. Senate

(FAMOUS PERSON) SpongeBob SquarePants

Since first being elected to office on (DATE) my birthday, July 27, (SAME FAMOUS PERSON) SpongeBob SquarePants has been a tireless advocate of (ADJECTIVE) sweaty environmental protection, (ADJECTIVE) gassy military, (ADJECTIVE) tattooed education and fiscal (PLURAL NOUN) juice boxes.

U.S. Congress

(FAMOUS PERSON) Captain Underpants

While serving as a (PLACE) Legoland’s County Supervisor, (SAME FAMOUS PERSON) Captain Underpants was a key player in a successful effort to force (ANOTHER FAMOUS PERSON) the Power Rangers to clean up (PLACE) Chase Palm Park and make restitution for one of the largest (EVENT) birthday parties in history. (ADJECTIVE) Sassy-minded, (ADJECTIVE) bumpy-working, and at times (ADJECTIVE) silly, (SAME FAMOUS PERSON) Captain Underpants will prove to be a (NOUN) triceratops when he gets to Sacramento, where he’d be environmentally (ADJECTIVE) burpy, yet fiscally (ADJECTIVE) super-duper. We believe (same FAMOUS PERSON) Captain Underpants experience as a (NOUN) Ninja Turtle will help him (verb) dribble California’s public schools.

Proposition (NUMBER) 10 million

Summary: Would (VERB) kiss a bond for (NUMBER) infinity dollars to fund (NOUN) snakes and (PLACE) Kid’s World.

Supporters: People for the ethical treatment of (NOUN) Pop-tarts; California (JOB) Ice Skaters Association; (FAMOUS PERSON) Mayor Blum.

Opponents: Save the (ANIMAL) Unicorns; (TEAM NAME) The Gauchos; Senator (FRIEND’S NAME) Jared.

Our Take: Never underestimate the power of an (SAME JOB) Ice Skater. (NUMBER) A billion people in (ADJECTIVE) squishy tights just can’t be wrong.

Proposition (NUMBER) 66

Summary: The proposition would change the states (NOUN) three strikes law.

Supporters: Several (NOUN) civil rights groups, including the ACL (LETTER) U and the (POLITICAL GROUP) NAACP.

Opponents: Governor (ACTION STAR) Schwarzenegger; State (JOB) Prison Guards Union.

(Editors Note: What are the odds?)

School Board

(THREE FAMOUS PEOPLE) Pikachu, Where’s Waldo and President Bush

The (ADJECTIVE) brainy candidates running for the open seats on the School Board are all (ADJECTIVE) shiny, (ADJECTIVE) happy people who have the students’ best (body part) funny bone at heart. They will face problems like (NOUN) carnivores, (NOUN) herbivores, (ADJECTIVE) stretchy enrollments, and a (ADJECTIVE) farty achievement gap. We feel (THREE FAMOUS PEOPLE) Pikachu, Where’s Waldo and President Bush stand out as the best qualified to (VERB) jump the (NOUN) shark.

When not writing this (ADJECTIVE) catsupy column, chasing down (NOUN) chocolate or out (VERB, ENDING IN -ING) kicking people to vote, Leslie Dinaberg can be found (VERB, ENDING IN -ING) shopping, (VERB, ENDING IN -ING), bouncing, or on her computer at email

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on October 28, 2004.

Fausett has high hopes for Hope District

Gerrie Fausett

Gerrie Fausett

While Gerrie Fausett won’t take over the reins of the Hope School District until January, she’s had her eye on the top position for a while, and said she made her intentions clear to former Santa Barbara Elementary and High School District Superintendent Deborah Flores and Interim Superintendent Brian Sarvis when she took over as Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education last spring.

“I did not want to have them count on me being here and then disrupt things without knowing that it was a possibility (that she would leave if she got the Hope job) …. It was an opportunity that came up at a time when I’d been waiting for it,” said Fausett.

She will be following in the footsteps of Les Imel, who is retiring as superintendent after nearly 14 years with the district. Fausett had nothing but praise for her predecessor, and hopes to be able learn from him as she takes over the helm of the Hope District, which includes Hope, Vieja Valley and Monte Vista schools.

