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Special Board of Education meeting tonight will review survey results regarding recommended changes to school calendar

The Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education will hold a special Board meeting tonight, Tuesday, June 19 at 6 p.m. in the LBHS Library to review survey data regarding recommended changes to the school calendar, which have been recommended to go into effect at the start of the 2019-2010 student instructional year.

LBUSD partnered with Hanover Research, a private research firm located in Washington D.C., to administer an opinion survey of students, parents, teachers, and staff regarding recommended changes to the District’s academic calendar.

Special Board of Education

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Will the school calendar change for LBUSD students starting in 2019-20? Results of the Board of Education’s special survey, presented tonight (Tuesday, June 19) to the public, will likely play a big role in the decision.

The changes recommended by the committee include 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.

The calendar survey data review is an information only item. No action will be considered at the board meeting. The Board will provide the district staff with direction on the next steps in the process.

Tonight’s special meeting is open to the public.

For additional information, including the recommended 2019-2020 calendar, visit www.lbusd.org/calendarplanning.


SchoolPower names new executive director: Sarah Durand

SchoolPower has named Sarah Durand as its new executive director. Durand was chosen from a field of over 80 applicants during an exhaustive search process that began after Robin Rounaghi, SchoolPower’s current executive director, announced that she was stepping down after five years in the position to spend more time with her family. Durand will take the reigns of the organization in August. 

SchoolPower names Sarah

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New director of SchoolPower, Sarah Durand

Durand has lived in Laguna Beach with her husband for the past 14 years and has three children in Laguna Beach schools. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in communication studies and built a robust career in digital marketing, product management and website development for organizations including Disney Interactive, Stanford Children’s Health, and Laguna Beach-based MacGillivray Freeman Films. Durand has been a dynamic leader for our schools through PTA and site council, and has served as a SchoolPower trustee.

SchoolPower’s executive committee was impressed with Durand’s vision for the organization. “Sarah understands SchoolPower’s mission. She has a clear vision for the future and that was exciting for the group to hear,” explains upcoming SchoolPower President Mike Houlahan. Rounaghi adds, “Sarah’s skills and dedication make her perfectly suited to build upon our past success and take SchoolPower to new heights.”

SchoolPower’s executive director partners with an all-volunteer board of trustees and a small, dedicated staff to oversee events and programs as diverse as the Community Campaign, Dinner Dance, Fund-A-Need, Chef Challenge, Dodgeball, 3 Clubs Barefoot Golf Classic, Business Alliance, Real Estate Honor Roll and the Student Directory. This year SchoolPower will donate approximately $760,000 to support LBUSD initiatives and programs like digital literacy, social emotional support, music, and the arts. 

“Laguna Beach schools are exceptional, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to shape SchoolPower’s bright future,” says Durand. “I see an opportunity to modernize the way we communicate SchoolPower’s important mission with families and build long-term relationships with them.”


LBHS seniors Marco Lybbert and Andrew Keyser awarded top two instrumental music awards

Laguna Beach High School seniors Marco Lybbert and Andrew Keyser were announced as the winners of the top two instrumental music awards for 2018 by LBHS Instrumental Music Director Jeremy Chung at the Music Boosters’ annual Band Picnic on June 9. 

LBHS seniors awards

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Marco Lybbert (left) and Andrew Keyser win music awards

Andrew Keyser received the John Philip Sousa Award to recognize superior musicianship and outstanding dedication. Since 1955, this award has represented the pinnacle of achievement in honoring the top high school band student each year. Keyser’s name will be added to the National Sousa Registry.

Marco Lybbert was presented with the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award, which was inaugurated shortly after this great jazz artist died in 1971. This achievement represents the highest level interscholastic award given to a high school jazz musician in recognition of outstanding musical achievement and dedication to the program. 

Both winners received personal trophies, framed certificates, and award pins. Their names will be added to the perpetual plaques for each award showcased at Laguna Beach High School.


Boys Water Polo will be competing in the first round of the CIF playoffs on Thurs at 5 p.m.: cheer them on

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L-R, Marshall Eichenauer, James Nolan, Will Clark, Kai Cameron, Colton Gregory, Zach Cord, Peter Weiland, Larsen McCarroll, Caden Capobianco, Sebi Jacobs, Riley Baumgardner, Marcon Salib, Coach Trevor Lyle

Come out and support LBHS’s boys winning water polo team at home on Thursday Nov 2 at 5 p.m. for the first round of the CIF playoffs…GO BREAKERS!


LBHS Surf Team battles Dana Hills and comes up with a giant win, dominates Aliso Niguel

Written by coaches Scott Finn and Alisa Cairns

The Laguna Beach High School Surf Team battled Dana Hills at Salt Creek last Thursday with classic conditions and surf in the five foot range. The event was a League event and the second meeting for the season. Many of the Laguna surfers found success and were key to the win, but you could say the MVP was Travis Booth with a runner up spot in Short Board and a crucial second in Bodyboard. 

Meanwhile our Girls team did their part with Kayla Coscino another MVP, taking the shortboard win and a second in Longboard, while Kalohe Danbara and Kelly Smith went 2, 3 in shortboard and Claire Kelly took third in Longboard. Laguna was out in front with numerous top results. 

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MVP Kayla Coscino

In Boys Shortboard Trey Lockhart, Sam Nelsen, Jeremy Shutts and Jake Levine all had wins and Kiko Nelsen had the wave of the day to take a very close second. Jett North did well to take a fourth. We have had a tough time in our Longboard and Bodyboard Divisions and the team has all rallied hard to fill the gaps with some of the surfers doing double duty. It came down to the last heat of the day with the Bodyboarders hitting the water. At the first meeting with Dana we had a chance to tie and just came up short and this time it looked like it might happen again. But as it turned out Travis Booth pulled through with a great Bodyboard performance and his second place finish was enough to give the Team an eight-point win 87/79 overall, the first time taking the win in a very long time.

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MVP Travis Booth

Day two, last Friday saw the team dominate Aliso Niguel in a non-league scrimmage. Several of the usual suspects had top performances, while some new younger kids also got in the mix and came in with some great results. 

Sam and Kiko Nelsen took wins as did Jake Levine, while Travis Booth took a couple of seconds in Boys Shortboard and Bodyboard once again. Jeremy Shutts displayed some nice surfing and took a second in shortboard while his brother Andrew took fourth in Bodyboard. Jameson Roller surfed nicely in Longboard to take a second.

Trey Lockhart took another win while his brother a Freshman took second and Jett North took a third. Several new surfers saw action led by Joseph Schenk who had some nice rides to take second in shortboard, while Lucas Jablon and Julian Williams-Goldberg took thirds and Zac Henderson had a fourth in Longboard. Our Girls did awesome once again with Kalohe Danbara taking the win, while Tess Booth was close behind finishing in second in Shortboard and third in Longboard and Kelly Smith took a third in Shortboard.

A big thank you goes out to all the parents and friends who showed up to support our Laguna kids.Our next event will be another League Event at T-Street on Friday, Nov 3 against San Clemente.


NCAA Signing Day at LBHS: Your community is proud of you all

The community gathered on the quad at LBHS Wednesday morning to celebrate the signing of letters of intent by 12 LBHS senior student-athletes, marking the culmination of 10+ years of dedication and hard work by these extraordinary young women and men.

Parents and grandparents were on hand to celebrate – as well as hundreds of LBHS students, who could be heard hootin’ and hollerin’ as their friends’ names and final college choices were announced over the PA system.

Seven girls water polo players signed their letters of intent – including Thea Wash (Stanford), Sophia Lucas (USC), Evan Tingler (Harvard), Alana Evans (Princeton), Isabel Riches (Brown), Kyla Whitelock (Fresno State), and Danielle Borelli (McKendree University). Diver Liv Mitchell signed her letter of intent to Brown, while swimmer Kasey Karkoska signed hers to Columbia. Girls sand volleyball player Lexi McKeown signed to Florida State, boys volleyball player Sam Bergi signed to UCLA, and rowing coxswain Jessica Morrell signed to UCSD.

 

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Photos by Kristin Karkoska/

Blue Sky Studio

(L to R) Liv Mitchell, Evan Tingler, Isabel Riches, Alana Evans, and Kasey Mitchell were all smiles Wednesday after signing their NCAA letters of intent in front of the community

Water polo standout Thea Walsh, an All-County goalie, will join former LBHS teammates (and USA Gold Medal Olympians) Makenzie and Aria Fischer at Stanford, which ’09 LBHS grad and USA Gold Medal Olympian Annika Dries also attended. When asked about her choice, Walsh said: “It’s literally been my dream school since 8th grade.”

 

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Thea Walsh, pictured here with her parents, will join former LBHS teammates Makenzie and Aria Fischer at Stanford next year

Sand volleyball star Lexi McKeown said she chose Florida State because of the “bricks and trees.” She wanted something different than Laguna, but still wanted to feel at home. “Every building [at FSU] is brick, and the trees are just so beautiful too. The moment I stepped on campus, I knew it was right for me.”

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A Seminole and a Lion: Lexi McKeown and Kasey Mitchell

The event was one of three NCAA Signing Day events scheduled by LBHS this year, with other signings in other sports to be celebrated later in the school year.

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Sam Burgi, who will play volleyball at UCLA next year, with his mother Lori


Lexi McKeown, volleyball player extraordinaire: A special tribute to one of Stu’s favorite families

Mom Kathy McKeown wrote a very personal note to Stu News, wishing that Stu were still around to witness her daughter Lexi’s success. “Wish Stu were here to get to see her get to this point after you two [Stu and Shaena] so graciously supported her throughout her journey,” Kathy wrote. 

So, with Stu in mind, we thought we’d publish Lexi’s story in full, as written by her proud mom.

“Shoot for the moon, if you miss you’ll land within the stars”…and there’s not a game or practice where this player does not aim high, giving a 100 percent effort of herself and to her teammates. 

Fondly referred to as McCutie, the Empire Spikes Back, the Lexinator and McKillin, Lexi McKeown is a four-year LBHS Varsity veteran starting player and is saying goodbye this season to her six years spent on the indoor court playing in the gold division for T Street, Momentous and Laguna Beach Volleyball clubs.  

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Blue Sky Studio

Lexi and proud mom Kathy

Next fall Lexi is headed to Florida State University on an academic/athletic scholarship where she will have her toes in the sand playing beach volleyball for the Division 1 number 4 nationally ranked Seminoles. Show us your tomahawk Lex! 

One of the top 2018 beach players in the nation, Lexi finished fifth in the BVCA, third in the USA Spring Open, second in the AAU Spring Classic, played first seed for the championship winning Los Angeles ICG Club in the AAU Power Elite league, fifth out of 56 U18 players in the annual Hermosa Beach Queen of the Beach Invitational tournament, first in the Junior Beach Volleyball League Series tournament #1, first in the U18 College Showcase gold division and second in the East Coast National Junior Championships.

When she’s not playing volleyball she’s either watching Netflix or studying..which has obviously been quite a bit over the last four years…she currently has a 4.5 GPA and plans on majoring in Biological Sciences with aspirations to go into the field of medicine, or star on Grey’s Anatomy.

Two time Varsity captain, second team all-league as a sophomore, Orange Coast league academic scholar athlete each year, last year’s MVP of the league and of the Varsity team, 2016 Max Preps Laguna Beach Player of the Year, and the Orange County Register Varsity Athlete of the Week in October, Lexi is a second-generation volleyball scholarship athlete; her mom, Kathy, also an LBHS grad, was awarded a full ride volleyball scholarship to the University of Notre Dame. 

Lex, your family is so very proud of you and we admire the genuine passion, perseverance and integrity you represent. You already sit among the stars, sweet girl, and we look forward to watching you shine brighter and brighter!


Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach joins the global #GivingTuesday Movement 

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.

Occurring this year on Nov 28, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tues after Thanksgiving (in the US) after the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday kick off the holiday giving season. The hope is to inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support. 

“We’ve joined the #GivingTuesday movement because our programming delivery depends on the generous donations of our friends in the community, “says CEO Pam Estes. She adds, “Donations, no matter what the amount, make a difference and are vitally important as these funds will touch the lives of hundreds of children and families served each year. 

“We all win when a child has quality afterschool and summer camp programs. The impact is not only visible in the young people that show up to the Club every day, but in our alumni, who are advancing their education, energizing their communities, and realizing their dreams.” 

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(L-R) LBBGC Giving Tuesday Preschoolers Luke Stedman, Maylen Torres, J. Carlos Zaragoza

A cultural center in New York City, conceptualized #GivingTuesday as a new way of linking individuals and causes to strengthen communities and encourage giving. In 2016, the fifth year of #GivingTuesday, millions of people in 98 countries came together to give back and support the causes they believe in. Over $177 million was raised online to benefit a broad range of organizations, and much more was given in volunteer hours, donations of food and clothing, and acts of kindness. 

Those who are interested in joining the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach’s #GivingTuesday initiative can visit http://www.bgclagunabeach.org. For more details about the #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday website http://www.givingtuesday.org, Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/GivingTuesday) or follow @GivingTues and the #GivingTuesday hashtag on social media.


Laguna Beach High School Girls Soccer Coach Bill Rolfing retires after 13 seasons

A farewell note from Coach Bill Rolfing

I’m happily stepping down from directing Laguna Beach High School Girls Soccer Program after 13 rewarding seasons. During my first stint at LBHS, leading the LBHS Boys Soccer Program (1979-1984), I helped start the Girls Soccer Program (1982). While coaching the Boys Varsity, the squad reached 1980 CIF DII semifinals. Team trips to New Zealand, conducting coaching clinics and founding Laguna Beach Soccer Club were highlights.”

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Girls’ Soccer team members surround Coach Rolfing

 Returning to LBHS in 2004, I set a goal of rebuilding the LBHS Girls Soccer Program and bringing championships to the school. That was achieved with all three teams! The 2017 season finished at a peak with undefeated Orange Coast League Titles for Varsity and Junior Varsity at 10-0-0. The Varsity Team completed a record-setting campaign with a 20-4-2 overall record, 10-0-0 in league with 7 shutouts, CIF quarterfinal appearance and a final 2017 CIF D4 ranking of # 2.

The last six years elevated the LBHS Varsity to three Orange Coast League Championships (‘12, ‘14 & ‘17), undefeated desert tournament titles and six consecutive trips to CIF Playoffs. From 2011 to 2017, the Varsity Team set a record of only 7 losses in the 60 OCL matches.

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Coach Bill Rolfing leaves the field… with Assistant Amanda Sylvia

“Thanks to scores of dedicated players who worked hard to take their game to the next level. Congrats to the many who went on to play in college and all the players who continue to call soccer their game. Particularly, it was a dream to coach daughters, Emily ‘05 and Sarah ’07.

Finally, it has been a huge honor to share this successful experience with long-time Varsity Assistants and partners, Amanda Sylvia ANHS ’01 and Courtney Hamchuk, LBHS ‘05. Together we chose good paths, built character, shaped players and built championship girls soccer teams for this small public school by the beach.

Stu News wishes Coach Rolfing all the best for his retirement. Congratulations on a truly remarkable run. You have been a game-changer for the LBHS soccer program - and in the lives of all those young men and women who have played for you.


PTA Coffee Talk draws a SRO crowd for the film SCREENAGERS about Growing up in the Digital Age

By SUZIE HARRISON

It was sitting room only at the packed PTA Coffee Talk screening of “SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in the Digital Age,” at Thurston’s Black Box Theater on Wednesday night. Concerned Laguna Beach parents and their kids came together to find tips and solutions for the glaring problem of excessive electronics usage, too much screen time, and Internet exposure experienced by today’s youth.

Physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston first saw these problems with her own kids, learning that the average kid spends 6.5 hours a day looking at screens. In her documentary, “SCREENAGERS,” Ruston delves into the struggles over social media, video games, academics, and Internet addiction. She reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and offers solutions on how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance.

 “I am a big advocate of having that balance. I think there are a lot of times technology is great. But there’s definitely a time and place for it,” said Coffee Talk Chair Sharael Kolberg. “I know my own daughter, when she was little, we went without technology. And I saw such a dramatic impact on her in such a short amount of time, that I can attest to. It really is very impactful for your kids to cut down, and they are going to put up a fight.”

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Photo by Suzie Harrison

A partial crowd shot of the capacity crowd at the PTA Coffee Talk’s screening of the documentary Screenagers

“What I hope that we take away is just to open the line of communication between parents and kids regarding technology usage, the amount they are on it, and the dangers involved that can happen to anyone,” said Kolberg. “We need to be constantly reminded how important it is to keep the line of communication open with our kids. It’s really the main message.”

Alicia Glass, Coffee Talk event coordinator, has a stepdaughter at Laguna Beach High School and a daughter in second grade at El Morro Elementary School.

