It takes guts to be brainy and behave: EDI task force addresses the role of nutrition in kids’ school success

The Early Developmental Index (EDI) Task Force presents the first parent education training for the school year, “Gut Brain Connection - How Food Impacts Behavior and Learning.”  This event will be held on Wed, Oct 25 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Anneliese School. 

Research indicates that a child’s ability to manage his or her behavior in the classroom setting and be ready to learn is linked directly to their gut. Nutrition specialists will discuss essential nutrition and vitamins necessary for proper growth and development, as well as creative meal plans for picky eaters. 

This presentation will give every parent additional tools to best prepare their child for learning. A follow up, hands-on make and taste event will be scheduled following the event. Dinner and refreshments will be served.

Gut Brain Connection – How Food Impacts Behavior and Learning, Oct. 25

The EDI Task Force, led by the LBUSD Readiness team, finalized details of the second-year action plan for the 2017-2018 school year, which includes parent education. The task force includes community stakeholders such as local preschool lead teachers and directors, Laguna Beach Public Library staff, Boys and Girls Club, and PTA.

“We can improve outcomes for young children by informing the community and providing families with opportunities that can help children build the necessary skills to be ready for kindergarten,” said Irene White, LBUSD Director of Special Education. 

School Readiness team provides free services 

The School Readiness team provides many free services to the community such as parent education events, professional development trainings at local preschools, free developmental screenings, referrals to local community resources and an opportunity to enroll in Learning Link, a hands-on learning opportunity for children and parents.

The EDI is an assessment tool used to understand the early learning needs of young children in local communities.  

LBUSD’s EDI identified weaknesses in fine and gross motor skills and communication and general knowledge. The 2016 EDI report indicates that 48 percent of children are “not ready” in the area of fine and gross motor skills, and 15 percent are “somewhat ready.” Skills in this domain include the ability to hold writing utensils such as pencils, crayons or paintbrushes; manipulate objects; climb stairs and maintain energy throughout the school day.  

2016 EDI report suggest many LB children are “not ready” 

The EDI also indicated that young children in Laguna Beach struggle with communication skills and general knowledge. The 2016 EDI reports that 49 percent of children are “not ready” and 15 percent are “somewhat ready” in this area. Skills in this domain include a child’s ability to use language effectively in English to tell a story; communicate their own needs in a way understandable to adults and peers; ability to understand on first try what is being said to him/her; ability to take part in imaginative play; articulate clearly as well show adequate general knowledge.  

“The sooner we identify deficits in developmental skills, the earlier we can intervene and provide resources to help build those skills necessary to enter Kindergarten,” said Claudette Ahern, LBUSD School Readiness Nurse.

For more information about the EDI Task Force or the Oct 25 parent education event, contact Sandee Bandettini at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 949-497-7700, ext. 5327.

Community Emergency Response Team exercise takes place at The Ranch for the first time

Story and photos by ALEXIS AMARADIO

On Sat, Sept 30, the first citywide CERT event took place within Laguna Beach at The Ranch, from 8 a.m.- 1 p.m. This drill, which included a range of safety and survival skills, was a refresher training exercise for existing members coming back to help further the newcomers knowledge. In total, there were 100 volunteers, some local, and others from neighboring cities such as Irvine, Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, Laguna niguel, and San Clemente. 

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The CERT group gets a pep talk from Jordan Villwock before they tackle their crisis

Jordan Villwock, the Emergency Operations Coordinator, is a big advocate of this event and the volunteers who sacrifice time out of their day weekly to help others out in case of an emergency. 

“It gives people an idea of what to do in a situation they may have never been in before. Today’s activities range from putting out a fire out, to search and rescue, “ Jordan said. He went on to explain how informative this event was going to be for all involved. 

After countless meetings and maps to put this event together, he was very pleased with the outcome. He was extremely excited that this event was taking place locally for the first time stating, “It’s a great day for CERT in Laguna Beach.” 