Tight budgets are one of the challenges Fausett will face in her new job, but she said these aren’t anything new. “Hope School District is certainly not unique in being able to escape any of those (challenges) and the budget situation is going to continue to be a difficult one to resolve and, at the same time, pay employees what they deserve and need to remain in this community and to be part of our community,” said the former principal of Santa Barbara Junior High and Washington Schools.

The other big challenge coming up is the St. Vincent’s low-income housing project, which could potentially bring about 60 new students into the district.

“I know the St. Vincent’s project will change the face of the district a bit, but that’s several years down the line and that may prove to be a thing that affects Hope School District a lot or perhaps a little. We have to kind of wait and see what develops with the project,” said Fausett.

The school board is also likely to spend considerable time weighing the impact of transfer students (which now comprise approximately 30 percent) on the three schools.

“We need to have big conversations about it and get public input, as well as teachers’ concerns, on the table and make sure that we’ve got all the facts before we start trying to devise an ‘okay what are we going to do if or when,’ scenario,” said Fausett. “It’ll be a year of fact finding and trying to put things together and formulating a plan that has the participation and input from all sides of the community.”

Because she comes from the Santa Barbara District, Fausett already has the advantage of knowing the principals and being acquainted with the current board members. She also knows who to call with questions in the county and Imel has assured her he’ll make himself available as well.

Parent participation has traditionally been very strong in the district and Fausett said she is looking forward to getting to know everyone. She sees the parent and school relationship as similar to that of a doctor and patient.

“You want your doctor to be your partner, but if your doctor tells you that this is the best treatment, you’re going to go with that best treatment. … A parent may have an idea about what would be a good idea, but the teacher should be the one to say yes, but research has proven that this is the way to go about this simply because, blah, blah, blah and then the teacher goes ahead and institutes the program like the doctor institutes the treatment. So it’s a partnership but … somebody’s got to be the chief,” she said.

“… And then there will be times when we go to parents and say ‘what do you guys think about this,’ so that we can get some feedback and form that partnership. That’s what’s going to make the district even stronger. Hopefully I can continue the good work Les has started.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on October 21, 2004.

Blum finds freedom with her openness

Marty Blum

Marty Blum

Living your life under a microscope is just part of the job for most politicians, but having your breasts on display, so to speak, is another story. That’s basically what happened this summer, when Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum announced she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

“Everybody knows an awful lot about my body right now,” said Blum, who had a double mastectomy on July 28.

While some have criticized her for going back to work (part-time) only two days after her surgery, Blum said it made her feel better to keep going.

“I didn’t just feel like sitting still or lying down,” she said.

Part of her motivation for returning quickly was to let city employees know that she was going to be fine.

“Walking in here to me was a big statement, because of the fear that it would be a long haul,” Blum said from her City Hall office.

Luckily for Blum and for the city, she didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation treatment. She still sees her surgeon to check her progress regularly and is taking a drug to block potential cancer cells; otherwise she hasn’t missed too many beats.

Blum still thinks about the cancer every morning when she gets dressed.

“I have these little prosthesis I have to put in my bra, so I think about it, but not in a negative way. It’s almost a positive experience for me,” she said.

“I know I’m changed but it’s OK.”

She was also surprised and gratified by the community support.

Now Blum is working with a coalition of health-care groups to bring a mobile mammogram machine to Santa Barbara, to help ensure all women can have the same early detection. She also wants to help bring the discussion of breast cancer prevention and treatment even more out into the open.

And the fact that so many in the community are also worried about her health makes her ever more diligent.

“Now that I’ve had this they feel closer to me in some ways,” said Blum, noting that people come up and tell her their cancer stories. “People have a lot on their minds, so it’s OK if they want to share it with me.”

After all, she shared her story with them, and feels happy about that decision.

“The negative of being out there in the world publicly and bearing all is outweighed by all the positives,” said Blum.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon

One woman refuses to become a victim

OCTOBRE ROSE 2015 » Dépistage du cancer du sein, courtesy

OCTOBRE ROSE 2015 » Dépistage du cancer du sein, courtesy

Channeling her anger into action, nurse Mary Vaughan is using her own battle with inflammatory breast cancer as an opportunity to spread the word about this rare, highly aggressive and often misdiagnosed disease.

A year ago she wasn’t sure she would still be alive to tell her story. She had triumphed over breast cancer once, in 1999, when she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, the most common type of noninvasive breast cancer. Because her mother had breast cancer, Vaughan chose an aggressive treatment, a bilateral mastectomy (removal of both breasts) and had immediate reconstruction with silicone implants.