“We’ve been really good at communicating with the older girl about the dangers of social media and what not. She has been great and actually doesn’t use social media,” Glass said. “We put her on an old-school flip phone and she’s perfectly fine with that. It has been really great. And I think socially, that’s helped her a lot. She’s not into the drama.”

What’s more concerning to Glass is the even younger generation’s attachment to electronics, as with her child in second grade, who started using electronics in kindergarten.

“My daughter, in kindergarten, they start them on iPads. So, they’re already doing lessons on iPads in kindergarten now at the schools and learning how to use all this technology. It’s fully integrated in their day today,” said Glass. “Now she’s really getting into YouTube and things of that nature. So, I am hoping I can learn some tricks from this movie to kind of implement with her because we are seeing her more and more addicted to electronics.”

Thurston seventh-grade student Bella Piskun, who came with her father Boris to see the movie and potentially learn some new tips, said she knows of some students addicted to their devices.

“Usually people look at Instagram or Snapchat and sometimes it’s addictive. Whenever you turn on your phone, your eyes can’t look away,” Piskun said, referring in particular to Instagram. “My dad wants me to be more responsible with technology, like don’t look at inappropriate stuff, do the right thing.” 

 

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Photo by Suzie Harrison

Like Boris and Bella Piskun, many parents and their teens came to see “Screenagers,” a film about balancing life with screen time and electronics usage

Clay and Kimberley Leeds and their two sons Logan, 15, and Elliot, 11, were all in. 

“I’m here because I am concerned about the amount of screen time that kids are exposed to throughout the week,” Clay said. “We take the point of view that screens are useful, and if you’re doing homework, that’s fine, that’s good. But electronics and video games, we limited to two hours a day on Friday and two hours a day on Saturday and that’s it for the week.”

Kimberley said, “I’m hoping to affect my children’s understanding of why I limit their screen time at home. Because during the week they’re not allowed at all unless it has something to do with school, which is difficult because almost everything is on electronic devices now, instead of just paper and pencil.”

She reiterated that during the school week, they ban electronic video games, social media, and interacting with people via electronic devices because it’s becoming an addiction. 

“Their social interaction skills are not so fabulous when they are on the screens. I also find that they’re overly emotional when it’s time to turn it off. Or they don’t get along very well, their wick is so short with each other when they have been playing,” said Kimberley. “So I can tell there’s an effect internally, an instantaneous need – I want rewards immediately. I want what I want when I want it.”

To learn more about “SCREENAGERS,” visit www.screenagersmovie.com.


14 LCAD students to exhibit at Laguna Beach First Thursdays Art Walk galleries on Dec 7

 One of the nation’s top colleges of art and design, Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) announced that 14 students from the BFA in Fine Arts major will exhibit their artworks in select LB art galleries as part of LCAD’s Professional Mentoring Program, an annual collaboration between LCAD and participating Laguna Beach First Thursdays Art Walk galleries.

The 2017 LCAD Professional Mentoring Program exhibition will take place on First Thursdays Art Walk from 6–9 p.m. on Dec 7. The public is invited to tour participating galleries to view student art works.

 LCAD’s Professional Mentoring Program pairs fine arts majors with member galleries of First Thursdays Art Walk. The course is designed to prepare artists with business skills with which to launch a successful career.Representatives from the galleries guide students through the fundamentals of exhibiting their work in the professional area and educate them about the business side of operating a gallery. 

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The Virgin Mother by Natalie Terenzini

With the exception of juried student exhibitions through LCAD’s satellite galleries, LCAD campus and the LCAD Gallery, many students have never exhibited their work professionally. Proceeds from the sale of student art will not only go to student artists, but a portion is designated for scholarships.

Robin Fuld, Instructor of Professional Studies and Director of Career Services at LCAD. has coordinated the program for 16 years and is a former member of First Thursdays Art Walk board of directors.

 “There is neither another mentor program nor art walk like this in the nation,” Fuld said. “Laguna Beach is unique among California’s art communities in that its First Thursdays Art Walk brings together world-class galleries with one of the nation’s top art and design schools to enhance student education, giving them a competitive edge in the professional art world.”

Many LCAD Fine Arts alumni who have participated in the program have continued their careers with the mentoring galleries as exhibitors, assistants, installers, consultants and managers.

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In the Moment by Dan Nguyen

Jackie Whitney of Whitney Gallery, a participating gallery this year and previously for many years, said “The students are so nice and very appreciative of any information you can give them about the art business.” 

Charity Oetgen, a recent LCAD alumna said “This is the same class I took with Robin in 2013, while I was still an undergraduate in LCAD’s BFA program in Drawing and Painting. The Mentoring Program component of the class allowed me to apply what I learned in a professional gallery setting. Upon graduating, I was thrilled to be accepted into LCAD’s MFA program and, as a part of that study, served as a Teaching Assistant in several classes, including Robin’s Professional Studies class.  I consider it a real honor—and a blast—to now be a co-instructor with Robin, coordinating events, and serving as an LCAD liaison to FTAW for those students in our class. I now have a successful art career, and am truly grateful that I learned how to start my business before I graduated.”

Oetgen recently published six paintings in an issue of National Geographic that honored the 50th anniversary of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Oetgen also appeared at three events during Dr. Jane Goodall’s US tour to mark the 40th anniversary of the Jane Goodall Institute.

For more information on the participating member galleries and students, visit www.facebook.com/LCADProfessionalMentor

Programwww.lcad.edu, or www.firstthursdaysartwalk.org.


LB Little League team wins Little League AA Tournament of Champions for second year in a row

For the second year in a row, a Laguna Beach team has won the Little League AA Tournament of Champions, where the regular season and post-season champions from Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Rancho Niguel, and Laguna Beach compete against each other. 

LB Little team and scoreboard

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Bialetti beats Rancho Niguel champion Padres 9-4 in six-inning game

This year’s Laguna Beach AA champions, Bialetti, beat the Rancho Niguel champion Padres 9-4 in a thrilling six-inning game.

Wyatt Bogdan pitched five strong innings for Bialetti, giving up four runs, while walking none and striking out nine batters. Aaron Crosby came in and struck out the side in the sixth inning to seal the victory for Bialetti, who never trailed in the game. 

LB Little team cheering

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Bialetti gets revved up

Kyle Kaiser got the fun started in the first inning with a two RBI single, as Bialetti jumped out to an early four to zero lead. Kaiser would also later hit a triple, as he and Bogdan both slugged two hits during the game. Jacob Bystrom made an incredible diving catch in foul territory to end a three-run rally by the Padres in the fourth inning. 

Bialetti won the game with great base running and solid defense on the way to the team capturing their third championship of the season (LBLL regular season, postseason, and TOC). It was an exclamation point on an incredible 20-1 overall record, including 15 wins in a row to end the season.

LB Little Angel Stadium

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Angel Stadium celebrates Bialetti win

Congrats to the members of Bialetti on their remarkable achievement: Wyatt Bogdan, Archie Bradshaw, Jacob Bystrom, Aaron Crosby, Parker Daniels, Jack Gonzales, Kyle Kaiser, Carson Kruidinier, Hendricks McMann, Dane Seybold, Aidan Huhn and Braylon Vellmure, along with Coaches Jarren Gonzales, Jeff Bogdan and Manager Brian Vellmure.


LBHS Boys Varsity Tennis heads to the 2018 CIF Championships

LBHS Boys Tennis will head to the 2018 CIF Southern Section Championships today, Friday, May 18. The team beat Laguna Blanca on Monday to advance, and then Wednesday the team traveled to Santa Ynez for an exciting, down-to-the-wire win to put them in the finals.

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Photo by Erik Johnson

Coach Conkey gives the thumbs up as the tennis team advances to the CIF Championships today. The team (L to R):Scott Yoder, Casey Boehm, Diego Tellez, Kyle Herkins, Mo Berri, Mason Lebby, Francis Pillsbury, Nick Besso, Andrew Duong, Matt Duong, Matt Berk, Blake Hawkins, Andrew Johnson

Coach Rick Conkey shared his excitement, “So as you know we won 9-9 (with a tie, they count games and we outscored them 76-75 in games). No joke! We were down and had to win four of six in the last round just to tie. I reminded them of our team’s mantra ‘Pressure is a Privilege.’ I asked them to embrace it and stay aggressive when the pressure increased... and they really did just that...they won the match – the other team didn’t lose it.”

Today, May 18, LBHS will play Redlands Valley at The Claremont Club. Redlands beat Bolsa Grande 12-6 on Wednesday, and they beat LBHS the last time they met in the finals in 2016.   

Coach Conkey said, “Redlands is definitely the best team in the draw. It will be a tough match, but we can do well if we engage and play to our potential.”


Girls Cross Country heads to State Championships

The Laguna Beach High School Girls Cross Country team is making great strides. They have successfully advanced to the State Championships. The race will be held in Fresno this Saturday.

In the Orange Coast Finals leading up to the State Championship, Laguna proudly saw Evie Cant, Jessie Rose, and Angelina Dyrnaes winning 1st through 3rd places.

The last time Laguna girls advanced to the State Championships was 2014.

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LBHS Girls Cross Country team will run in the State Championships this weekend in Fresno. (Left to right) Sierra Read, Jessie Rose, Evie Cant, Grace LaMontagne, Kaitlin Ryan, Syney Schaefgen, and Angelina Dyrnaes


LB Water Polo Foundation’s 1st Annual Parent-Player Fundraiser will pit age-group players against parents

The Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation is pleased to announce their First Annual Water Polo Parent-Player Games fundraiser. Admission is free. The event will take place at Laguna Beach High School and Community Pool at noon on Sun, Dec 3.

Age -group water polo players will challenge their parents in the pool, which should provide great entertainment. 

There will be a silent auction offering noteworthy sports memorabilia, premium resort and restaurant gift certificates. Attendees can also enjoy a meal from the taco cart and a treat from the snack bar, or purchase some goodies from the Foundation’s new official gear supplier HARDCORESPORTS. All proceeds benefit the Foundation.

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Watch the age-group water polo players challenge their parents on Dec 3

Game times are as follows: 12:30 p.m. will be the 10U Coed team in course #1, 12:30 p.m. will be the 12U Girls team in course #2, 1:20 p.m. will be the 12U Boys A team in course #1, 1:20 p.m. will be the 12U Boys B team in course #2, 2:10 p.m. will be the 14U Girls A team in course #1, and 2:10 p.m. will be the14U Girls B team in course #2.

From Olympic gold medalists to NCAA and age group national champions, Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation has produced some of the best water polo players in the United States. Boys and girls from 8 to 14 achieve a better understanding of the water polo game as they practice and improve on the fundamental techniques in preparation for the Junior Olympic national championships each July.

 For more information, contact Foundation General Manager Robert Grayeli at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


LBUSD seeks stakeholder input for Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Survey

On Dec 1, the Laguna Beach Unified School District, in partnership with Hanover Research, will begin administration of the 2017-18 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Survey to gather feedback on the implementation of the district goals and state priorities. 

This survey is designed to assess stakeholders’ perceptions of progress towards the district’s goals within the areas of student achievement, instructional support, college and career readiness, professional development, learning environment, and stakeholder engagement.

“Stakeholder input is critical in this process,” said Amy Kernan, director of assessment and accountability. “We are seeking participation from students, parents, staff and community members to ensure we are making progress.”

Survey takes 25 minutes to complete and will be open until Dec 15

The Local Control Accountability Plan is a component of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Under the LCFF, all local educational agencies prepare an LCAP, which describes how districts intend to meet annual goals for all pupils, with specific activities to address state and local priorities.

In 2014, Laguna Beach Unified developed an LCAP process to meet both requirements from the state and the expectations of the district’s stakeholders. This developed into an ongoing process for growth that includes the district’s vision, mission, and annual goals. Stakeholder input is vital to the development of data-informed goals and the evaluation of outcomes.

To access the survey, please visit: http://surveys.hanoverresearch.com/s3/Laguna-Beach-Unified-School-District-2017-LCAP-Survey. The survey will take approximately 20 minutes to complete and will be open until Dec 15.


Special Board of Education Meeting on June 19 will review survey results re: changes to school calendar

The Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education will hold a special Board meeting on Tuesday, June 19 at 6 p.m. in the LBHS Library to review survey data regarding the 2019-2020 instructional calendar. 

LBUSD partnered with Hanover Research, a private research firm located in Washington D.C., to administer an opinion survey of students, parents, teachers, and staff regarding recommended changes to the District’s academic calendar. 

The calendar survey data review is an information only item. No action will be considered at the board meeting. The Board will provide the district staff with direction on the next steps in the process.

For additional information, including the recommended 2019-2020 calendar, visit www.lbusd.org/calendarplanning.


Dianne’s Creature Feature (because, cows)

Cowabunga, TOW tops “Change for Change” goal

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

What do cows, greenhouses, and coins all have in common? Top of the World Elementary. 

Just at a time when there is the widespread notion that small things can’t make a difference, students at TOW Elementary proved that concept wrong. In a big way. Small things, spare change in this case, turn into big things (dollars to be exact) that can make significant differences.

To this end, TOW Elementary PTA created a spare change collection campaign for Giving Tuesday. They encouraged students to bring any amount of surplus change to raise $500 (with a $500 match from the TOW PTA) to support With My Own Two Hands Foundation (WMO2H), a Laguna Beach nonprofit that provides water and agricultural projects to fund education and create self-reliant projects and communities.

WmO2H chosen for focus on children, education and sustainability

 “The TOW PTA chose With My Own 2 Hands for our Giving Tuesday fundraiser because of its focus on children, education and sustainable projects. This clearly resonated with the students, which was one of our goals. We wanted to help provide better nutrition for the children in Kenya while also showing students how powerful they can be when they work together for a cause they care about. We love that this foundation’s philosophy is to empower individuals to make a difference, even in a country that they might never have visited,” says Jennifer Grzeskowiak, the community service chair for TOW PTA.

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Grayson Grzeskowiak helps count some last-minute coins 

 The funds were earmarked for purchase of two dairy cows that would each provide 45 Kenyan kids with fresh milk every day. And to make the campaign even more exciting, the classrooms competed against each other to see who could raise the most money for the honor of naming the cows. 

 And to say that the students accomplished their objective “in a big way,” is no exaggeration. The TOW “Change for Change” campaign exceeded their goal of $500 and raised a whopping $2,199. Further, the TOW PTA was so inspired by the children’s generosity, they doubled their contribution to a generous $1,000 match - for a total of $3,199.

“Every class participated in the fundraiser. This is a busy time of year for parents, teachers and students, so I was blown away that every class brought in money. Also, some students brought in bills, but more than 60 percent ($1,343) was in coins,” says Grzeskowiak. “The top class brought in $230.92. The top three are going to get to name one of the cows.” 

What will the kids name the three cows they’ve sponsored?

Max Osborne, from the class that ranked number three (in raising money), says, «Everyone was super excited about the cows. Everyone was racing to fill up the jar because they really wanted to help and really wanted to name a cow.» 

Three of the names his class is considering for the cow are Albert, Milky and Ginger. The classes will announce the names they chose at an assembly in December.

Because TOW smashed their goal, the funds will now purchase three cows 

anda sister greenhouse that will provide 400-500 children and adults fresh vegetables. In addition, the surplus of 250 pounds of crops will be sold, generating income that will fund education. 

“TOW has its own garden program that the students love,” Grzeskowiak explains, “so we’re happy to be able to provide a garden at another school in Kenya and further improve their nutrition.”

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Kids and moms holding signs at drop-off the morning of Giving Tuesday

 There’s no doubt that the students truly took the giving to heart.  “There are so many great and inspiring stories and every penny donated by the students has positively impacted the kids who inspire all of us at WMO2H every day! There is a sweet story of fitth grader Josh Novick who donated all $100 of his birthday money,” says Mary Beth Pugh, Director of Operations at WMO2H. “We had our founder Lindsey Pluimer give him a personal call to thank him as well.”

Fifth grader gives every cent of his birthday money to the cause

Josh said of his donation, “I wanted to give my birthday money to someone who needs it rather than spend it on something I want. It just felt like the right thing to do.”

Evidently, the “Change for Change” campaign, which was a huge success, is just the beginning of the fundraising experience for these students. “This is going to be a great kick-off for TOW PTA’s Dive Into Giving student-led grant program. We are encouraging classes to raise money for a cause of their choice that we will partially match. 

“Students present their ideas to the TOW PTA for a chance at grant matching funding. We want to plant the seeds of giving now and know these kids will become some of the world’s next change-makers,” Grzeskowiak added. “We’ll match $200-$500 of the money they raise. We want students to take ownership of the giving process and see what they can accomplish when they work together.” 

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At student assembly, (l-r) Ava Guziak, Jack Pugh, and Reid Guziak talk about their experiences with WMO2H projects in Kenya

 Pluimer said of her organization, “With My Own Two Hands seeks to inspire our communities to help improve the lives of children in need. This fundraiser is an incredible way to show the kids in our beautiful Laguna Beach community that everyone can make a difference. The children’s generosity will now provide better nutrition and a diversified diet for hundreds.” 

