Laguna Beach Boys Baseball dominates Saddleback in 27-0 no-hitter: team remains undefeated in league play

LBHS Boys Baseball continued their undefeated league play on Tuesday, April 17. Visiting Saddleback, four LBHS pitchers combined for a no-hit, with a score of 27-0. The Breakers are now 13-8 on the season, 8-0 in league play.  

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Photo by Sheri Morgan

Grady Morgan stealing third; he led with a Grand Slam earlier in the first

Grady Morgan led the offense with a Grand Slam homerun in the first. Michael Kerner, Christian Holm, Dylan Schreyer, Jared Angus and Morgan all had multiple hits on the day, and 12 different hitters contributed to the 17-hit attack.

Jack Loechner, Joe Sweet, Cutter Clawson and Remy Mackel teamed up on the mound to no-hit Saddleback.

Proposed changes to school year calendar elicit passionate responses


Parents, teachers, and community members came out in droves and with passion to discuss the fate of the LBUSD school year calendar with administrators and board members last Thursday, April 12, at Laguna Beach High School’s Kay Turner Library.

The concerned crowd brought their emotions and ideas to the table, as they learned of the results found by a special calendar committee, and its recommendations that may go into effect at the start of the 2019-2020 student instructional year. Among the changes recommended by the committee are moving the calendar start date up a week and a half earlier, to August 21, and moving the end date up a week earlier to June 11. This would align LBUSD with other nearby districts that have made similar changes in recent years. (Click here for PDF with recommendations)

“I was surprised that the district quietly worked on this for months using a committee made up mostly of district employees and missing such key stakeholders as Festival and Sawdust reps; the Boys & Girls Club; local preschools; the Chamber of Commerce; SchoolPower; PTA; civic groups; youth organizations; those whose businesses, jobs, and traffic will be affected; and, most notably, the students themselves,” said former Laguna Beach PTA Council President and current Advocacy Chair, Kathleen Fay, who attended the meeting with her husband Tom.

“Our 3,000 kids and their families were not adequately represented, even though family engagement and transparency in governance are both important values in our community.”

School Board President Jan Vickers was helpful throughout the evening, wading through the pool of questions and cross talk. Vickers and her board constituents fielded the many questions that came at them, often simultaneously. 

“The purpose of the meeting was intended to gather initial public input surrounding the student instructional year and the committee’s recommendation, which we felt the meeting accomplished as a first step. The Board provided direction to staff to gather additional information and input,” Vickers said.

The idea of separating the crowd as instructed into five smaller groups was met with some opposition and commentary. But things seemed to settle down as the smaller pods exchanged thoughts and were able to ask questions and speak their minds.

“We want to capture any questions and comments” voiced a group leader. “We will present our collective thoughts out to the group.”

 Sasha Kvitsinski, one of the few students in attendance, was positive about the changes presented.

“I’m here because I’m part of the student newspaper, so I’m writing an article about this process,” said Kvitsinski  “The board, they were deciding to make this change based on what they thought was best for the students and not necessarily what is best for the community. That’s what a school is – it’s there to benefit the students, right?”

 “I am wondering why it’s a problem that most of them are stakeholders because the stakeholders are the ones that work directly with the students, and so, they know how students learn and how they react to certain things and feel in this situation,” Sasha said. “I know my teachers know better my learning style than my parents do. I feel like they know what’s best for the students.”

Mary Blanton, who has taught at El Morro Elementary for 29 years, said that she’s seen a lot of calendar/school day changes during her tenure.She expressed that the district is always looking at ways to improve its practice. “Our district wanted to ensure that our calendar was best for kids, so it formed a committee to look at it.” 

Although she knows the board has the best intentions in mind, she thought people came in feeling defensive. “I know I did. Many were caught off guard by the short notice,” Blanton said about an email sent out the week prior to the meeting, during Spring Break. “I wish the presentation had actual data and citations. I had hoped that there would be research showing why this is a good idea.”

“I think the steps are a good start. I hope they will change the committee make up to reflect all voices,” Blanton said. “The board said they would survey teachers, LBHS students, and parents. They will also go to the campuses to meet with the School Site Councils. That’s a start. I think it would be helpful for everyone to have a chance to submit their questions and concerns.”