Her doctor at USC told her the cancer had only a 1 percent chance of coming back without chemotherapy or radiation, so Vaughan opted to get back to work and get on with her life.

By 2003 she thought the ordeal was over.

She was wrong.

In April 2003 she developed a severe breast infection. Doctors prescribed antibiotics, which seemed to do the trick. But three months later she woke up to a rash covering much of her chest. Her oncologist thought it was contact dermatitis. Still concerned, Vaughan asked the doctors with whom she worked to take a look. Everyone assured her it wasn’t cancer.

Finally she went to her dermatologist, Dr. Gary Novatt.

“He took one look at it and started talking about cancer,” Vaughan said. “He saved my life, I guess.”

A biopsy confirmed Vaughan’s worst fear at the time: the breast cancer was back.

She went to see her doctor at USC, who told her it was inflammatory breast cancer, or IBC, the most aggressive form of breast cancer and that she had less than a 50 percent chance of living five years.

Her treatment choices weren’t great. With the assistance of Dr. Susan Love, Vaughan opted to participate in a clinical trial at UCLA.

That was a little over a year ago. She began to see improvement right away and is continuing to get her energy back.

“In the beginning, I didn’t have any altruistic motives to go out and save humanity, I just wanted to save my own life,” said Vaughan.

While that still seems unlikely, she is using whatever time she has left to spread the word about IBC.

After communicating via e-mail with patients around the world, Vaughan has concluded: “Misdiagnosis is the most common thing that happens with this kind of cancer.

“Maybe if more people were aware of the symptoms, fewer would be misdiagnosed.”

What To Look For

Inflammatory breast cancer has a number of symptoms, including:

– One breast becomes much larger than the other one (often sudden)

– Warmth and swelling (often sudden)

– Redness or pinkness that may look like an infection

– Itching or pain in the breast that won’t go away

– Dimpling of the skin that looks like the skin of an orange

– Ridges or thickened areas of skin

– Nipple discharge, retraction or flattening

– Change in the color of the areola

– Swollen lymph nodes on the neck or under the arm

– A lump (although often there is no lump)

Source: The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on October 21, 2004.

Coping with cancer

Image by Waldryano,

Image by Waldryano,

How to talk to your kids

When my mother’s hair fell out from the chemo, she let us style it into a Mohawk. We laughed so hard our sides ached. We laughed until we cried.

But not every family handles the pain of breast cancer with humor.

In her almost 20 years as a documentary writer and producer for CBS television, Linda Wallace filmed women with cancer and asked them over and over again, “What was the most difficult part of the journey?”

“I would talk to these mothers and then living with them, going through their treatment, their diagnosis, then their chemo and radiation, surgeries and then living life and surviving. … the answer was so intriguing to me,” said Wallace, who now lives in Santa Barbara. “The answer was, after much thought, ‘telling my children.’ And that stayed with me.”

As much as it is a mother’s instinct to protect her children from the pain she is going through, experts advise against it.

“You cannot shield a child from the cancer diagnosis,” said Holli Johnson, a medical social worker at Mayo Clinic.

Children will sense when something is wrong and may imagine the worst.

“Let’s face it: When mom is sick, that’s really weird. She’s usually the one with the Band-Aids treating the children,” Wallace said.

Although the level of detail may vary depending on the age of the children and the communication style of the family, the Mayo Clinic advises that it would be helpful for all children to know:

– The potential physical and emotional effects cancer could have on you. What to expect to see – for instance, during chemotherapy you’ll lose your hair.

– Your expectations of them and how they can help.

– How their daily lives will change – for example, who will cook meals or drive them to soccer practice or piano lessons.

– That it’s OK to share positive and negative feelings.

Wallace is now working on a book to help mothers with breast cancer have these types of conversations with their children.

“Normally, children don’t talk about Mom’s breasts, and, the topic of Mom’s cancer seems impossible to broach, regardless of its geography,” she said. “With this in mind, it’s been on my heart to design and write a kid-friendly book for mothers to sit down and read with their school age children.”

Working with the survivors support group from the Breast Resource Center and the American Cancer Society, Wallace is developing a workbook to help children express their feelings and understand what their mothers are going through.