With My Own Two Hands Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of orphaned or disadvantaged children in need. Their model creates self-reliance by setting up water and agricultural business-like ventures in Kenya where surplus is sold to the local community. A minimum of 40 percent of proceeds goes toward funding education.

Grzeskowiak says, “The feedback I’ve gotten from kids and parents was that the concept of helping other kids by providing them with cows for milk and bringing in spare change was all very tangible for them. We wanted to make fundraising engaging for them.” 

And apparently, it was. It’s no cow-incidence that when you put a goal in the hands of TOW students, they set their minds and money to it, work together, and the result changes lives. 

Congratulations, TOW Elementary! 

I can’t wait to find out the names of the cows.

For further information on WMO2H, go to www.withmyown2hands.org

When a cow laughs, does milk come out its nose?

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Bah, Humbug! LBHS presents a reading of Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge on Wed, Dec 20

For a hilarious and irreverent look at A Christmas Carol, Laguna Beach High School’s Drama/Theatre II offers a twisted version of this tradition favorite on Wed, Dec 20, at 3 p.m. The reading of Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge, by Christopher Durang, will take place in the Greene Room (LBHS Room 55), and the suggested donation is $5.

Mrs. Bob Crachit’s Wild Christmas Binge was commissioned by City Theatre in Pittsburgh and premiered on Nov 7, 2002. It is a musical parody in which Durang asks the question, “What if Dickens’ Mrs. Cratchit wasn’t so goody-goody, but instead was an angry, stressed-out modern-day American woman who wanted out of the harsh London 1840s life?” 

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Jeff Howell and Kristine Nielsen in the original production in 2002

Scrooge’s tale of redemption and transformation is turned completely on its head, although most of the characters retain their original Dickensian qualities. Durang adds many classic allusions and pop-culture references to the story to make it a rollicking time for all in attendance.

The Christmas Binge reading is recommended for high school age and above due to its complete and total (uproarious) mockery, as well as some adult language.

LBHS thanks the community for supporting their programs throughout the year.

LBHS is located at 625 Park Ave.

For more information, go to www.lbusd.org.


Cadence Peery of LB qualifies for track & field events at the Upcoming California State Games in San Diego

Cadence Peery, 13, of Laguna Beach, competed in two individual events at the SCMAF (Southern California Municipal Athletic Federation) Track and Field Championships on June 3, which were held at Warren High School in Downey. 

Cadence Peery closeup

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Cadence Peery qualified to compete at California State Games on July 14, 15

Prior to the championships, she qualified for her events, initially, at the Laguna Beach City Youth Track Meet on April 20, advancing her to the SCMAF OC Meet in Costa Mesa on May 20. Winning first place in both events at the county meet, Peery thus qualified for a spot at the SCMAF Championships.

Cadence Peery on stand

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Cadence Peery placed first at SCMAF, Girls Division, ’05 100 meter dash 

As a representative for Laguna Beach, Peery placed first in the Girls Division ‘05 100 Meter Dash with a time of 13.32 seconds and second place for the Girls Division ‘05 Long Jump with a distance of 13’4”. These results have qualified her to compete in the 30th Anniversary of the California State Games, held July 14-15 in San Diego. 


El Morro Elementary Peer Assistance and Leadership gives back to local residents 

El Morro Elementary Peer Assistance and Leadership (PAL) students had an amazing opportunity to give back to local residents recently. During the monthly Character Counts Funday Monday lunch time activity, students in grades 1st-5th assembled “Blessing bags” that contained a few basic essentials (i.e. toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, comb, granola bar, wet wipes, and a handmade uplifting note of encouragement) for the Friendship Shelter.

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PAL students assembled “Blessing Bags” to give out to local residents at the Friendship Shelter

All felt fortunate to be surrounded by ocean views while the PAL students were able to pass out hot chocolate, holiday cookies, and “Blessing Bags” to residents at the Friendship Shelter on Pacific Coast Highway. 

This life-altering volunteer experience has not only positively impacted the warm-hearted youth filling them with empathy for others, but has helped spread holiday cheer to those in need during the holiday season.


Brooks Street Classic is open, and hopin’ for surf

By BRANDY FABER

The 55th Annual Brooks St, Surfing Classic waiting period was officially opened this weekend but unfortunately the lack of surf so far this year continues!

brooks street wave

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Brooks Street, 2017

However, there is much to share regarding this year’s Classic. We are super stoked that Shaun Stussy designed the 55th Annual contest t-shirt featuring a photo from the very first running of the Classic back in 1955 that was taken by Dick Metz. Thanks to the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center for providing us with the image for this year’s t-shirt.

Brooks Street T shirt

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T-shirt design for the Brooks Street Classic

We have re-added a new (old) division to this year’s Classic, in the “Legends” Division, for competitors 60 years and older. The Legends Division was featured in previous Classics but was suspended due to lack of participation. We have seen a rise in surfers pushing past their 60s and are hoping to see a full Legends Division at this year’s Classic.

A big thank you to local sculptor Randy Morgan for creating the trophies for this year’s Classic. Everyone is going to want one of these on the mantelpiece!

Note: We recently lost one of our Brooks St. Classic family members with the passing of Penny Steris, who loved volunteering her time, energy, pop-up tents and anything else we needed to help run the Classic. A memorial and paddle-out was held Sunday June 3. She is dearly missed!


LBUSD newsletter highlights the successes of the 2017-18 school year

At the June 12 School Board Meeting, the LBUSD Board of Education recognized the academic and athletic excellence of more than 80 students.

LBUSD newsletter Surf Team

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Women’s Short Board Surf Team, Scholastic Surf Series High School 

State Champions

The champion students were celebrated along with teachers and staff at the meeting. Included among those recognized were: Women’s Short Board Surf Team (Scholastic Surf Series High School State Champions), Boys Tennis (CIF Champions), Elementary Spelling Bee (Lyric Hagen, Winner), Reclassified English Learner Students, Juntos Mentors, and Destination Imagination®.

LBUSD newsletter Tennis

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Boys Tennis, CIF Champions

Additionally, on June 12, the Board of Education took action to ratify the 2018-19 revisions to the 2017-2020 Agreement negotiated by the designated representatives of the Laguna Beach Unified Faculty Association and the Laguna Beach Unified School District.

LBUSD newsletter English

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Reclassified English Learner Students

It was also voted to ratify the 2018-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated by representatives of the California School Employees Association and its Laguna Beach Chapter #131 and the LBUSD; major provisions remain in place.

The board approved the purchase of the ST Math supplementary mathematics intervention program for piloting during the summer school program and continuing through the 2018-19 school year. The pilot is a one-year online subscription that includes onsite professional development, self-guided online courses, and webinars for teachers.

El Morro named to honor roll

LBUSD newsletter

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

El Morro Elementary

El Morro Elementary School was named to the 2017-2018 Educational Results Partnership Honor Roll for its high achievement and student success. The program, sponsored by the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence, is part of a national effort to identify higher-performing schools and districts that are improving student outcomes.

LBUSD receives No Place for Hate® designation

The Anti-Defamation League has designated Laguna Beach Unified School District a No Place for Hate® district, recognizing its commitment to creating safe and respectful learning environments for students.

LBUSD is now streaming its board meetings online. For more information, visit www.lbusd.org/boardmeetings.


The LB Water Polo 14U “A” team is seeded number one in Junior Olympics after win

The LB Water Polo 14U “A” team girls just finished the Southern Pacific Zone Junior Olympics Qualifier in first place.

This gives them the #1 seed for the 14U girls in the Junior Olympics National Championships this July at Stanford.

Congratulations from Stu News and good luck!

LB water polo

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14 U team wins top seeding: Back row (L-R): Coach Rob Carver, Hannah Carver, Tasha Denny, Lauren Short, Genoa Rossi, Lela McCarroll, Charlotte Riches, and Cleo Washer

Front row (L-R): Myha Pinto, Avery Montiel, Ava Houlahan, and London Boyd


Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach announces in-house staff promotions of invaluable team members

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach (BGCLB) has announced the promotions of Oscar Parra, Danny Panduro, Moana Contreras, and Sophia Abjuga. After working diligently at their previous positions, these BGCLB professionals agreed to take on a new challenges. In addition to their experience and education, their dedication and desire to always provide the best services for the BGCLB youth, met the qualifications set by the executive leadership team. 

Formerly the Bluebird Branch Director, Oscar Parra will now oversee both Bluebird and Lang Branches. To ensure daily operations are meeting organizational expectations, he has the assistance of Moana Contreras and Sophia Abjuga, newly appointed coordinators for each branch.

Oscar states, “I am happy to continue my role as a Branch Director and extending it to our Lang families. I have been a passionate leader in the Boys & Girls Club movement for the past 16 years. I bring extensive youth development experience to our organization, having worked at Boys & Girls Clubs of Fullerton, Brea/Placentia/Yorba Linda, Las Vegas, and now Laguna Beach.

“I had the pleasure of learning and leading in a variety of professional roles within my current location, including Youth Development Professional, Athletic Director, Program Director, and Clubhouse Director. I have been leading Bluebird Park for over three years and I look forward in serving the Laguna Beach community, keeping our children safe and watching them grow and excel in their daily lives.”

Danny Panduro, formerly the Lang Park Extension Director, will now direct the Teen Program Services Programs based out of the Canyon Branch. Danny shares, “I am ecstatic to be the new Teen Services Director for the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna

Beach. I have been a part of the Boys & Girls Club movement since elementary school when I attended Canyon Branch as a Club member. In a professional capacity, I have been with the Club in various roles since 2009. 

“I began as a volunteer in April 2009 and was quickly hired on as summer staff for four summers at Canyon Branch. After finishing college at the University of Redlands, I returned to the Club and spent two years at Bluebird Branch where I served as Athletic Director. In May of 2015, I became the Director at our Lang Park Extension and have remained in that role until now. I am excited for this new opportunity and to return to the Branch where I began my career. Over the years, I have built many relationships at all three locations, and look forward to building new ones and continuing to foster the old.”

He adds, “To the Lang Park families: I will forever cherish the memories we have made together throughout the past two and a half years. Thank you for choosing Lang Park as your after-school destination and I can’t wait to see your members in our Teen Center. This year is going to be an incredible year for our organization and I am thrilled to continue serving the community that I grew up in and love.”

Previously the Bluebird Branch Education Coordinator, Moana Contreras, will now serve as the Bluebird Branch Coordinator. Moana says, “I have been with the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach for over three years. When I was hired as a youth Development Professional I brought extensive customer service and professional competencies that helped me achieve a promotion as the Education Coordinator. I have a deep passion to help kids achieve their academic goals and social skills. I am excited to accept this new role and look forward to the new relationships I will build on behalf of our organization.”

Sophia Abjuga, a Lang Park Extension Youth Development Professional, will now be the Lang Unit Coordinator. Sophia says, “I was hired in June of 2016 as a Youth Development Professional. My experience in child care and customer service along with volunteering in my community makes this opportunity my ‘perfect job,’ which I plan on making as my career choice. I love every minute of it! I started in the summer doing all that was asked of me from programing, supervision, club décor, housekeeping and outdoor activities. 

“When the school year started, I was able to direct the art programs for our Lang members. Due to the children’s interest and my love for the arts, I hope to introduce a theater arts programs sometime this year with the assistance of our organization’s Art Director. I am so happy for this advancement opportunity and sharing my positivity and talents with our incredible children and families.”

For questions or additional support, reach out to the newly promoted Club staff individually at their location. For additional comment regarding these staff changes, call Chief Operations Officer of Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, Addie McHale at 949-715-7669.

For further information about the Boys & Girls Club, go to www.bgclagunabeach.org or call (949) 494-2535.


Men’s Volleyball Open proves as popular as ever: Read Friday’s issue for the details and more photos

Photo by Scott Brashier

Mens volleyball crowd

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Getting the jump on summer at the Men’s Volleyball Open


Spring basketball signups start for Girls Spring Basketball League at the B&GC 

Spring basketball signups start soon for the Girls Spring Basketball League at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach-Main Branch. The cost for Club members to participate is $150 per player, which includes a new team uniform.

Non-club members who wish to participate for the spring season will be required to pay $150, plus yearly Club membership ($100). Registration takes place Feb 1 - 28. A late fee will be applied for all registrations after Feb 28. Scholarships are available for qualifying families.

 Player evaluations are mandatory and will be held the week of March 5 - 8. Thereafter, teams are formed. One-hour practices begin March 26, and games will start on April 10. 

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Girls just want to have fun playing basketball

Boys & Girls Club Athletic Director, Hans Laroche, has an outstanding reputation among both Club kids and parents for making this league a great experience for everyone involved. From grades Kindergarten through ninth grade, all participants learn basketball skills, enhance their self-esteem and have a great time being part of a team.

Volunteer opportunities are also available for parents interested in coaching teams. It is the best instructional basketball league for girls around.  

Annual sponsorship opportunities that support Boys & Girls Club Athletic programs are available. For just $500, your family or business name can be displayed on a colorful banner hung in the Club’s gym for one year. These banners are seen by more than 600 Laguna families each year. 

For more information or to become a member, call 949-494-2535 or go to www.bgclagunabeach.org.


LBHS cleans up at Scholastic Surf Series Event #3 with individual champions Travis & Tess Booth and Jackson Jenkins

Written by coaches Alisa Cairns and Scott Finn

     The LBHS Surf team members were very strong on Sunday at the Scholastic Surf Series Event #3 and made the Individual Finals in all four Divisions with multiple winners. Once again, with a smaller than normal group, many of the kids available competed successfully in multiple divisions.

Early in the morning In team competition LBHS was up against J Serra and did very well with most of the team advancing on to the Individuals, and we were able to take a big win 63 to 25. The event was held at Ninth St in Huntington Beach and the weather was gorgeous with hot offshore winds. The two-three foot surf was clean looking, but very difficult to ride.

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Tess and Travis Booth

Once the Individual competition kicked in the LBHS surfers clearly stood out and were the surfers to beat. In Boys Shortboard, Travis Booth, Liam McCue and Jackson Jenkins all took wins advancing to the Finals. Once the Finals hit the water Travis continued to shred a number of lefts and rights and was on top of his game taking the overall win. He did double duty and took third in Bodyboard. 

Meanwhile Liam had some impressive rides and finished runner up, while Jackson was another surfer to take on multiple divisions with huge success, taking the win overall in Longboard and fourth in Shortboard. 

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Jackson Jenkins

Jameson Roller was a standout in several heats in Longboard, but in the end finished fourth. Tess Booth continued her run competing in both Shortboard and Longboard to take both big wins. Meanwhile Jade Howson took secon in Longboard and Kelly Smith took third in Shortboard, both putting in some nice rides. Other surfers to do well but not final were Sam Starr and Joseph Schenk.

The next Scholastic Surf Series event will be Feb 11 at San Clemente Pier.

Thank you to the kids who participated and the parents, and friends who helped out.


Special Board of Education meeting on school calendar will take place Tuesday, June 19 at 6 p.m.

The Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education will hold a special Board meeting on Tuesday, June 19 at 6 p.m. in the LBHS Library to review survey data regarding the 2019-2020 instructional calendar. 

Special board logo

The calendar survey data review is an information only item. No action will be considered at the board meeting. The Board will provide district staff with direction on the next steps in the process. A copy of the Hanover report will be sent out in advance of the meeting.


St. Catherine of Siena Parish School will celebrate their 60th anniversary with A Starry Night Gala 

On Fri, March 23, St. Catherine of Siena Parish School will celebrate its sixtieth anniversary at the Port Theater with A Starry Night Gala.  

There will be a live and silent auction, dancing, gaming and music by one of Orange County’s favorite DJs as well as delicious food and drinks. Cocktail attire is suggested. 

The event takes place at 6 p.m. The Port Theatre is located at 2905 East Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar. 

All funds raised will go directly towards school programs and facility needs.

“The Sixtieth Anniversary Starry Night Gala brings families together to build camaraderie, celebrate Saint Catherine of Siena Parish School and raise money to support the spiritual, academic and artistic development of our talented students,” said principal Mike Letourneau.

“Throughout the years, the event has raised money to support new academic, technology, artistic and faith programs that benefit all of our students, many of which would not have been possible without the generous support of our families, parishioners and local businesses.  

“Saint Catherine provides students from Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo and other surrounding communities with a strong academic education blended with the arts and faith that help our students develop into successful young adults. ”

St. Catherine’s is a 501 c (3) non-profit, Catholic elementary (TK -8) school located in Laguna Beach.


LBHS club walks to bring clean water by sponsoring the digging of three wells

Photos by Scott Brashier

The LBHS Walking for Water Club held a “walk for water” event on Sunday, June 3 at the Laguna Beach High School Track from 12 - 3 p.m. Last year’s walk brought in enough donations to fund the digging of two wells, one in Burkino Faso and one in East Africa.