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Jordan Villwock the Emergency Operations Coordinator excited for the CERT team

Each participant came dressed in hard hats, goggles, flashlights, batteries, masks, and anything they felt they personally needed in the case of an emergency. 

In groups of six with a team leader, they were ready to tackle anything thrown at them. The storyline of the day was that a 7.9 earthquake had shaken California, and they were to treat it as if it actually happened, and how they would handle the crisis with their skills. 

There were stations set up from left to right to prepare for a crisis that could potentially happen: their goal was to help in any way their skills let them. These stations included what to do if something heavy falls on someone, search and rescue, how to medically attend to someone with a wound, how to put out a fire with a fire extinguisher, and so much more. It gave the volunteers a real life experience so if an earthquake were to ever happen in the future, they would be well prepared. Their time was limited to 35 minutes at each station, so they all had to work together to solve the problem as fast as they could, while still being safe. 

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CERT volunteers help someone out if something heavy fell on them

Alex Simmons, Director of CERT, explained why she became involved in these events saying, “I wanted to educate and be a part of the community and get as many people to get involved as possible.” When she moved here six years ago, she saw the ad for volunteers, and knew this was something she had to help out with. 

She went on to say how impressed she was with the overall turnout of the event, and how willing to help each individual who came was. The theme of the day was teamwork, and everyone showed that by lending their hands to help one another. 

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Alex Simmons the Director of CERT, dressed and ready to go 

The CERT team is ready for anything that comes their way, and are capable of working together in any condition. In a time of a crisis, it’s comforting to know that the Police and Fire department have teamed up with these individuals to help out in a time where they might not be able to reach a person if they’re hurt. 

Mayor Toni Iseman was also in attendance, “I am so impressed and am so glad where they are, with the skills they have, to keep us safe,” she said. 

By informing people what to do in a time of need, safety is becoming more achievable during a major crisis. A big thank you goes out to all CERT volunteers, each individual that made this event possible, and the Police and Fire department. 

Stop bullying installation planned for Saturday


An installation to honor victims of bullying will be installed Saturday on the Cobblestones of Main Beach,

The installation of 200 fiberglass figures with pictures of bullied victims is designed to make folks aware of the damage that can be inflicted with words, despite the old folk saying. 

“Each of the figures represents a dead victim of bullying, mostly suicides,” said Shadi Pourkashef, founder of Learn to Stop Bullying Inc. “Their stories will be located on the back of the figures.”

Bullying must be stopped and it starts with adult conduct that influences children, according to Pourkashef. 

“More than ever, our youth need our clear and simple guidance wrapped in kindness, respect, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, empathy, non judgement and friendship to build a bully-free, safe and happy environment for them, their homes, schools and communities,” stated Pourkashef.

She has made appearances at school assemblies tailored for K-third graders, fourth and fifth graders, middle school, high school and college students.

The installation honoring the memory of the children who have lost their lives due bullying will be on the Cobblestones from 8 a.m. to sunset. A grand piano will be delivered to the Cobblestones, on which composer and conductor Pourkashef will perform Chopin’s Funeral March, every hour on the hour throughout the day. 

Councilman Steven Dicterow will speak at 1:30 p.m.

O, Pepper Tree, O, Pepper Tree, how lovely were thy branches…your boughs so green in summertime

Sadly, Laguna’s iconic pepper tree at City Hall was reduced significantly last Wednesday (to approximately 12 feet high), due to findings from arborists that the tree was in danger of toppling over. The City Council debated remedies for many months but no solutions were practical. The City has asked for clones to be created.

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Photo credit: Craig Burns

On Wednesday, the pepper tree was reduced to 12 feet

Wood from the tree will be made available through the end of November to artists, or any members of the public who wish to craft objects or to have a memento from the tree.

For more information, or to request wood from the tree, please contact Senior Administrative Analyst, Robert Sedita at (949) 497-0740 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Lagunatics cast is cast down to hear of the pepper tree’s trauma: they are rooting for full recovery

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Submitted photo

No Square Theatre will be holding Pepper Tree Memorial events weekends Oct 13 - Nov 5. Visit for details. PeppeRIP ribbons will be available.