Letters from real children whose mothers have breast cancer will also be part of the book. Other children who would like to participate can e-mail

Wallace is hoping these tools will help the child become an important part of his mother’s cancer support team.

Siblings can also be an important support system for each other. Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum, who was diagnosed with breast cancer this summer, said that not only do her adult children call her more often since the diagnosis, they talk to each other more frequently than they used to.

Both the Breast Resource Center, 526 W. Pueblo St., and the Cancer Center, 300 W. Pueblo St., have extensive libraries with books and pamphlets specifically for parents telling children about cancer and for the children themselves.

“I have probably about 20 or 30 different books and booklets for parents to help them,” said Mary Solis, a social worker at the Cancer Center.

The Cancer Center also has a support group for children age 6 to 15 who have a family member with cancer or another serious illness. For information, call 682.7300.

Another good resource for children whose parents have cancer is, a national organization that offers chat rooms, camps and other resources specifically geared toward helping kids connect to others sharing similar experiences.

The most critical thing for parents to remember is that they teach their children by example. How you deal with difficult things in life – including illness – is going to give them the blueprint to deal with difficult things in their own lives.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on October 21, 2004.

Girls get out the vote at Girls Inc.

If girls ruled the world, John Kerry would be our next president, at least according to the mock elections that took place Tuesday as part of the Girls Inc. “She Votes” campaign, an initiative to educate and empower girls and their communities in the 2004 elections.

Along with learning about the political process and the presidential candidates, the girls also helped register voters for the Nov. 2 election in which all 63 women in the House of Representatives are up for reelection, as are five out of 14 women in the Senate.

“You may be used to seeing young people at your door or in the mall asking you to buy candy or wrapping paper to invest in their future. Our girls will be asking something much greater, that you invest in their future by going to the polls on Election Day and casting a vote,” said Monica Spear, Executive Director of Girls Inc. “Participation in our democracy is the greatest gift we can give to the next generation. The choices that we make will shape the future that they will inherit.”

“Research shows that one of the strongest indicators that a young adult will vote is exposure to the polls as a child,” said Spear. “… We want to use our influence to change future trends and get girls and young women to the polls.”

Over 200 girls had a chance to experience the voting process first hand at Girls Inc’s Santa Barbara and Goleta sites.

Peabody Charter School fifth graders Grace Reynolds and Nicole Fernandez both said they planned to register to vote “for real” as soon as they turn 18.

When queried about whether they had talked about the election in school, Nicole said, “Yes, in a magazine. They have John Kerry riding an elephant and George Bush riding a donkey.”

In the election at the Santa Barbara facility, Monroe 1st grader Celena Rose had only 37 of the other girls join her in casting a vote for Bush. Harding School 4th grader Mercedes Padilla went with the 76-vote majority, because, “Kerry wants the world to be respectful.”

“He’s going to be a good president,” added Grace.

We’ll find out on Nov. 2 how in sync the girls are with the rest of the country. Nine of them voted for Ralph Nader.

For a chance to talk politics with some of the girls, why not join in the first annual Girls Inc. 5K Family Fun Run/Walk at the Lemon Festival on Saturday at Girsh Park. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. with all proceeds going toward the final $1.25 million needed of the $7 million Capital Campaign to build a Girls Inc. facility in Goleta. For more information visit, call 963.4757 x14 or email

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on October 14, 2004.

Ellwood teacher gets an A+ for Energy

While most teachers were kicking up their heels with joy at the end of the last school year, Ellwood’s Deborah Gans was digging hers in … to submit a last minute grant application. The effort paid off: last week global energy provider BP awarded Gans $10,000 to help teach her sixth grade students about energy and how it affects their lives.

The end of the school year is crazy for teachers, especially those with graduating sixth graders. “It’s total chaos,” said Gans, who didn’t even think about the “A+ for Energy” application until about June 22. It was due the end of that month. Gans said she just started dreaming about what she would do with her class if she had that $10,000, an unheard of program budget in these tight economic times.

Among the wish list projects Gans and her class will now get to see happen: the creation of solar cars and a solar car raceway; field trips to oil rigs, a sanitation plant and a landfill; creation of an electronics circuitry lab; and water wheels and wind energy demonstrations.

The other Ellwood sixth graders will also benefit from Gans’ grant. Each class will get its own electronics lab, digital camera and other specialized equipment. Sixth grade students will also design an online scavenger hunt and a coloring book for the primary students, to help share what they’ve learned about energy use and conservation.