LBHS club group

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The Walk for Water crew

The goal this year is to fund three wells in total – including one in Nepal, in a partnership with Rosalind Russell’s R Star Foundation.

LBHS club burkino

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Presenting the facts about water in Burkino Faso

Walking for Water supports the nonprofit Wisdom Spring in the effort to build wells in rural Africa. The walk symbolizes the daily struggle of women and children around the world, as they walk miles each day to access clean water. For more information, visit www.wisdomspring.org


Laguna Beach High School counselor receives 2018 College Board recognition

Laguna Beach High School counselor Nichole Rosa has been recognized for her exemplary work as a professional school counselor in the Laguna Beach Unified School District by the College Board’s inaugural 2018 Counselor Recognition Program (CRP).

In an effort to showcase how school counselors throughout Orange County are making a difference in creating opportunities for all students, the College Board, in conjunction with the Orange County, California, Department of Education, launched its first Counselor Recognition Program. 

The award seeks to highlight the important work of innovative, results-oriented school counselors who exemplify excellence and commitment to student success and opportunity.

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Nichole Rosa receives honor of College Board recognition 

“Mrs. Rosa and the entire counseling team offer amazing support, guidance and care for the students of Breaker Nation,” said Dr. Jason Allemann, principal at Laguna Beach High School. “It is great that our students are able to use the expertise and resources that our counselors have to offer them,” he added.

The evaluation committee selected Rosa for her commitment to ensure that all students have a specific, solid, and attainable plan upon graduation that includes postsecondary options. 

In addition, the committee praised Rosa for the framework she has built to support students’ comprehensive success by leveraging diverse partnerships with community organizations and individuals to disseminate critical information about financial aid and scholarships. 

As a recipient of the award, Rosa was presented with an all-expenses paid complimentary trip to the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Annual Conference in Los Angeles this July where winners will be recognized.


Boys & Girls Club announces AZUL employee recognition award winners 

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach (BGCLB), Canyon branch presented the first annual “AZUL Leadership Awards” during the Youth of the Year Awards ceremony on Feb 2. These distinguished awards recognize the staff who demonstrate exceptional leadership beyond their position description and through accountable measures in their daily performance in 2017. AZUL stands for:  “Be the Change. Embody your ideals and set the cascade of transformation in motion. Empower PoZitivity. Positive mind, positive vibes, and positive life. 

The Boys & Girls club strive to create an environment that allows members to make positive choices. Youth-Centric. Embrace challenges that lead to a better experience for the kids and empower them to explore, discover, fail, and learn. If a kid can do it, a kid should do it. Embrace diversity. Foster a culture of respect, equality and inclusiveness, and celebrate that we are all unique beings. Creative togetherness. The sum of the parts (Innovation + collaboration) equal more than each quality on its own.

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Sophia Abjuga

Staff had the opportunity to nominate their peers for these awards as a reflection on how they work, live and breathe these values to attain the Club’s goals each day.

“Our impact in providing creative and innovative programs in a safe, fun and engaging atmosphere is priceless for our youth,” states BGCLB Chief Operations Officer, Addie McHale, who also delivered the awards to the recipients.   She adds, “It takes each and every single member of our staff to bring our mission to fruition, and we are thrilled to have an avenue that enables staff to recognize their own team members for exceeding expectations in so many honorable ways, making these awards extra special.”

The 2017 Award Winners are,
Sophia Abjuga, Lang Unit Coordinator and a former a youth development professional, she (in less than 18 months) has demonstrated the desire to learn their new role, is approachable and friendly, participates with activities/meetings/events, and is involved with planning, safety, housekeeping and organizational improvements while embracing the mission.

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Mar Stash

Mar Stash is the fine Arts Youth Development Professional/Creative Marketing Coordinator at Bluebird Branch, who consistently exhibits a positive, spirited “can-do” attitude and outlook, GREAT energy and enthusiasm that colleagues, club members, and volunteers (and others) alike find contagious and uplifting. Mar is the person that people are drawn to get the job done, and receive a motivational pep talk or a high five!

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Caitlin Reller

Art Expressions Director at the Canyon Branch, Caitlin Reller embraces impact, service, dedication, professionalism, accountability and compassion in dealing with internal or external customers (staff, kids, parents, partners, volunteers, guests, donors). In addition, Caitlin inspires an overall sense of belonging, usefulness, influence and competence that leads to a welcoming club/organization environment.

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Jesus Villegas

Program Development Director at the Canyon Branch, Jesus Villegas exemplifies the kind of collaboration, teamwork and respect it takes to make others great! He leads by example, is passionate about the mission and helping their fellow employees succeed and reach their goals. 

The Boys & Girls club is thrilled to announce these winners and welcome the community to congratulate them on their achievements. For more information, contact Addie McHale at (949) 715-7669. To become a member, call (949) 494-2535 or go to www.bgclagunabeach.org.


Laguna Beach Unified School District receives No Place for Hate® designation from ADL

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has designated Laguna Beach Unified School District a No Place for Hate® district, recognizing its commitment to creating safe and respectful learning environments for students. 

No Place for Hate is a research-based initiative that follows many of the recommendations for creating a positive school climate laid out by the National School Climate Center. The initiative provides PreK-12 schools with an organizing framework for combating bias, bullying, and hatred, leading to long-term solutions for creating and maintaining a positive climate. 

A district must fulfill several requirements to receive a No Place for Hate designation including a district-wide needs assessment. LBUSD accomplished this by gathering data from all students, staff, parents, and guardians to assess school climate strengths and areas of need. The process included universal screenings that provided detailed insight into the quality and character of the students and school life. 

Laguna Beach TOW

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Top of the World Elementary

Additionally, each school site must form a No Place for Hate committee, sign the No Place for Hate Promise, and complete three or more school-wide activities during the school year that recognize differences and promote respect through active learning. 

“The Laguna Beach Unified School District has made a dedicated commitment to the implementation of a comprehensive social and emotional support (SES) system for all students K-12 because we recognize the paramount role it plays in a positive school climate,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria. “We strive to support every student, every day, and we appreciate the support and guidance the ADL has provided as we move forward with this mission,” he concluded. 

The ADL will present LBUSD with the No Place for Hate designation at the school board meeting in the fall.

For information on the LBUSD, go to www.lbusd.org.


LBHS shines at Scholastic Surf Series Event #Four. Champions Kelly Smith, Jade Howsen and Kiko Nelsen

By COACHES ALISA CAIRNS AND SCOTT FINN

     The LBHS Surf team members were very strong today (Feb 11) at the Scholastic Surf Series Event #Four with several top finishes in the individual finals. Once again, it was a smaller than normal group, as many of available kids competed successfully in multiple divisions.

The day started out with team competition, and we were up against El Toro who had a limited team. It was mostly a chance for the Laguna surfers to get some good practice in before the individual competition began. We ended up taking a lopsided team win 62 to three.

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Photo by Ellen Nelsen

Kiko Nelsen, first in longboard, third in shortboard

The Laguna surfers were on a roll, surfing well and progressing to the various finals. Our women continued to sweep the shortboard and longboard finals, going one and two. Kelly Smith took the shortboard win, followed by Claire Kelly in second. Jade Howsen took the longboard final with Maya Takabayashi taking second.

Our men were also very strong with multiple division finalists. Kiko Nelsen led the way, taking first in longboard and third in shortboard. Meanwhile, other impressive performances were put in by Lucas Jablon, taking fourth, followed by a first-time finalist Luca Elghanayan, who took fifth. Sam Nelsen rounded out the final in sixth and again took a sixth in longboard. Joseph Schenck was another surfer to do double duty and made the finals in longboard taking fifthoverall.

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Photo by Ellen Nelsen

Shortboard winner Kelly Smith

The event was held at San Clemente pier under sunny skies and glassy small surf in the morning, but as the tide bottomed out for finals, it was tough to find decent waves.

The next Scholastic Surf Series event will be March 18, and the High School Championships will be April 21.

Thank you to the kids who participated and the parents, especially Ellen Nelsen for her support and great action shots!


LBUSD Director of Special Education named 2018 Administrator of the Year for Orange County

Irene White, director of special education for the Laguna Beach Unified School District, was named 2018 Special Education Administrator of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators Region 17, which covers Orange County.

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Submitted Photo

Irene White and Luisa Mossa, school psychologist

ACSA is the largest umbrella organization for school leaders in the nation with Region 17 focused on serving educational leaders in the pursuit of equity and excellence to meet the diverse needs of all students in Orange County. One of ACSA’s priorities is to ensure that school leaders are recognized for their excellence and dedication to public education; administrators of the year are selected for their outstanding performance and achievement in their respective categories.

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Submitted Photo

Irene White and Board President Jan Vickers

“I am so proud that Irene was selected as the ACSA Special Education Administrator of the Year for our region,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria. He continued, “She deserves the recognition for her tireless efforts to support our students and staff in providing a supportive learning environment. She is focused on continuously improving our programs in LBUSD and I am privileged to work with such a great educator.” White was nominated by school psychologist, Luisa Mossa, and  surprised with the award announcement by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria, Board of Education President Jan Vickers, assistant superintendents, and staff.

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Submitted Photo

Irene and all her co-workers that are thrilled to see her recognition 

“I am truly honored by the recognition and excited about the work currently in progress in our District,” said Director of Special Education Irene White. “In the eleven years, I have worked in Laguna I have been fortunate to work alongside some of the most intelligent and committed administrators, support personnel, specialists and teachers. I personally take great pride in partnering with our site level staff and parents in creating successful programs and supports for our kids. My dedication to our schools remains strong and I am wholeheartedly committed to engage and lead our ongoing efforts in improving outcomes for students. I am grateful to be in Laguna,” she added. 

ACSA Region 17 will recognize all award recipients at the Orange County Administrators of the Year Banquet on May 7 in Irvine.


LB Water Polo Foundation teams win first place in respective divisions at the Winterfest WP Tournament

Last weekend at the Winterfest 2018 Water Polo Tournament, Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation teams won first place in their respective divisions. For division 10U Coed-Dylan Williams, 12U Boys-Riley Treister, 12U Girls-Emerson Hensley, 14U B Girls-Lexi Parness, and 14U A Girls-Genoa Rossi respectively were named as MVPs.

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10U Coed: (L-R) Coach Forest Holbrook, Brooke Schneider, Palmer MacBeth, Max Jakle, Dylan Williams (MVP), Santana DelCastillo, Lars Knepper, Coach Chad Beeler, Indiana Treister, Alexander Sarkis, Chloe O’Kane, Michelle Blunk, Sloane Quealy, Sayre Duran

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12U Boys: (L-R) Kaden Breaux, Coach Bryan Buhagiar, Eli Taub, Diego Audebert, Coach Gordon Pike, Riley Treister (MVP), Coach Rob Grayeli, Tyler Swensen, Logan Teeple, Gabe Lewis, Jack Farnel

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12U Girls: (L-R) Isabella Sarkis, Ava Knepper, Emerson Hensley (MVP), Claire Turner, Kara Carver, Coach Kelcie Ferreira, Sofia Umeda,
Estelle Karaba, Kaelyn Chism, Nina Rogers, Presley Jones, Cailin Mulvaney, Siena Jumani

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14U B Girls: 3rd row (L-R) Isabel Foley, Lexi Parness (MVP), Carly Rohrer, Isabel Griffin

2nd row (L-R) Marie Audebert, Eleanor Ramsey, Coach Bridgette Alvarez, Taylor Naughton, Mac Jenal, Lauren Smith, Jordan Schneider, Rebecca Storke, Emily Shabunov

1st row- Sara Block

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14U A Girls: Back row (L-R) Tasha Denny, Genoa Rossi (MVP), Charlotte Riches, Avery Montiel, Lauren Short, Lela McCarroll, Cleo Washer, Coach Rob Carver

Front row (L-R) Myha Pinto, London Boyd, Ava Houlahan, Hannah Carver


The next step in a historic season: LBHS Boys Basketball to face Twentynine Palms in Second Round of CIF Playoffs tonight at home

Led by six seniors and a standout freshman, the LBHS Boys Basketball team (26-3) has shattered just about every team record in school history this year, including the most regular season wins at 25. The team also went undefeated in league play.

After posting a decisive 63-47 victory over Santiago in their CIF Playoffs opener on Wednesday, the team will now face Twentynine Palms (21-8) in the Second Round of the CIF D3AA Playoffs tonight, Friday, Feb 16 at 7 p.m. at home.

Coach Bret Fleming, in his 23rd year as LBHS Boys Varsity Basketball coach, attributes this year’s historic run to “chemistry and defense”.

“I think it probably starts with chemistry. The kids generally really care about each other, they love each other and it shows. Everybody’s kind of learned what each other’s qualities are and how to play together, the teamwork and stuff. That type of thing really shows with the seniors,” said Fleming in an interview.

The “senior six” includes Blake Burzell, Charlie Rounaghi, Owen McMurray, Grady Morgan, Adam Armstrong, and Blake Lusk. A number of them have been playing together since grade school at Boys & Girls Club. And that, says Coach Fleming, has made the world of difference with this group. 

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Photo by Ali Rounaghi

Senior Blake Burzell has been known to “sky high” throughout the season

“I first met Charlie (Rounaghi) and Owen (McMurray) at my basketball camp when they were in third grade. They were two little kids that were just absolutely basketball crazy. They just loved it; they couldn’t get enough. I had a little bit of an inkling they were going to be varsity players one day.”

Burzell is averaging about 21 points per game and is leading the team in rebounds, and Charlie Rounaghi is second in the county in assists at 6.8 per game. “The thing that’s been so incredible about Charlie is he’s averaging about 4 1/2 assists to turnovers per game. He’s really been a key for us this year,” said Fleming.

The team also has four players averaging between eight and 11 points per game (Grady Morgan, Charlie Rounaghi, Owen McMurray, and freshman Nolan Naess), which makes them very well-rounded and difficult to defend.

Coach Fleming also commends senior Adam Armstrong for taking on the role as Sixth Man this year, after starting for the Breakers last year as a junior. “We felt like if he was going to come off the bench, we’d be so much stronger. Just being such a great teammate, he’s accepted that role and I think it’s made us a lot better.” 

The next step for the team in continuing its historic run comes tonight against a very athletic and physical team in Twentynine Palms. The Wildcats come in with a 21-8 record (9-1 in league play), despite losing their coach at the end of the year in a dramatic resignation.

Coach Fleming, who was up until about two a.m. studying film on Wednesday night, says he likes his team’s chances tonight. “I think we understand what we need to do to compete. I know the guys are really looking forward to it.”

On the sidelines, the community has also come out in record numbers to support the boys, says Barbara McMurray, whose son Owen is a senior on the team. “It’s so great to see the whole community coming out together to support the team. This is our Laguna.”

Show your Laguna pride by showing up tonight (Friday) at 7 p.m. at Dugger Gym.

--Shaena Stabler


LBHS Boys Basketball drops heartbreaker to Twentynine Palms on Friday night, ending storybook season

The Laguna Beach High School Boys Basketball team dropped a heartbreaker at home on Friday night, losing by three points (57-54) to Twentynine Palms, knocking the Breakers out of the CIF Playoffs and ending their historic 2017-2018 season run. 

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Photo by Ali Rounaghi

Senior Blake Burzell, seen here, finished with 26 points in Friday’s loss, including a “clutch three” to go ahead with 45 seconds remaining 

The Breakers trailed most of the game, but fought back in the third and fourth quarters to take the lead briefly on a few occasions. Ultimately, however, the Wildcats prevailed, winning 57-54.

To the “senior six” and the rest of this year’s team…your community is very proud of you for all that you achieved this year and throughout your entire Laguna Beach career!


Laguna teen wins gold medal at the Pan Am World Championship Jiu Jitsu tournament

William (Paul) Wittkop, 13-year-old son of Laguna Beach High School teacher Scott Wittkop, won a Gold Medal this week at the Pan Am World Championship. The IBJJF Pan Am Jiu Jitsu Championship Tournament for kids was held at the Long Beach Walters Pyramid Center.

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Photo by Scott Wittkop

William Wittkop (on right) wins the gold medal at Pan Am World Championship

The Pan Am World Championship Jiu Jitsu Tournament is the largest one for kids in the world. William competed against athletes from South Carolina, Texas, Canada and the UK. He was undefeated in the tournament winning his matches by submission, 5-2, 5-0, and 9-0 in the Gold Medal Match. William competes for Alliance BJJ under Laercio Fernandes and Anthony Frank. 

 “I like the life of training and competing,” says the seventh grader Connections Academy student. “I train seven days a week and over 30 hours a week. My training includes Jui Justu, wrestling, and MMA. I train in the kids’ classes and also with the adults.” 