Vickers explained, “The committee surfaced assumptions and questions, reviewed data related to those assumptions and questions, and established priorities based on the data reviewed, which was summarized in the attached presentation from the meeting. The committee’s priorities reflected themes of social-emotional wellness, student engagement, and increased opportunities for students.”

Liam, a student at TOW, wanted to express his concerns about the matter, although he wasn’t present.

 The school district superintendent is thinking about ending school early and starting school early next year. I think it’s a terrible idea. My family always goes to Six Flags Magic Mountain and there are never any lines when we go,” Liam said. 

He added, “Also, people might already have a vacation planned and students might have to miss the first week of school. Another reason it’s a bad idea is August is one of the hottest months of the year, and it can get up to 100 degrees, so I don’t want to be in school.”

There’s sure to be plenty more to come addressing this hot topic.

Breakers dominate Calvary Chapel, 10-0, sweep season series to stay undefeated in league

Laguna Beach High School hitters and pitchers made a statement Thursday at Calvary Chapel that they are the team to beat in the Orange Coast League. Three pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout, and the Breakers pounded out 13 hits to defeat the Calvary Chapel Eagles, 10-0, sweep the season series 3-0, and stay undefeated in league at 7-0.

Eric Silva, 4-5 with two doubles and two RBIs, and Grady Morgan, 3-4 with a home run and two RBIs, led the way for Laguna Beach. The defense, which has struggled recently, was outstanding on the day with great plays made by multiple Breakers. Jack Loechner, Jared Angus, Sawyer Chesley, Aidan Booth, Morgan and Silva all made highlight reel plays for the visiting Breakers.

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Photo by Sheri Morgan

Grady Morgan 

Blake Burzell started on the mound for Laguna and shut out the Eagles for five innings, striking out four. Wesley Witteman and Justin Holm each pitched one inning of scoreless relief to complete the shutout.

Chesley added a hit and two RBIs, Angus had two hits, and Silva added to his monster day with a straight steal of home.

Laguna has two games next week vs Saddleback – home on Tuesday, April 17, and away on Friday, April 20. Both games are slated to start at 3:15 p.m.

Three LBUSD teams advance to Global Finals in Destination Imagination® Tournament

Three teams from Laguna Beach Unified School District that competed in the Destination Imagination® (DI) Affiliate (state/country) Tournament have advanced to the Global Finals taking place May 23-26 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

DI is a project-based educational program in which student teams solve open-ended challenges and present their solutions at tournaments. Global Finals is the culminating event of the DI Tournament with more than 1,400 of the top-scoring teams from 45 U.S. states and 14 countries participating. The scheduled festivities include the DI Tournament, interactive exhibits, pin trading, skills workshops, and more. 

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LBHS’s Brilliant Boom Bam Bananas are headed to the Global Finals

“This accomplishment is demonstrative of the tenacity and passion that our students are capable of with the support of the community that surrounds them,” said LBUSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria. “Together with staff, parents, and volunteers, our students have been hard at work to prepare for this competition, and I am confident that they will continue to make us proud,” he concluded. 

Laguna Beach High School’s Brilliant Boom Bam Bananas competed in the Scientific Challenge which asked teams to explore scientific concepts used in amusement park attractions; design and build an attraction that uses scientific concepts during its operation; create and present a story that features the attraction operating in an unlikely location; and portray the unlikely location using sights and sounds. The team placed third at the affiliate tournament, qualifying for global finals. 

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Thurston’s Thunder McKings (pictured) and Catnip (picture not available at time of going to press) are heading to the finals

Thurston Middle School will be represented by two teams at the global finals, the Thunder McKings and Catnip. The Thurston McKings placed third in the Technical Challenge qualifying for global finals. Their challenge was to design and build a device to navigate a tournament-provided maze; design and build a prop that transforms in the maze; design and build a way to remove an object from the maze; and create and present a story about a journey through the maze.

Catnip placed third in the Improvisational Challenge, also qualifying for finals. The Improvisational Challenge asked teams to research different cultures and famous explorers; create and present an improvisational skit about a quest to return a lost cultural treasure to its owner; integrate two explorers and a prop into the quest; and show how characters work together to overcome a setback.

The annual Global Finals competition is the world’s largest celebration of student creativity with more than 17,000 people in attendance each year.

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