Gans also plans to get the other Goleta Schools in the act by challenging them to a competition to cut the most electrical and water usage and recycle the largest percentage of reusable material. “The winning school gets a prize … it’s going to be an ice cream feed,” she said.

BP’s A+ for Energy program awarded $2 million in cash grants to 1,075 California K-12 teachers who use innovative ideas to teach kids about energy and energy conservation. The winning teachers and their principals, including Gans and Ellwood School Principal JoAnne Meade Young, attended a celebratory awards event Oct. 5 at Universal Studios’ Globe Theatre.

“The party was really nice and they even paid for our substitutes,” said Gans, showing off fun pictures of herself and Young starring with Marilyn Monroe, the Nutty Professor and Doc Brown from Back to the Future. “My favorite picture is actually this one,” she said. “They had a red carpet for us.”

“The program is all about enhancing teachers’ efforts to create a spark in a child’s mind, encouraging them to reach further, be creative and excel,” said Irene A. Brown, BP’s Director, California Community Relations.

Gans was the only South Coast teacher selected from more than 5,000 applications from all over California. Each grant recipient will also get a scholarship to attend a five-day energy training conference hosted by the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project in Long Beach in the summer of 2005.

“BP (probably best known to Californians probably through ARCO, its West Coast gasoline brand) knows that teachers set the standard for excellence in education,” said Brown.

Sounds like an A+ to us.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on October 14, 2004.

Schools share in afternoon recreation programs

“I find myself in a position to share good news, good news, good news,” said Nancy Rapp, the acting Parks and Recreation Director, addressing a joint session of the Santa Barbara City Council and the Board of Education. “This is probably the strongest relationship that we have had in years.”

The Parks and Recreation Department shares facilities with the school districts and does the after-school scheduling for the fields. Among the projects Rapp said are planned: improved lighting at La Colina and Santa Barbara Junior High Schools, renovations at Ortega Park which will include easier pickup and drop off for Santa Barbara Junior High students, and the exploration of synthetic turf use at various facilities.

She also reviewed the status of 14 different joint-funded elementary school and junior high after school programs. The elementary programs include A-OK! Afterschool Opportunities for Kids, which costs parents $25 per month and targets underachieving students at Franklin, Harding, McKinley, Adams and Cleveland Schools; and the Recreation Afterschool Program (RAP), which is open to all students at Caesar Chavez, Open Alternative, Washington, Roosevelt and Monroe Schools, and costs $74 per month. While the A-OK! Program is only open to qualified students, the RAP program is open to all, and Rapp emphasized how inexpensive that program is compared to fees between $200 and $315 per month at the YMCA and other similar programs.

The city also administers junior high afterschool sports and arts programs at all four junior high schools, which cost participants $36 per semester.

All of the publicly funded programs at the elementary and junior high schools have scholarships available as well, said Rapp. For more information call 564-5495.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on October 14, 2004.

Elements surprise is really good service

A la carte advice for restaurant owners: Staff must remember who’s serving whom

Arigato in Santa Barbara

Arigato in Santa Barbara

I recently spent a wonderful evening dining out with friends. We started with dinner at Arigato, which is my favorite sushi place. The sushi is consistently divine, but the appetizers are really my favorite. I especially recommend trying the “Locals Only” and “Rincon Magic.”

After dinner we ambled over to Elements — in the old Cafe Figaro space across from the courthouse lawn — for wonderful desserts. We actually had enough people in our group to order the entire dessert menu, a fantasy come true for me. If I could just win the lottery so I could pick up the tab for the entire room, my restaurant fantasies would be complete.

Although it pains me to say it, my favorite thing at Elements was the Cool Blue Hawaiian Granita, a cross between a pina colada, a slurpee and a Popsicle. It wasn’t chocolate, which legally disqualifies it from the dessert category, but it was still yummy.

While my loved ones can always be counted on for good company, and most of our restaurant excursions result in pretty good food, one thing made this evening unique in Santa Barbara dining experiences — we had really good service.

Not “really good for Santa Barbara service,” but really good service. Period.

Dear Santa Barbara restaurant owner:

You’ve lowered our expectations enough. Unless 100 percent of your proceeds are going to charity or you’re trying to lose money in some kind of tax shelter scheme I don’t want to be part of, it’s time to get with the program on your service.