William’s father has been the LBHS boy’s cross-country coach for years and has also coached LBHS football.  

When asked how he compares William’s training to the rigors of cross-country and football, Coach Wittkop had this to say, “I think training for all sports is very similar. If you work hard, have good coaching and are dedicated, good things will happen.”

The Jiu-Jitsu Pan-American Championship has been held annually since 1995. While the first event garnered only 250 athletes, the event has grown every year and now hosts thousands of competitors from all over the world.

This year, Laguna Beach’s own brought home the gold.


LBHS club’s Walking for Water big fundraising event is on June 3 – and it’ll be fun for the whole family

Walking for Water is a project a world away from the hardscrabble life of its beneficiaries. In Burkina Faso, Kenya, Ghana, and Nepal there are children the same age as their Laguna counterparts who must walk every day – sometimes for hours – just to retrieve the water needed daily for their families. 

The Laguna Beach High School club Walking for Water aims to make water more readily available for these kids through their fundraising efforts on June 3.  

Walking for Water’s annual event is their main fundraiser of the year and the community is invited to help out, while having fun too. From 12 - 3 p.m. there will be fun, games and raffle prizes on the high school track. With the money raised, the club plans to put in four wells – three in Burkina Faso and one in Nepal.

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The plan is to make four wells available for kids like these in Burkina Faso and Nepal who must walk miles for water

The nonprofit club partners with Wisdom Spring, Inc. all year long to work toward bringing clean drinking water to rural areas around the world. In the last ten years, more than 28 wells have been built in sub-Saharan Africa, providing clean water to over 30,000 people. 

The LBHS club has made their own website and everything else it entails to make this event happen. For more information visit, www.lbhswalkingforwater.org.

Come on down on June 3 – rain or shine – and think about how important clean water is to all of us. Have some fun, and do some good! 


LBUSD Drama presents Seussical the Musical this weekend…and more

LBUSD will present Seussical the Musical this weekend, a musical extravaganza featuring Horton the Elephant, the Cat in the Hat and other favorite Dr. Seuss characters. 

Performances will be held at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, June 8 and 9 in the TMS Black Box. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults, and available at www.lbhs.booktix.com.

LBUSD drama cat

Michael Irish, LBHS & TMS Drama guest teacher and most recently fight choreographer for Night of the Living Dead, will return to direct next year’s LBHS fall play, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Michael will lead a Shakespeare workshop on Saturday, June 9 from 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. in the LBHS Dance Studio. 

LBUSD drama shakespeare

This workshop will be open to all LBHS Drama students as well as this year’s TMS 8 Grade Drama/Chorus students (incoming freshmen). 

Summer drama camp registration is open

Additionally, Summer Drama camps registration is open. The optional camps will meet Monday - Thursday, August 20 - 23 in the Greene Room, LBHS Room 55. Instruction and activities will focus on audition preparation and techniques for drama and musical theatre. Drama students are also encouraged to attend Dance Camp. 

A supervised lunch break will be provided for middle school students attending both camps. Registration fees are $200 per discipline or $400 for both. Registration is currently open at www.lbhs.booktix.com

Some other important events include the LBHS Drama/Theatre II playwriting and directing showcase set to take place on Monday, June 11 and Wednesday, June 13 at 3:30 p.m. in the LBHS Greene Room. The TMS seventh grade drama/chorus reading, the Bully plays, is set to take place on Thursday, June 14 at 3:30 p.m. in the TMS Black Box. 

Also, LBHS drama end of the year event is taking place on Saturday, June 15 at 4 p.m. in the LBHS Senior Quad.


LBHS girls’ soccer team reaches CIF quarterfinals

By Coach Ben Helm

On Friday (today) the LBHS girls’ soccer varsity team plays away in the quarterfinals of CIF against Paloma Valley High School after a win against Crean Lutheran at home on Tuesday.

In my first season as the Head Coach it was daunting to follow the tenure of Bill Rolfing. He and his staff had so much success with their program and established the culture of expectation and excellence that you see today.

Sophomore and midfielder Jayd Sprague takes on the Godinez goalie

Senior midfielder Alden Kramer in action

Senior forward Haylee Jarvis takes charge

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The LBHS girls’ varsity soccer team has excelled this year

The administration and support staff at the high school have been incredibly welcoming and helpful.

This made the transition smooth and let the players focus on being successful on the field and in the classroom. 

During league play, varsity went 8-1-1, putting them first in league. Our first CIF game was at home against Crean Lutheran and we enjoyed a 4-0 win moving us on to play in Lancaster on Tuesday and take a  2-1 victory.  

Although the varsity team gets the most press, our F/S team was very successful and the JV team went undefeated.

I know the girls are always excited to represent the high school and the community of Laguna Beach. 

Thank you to those who support the program!


TOW fifth grader & top surfer Brayden Belden suffers grave head injury while snowboarding

On February 20, Brayden Belden, a towheaded 11-year-old boy known for his terrific surfing skills and happy personality, suffered a near-fatal head injury following a snowboarding jump while on vacation with his family in Oregon.

The young boy was stabilized at a hospital in Bend and airlifted to the pediatric intensive care unit at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, where he now lies in a medically induced coma as he recovers.

His parents were initially told that Brayden had just hours to live. 

Thanks to timely medical care, according to his dad Matt Belden, Brayden’s condition has stabilized and he is expected to survive, though “he’ll have a long road back,” notes a statement on the GoFundMe page that has been set up by friends to help Brayden’s family deal with expected astronomical medical expenses.

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Photo from GoFundMe page

Brayden Belden in action

The latest update on the page, written by his dad Matt, reads in part: “I am very happy to announce that all the medical staff are in agreement with a 99 percent chance of no craniectomy [removal of part of the skull to allow for brain swelling].

“Brayden’s brain swelling appears to have topped out and he is tolerating his meds. He is following the treatment plan and is fighting. Denise and I thank you so much for all of your love and support and I know Brayden feels all the love and prayers and he is fighting.”

Friend Lula Buckle, 11, of Thurston Middle School, says, “Brayden is a true water boy, who always has a smile on his face, he’s funny, daring and the most amazing surfer. We are all so sad that this happened. I think about him and his family all the time. I just want to see him back in the water soon doing what he loves.” 

Brayden won the Under 13 division at the Brooks Street Classic last fall. He is the older brother of Riley, 9, and Kaley, 5, who also attend TOW. 

To contribute to the GoFundMe account, click on www.gofundme.com/brayden-belden.

Only a week after the accident, close to $130,000 has already been raised. 

Parents Matt and Denise Belden have expressed their deep gratitude for the generous contributions, as well as for everyone’s thoughts and prayers for Brayden’s full recovery.


LBHS club’s Walking for Water big fundraising event is this Sunday – and it’ll be fun for the whole family

Walking for Water is a project a world away from the hardscrabble life of its beneficiaries. In Burkina Faso, Kenya, Ghana, and Nepal there are children the same age as their Laguna counterparts who must walk every day – sometimes for hours – just to retrieve the water needed daily for their families. 

The Laguna Beach High School club Walking for Water aims to make water more readily available for these kids through their fundraising efforts this Sunday, June 3. 

Walking for Water’s annual event is their main fundraiser of the year and the community is invited to help out, while having fun too. From 12 - 3 p.m. there will be fun, games and raffle prizes on the high school track. With the money raised, the club plans to put in four wells – three in Burkina Faso and one in Nepal.

LBHS clubs Walking

Click on photo for a larger image

The plan is to make four wells available for kids like these in Burkina Faso and Nepal who must walk miles for water

The nonprofit club partners with Wisdom Spring, Inc. all year long to work toward bringing clean drinking water to rural areas around the world. In the last ten years, more than 28 wells have been built in sub-Saharan Africa, providing clean water to over 30,000 people. 

The LBHS club has made their own website and everything else it entails to make this event happen. For more information visit, www.lbhswalkingforwater.org.

Come on down this Sunday – rain or shine – and think about how important clean water is to all of us. Have some fun, and do some good! 


Boys & Girls Club announce the date of their “racy” 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala: May 12 

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is proud to present their 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala- “And We’re Off!” on Sat, May 12, at Montage Laguna Beach. This is an event you will not want to miss, organizers say. The Club invites guests to participate in an evening that will have a Kentucky Derby-style take on Laguna Beach. 

Invitees are encouraged to dress to impress and pull out all of the stops when selecting a suit or dress for the big night. It is a chance for every female to express her inner Southern Belle, and every guy to get just as decked out as the ladies. 

Take note and do not hold back when planning your Kentucky Derby-themed wardrobe. Guests will get to indulge in the experience of this iconic American event at the finest resort. Guests will start the evening on the Montage lawn with tasty morsels and signature Southern cocktails. 

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Submitted Photo

Join the Boys & Girls Club 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala for a night of “racy” fun

The evening will continue with an elegant dinner and rousing live auction followed by dancing to some live music that will make guests feel like they are partying it up at the Downs. The events raises funds that help the Club reach more young people with the goal of instilling values of integrity, compassion and respect. 

This promises to be the event of the year, and a chance to generously support the Club and its some 2,000 youth members and families. Proceeds raised at the 18th annual Art of Giving Gala go directly towards empowering children of all ages to reach their full potential, no matter their financial situation. So mark your calendars and join the Boys & Girls Club for a dashing-filled good time at the 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala. Table sponsorships are available.

For more information about the Gala contact Michelle Ray Fortezzo at (949) 494-2535 ext. 7584, or write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit the Club website at www.bgclagunabeach.org.


Boys’ Tennis tried hard, but didn’t pull off a win against Aliso Niguel for Coach Rick’s birthday

When they faced Aliso Niguel on Thurs, the boys’ tennis team did its best to bring home a win for Coach Rick Conkey’s birthday, but instead varsity was two matches short of a tie. Mason Lebby won two of his singles matches, 6-2, 6-0. Sam Reynolds won his match, 6-0.  

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Photo by Rob Lebby

Coach Rick celebrates his birthday with his team. Pictured back to front. 

(l to r) Back: Assistant Coach Tim, JV Coach Nic Radisay, Sam Reynolds, Scott Yoder, Julius Heide, Matt Duong, Middle: Rick Conkey, Blake Hawkins, Mason Lebby, Taylor Tran, Andrew Duong, 

Front: Warren Ingersoll

Matt Berk and Andrew Duong won their exciting doubles match, 6-4. Mohammed Berri and Kyle Herkins won their doubles match, and Andrew Johnson and Blake Hawkins won a singles match each. Unfortunately, the other matches were losses.

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Photo by Rob Lebby

Mason Lebby gives his singles opponent some heat

JV won just two matches at home, but had some very exciting nail-biters. The two singles match wins were Mathew Duong and Warren Ingersoll.

Next week, the boys have three more pre-season matches: Mission Viejo, Mater Dei, and Trabuco Hills.


Troop 35’s full week with Patriots Day Parade, Annual Bridging Ceremony and celebration of Eagle Scout

This last week was a very busy one for Troop 35. On Thurs, adult leaders and many of the scouts put out the ‘No Parking’ traffic Cones along the Parade route. On Sat, two Troop 35 scouts, Logan Leeds and Stephen Jensen, had the honor of carrying the banners at the beginning of the Laguna Beach’s annual Patriots Day Parade. Scouts from Laguna Beach Troop 35 and Pack 35 followed a bit later riding on a donated Ganahl Lumber Truck, enthusiastically shouting “Who are we? Best Alive! We are Troop... 35!”

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Submitted photo

Troop 35 scouts Andre, Kamran, Stephen, Sam, Logan & Elliott at Parade

After participating in the parade, the boys headed over to their charter organization location. They set up Tankersley Hall at The Laguna Presbyterian Churchto for Webelos II, the highest rank achieved in Cub Scouts, to join the Troop 35 in the Annual Bridging Ceremony. The Troop happily gained 12 new scouts. After the Bridging Ceremony, there was a Court of Honor, celebrating the boys who earned new rank advancement and merit badge achievement. 

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Submitted photo

Troop 35’s new Eagle Scout, Nils Wilson, with his parents Glen & Hae Wilson.

Lastly, the Troop celebrated Nils Wilson, Laguna’s most recent Eagle Scout, in an Eagle Court of Honor. The Eagle Rank is not easily achieved as evidenced by the fact that only four percent of Boy Scouts, after a difficult review process, earn this rank. The requirements necessary to achieve this rank may take many years to fulfill.


LBHS Drama & Park Avenue Players will presents All Shook Up, opening Friday March 16, inspired by Elvis

Get ready for a rock ‘n roll musical comedy presented by LBHS Drama & Park Avenue Players. This show is inspired by and features the songs of Elvis Presley, and is based on the book by Joe DiPietro. The show will open Friday, March 16, 17, 23, and 24 with all performances taking place at 7 p.m. Two additional shows on March 18 and 25 will take place at 2:30 p.m at the Artist Theater. 

This man needs no introduction

The story is all new, the hits are all Elvis. It’s 1955, and into a square little town in a square little state rides a guitar-playing young man who changes everything and everyone he meets in this hip-swiveling, lip-curling musical fantasy that’ll have you jumpin’ out of your blue suede shoes with such classics as “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Don’t Be Cruel.”

Tickets are on sale now: students $12, adults $17, and premium tickets $22. For more information or to purchase tickets, log onto www.lbhs.booktix.com.


SchoolPower’s Chef Challenge – one of the community’s most fun events – takes place March 26

It’s going to be a throwdown! SchoolPower’s Chef Challenge IX, hosted by Suzanne and Cary Redfearn at The Lumberyard, is coming up Monday, March 26.

Come enjoy a fabulous three-course dinner prepared by Lumberyard chefs and a friendly competition between the menu selections of LBUSD principals -- with attendees choosing the winner. 

Will it be the menu selections of elementary school principals Chris Duddy and Michael Conlon, or upper school principals Jenny Salberg and Jason Allemann?

Whoever takes home the trophy, event guests will be the real winners -- and, of course, Laguna Beach schools.   

Buy your tickets now at www.lbschoolpower.org/chefs-challenge.


Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach received $6,000 grant from the Festival of Arts Foundation

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is thrilled to announce the receipt of a $6,000 grant from the Festival of Arts Foundation to fund its Arts-For-All program, available to all members during their time after school. The organization believes that play and art create a healthy role in the learning and development of every child, as imagination and creativity are vital components of increasing their full potential as adults. 

The Club’s arts programing provide members with opportunities that generate ideas and enhance their ability to transform vision into a reality while navigating the world around them.

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is dedicated in providing a diverse array of art programs, in which each area serves our youth through exposure, education and enriching experiences. Not only do children have the opportunity to learn how to create art, but also experience the thrill of seeing their pieces displayed in onsite exhibits while entering their art into local and national art competitions.

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Boys & Girls Club members enjoying art activities at Crystal Cove

Caitlin Reller, Art Director of Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, is building fun and exciting activities related to all aspects of art and youth development, all thanks to the assistance of funding from the Festival of Art Foundation. 

As an example, during the recent Laguna Beach Unified School District’s Ski Week, Ms. Reller organized a field trip to Crystal Cove with 18 members. In collaboration with the Crystal Cove Conservancy Club, members took a tour of the park and participated in a Plein Air watercolor activity and a photographic scavenger hunt. The resulting art from these activities are on display at the Crystal Cove Gallery during Crystal Cove’s Art in the Park festival. The opening of the art exhibit is March 31 and members’ pieces will be on display for the duration of April. The Club invites the entire community to come and view the artistic talents of the participants.

The Art of Healing event on March 28 at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, Canyon Branch, from 5 to 7 p.m. is yet another exciting event that the Festival of Arts Foundation is helping make possible. The event will be a collaborative experience where parents and children have the opportunity to come together and create art as a shared, joyful experience. Activities will include visual art, the art of cooking, creating essential oils for healing and much, much more.  The Club invites the entire community to this special event.

Without the continuing support of the Festival of Arts Foundation, these wonderful opportunities for families within the community would not be possible. For more information about the activities, please contact Michelle Ray Fortezzo at (949) 494-2535 ext. 7584 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the Club website at www.bgclagunabeach.org.


El Morro Elementary School is recognized for high achievement in student success

El Morro Elementary School was named to the 2017-2018 Educational Results Partnership Honor Roll for its high achievement and student success. 

The program, sponsored by the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE), is part of a national effort to identify higher-performing schools and districts that are improving student outcomes. El Morro Elementary is one of 1,798 schools in California to be recognized. 

The 2017-2018 Honor Roll is developed by the Educational Results Partnership (ERP), a nonprofit organization that applies data science to help improve student outcomes and career readiness. ERP maintains the nation’s largest database on student achievement and utilizes this data to identify higher-performing schools and districts. Schools that receive the ERP Honor Roll distinction have demonstrated consistently high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in achievement levels over time, and a reduction in achievement gaps among student populations. 

