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Around Town . . . with Robert Airoldi: Community mourns the loss of beloved Martin Murphy science teacher

Published in the February 1 – 14, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Robert Airoldi

We were sorry to learn that Martin Murphy Middle School’s much-loved seventh-grade science teacher, Mary Francis, died in a single-vehicle accident. It happened during a rainstorm in the early morning darkness Jan. 20 when her car collided with a fallen tree on her way to work, we were told by Morgan Hill Unified School District Communications Coordinator Kimberly Beare.

Known on campus for her enthusiastic passion for science education, Francis played an integral part in helping students find their own passion for discovering the wonders of the natural world. Throughout her more than 20 years of teaching, her love of learning never ceased. As science department chair, she was a strong and steady advocate for student achievement, Beare said.

“Mary Francis truly cared for her students, and worked tirelessly to help ensure them the best possible school experience,” said Martin Murphy Principal Alex Aasen. “Our school is far better for her having taught here. We will miss her tremendously.”

A temporary memorial will be in placed at Martin Murphy’s Innovative Learning Center and students have been encouraged to write a note of remembrance as they work through the grieving process.

Francis is survived by her son and daughter-in-law. We mourn with you, students and teachers of Martin Murphy.

• • •

Our good friend Peter Anderson returned recently to the South Valley after being gone more than two months on a trip to the Himalayas. The local geologist is also a dedicated Rotary Club of Morgan Hill member and so he used the trip to raise funds for this notable group’s global fight against polio. He took banners — and copies of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life — on his trip and had the items photographed with Mt. Everest in the background for a “challenge” donation of $100.

Anderson did not intend to get to the top of the highest point on planet Earth. The long trek just getting to Base Camp was enough.

“It was a very hard hike, requiring 11 days to reach Base Camp and five days to come back down,” he told us. “The mileage was not a big deal, but the altitude was — not quite 100 miles round trip, but going from 9,500 feet to 18,200 feet and back down. I made it all the way!”

Anderson carried on the arduous trip some 35 Rotary Club ceremonial banners and individual donation certificates, a couple of T-shirts, and our two newspapers.

Well done, Peter. And we encourage our Morgan Hill Life readers to celebrate his accomplishment by getting into the challenge themselves and sending the Rotary Club Foundation funds to be used to bring an end to the dreaded disease. Make checks payable to Rotary Club Foundation — Polio Plus.

• • •

Sheila Walton (sitting in front in the red sweater) and those adorable Red Hat Ladies invited her son Shand Walton and our own Music In The Air columnist Mark Fenichel to visit their monthly meeting and serenade them during a late morning breakfast at Just Breakfast in downtown Morgan Hill. The Red Hat Society is a playgroup for women created to connect like-minded women, make new friends and enrich lives through the power of fun and friendship.

Walton told us listening to her son and Fenichel play was a treat. “It was great and everyone loved it,” she said.

RHS members empower each other to pursue their passions and discover all that life has in store. The RHS is comprised of women from all walks of life who are committed to joyful living, growing, exploring new interests, having fun and creating new friendships. Sounds like a great group!

• • •

Congratulations to our many excellent wineries here in the South Valley region. They represented our vino-making endeavors well by winning many medals at the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, one of the most prestigious wine contests in America. Here’s a list of the wineries and what they won:

Castillo’s Hillside Shire Winery won one gold, three silver, and one bronze medals, Creekview Vineyards won one gold, two silvers, and five bronze medals, Fortino Vineyards won three silvers and one bronze medals, Guglielmo Winery won three silver medals, Kirigin Cellars won best of class for its 2016 Sauvignon Blanc and a double gold for its 2015 Petite Sirah, as well as two gold and seven silver medals, Lion Ranch Vineyards and Winery won one gold and one bronze, Martin Ranch won a best of class medal for its 2013 Merlot as we as three gold, four silver and four bronze medals, Satori Cellars won two silver and two bronze medals, Solis Winery won a double gold for its 2013 Cara Mia Bordeux Blend as well as one gold and one silver medal.

And Jane Howard, executive director of the Gilroy Welcome Center, also reminded us that January was California Restaurant Month. If you missed it, who cares? In February, visit one, two or several local eateries and enjoy a nice glass of our local award-winning wine with your meal.

• • •

Our local students sure can communicate. Claire Murphy from Oakwood High School was the overall winner of The Rotary Club of Morgan Hill’s annual speech held contest Jan. 11.
Second and third place were Faithy Limon from Ann Sobrato High School and Channing Bushman of Oakwood High School, respectively.

Murphy will continue on to the Area Six Rotary Speech Contest which will be held March 1 at the Rotary Club of Morgan Hill lunch meeting. The contest had six speakers from Ann Sobrato, Live Oak and Oakwood High Schools.

Morgan Hill Unified School District Superintendent Steve Betando told us: “In this year’s Rotary Club of Morgan Hill Speech Contest, each contestant gave an impassioned personal account of how they valued Rotary by incorporating this year’s theme: Rotary Serving Humanity. What a great opportunity for the youth in our town to become familiar with what Rotary is all about, form their own altruistic beliefs, and practice the speaking skills which will serve them so well in their careers and personal life.”

• • •

We’re sure proud of Morgan Hill’s very own musical star Angeline Madriaga who was cast in “Real Life Moana,” a YouTube video where live actors re-enact animated Disney songs. She is flying to Hawaii this month to begin filming.

Angeline has been involved in the Gilroy Children’s Musical Theater and is in local film producer John Bisceglie’s Morgan Hill theater production of “Disney Movie Magic!”
“A few weeks ago I posted her singing ‘How Far I’ll Go,’ in our Facebook groups,” Bisceglie told us in an email. “My good friend Ernest from the film production company Working with Lemons saw my post of Angeline singing and was impressed with her performance. His company had been in the process of a worldwide search, and after considering hundreds of video submissions they selected Angeline to play Moana!”

Take a lot at her perform on Youtube with this link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGZbVhrGkls.

Aloha, Angeline! Enjoy the Pacific paradise.