Not to get all uppity about things, but I came to your establishment to be served. If I want fries with that, I’ll drive through In and Out Burger, but when I come to your restaurant I expect a little more pampering.

I shouldn’t have to flap my arms like a dodo bird to get your hostess’s attention when I walk in the door. She should be waiting to greet me, and seat me, whether or not my entire party has arrived.

And while we’re on the subject of seating, unless the restaurant is full, would you kindly not seat me on top of the other patrons. Spare me my neighbor’s discussion of her affair with her boss and her gynecologist appointment (both of whom I probably know) and let the waiter walk the extra five steps that separate our tables.

And if I’ve got kids with me, let the waiter walk an extra ten steps. Your patrons will thank you, I promise. While we’re on the subject of dining with small children, remember, they’ve got short attention spans. Smart waitresses, like Isabel at Petrini’s, know that crayons won’t keep them as quiet as crackers, and that parents with kids under five are fast with the tips when you’re fast with the food.

I have never felt rushed when a waiter left the bill right after dinner, but I have been late to movies (or settled for my second choice at the multiplex) when the waiter apparently decided to go wax his car before deigning to let us know what our meal cost.

Speaking of speed, as laid back as Santa Barbara is, I only have an hour for lunch. Going to a restaurant should not be the equivalent of shopping at Ross Dress For Less, where you can find really great bargains if you’re willing to invest 57 minutes to find a pair of matching shoes and 23 minutes to wait in line to find out how much they cost.

I’ve already spent 17 minutes trying to park. I’d like to spend less than that waiting to order. After all, I’ve got a column to write and I get a little bit cranky when I’m hungry.

For comments about Santa Barbara’s renowned service economy, Leslie Dinaberg can be contacted at email

Originally published in South Coast Beacon

From the Single Files

What did Vieja Valley’s Ashley Scatena learn on The Bachelor? The reality of life is preferable to TV.

A kindergarten teacher straight out of central casting, Vieja Valley School’s Ashley Scatena is sweet, petite and charming. So what was she doing starring on ABC’s comical catfight “reality show,” The Bachelor?

It wasn’t to meet the man of her dreams.

It wasn’t the money; the women aren’t paid to participate. They even have to supply their own clothes.

It wasn’t the potential stardom; unlike many bachelorettes, Scatena has no ambitions to become an actress or a model.

Scatena was simply motivated by the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at a reality TV show. She said the whole process was fascinating.

“I can’t watch a show the same way again,” she said.

She was particularly struck by how long it took to film a single scene. For example, the rose ceremonies — during which the women find out if they’ve been chosen by the bachelor to go on to the next round — took about nine hours to film and resulted in only about nine minutes of airtime.

Last week’s rose ceremony was the last one for Scatena, since Byron the bachelor did not choose her to continue.

While Scatena felt badly about not staying on longer, she was hardly heartbroken. She said she knew right away that the Las Vegas fisherman wasn’t the man for her, but figured she might as well enjoy the experience.

With 25 women sharing three small bedrooms and two bathrooms, and completely cut off from the outside world — no phones, no Internet, no television, no books, no magazines — it’s no wonder they became close friends.

“We spent 23 hours a day talking and getting to know each other. It was just a great way to bond with women my age,” said the 31-year-old. “And I realized that we’ve all had the same dating experience all over the country.”

Scatena’s looking forward to November, when the women will film a “Girls Tell All” episode and give the inside scoop on their experiences on the show. Right now they are not supposed to be talking among themselves, to help keep up the suspense — as well as the secrecy — of the show.

As for the over-the-top drama of some of the women, Scatena said they were mostly just playing to the camera and giving the producers what they wanted.

But being dramatic was the last thing Scatena wanted. Ever aware of her role model status — especially among her previous students — she was very careful not to do anything she would regret.

“These kids are my biggest fans, and they don’t even care that I was on TV,” she said, as two little girls shyly presented her with some yellow leaves. “Yesterday I got a marble and a paper clip.”

It’s hard to be a diva in a class full of 5-year-olds.

“My students are my saving grace right now,” she said. “When everything else is crazy you can come in here and tie 10 pairs of shoes and blow someone’s nose and open their string cheese, and you forget all about The Bachelor.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on October 7, 2004.