El Morro sign

“El Morro Elementary School is honored to be recognized on the Honor Roll for high achieving schools. This validates the hard work and dedication our staff puts in each day to meet the needs of all of our students,” said El Morro Elementary School Principal Chris Duddy. He continued, “It also confirms that the curriculum and teaching strategies we are implementing are working for our students.”

“Educational success must be data-informed,” said Greg Jones, ERP and CBEE board chairman. “These Honor Roll schools and districts are improving student achievement and we have the data to prove it. It’s critical that the business community support and promote educational success as today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce.” 

“At ERP we are committed to closing achievement gaps and removing educational obstacles for historically disadvantaged students,” said James Lanich, PhD, ERP president and CEO. “These bright spot schools and districts are implementing programs and practices that are improving educational equity and accelerating student success. We need to shine a spotlight on their work and encourage others to replicate it.”

In California, the ERP Honor Roll is supported by numerous businesses and organizations, including the Automobile Club of Southern California, Macy’s, Wells Fargo, Chevron Corporation and Enterprise Holdings.

A full list of ERP Honor Roll schools and districts can be found at www.edresults.org.


LBHS Boys Golf wins a close one against Marina High School

LBHS Boys Golf scored a big win on the road Monday against Marina High School at Meadowlark Golf Club, besting the Vikings by three strokes. Junior Chase Gioffredi was a medalist for the first time in a high school match, shooting an even par 35.

While the top of the team’s line-up played well enough to put them in position to win (Chase Gioffredi – 35, Kyle Sharp – 35, Ben Sharp – 35, Gus Morck – 42), it was senior Miles Stripling who stepped up and made the difference. Stripling stepped in to start because Dante Fornaro, the team’s #3 player, was out with an injury. 

Initially struggling off the tee with his driver, Stripling got creative and started using his hybrids and long irons off the tee. This kept him out of trouble and resulted in a score of 44, one of his better finishes. This proved to be the difference and gave the team the win in a very close, non-league match. 

Team morale is high as the Breakers look to their first league match against Calvary Chapel on Wednesday.


LBHS Tennis in match-up today: Go Beach!

Today the high school boy’s tennis team will face off against St. Margaret’s at our home court beginning at 2:45 p.m. 

The players set to crush it at the home match include Andrew Johnson, Sammy Reynolds, Mason Lebby, Taylor Tran, Blake Hawkins, Francis Pillsbury, Kyle Herkins, Diego Tellez, Mohammad Berri, Matthew Duong, Andrew Duong, Matt Berk, and Casey Boehn.

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Photo by Rob Lebby

Mohammad Berri serves it up

Coach Rick Conkey said that the team has had four matches so far, and is doing well – especially the younger players. 

“The younger players have really improved,” he said. “Last year I scheduled matches against the top teams, and it really challenges them and inspires them.” 

The JV has an away game on Tuesday, and includes Warren Ingersoll, Jack Moran, Scott Yoder, Alex Chang, Jake Rasmussen, Arturo Vidaurri, Zachary Koster, Miles Riehle, Jack Lubin, Liam Rafary, Juilius Heide, and Taro Sakai.

On Thursday there will be a game vs. J Serra.

Go Beach!


LBHS Spring Music Concert June 5 – all are invited

Members of the public are invited to attend a free instrumental music performance by Laguna Beach High School student musicians at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5 in the LBHS Artists’ Theatre, 625 Park Avenue.

LBHS Band

Submitted photo

The LBHS Band performed for audiences at Disney’s California Adventures earlier this year

The LBHS Spring Instrumental Music Concert will feature wind and string ensembles directed by Jeremy Chung, the jazz orchestra directed by Steven Wade, a special piece performed by our award-winning Drum Line, and more! Enjoy the music while supporting the arts and youth in our community.


Thurston’s jury is out: John White guilty as charged

Story and photos by MAGGI HENRIKSON

It was a mystery that Thurston Middle School’s Forensic Crime Team investigated since discovering the gruesome “murders” of three people in Dana Point Harbor last March. Er, make that Roanoke Island, and the year was 1585. 

The student-driven scenario was built around a historical fiction scripted by the students. They played out the parts of the murder mystery and subsequent investigation, all supported by advanced, modern era forensic technology. The year-long project came to its conclusion last Friday during the courtroom trial “Roanoke: Murder in the Lost Colony.”

Thurstons jury Martinez

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Thurston teacher, Michelle Martinez, stands before the defense – Defense Attorney Cassidy Morgan (left) and her lineup of witnesses 

The Forensic Team club was started by social studies teacher, Michelle Martinez, and is open for all 6 - 8th graders. For the past three years, Cox Communications has provided support for the program, through their Innovation in Education grant. Martinez designed the program to teach students how to analyze and apply critical thinking to real-life problem solving.

Who’s the bad guy?

Sir Walter Raleigh had been charged with establishing a colony in the New World, by her majesty Queen Elizabeth I. He provided the colonists with one year’s worth of essential supplies, while he returned to England. After three years he returned to find the entire colony of 115 people had disappeared. In the Crime Team’s scenario, John White was travelling with Sir Walter Raleigh, and he was devastated on his return to find his entire family was gone along with the colonists. He blamed Raleigh for their demise.

Thurstons jury Mustache

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Prosecution Attorney Keegan Thomas points out just how unfortunate it is that Gilbert looked so much like Raleigh! 

The team “prosecutor” presented evidence that John White had murdered the victim, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Raleigh’s brother, aboard their ship in a case of mistaken identity. They did have eerily similar mustaches! 

Evidence and discovery

Medical Examiner, Gabby Finkelstein, presented the biological report on the three bodies found: Below deck, it was determined that Paul Martin had been suffocated by a pillow – he was purple around the eyes and had small feathers in his mouth and lungs; the dead man found beneath the water was the ship’s night watchman, Victor Smithfield, who had drowned, with evidence of blunt force trauma to the head; Sir Humphrey Gilbert had been stabbed twice in the back and once in the neck. 

Finkelstein concluded, “All were killed differently but in the same time frame.”

There were several witnesses. The Spanish “Captain” Joaquin Andres was ashore and saw some shadows on the deck of the Royal Ark. Captain Andres’ testimony, in Spanish, was niftily translated by Interpreter Austin Plank in the courtroom. 

The French “Captain”, interpreted by Margaux Huot-Marchand, saw a Native American on the deck, maybe Manteo, the Croatan tribal leader, whose tomahawk was found at the scene. Manteo was presented to the court, played by Quinn Butler, and stated that he was a tracker who had come to the ship to report that they’d found no clues as to the disappearance of the colonists – but then he discovered the dead man. “My tomahawk was dropped when I was alarmed,” he said.

Thurstons jury Jury

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To aid the jury in its decision, part of the modern day evidence was presented via virtual reality headsets showing video of the forensic analysis done by the team 

The jury shall decide

After DNA and ballistics evidence pointed toward John White, the Defense Attorney, played by Cassidy Morgan, had a tough time. She protested, saying there were just too many other fingerprints to prove his guilt. Besides, he is a Quaker, a man of God and doesn’t believe in killing. 

The Prosecution Attorney, played by eighth-grader Keegan Thomas, ultimately brought forth enough damning evidence and posited reasons that the jury sided with – John White killed the two guards quietly because they had witnessed his brutal murder of Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Gilbert had been savagely killed, shot and stabbed, to inflict the most pain, in an act of revenge for the loss of his family. 

The jury convened and talked it out before the audience in Thurston’s Black Box theatre. Whodunnit? They concluded John White done it – guilty by reason of insanity. He was sentenced to exile from the colony.


LBUSD School Board meeting tonight to address Local Control Accountability Plan

A study session on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and stakeholder engagement will begin in open session at 6 p.m. tonight (Tues, March 13). The regular meeting will follow the study session. Regular meeting agenda items for Board consideration include a resolution on school safety and supporting the social and emotional needs of LBUSD students, approval of positive certification of the second interim financial report, and approval of the course of study for the 2018-19 school year.

The agenda for Tuesday’s regular Board meeting has been posted here: www.lbusd.org/uploaded/1-District/Board/Documents/2017-2018/Agendas/March_13,_2018_Board_Meeting_Agenda.pdf

The meeting begins at 6 p.m., March 13 at the District offices, 550 Blumont, and is open to the public.


LBHS Spring Music Concert tonight – all are invited

Members of the public are invited to attend a free instrumental music performance by Laguna Beach High School student musicians at 7 p.m. tonight, Tuesday, June 5 in the LBHS Artists’ Theatre, 625 Park Avenue.

LBHS Band

Submitted photo

The LBHS Band performed for audiences at Disney’s California Adventures earlier this year

The LBHS Spring Instrumental Music Concert will feature wind and string ensembles directed by Jeremy Chung, the jazz orchestra directed by Steven Wade, a special piece performed by our award-winning Drum Line, and more! Enjoy the music while supporting the arts and youth in our community.


SchoolPower’s Chef Challenge – one of the community’s most fun events – takes place March 26

It’s going to be a throwdown! SchoolPower’s Chef Challenge IX, hosted by Suzanne and Cary Redfearn at The Lumberyard, is coming up Monday, March 26.

Come enjoy a fabulous three-course dinner prepared by Lumberyard chefs and a friendly competition between the menu selections of LBUSD principals – with attendees choosing the winner. 

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El Morro Principal Chris Duddy (left) will team up with TOW Principal Michael Conlon to take on LBHS Principal Jason Allemann and TMS Principal Jenny Salberg in this year’s SchoolPower Chef Challenge

Will it be the menu selections of elementary school principals Chris Duddy and Michael Conlon, or upper school principals Jenny Salberg and Jason Allemann?

Whoever takes home the trophy, event guests will be the real winners – and, of course, Laguna Beach schools.   

Buy your tickets now at www.lbschoolpower.org/chefs-challenge.


Help Thurston Middle School students go to the Global Finals

Six Thurston Middle School students, part of a Destination Imagination (DI) team, recently competed in the regional tournament and earned third place in the Scientific category. They need your vote for a chance to go to the Global Finals and compete with their scientific solution.

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Submitted photos

Thurston Middle School students who competed in the recent regional tournament, earning third place

Unfortunately, only the top two teams advance to the next level. However, there’s still a chance for them to go, but they need your support!

A member of the team, Colette (Coco) Reed, was selected as a finalist in a Pin Design competition and voting is taking place online through the end of the day on Sunday, March 18. 

Submitted photos

Colette (Coco) Reed’s pin design

The prize for Reed is $500 and, perhaps more importantly, their DI team would have the opportunity to go and compete in the Global DI Finals.

Vote online at www.tinyurl.com/send-us-di2018. Be sure to vote for “Colette” in the Middle School level.


Morgan, Lochner lead Breakers baseball to victory

Grady Morgan homered for the second straight game and Jack Loechner threw 5 innings, allowing only one run to lead Laguna Beach Breakers Varsity baseball to its second straight win, 7-1 over San Juan Hills. The win evened the Breakers record at 4-4 on the season.

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Photo by Sheri Morgan

Grady Morgan slides to the plate: Breakers give it their best every game

Laguna took the lead in the first after a walk by Morgan, who eventually came around to score on a wild pitch. The Stallions tied it in the top of the third at 1-1, but Morgan’s two-run homer to straight away center in the bottom half put the Breakers ahead for good 3-1. Kolton Freeman’s single later in the inning put Laguna up 4-1.

Meanwhile, Lochner cruised through the Stallions lineup, giving up only one run on four hits, while striking out six. Remy Mackel and Cutter Clawson each pitched a scoreless inning of relief to complete the Breakers dominance on the mound.

The Breakers added three more runs in the sixth. Loechner and Eric Silva both singled and then Michael Kerner followed with an RBI single, his third hit of the day. 

Morgan followed with a two RBI double to complete the scoring for Laguna and giving Morgan four RBI’s on the day.  

If it doesn’t rain, Breakers battle Calvary Chapel on Friday for the League Opener.


Six LBUSD teams advance to State competition in Destination Imagination® Tournament

Six teams, of four to seven students each, representing Laguna Beach High School, Thurston Middle School, and Top of the World Elementary have qualified to move on to the Destination Imagination (DI) state competition in Clovis on April 7. 

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Photo courtesy LBUSD

Destination Imagination proves that education is often great fun

Destination Imagination is an international educational program that enhances the growth and learning students receive in the classroom. Teams of students, ranging from third grade through university level, solve one of six open-ended Challenges in the fields of STEM, fine arts, and service learning and present their solutions at tournaments.

For Laguna Beach, three teams competed in the Scientific Challenge: Unlikely Attraction. Their challenge was 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.

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Photo courtesy LBUSD

(L-R) Jacob Cruz, Hannah Kaiser, Sebastian Otterholt, Keira Hundhausen, Lucas Durant

Two teams competed in the Technical Challenge. The challenge asked them 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.

Finally, two teams competed in the Improvisational Challenge where they were asked 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.

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Photo courtesy LBUSD

(L-R) James Dechary, Tyler Palino, Dylan Newburry, Chris Herkins

 “Thurston Middle School DI teams represented Thurston with great intelligence, creativity, and humor,” said Ina Inouye Wu and Bjorn Avila, Destination Imagination club advisors at Thurston Middle School. They continued, “We are so proud of all the students for their months of hard work, perseverance, and out-of-the-box thinking to solve DI challenges.”

Winners of the State competition compete at the global competition in Knoxville, Tennessee in May.


SchoolPower Executive Director Robin Rounaghi announces her departure

SchoolPower Executive Director Robin Rounaghi announced her departure from the organization on Monday.

Rounaghi started volunteering for SchoolPower when her oldest son was in kindergarten; he’s now a sophomore in college. After many years as a trustee and board leader (including two stints as President), and the last five years growing the organization as Executive Director, Rounaghi has announced that she will be leaving SchoolPower this summer. 

SchoolPower wishes her all the best as she starts the next chapter of her career, and is grateful for her extraordinary leadership and endless enthusiasm throughout the years. 

“I can’t imagine an organization of any type, anywhere, being better served than the way SchoolPower, LBUSD and our entire community has been served by Robin Rounaghi,” says SchoolPower supporter and Endowment board member Brent Martini.

“Partnering with Robin over the last five years has been one of the most enriching and productive relationships I’ve enjoyed in my 58 years. It all starts with Robin’s complete commitment to our kids, which is always at the forefront. It was beautiful to watch Robin be the caretaker and enabler of the goals and aspirations of the teachers, district leaders and parents. Robin has been a wonderful gift to our community.”

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Robin Rounaghi as pictured a few years ago in Laguna Life & People

Some highlights of Rounaghi’s many accomplishments during her tenure include:

Building a stronger, more productive partnership with LBUSD, including elevating collaboration and impact regarding Fund-a-Need initiatives, Large Grants, and Teacher Grant Process.

Increasing participation of the Laguna Beach business community, including the creation of the Real Estate Honor Roll.

Improving SchoolPower’s operations, adding policies and procedures to provide sustainability.

Expanding SchoolPower’s outreach, resulting in greater participation among all school families.

“SchoolPower has been like a second family to me. My belief in our organization and its mission is as strong as ever. It is the strength of our board leadership, our staff, our generous supporters, and our educators that gives me confidence that the progress we’ve made will continue,” says Rounaghi. She is committed to supporting the search process for her replacement and laying the groundwork for a smooth transition.

After her departure this summer, she plans to spend more time with her dad, who is fighting Parkinson’s, and her mom, his full-time caregiver. Going forward, Rounaghi says, “I’m excited to see what SchoolPower accomplishes in the years ahead. I look forward to supporting SchoolPower as a donor and a very well-behaved event guest.”

SchoolPower will be posting the open Executive Director position on its website, job sites and locally. To learn more about SchoolPower, go to www.lbschoolpower.org.


LBHS receives California Award of Merit for civic education program

Laguna Beach High School is among seven Orange County schools recognized by the California Courts system for its efforts to engage students in civic learning. An Award of Merit was presented to Laguna Beach High School for its civic learning practices in Advanced Placement (AP) European History and its Model United Nations (MUN) program.

Co-sponsored by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the award is now in its sixth year and is designed to celebrate successful efforts to engage students in civic learning and to identify at each grade span effective models that can be replicated.

There were more than 70 California public schools recognized for efforts to engage students in civic learning. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Unusual view of LBHS, capturing its unique setting

Schools earn points if students are engaging in any of the six proven practices in civic education, including classroom instruction, discussion of current events, service learning, extracurricular activities, school governance, and simulations of democratic processes. 

“In AP European History students study the causes and effects of poverty throughout European history and then in small groups choose one topic related to their studies that they would like to address,” said Laguna Beach High School World History and Advanced Placement European History teacher, Heather Hanson. 

“Together they must develop an action plan, perform ten hours of service, and reflect on their learning. Service learning requires students to make deeper connections to what they’re learning while giving them an opportunity to make a difference in their communities,” she added. 