Fire danger at the ASL, burglaries and protests top the list of concerns at National Coffee with a Cop event


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

On National Coffee with a Cop Day, residents took full advantage of the opportunity to exchange information and ideas with our police officers. Last Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m., residents were already gathering at Moulin Bistro with specific questions for Capt Jeff Calvert, Capt Jason Kravetz, and Community Service Officer Natasha Hernandez. 

Dodging the bright morning sun, Capt Kravetz manned his station from under a red umbrella, while Capt Calvert and Officer Hernandez chatted with passing groups of people, some walking dogs or pushing strollers, others who stopped to shake hands and voice concerns and ask questions. 

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Captain Kravetz (at rail), Chief Farinella, and Captain Calvert chat with residents

According to Capt Calvert, many of the topics discussed were those uppermost on the minds of community members: the protest (thanking the officers for keeping the peace, as well as concerns regarding how the community will proceed), the recently solved burglary case at The Cliffs, the pepper tree, residential and auto burglaries, and road safety. 

One question, from Ron Russell, concerned the danger of smoking around the homeless shelter (because of its proximity to the foliage at the dog park). Capt Calvert assured him that Community Outreach Officers Jason Farris and Zach Martinez are addressing this situation. 

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(l-r) Lea Abel Stone (little Sterling), Officer Natasha Hernandez, Melissa Rohari (little Sam)

At around 9 a.m., Chief Laura Farinella arrived to meet and talk with the growing crowd. When asked about the department’s policy on the methods of sharing information, Chief Farinella said, “The event here today was announced on that website [Nextdoor]. We take advantage of any form of communication.”  

And of course, these events are always announced in Stu News Laguna.

The gatherings are all about communication, and I learned that there is valuable tool that 8,000 of Laguna’s residents are already using; Nixle Public Safety Alerts, which allows the department to text safety alerts and advisories to residents. To register to receive these alerts, text your zip code to 888-777. 

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Lea Abel Stone with her son Sterling (local architect Gregg Abel’s grandson) talking to Chief Farinella, after she gave Sterling a badge shaped sticker

When complimented on the quality and quantity of the department’s services and workload, Chief Farinella responded, “We’re now full service and year-round. The workload used to drop off in the winter, but now it is all year.”

As many already know, Coffee with a Cop is a movement designed to help break down the barriers in communities between residents and officers. It is a simple plan: Officers invite residents to join them for a cup of coffee and a conversation. It has been spreading like wildfire ever since the first cup was poured, and today more than 2,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the US participate in this movement. 

On this beautiful Laguna day, neighbors sipping coffee, snapping pictures, and chatting with each other and the police officers, the general atmosphere was one of a small town get together, informal, yet extremely informative. Based on Wednesday’s event, the strategy is working here in Laguna.

Thanks to Laurent Vrignaud, owner of Moulin, for allowing the use of his bistro for National Coffee with a Cop Day.

Accessory Dwelling Units will be explained at LB Seniors workshop on Wed Oct 11 at 6 p.m. at Susi Q

Laguna Beach Seniors and Laguna Board of Realtors will host an educational workshop on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on Wed, Oct 11, from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the Susi Q Senior Center. It’s a free workshop, and an expert panel will walk the attendees through the process of why ADUs are an option to consider, how to design and build an ADU, and how to finance such a project.  

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Accessory Dwelling Units offer one solution to affordable housing

ADUs provide an opportunity for homeowners to make additional income and perhaps provide affordable housing.  ADUs also create an environment where a senior can have a live-in caregiver and/or live within a support network that is conducive to a positive quality of life.  

Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs) are spaces within the existing structure with a separate entrance, access to the main living area, and a small efficiency kitchen without parking requirements.  

Lifelong Laguna is a new program of Laguna Beach Seniors designed to help locals stay in Laguna as long as possible by providing a support network of services, education, and advocacy – ADUs and JADUs are solution-driven.  

Register for the workshop with Laguna Beach Seniors program specialist, John Fay, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 949-715-8107.

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