News of Jerry Jones’ passing had us going to the archives on this one.
We well remember how personally uncomfortable this made us after we moved back into the Burbank schools in 1966. It was almost as weird as that “Bank Day” they’d tried to foist on us a few years earlier.
Jesus. You mean it lasted this long?
June 10, 2000
By Joyce Rudolph
Amid a heavy sadness at the final dinner, supporters of Released Time congratulated coordinators for 56 years of teaching Christian values to thousands of youngsters and asked them to have faith something else would replace the program, which closed in April.
Representatives from the 12 participating churches, clergy, board members and teachers — more than 80 people altogether– gathered at the First Christian Church Monday for the annual dinner meeting.
A lack of enrollment and donations from churches led to the demise of the program, which organizers say has taught 40,000 children about the Old and New Testaments through the years.
What would happen is that the intermediate kids at most of the Burbank elementary schools would be dismissed at two o’clock in the afternoon on Wednesdays so that they could all traipse down the street to some woman’s home for a proscribed course in Bible study and other religious doctrine.
At Emerson at least the subdivisions were Catholic, Christian, and LDS. Each group of kids would thus venture off alone to their whatever it was religious destination.
The teachers all hated the disruption, naturally, and not every church participated. The local rabbis objected to this Released Time deal on philosophical and legal grounds, and so the Jewish kids didn’t go. Participation was not mandatory, and thus the leftover bunch who stayed behind would usually be forced to futz around the classroom for that entire wasted hour. Washing erasers was especially big with Miss Anderson.
There was always a problem too in getting back all of the kids by quitting time. Some of course never ended up where they were supposed to.
Just like Bert Haag’s equally weird “Noon Games,” where unlucky Emerson kids were forced to act like some kind of athletic wunderkinder straight out of 1936 Hitler’s Germany, the BUSD’s Released Time practice was as bizarro as shit.
Burbank Community Church Pastor Jerry Jones, representing the Burbank Ministerial Assn., reminded coordinators their efforts will go on and on.
“It’s not the end, but at a turn in the road,” he said. “You will go on in other ministries to help touch the lives of boys and girls.”
Vice Mayor Bob Kramer, a former participant of Released Time School of Christian Education, thanked the members for their heartfelt dedication over the years.
“Your work is never going to end because of the many lives you’ve touched,” he said. Kramer coaxed Pastor Walter Wentworth, retired minister of Toluca Lake Trinity Foursquare Church, to the podium. Putting an arm around Wentworth, Kramer thanked him for his guidance while Kramer was growing up in Burbank.
No wonder Ted went nuts.
Board President Josephine Orcutt said a lack of money to cover costs of bus transportation and teacher salaries caused the board to close the program in April.
She said the program is still in the red by between $2,000 and $3,000, and asked churches attending for donations so the program could end with all outstanding bills paid.
Co-directors Louise Byers and Marguerite Derderian thanked Orcutt for her guidance through the years and recognized fellow teachers for their service. They are Linda Anderson, 21 years; Natalie Lennon, nine years; and Joyce Smith, five years. Orcutt has been a teacher in the program for 20 years while Byers has served three years and Derderian 11 years.
The meeting was interspersed with Christian music selections featuring vocal soloists Karen Pickett of Toluca Lake Trinity Foursquare Church, Kathy Hitt of First United Methodist Church, and the trio of Jack and Miriam Schoengarth of Trinity Foursquare Church (strings) and Gigi Koratgif (piano) of First Christian Church.
The Rev. Galen Goben performed the invocation and Pastor Phil Hyde of Burbank First Foursquare Church gave the closing prayer.
Appropriately the meeting culminated with everyone singing “Onward, Christian Soldiers.”
Boy, they must have been really upset.