“In MUN, students have the opportunity to engage in meaningful simulations of the democratic processes throughout the year, including planning and executing their own MUN conference, often addressing the most pressing issues of the day,” said US Government and Model United Nations teacher, Jonathan Todd. He continued, “Both programs empower students with the knowledge and the tools they will need for informed civic action now and in the future.”

Winners are selected from each grade span by a panel of experts based on the depth and breadth of their civic learning classes, clubs, and programs. All winners are featured on the California Courts Civic Learning Awards Web page at www.courts.ca.gov/23201.


Breakers’ pitching shuts out Calvary, 3-0, now have won four straight games

Blake Burzell, Joe Sweet and Eric Silva combined to pitch a two-hit shutout Friday to lead the breakers to a 3-0 victory to kick off Laguna’s final season in the Orange Coast League. Laguna is the five-time defending champion of the league. 

Laguna took the lead in the top of the second inning. After two quick outs, Jack Loechner reached second on an error and Silva was hit by a pitch.  

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Photo by Sheri Morgan

Jack Loechner rounding third

Christian Holm then singled to left to bring in Loechner. Michael Kerner, continuing his recent hot streak, lined the second pitch of his at bat to center to score Silva and Holm, giving Breakers’ pitchers all the runs they would need. 

Burzell, now 3-0 on the season, pitched five no-hit innings to earn the win with Sweet and Silva finishing off the two-hit shutout.  

Laguna is now 5-4 on the season having won four straight after a slow start. The team goes on the road this next week to face Saddleback on March 20 and Godinez on March 23.

 


Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation hosts first Annual Lawn Bowling Tournament fundraiser, April 20
         Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation has announced their first Lawn Bowling Tournament fundraiser. This unique event will be held Friday, April 20, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club, 455 Cliff Drive, in beautiful Heisler Park. 

Lawn Bowling is a game played with heavy balls, the object of which is to propel one’s ball, so that it comes to rest as close as possible to a previously bowled small ball (the jack). Lawn bowling is played chiefly outdoors (although an indoor version is also popular in the UK) on a closely trimmed lawn called a green. 

LB Lawn Bowling Club in Heisler Park

Upon entering the tournament, individuals will be placed into teams of four. Before the tournament begins, the coaches from the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club will show participants how to properly play the game. After a few practice rounds, the tournament will begin. 

The tournament will be run in bracket-play. Once all teams are entered (teams must be entered by April 18), the brackets will be displayed at the event. There will be a taco cart, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. By purchasing a tournament entry or social ticket, attendees will receive a wrist band for a taco plate and access to the open bar. There will be a few raffle prizes, so participants should get ready to purchase raffle tickets. 

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LB Water Polo Foundation in Patriots Day Parade

From Olympic gold medalists to NCAA and age group national champions, Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation (LBWPF) has produced some of the best water polo players in the United States. Boys and girls from eight to 14 years of age achieve a better understanding of the water polo game as they practice and improve on the fundamental techniques in preparation for the Junior Olympic national championships each July. 

For more information, go to lagunabeachwaterpolo.com or contact Foundation General Manager Robert Grayeli at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Breakfast with the Breakers is a great success

Photos by Scott Brashier

Despite the many events that took place this last weekend, LBHS’s community day, offering Breakfast with the Breakers, proved a great success.

The day included interactive activities, live performances, and much more.

From 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., athletic physicals were available for those wanting to play sports for the school (physicals are required), with fees going to help fund the LBHS Athletic Training room. 

Breakers day physicals

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Physicals were available for athletes

There were also optional Cardiac Screening tests for anyone interested.

Along with the Pancake Breakfast, booths with sports information and youth experiences for elementary kids were available, offering arts and school club information.

Breakers day crowd

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The event drew a healthy crowd

More of Scott’s photos from the Breakfast:


LBHS Drama has some exciting announcements to make this summer, including Drama Camp

This summer, LBHS Drama has a ton of exciting events to look forward to – kicking off with their Annual End of the Year event on Saturday, June 16 at 4 p.m. in the Senior Quad. LBHS students and their families are encouraged to attend.

Awards and senior scholarships will be distributed, and the infamous and always humorous “PAP Video” will be premiered. 

LBHS Drama families will receive an email with additional details.

Additionally, Summer Camp registration is officially open. The optional camps will meet August 20 - 23 in the Greene Room, LBHS Room 55. Instruction and activities will focus on audition preparation and techniques for drama and musical theatre. 

LBHS drama school

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Much to celebrate as the school year draws to a close

Drama students are also encouraged to attend Dance Camp. A supervised lunch break will be provided for middle school students attending both camps. 

Registration fees are $200 per discipline or $400 for both.  Registration is currently open at www.lbhs.booktix.com.

A very successful 2018

LBHS Drama received 11 nominations for the National Youth Awards in their first year of participation. Outstanding Production in the Junior Division was awarded to The Lion King, Jr.

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical was awarded to Malin Glade as Natalie and Ian Winefordner as Chad in All Shook Up. Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play was awarded to Luka Salib as Otto Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank, Claire Tigner as Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank, and Ian Winefordner as Ben in Night of the Living Dead. 

Outstanding Guest Performance was awarded to Luke Dressler as Mr. Dussel in The Diary of Anne Frank. Outstanding Supporting Performance in a Play was awarded to Chloe Bryan as Edith Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank. Outstanding Costume Design was awarded to The Lion King, Jr. 

Outstanding Sound Design was awarded to Kennedy Hobson for All Shook Up. Lastly, Outstanding Musical Direction was awarded to Roxanna Ward for All Shook Up.


Anneliese School’s Heroes & Role Models welcomed Kailee’s aunt, Linda Cohn

Linda Cohn, renowned ESPN sportscaster and NSMA (National Sports Media Association) Hall of Fame 2017 Inductee, was quite busy this weekend. After co-hosting the Lady Ducks Fashion Show on Monday, benefiting CHOC (Children’s Hospital of Orange County) at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, Linda paid a special visit to Laguna Beach’s own Anneliese School. 

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Blue Giant Photography, David Takata

Linda Cohn with her niece, Kailee (right) at Anneliese School

Her niece, Kailee Cohn, a fourth grader in Mr. Mike’s class, chose her aunt Linda Cohn as her heroine for her Heroes & Role Models Project. As part of the presentation, Kailee made an outstanding poster of Linda along with a video presentation of Linda speaking in front of 700 students last year in Anaheim about Finding the Positive. Kailee was so inspired by Linda’s giving back to our youths message that she brought in Linda herself for a Q&A session. Cohn greeted the class, sharing her story with signature energetic style and good sense of humor.

The students were thrilled and asked great questions about what was Linda’s favorite sport to who her favorite player was. Kailee brought in Linda’s book, Cohn-Head: A No-Holds-Barred Account of Breaking Into the Boys’ Club for all to share.

Following the presentation, the entire class brought their Heroes & Role Models posters outside for a quick group picture.

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Blue Giant Photography, David Takata

Anneliese School commented, “It was so fantastic. She is so inspirational!”

“I am so proud and impressed with the Anneliese School for having such a great program for kids. This school has an amazing staff and allows the kids to grow in their space. It’s truly a magical setting where the intelligences are carefully cultivated, lives are empowered and true potentials are realized,” said Cohn. “I love their motto, ‘Be a part of a school that inspires children to live meaningful lives and make a positive difference in the world.’

“It’s important that our youths recognize that anything is possible as long as they follow their passion and find the positive. My message has always been to carve your own path and know that anything is possible.”


Breakers baseball team dominates Saddleback: Bats and arms came ready to play

Laguna’s bats and arms came ready to play Tuesday. Breakers’ hitters jumped on Saddleback for 25 runs and 19 hits, leading the team to a 25-0 victory. The pitching was equally effective. Jack Loechner started on the mound and was perfect through two innings before retiring early. 

Remy Mackel and Kent Cebreros combined for six strikeouts on the bump to no-hit the Saddleback side.  

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Submitted by Monica Silva

Eric Silva, Freshman, trotting home

Saddleback did not advance past second base the entire game. Senior Michael Kerner was hot with four hits while Grady Morgan and Sawyer Chesley both homered over the fence for Laguna. 

Laguna is now 2-0 in League play. The team’s next game is today (weather permitting), Friday, March 23 at Godinez before returning home next Tuesday, March 27 against Costa Mesa, and Friday, March 30 against Estancia.


LBHS boys varsity golf matches this week: the winning continues

By Sean Quigley, LBHS Head Golf Coach

On Monday, the LBHS Boys Golf Team had an Orange Coast League match on Estancia’s home course, Mesa Verde Country Club, in Costa Mesa (par 36). Mesa Verde is one of the most challenging and best courses the team plays all year.

Laguna won the match 202-227, bringing the team’s record up to 2-0 in league and 4-3 overall.

The medalist (low score of the match) was senior captain Kyle Sharp. He shot an even par 36. This was the fifth time this year he has won medalist honors. 

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Submitted photo

Team captain, Kyle Sharp

In addition, junior Chase Gioffredi finished strong when he went on a tear with three birdies in a row on holes 7, 8 and 9 to finish one over par at 37. Senior Ben Sharp also played extremely well shooting three over par at 39.

The green complexes on this course can be tough, rewarding good shots and penalizing poor shots; so having three players finish under 40 tells me they were playing smart and hitting good shots. 

Player scores on Monday: Kyle Sharp – 36, Chase Gioffredi – 37, Ben Sharp – 39, Gus Morck – 42, Kyle Shaw – 48, Miles Stripling – 49.

On Wednesday, LBHS took on Costa Mesa High School at Costa Mesa County Club, a par 35-course. Laguna won 198-225, bringing our record up to 3-0 in league, and 5-3 overall. Kyle Sharp was the medalist again, shooting 37. He has been the medalist in six of the eight matches we have played this year.

Junior Gus Morck stepped up and shot his best score of the season, posting a four over par 39. In addition, senior Ben Sharp has bounced back nicely over the last two matches, posting a 38 today and a 39 in our last match (on Monday).

Player scores on Wednesday: Kyle Sharp – 37, Ben Sharp – 38, Chase Gioffredi – 39, Gus Morck – 39, Miles Stripling – 45, Kyle Shaw – 47.

We are off to a great start in the Orange Coast League with a 3-0 record.  We have won League for the last three years, so another first place finish this year would give our seniors a clean sweep of four straight championships during their high school careers.  

Our team scores have been good, consistently in the high 190’s to 208.  Overall, we are posting lower team scores than last year so our prospects look good so far.


LBHS Surf Team finishes in the top three in the National Scholastic State Regional Championships

By Coaches Scott Finn and Alisa Cairns

Congratulations are in order as LBHS surf team finished thirdin the National Scholastic State Regional Championships a couple of weekends ago. The event was held at Seaside Reef. 

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Submitted photo

Kayla Coscino, Coach Scott Finn, and Jameson Roller

It was an all out team effort highlighted by Kayla Coscino finishing second in Girls shortboard and Jameson Roller finishing second in the Boys longboard division. Our six shortboarders, Sam and Kiko Nelson, Jake Levine, Trey Lockhart, Travis Booth, and Jeremy Shutts put up some amazing performances throughout the day too.


Montessori School of Laguna’s kindergarteners enjoy a day down on Bluebird Canyon Farms

Photos by Kathy Tanaka

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Montessori School of Laguna’s kindergarten class, teachers, and parents

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Connor Dorais, in his bee suit, talks about the bees, and kids tasted honey

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Farmer Leo tells class about seedlings, and they planted sunflower seeds

The kindergarteners also got to pick and try fresh snow peas off the vine


LBUSD School Board meeting tonight will consider updates to the 10-year facilities master plan

The open session of the LBUSD School Board meeting will begin at 6 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, March 27). Nutrition Services Supervisor Debra Appel will present an update to the Board on the 2017-18 school nutrition program.  

The Board will also consider taking action on accepting the updates to the 10-year facilities master plan and award of routine facility contracts.  

The agenda for Tuesday’s regular Board meeting has been posted here: www.lbusd.org/uploaded/1-District/Board/Documents/2017-2018/Agendas/Board_Meeting_Agenda_March_27,_2018.pdf.

The meeting takes place at the District offices, 550 Blumont, and is open to the public.


El Morro’s Jog-A-Thon was fun on the field

Story and photos by MAGGI HENRIKSON

The annual Jog-A-Thon is the PTA’s biggest fundraiser in support of our schools. We tried to catch up with the little runners at El Morro’s Jog-A-Thon last Friday as they speeded around the field.

Pitching in at the Jog-A-Thon were such luminaries as Wild Wing, the Mighty Duck. There were firefighters, lifeguards, police representatives, and a huge contingent of Marines from Camp Pendleton. The radio station, KX 93.5, was broadcasting live, and there were some 110 sponsor and 18 booths, covering everything from orthodontics to ice cream.

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Marines from Camp Pendleton encouraged the little runners

One highlight of this year was the sponsor Banzai Bowls. Co-chair of the PTA event, Shanti Schiller, wished a big shout-out to Banzai Bowls owner, Joe Bard, “He doesn’t even have kids in the school, so it’s local business supporting our schools. It was really generous.” 

Indeed, Banzai Bowls contributed some 600 bowls for students, parents and volunteers.

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Wild Wing is a fan of El Morro, too

“It was really great, positive energy at this event,” she continued. “Our goal is to have everyone who participated receive a prize at the awards assembly on April 27.”

Ice cream coupons and bubble wands will be among the prizes, but one lucky go-getter will go home with an iPad, and another with an Angels baseball bat.

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The Jog-A-Thon is a run with a view

Prizes go to runners making as many laps as they can, with their own sponsors – often a grandparent. Who wouldn’t pitch in a dollar a lap or so, to make programs such as Art Masters, Science on the Go, and even field trips happen?

“Our goal was to raise $60,000 and I think we’ve surpassed that,” said Jog-A-Thon co-chair, Lourdes De Quillien. “It was teamwork.” 

This year’s efforts to get the Jog-A-Thon off the ground were important because the monetary goals are the same but the student body is smaller this year. According to De Quillien, last year there were 520 students and this year there are 480. But De Quillien and Schiller made up the difference with parent-power. “Eighteen moms stepped up to help, and the community really got together,” said De Quillien.

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A firefighter in full gear tries to keep up with the second graders

And fun was had by all. Schiller’s kindergartener and second grader were talking about it for weeks, “They kept talking about how many laps they’re going to do!”

Kudos to the volunteers, the public safety representatives, and all those sponsors who made the Jog-A-Thon happen. But mostly to those little feet running around and around the field. Here’s to the runners, learning about health and fitness while raising money for their favorite school programs.


LBHS Lacrosse plays home game April 12

By MAGGI HENRIKSON

Laguna Beach High School’s newest team, lacrosse, is excited for the community to get to know the sport. 

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Laguna Beach High School’s Lacrosse team

Senior Jake Anderson said, “I’m very excited to have lacrosse at LBHS. I’ve been waiting for three years, and I finally get to play my senior year.”

There is a home game on Thursday, April 12 vs. Crean Lutheran, and the community is encouraged to come watch the fast-paced action. The game begins at 5 p.m.

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LBHS Lacrosse is a fun and competitive sport – see the game Monday at 5 p.m.

“I think this program will definitely become popular and be very successful for LBHS. We’re really lucky to have our coaches,” said freshman Ethan Kramer. “Coach Chris is a great coach who has a lot of experience and knowledge of the game. He’s taught us a lot in a short amount of time. Coach Knox is so great at giving a lot of direction at every practice and game so that we are constantly learning something new.”

Senior Tobin Herr added, “I wish this program had been started earlier than my senior year, but I’m just glad I had the chance to play and it’s a really fun sport – I’m really enjoying it a lot!”


Boys & Girls Club will host “racy” 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala on May 12 

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is proud to present their 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala – “And We’re Off!” – on Saturday, May 12 at Montage Laguna Beach. This is an event you will not want to miss, organizers say. The Club invites guests to participate in an evening that will have a Kentucky Derby-style take on Laguna Beach. 

Invitees are encouraged to dress to impress and pull out all of the stops when selecting a suit or dress for the big night. It is a chance for every female to express her inner Southern Belle, and every guy to get just as decked out as the ladies. 

Take note and do not hold back when planning your Kentucky Derby-themed wardrobe. Guests will get to indulge in the experience of this iconic American event at the finest resort. Guests will start the evening on the Montage lawn with tasty morsels and signature Southern cocktails. 

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Join the Boys & Girls Club 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala for a night of “racy” fun

The evening will continue with an elegant dinner and rousing live auction followed by dancing to some live music that will make guests feel like they are partying it up at the Downs. 

This promises to be one of the events of the year, and a chance to generously support the Club and its some 2,000 youth members and families. Proceeds raised at the 18th annual Art of Giving Gala go directly towards empowering children of all ages to reach their full potential, no matter their financial situation. 

For more information about the Gala includint tickets or table sponsorships, contact Michelle Ray Fortezzo at (949) 494-2535 ext. 7584 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit the Club website at www.bgclagunabeach.org.


LBHS Baseball continues awesome winning streak, comes back to defeat tough Estancia team, 6-5

By MIKE MORGAN

LBHS Baseball (5-0 League, 9-4 Overall) continues to roll, posting a 6-5 come-from-behind victory yesterday over a very tough Estancia team at home.

The Breakers’ day did not start well. The team was riding a 29-consecutive scoreless inning streak coming into the game (and had outscored its last five opponents 57-1), but visiting Estancia jumped on Laguna early and hard for five runs in the first inning. 

Ultimately, though, the Breakers could not be held back. Their pitching stopped Estancia the rest of the game and their offense came to life at just the right time. Grady Morgan capped Laguna’s comeback with a dramatic bases loaded double in the bottom of the 6th, completing the team’s epic comeback.

Two innings earlier, Jack Loechner and Eric Silva got the Breakers started with back-to-back singles. Christian Holm then got the Breakers’ scoring started, lining an RBI double to left, scoring Loechner. Silva and Holm would later score that inning on wild pitches, cutting the lead to 5-3 headed into the 5th.

Kolton Freeman brought the score to 5-4 with a monster solo homerun to left, leading off the bottom of the 6th. Loechner followed with another single, Silva and Michael Kerner both then walked, loading the bases for Morgan with one out. With two strikes on him, Morgan drove a curveball down the right field line to lift the Breakers to the 6-5 victory.

Silva (1-1) earned the win on the mound for Laguna, pitching the last 1 1/3 innings to finish the game. Blake Burzell started the game, throwing 4 innings with 6 strikeouts. Joe Sweet pitched 1 2/3 effective innings in relief, striking out 3.

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Photo by Sheri Morgan 

Jared Angus, LBHS Junior, put up a stellar game defensively at shortstop

Earlier in the week on Tuesday, LBHS defeated Costa Mesa 11-0. 

Loechner dominated on the mound, shutting down Costa Mesa on two hits over five innings of work. Cutter Clawson and Remy Mackel each worked one inning of relief to secure what was the fourth consecutive shutout for Laguna.

Christian Holm led Laguna with three hits, Silva added a key bases loaded double for three RBIs, while Clawson and Grady Morgan each added two hits with Morgan scoring three runs. 

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Photo by Sheri Morgan 

Christian Holm, LBHS Senior, went 3-for-4 against Costa Mesa 

Last Friday, Blake Burzell (4-0) started on the mound and pitched five no hit innings, striking out eight en route to an 11-0 victory over Godinez.

Joe Sweet and Cutter Clawson were equally dominating in their single innings of work, with three strikeouts each. Morgan and Loechner both contributed three hits and three RBIs on the day. Morgan hit his fourth homer in five games. Sawyer Chesley also had three hits. 

Laguna will be busy over Spring Break, playing four games in the Ryan Lemmon Invitational Tournament in Irvine against top Orange County Teams. The Breakers start off with a night game this Saturday against Trabuco Hills at 5:30 p.m. at Windrow - W2, followed by a morning game on Monday against at Roosevelt at 8:15 a.m. at Windrow - RLS, before finishing off pool play against El Modena on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at Cypress Park. The results of these three games will determine who and when the team will play in its fourth and final game in the tourney on Wednesday.


A big week for Boys Golf too – two tournament wins

LBHS Boys Golf competed in the Estancia Golf Tournament at Costa Mesa Country Club on Monday, notching a historic victory for the program by placing first in the 21-team field. 

This was a modified Stableford Scoring tournament whereby each high school brings just four players. Each player plays his own ball, and the team is awarded one point for a par, three points for a birdie, five points for an eagle, and 10 points for a hole in one or double eagle.

Laguna was represented by Kyle Sharp, Chase Gioffredi, Gus Morck and Ben Sharp. The foursome scored a total of 83 points, including five points on the last hole, which moved them in front of Newport Harbor for first place. Newport Harbor finished in second place with 81 points. 

The Breakers’ win with 83 points was a new tournament scoring record. In addition, both Kyle Sharp and Gus Morck won the “closest to the hole” contest on two of the par three holes.

“All the Laguna players shot fantastic low rounds, playing their own ball over 18 holes,” said Head Golf Coach Sean Quigley. “It all came together on the same day for each of our players; they were scoring on every hole and it just never stopped. It’s nice for these guys to win a tournament, which isn’t easy to do. It’s probably the high point of their high school careers in golf so far.” 

Kyle Sharp shot a career low four under 68, and Gus Morck shot a career low of four over 76. Chase Gioffredi shot one over 73 and Ben Sharp shot three over 75.

Coach Quigley added, “In addition, a lot of the coaches from other schools are starting to notice that our guys can play at a high level this year. So we are getting our name out there. Hopefully we can keep it going into the CIF playoffs.” 

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Playing in the Estancia Tournament were (from left to right): Gus Morck, Kyle Sharp, Chase Geoffredi, and Ben Sharp (with assistant coach Tom Levinstein)

The whole team played Tuesday in an Orange Coast League match against Estancia at Aliso Viejo Country Club, a par 35 course. Laguna won the match by a score of 200-231. 

Chase Gioffredi captured his second medalist honors of the year shooting a two over par 37. 

The win brings the LBHS league record to 4-0 and the overall record to 6-3. Players’ scores included: Chase Gioffredi – 37, Kyle Sharp – 38, Gus Morck – 40, Ben Sharp – 42, Miles Stripling – 43, and Kyle Shaw – 57.


Boys & Girls Club announces Open House and Talent Search for “KidChella” festival, April 13

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is happy to announce an open-house music and arts festival, “KidChella”, celebrating the talents of our youth on Friday, April 13 from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. at the Canyon branch. 

This free public event will be a sensory overload full of music and dancing demonstrations, tasty food, and so much more. It will prove to be the ultimate celebration of talent, invoking every child’s freedom of expression and free spirit. 

The Club continues to look for school-age performers, grades Kindergarten through 12th. If interested, please reach out to event organizer, Jesus Villegas, via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (949) 494-2535 x7940. 

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Boys & Girls Club talented performers, Layla Yee and Christian Barriga

The Club will have games available and, of course, the talent showcase – singing, dancing, magic tricks etc. – and all are welcome to be a part of the event. The talent show portion is open to all youth in the community, no membership is required to participate, and friends and family are invited to attend as well.

KidChella is also an opportunity for the community to check out the organization’s 24,000 square foot facility as they prepare for jam-packed, fun-filled summer camp programs beginning June 25 at all three branches – with weekly, all-day (7 a.m. – 6 p.m.) rates as low as $150 per week, $40 per day. 

For more information, please contact guest services at (949) 494-2535 or visit the Club website at www.bgclagunabeach.org.


Laguna Beach Boys Tennis had a big winning week

Last week, LBHS Boys Tennis served up winning matches across the board for both Varsity and JUV.

The match-up on Tuesday was a Varsity win against Costa Mesa 17-1. On Wednesday, the Varsity had another blow out against Estancia, 14-4. And on Thursday, March 29, Varsity swept Godinez 18-0.

“Estancia is our closest league rival and we lost only four matches coming out 14 to four,” explained Varsity coach Rick Conkey. “After Thursday’s win against Godinez, Varsity is ranked ninth in Southern California.”

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Photo by Nic Radisay

LBHS Boys JV Tennis team lines up for match against Godinez High School (left to right): Zack Koster, Taro Sakai, Jake Rasmussen, Miles Riehl, Julius Heide, Jack Lubin, Alex Chang, Liam Rafary, Tyler Davis, Kidd Stablein, Gavin Childs, Luke Goldsine, Evan Henry, and Nikolai Reid

Junior Varsity won their two matches last week also; on Tuesday versus Costa Mesa, it was a 10-8 win, and on Thursday, the team outpaced Godinez 15-3.


Grapes for Grads – Laguna’s finest wine tasting and scholarship fundraiser – is coming up April 22

On Sunday, April 22 from 12 – 4 p.m., the Rotary Club of Laguna Beach will host the 13th annual Grapes for Grads, Laguna’s Largest Annual Wine Tasting Event, presented by Lippa Insurance. The event will be held at the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts grounds, located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road.

Grapes for Grads will feature wines from around the world including Argentina, California, France, Italy, New Zealand and more. Attendees may taste as many wines as they like while enjoying live music by “Magnolia Memoir,” art demonstrations by the students of Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD), and delicious food provided by the Wine Gallery. 

With 65-80 wine labels expected to bring more than 100 wines, the $50 flat fee (advance purchase) at www.GrapesForGards.com makes this premier wine tasting event a great deal. 

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Photo by Bear Flag Photography

Sampling wines – for a good cause – hosted by Lofti Nedjar

Combining wine, food, live music, live art demonstrations, a silent auction, raffle and opportunity drawing, Grapes for Grads is a self paced yet highly interactive event and one of the most highly anticipated wine tasting events in Laguna Beach of the year.

“This year we again have great food supplied by Chris Olsen at the Wine Gallery which we believe is a perfect fit. We have also been so fortunate to have the support of the wine industry for the past 13 years. Their support and the support of our sponsors, such as Lippa Insurance, has assisted us in providing over $260,000 in scholarships since we held our inaugural event. The biggest supporters have been the community. We are truly thankful for the support,” explains chair Jeffrey Redeker.

Grapes for Grads provides scholarships to college bound students from Laguna Beach High School and students currently enrolled at LCAD. The focus is on students who show excellence in academics or art coupled with a commitment to community service but may also require financial assistance to achieve their educational goals. Grapes for Grads receives more than 160 scholarship applications each year.

Photo by Bear Flag Photography

Girls just wanna have grapes…

Each year a student artist from LCAD is selected to create the Grapes for Grads logo. This year’s logo design winner, Alejandro Serrano said, “It was a tremendous privilege to be given the opportunity to design the logo for the 2018 Grapes for Grads Scholarship Fundraiser. Being part of this project blessed me in more ways than I imagined. I was able to partake in an event that helps fellow art student follow their dreams.”

Alejandro’s design will be printed on all of the event promotional materials including flyers, print ads, signs and t-shirts at the event.

Grapes for Grads admission is $50 in advance and $60 at the door. Attendees must be 21 to enter. Additional event features include: an opportunity drawing for a two-night stay at the fabulous Tides Inn at Laguna, wine tree opportunity drawing and other prizes. 

Tickets may be purchased online at www.GrapesForGrads.com or by contacting Jeffrey Redeker at (949) 371-7595.


Laguna Beach Unified School District presents Julie Lythcott-Haims

On Wednesday, May 2, the Laguna Beach Unified School District invites the community to LBUSD Presents: Julie Lythcott-Haims at the Laguna Beach High School Artists Theatre. 

The event will feature a keynote presentation from New York Times bestselling author Julie Lythcott-Haims, formerly the dean of freshmen at Stanford University, discussing strategies for raising children to become independent, resilient, and goal-oriented adults. 

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Julie Lythcott-Haims

The event, free and open to the public, will feature light refreshments beginning at 5 p.m. and childcare for children in grades TK - 5. The keynote presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be followed by specialized breakout sessions with LBUSD counselors, psychologists, and student support specialists addressing topics relevant to academic, career, and personal and social success. 

Attendees will have the opportunity to select one of the following breakout sessions to attend following the keynote and Q & A: 

Student-Centered Choices in Middle School 

High School Counselor Q & A for Parents 

Managing Parenting Stress Through a Growth Mindset

Supporting Students K-5 with Our Social Emotional Learning Curriculum: Second-Step

Growing Up iGen: What Parents Need to Know About Technology Usage, and Ways to Support Healthy Development 

The Yes Brain & Adolescence 

“LBUSD Presents: Julie Lythcott-Haims” will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. at 625 Park Ave. Those interested in attending the event are encouraged to register by Wednesday, April 25 at www.lbusd.org/lbusdpresents.

 


Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation hosts first Annual Lawn Bowling Tournament fundraiser, April 20

         Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation has announced their first Lawn Bowling Tournament fundraiser. This unique event will be held Friday, April 20, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club, 455 Cliff Drive, in beautiful Heisler Park. 

Lawn Bowling is a game played with heavy balls, the object of which is to propel one’s ball, so that it comes to rest as close as possible to a previously bowled small ball (the jack). Lawn bowling is played chiefly outdoors (although an indoor version is also popular in the UK) on a closely trimmed lawn called a green. 

LB Lawn Bowling Club in Heisler Park

Upon entering the tournament, individuals will be placed into teams of four. Before the tournament begins, the coaches from the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club will show participants how to properly play the game. After a few practice rounds, the tournament will begin. 

The tournament will be run in bracket-play. Once all teams are entered (teams must be entered by April 18), the brackets will be displayed at the event. There will be a taco cart, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. By purchasing a tournament entry or social ticket, attendees will receive a wrist band for a taco plate and access to the open bar. There will be a few raffle prizes, so participants should get ready to purchase raffle tickets. 

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LB Water Polo Foundation in Patriots Day Parade

From Olympic gold medalists to NCAA and age group national champions, Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation (LBWPF) has produced some of the best water polo players in the United States. Boys and girls from eight to 14 years of age achieve a better understanding of the water polo game as they practice and improve on the fundamental techniques in preparation for the Junior Olympic national championships each July. 

For more information, go to lagunabeachwaterpolo.com or contact Foundation General Manager Robert Grayeli at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LBUSD wins Digital School Districts Survey 2017-2018 recognition by Center for Digital Education

The Center for Digital Education has recognized Laguna Beach Unified School District as a Digital School Districts Survey 2017-2018 winner for its innovative technology and digital learning initiatives. 

The Digital School Districts Survey awards the US public school boards and districts that most fully implement technology benchmarks in the evolution of digital education, as represented in the survey questions.

“Over the last five years, I’ve watched our staff and students create a culture of digital collaboration, working together to build inspiring learning spaces while using technology to solve real-world problems,” said Laguna Beach Unified School District Chief Technology Officer Michael Morrison. He continued, “We work together every day determined to achieve excellence, and that makes winning this award even more satisfying.”

The Center for Digital Education (CDE) is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy and funding. CDE provides education and industry leaders with decision support and actionable insights to help effectively incorporate new technologies in the 21st century. 

Now in its 14th year, the Digital School Districts Survey Awards recognize districts that are innovating in exemplary ways by investing in tools and learning models for next-generation learners. 

Winners of the 2017-18 Digital School Districts Survey Awards are recognized by the Center for Digital Education at the National School Boards Association’s annual conference each spring.


Laguna Beach Breakers drop three out of four at Ryan Lemmon Spring Invitational

By MIKE MORGAN

Laguna Beach Breakers opened up the Spring Break Ryan Lemmon Invitational Tournament with a dramatic comeback win against Trabuco Hills 7-6. The game was highlighted by an RBI single by Kolton Freeman in the top of the 7th, scoring Eric Silva with the tie breaking run.  

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Photo by Shari Morgan

Pitcher Joe Sweet

Silva, entering as pitcher in the bottom of the 6th, then retired Trabuco in the bottom of the 7th, to secure the win for Laguna. Laguna jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, capped by Christian Holm’s two RBI’s in the first, but Trabuco came right back in the bottom of the first to pull within 4-3. 

Trabuco took the lead in the bottom of the 4th with three more runs to pull ahead 6-4. Laguna’s Holm drove in two more runs in top of the 5th, to tie the score and set up Freeman to win it in the 7th. Injuries played a role in the outcome of the game, when Laguna’s Cutter Clawson had to leave the mound after facing just three batters in the first. Joe Sweet and Kent Cebreros both pitched very well to keep Laguna in the game.

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Photo by Shari Morgan

Jack Loechner sliding into base

Laguna was matched up against Roosevelt in the second game of the tournament, and despite a hard fought game, Laguna fell 5-3. Jack Loechner and Kolton Freeman led the way with multiple hits for the Breakers. Remy Mackel started the game on the mound and kept the Breakers close through four innings. Justin Holm was handed the loss in three innings of relief. Breakers defense had a rough day and contributed to the loss with three errors.

The third game of the tournament pitted the Breakers against a highly regarded El Modena squad. El Modena took the lead early, jumping ahead 2-0 in the second inning.  Laguna came back in the third on a single by Grady Morgan and a walk to Eric Silva.  Both Breakers came around, scoring on some nice base running, tying the score 2-2, despite just one hit in the inning. 

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Photo by Shari Morgan

Freshman Pitcher Eric Silva

Jack Loechner pitched well for Laguna, surrendering just five hits on the day, but El Modena played precise baseball and was able to score five times, defeating the Breakers 5-2. Defense was once again a rough spot for Laguna, committing four errors on the day. Morgan led Laguna with two hits.

The final game of the tournament matched up Laguna with a tough Capistrano Valley team in a consolation game of the Ryan Lemmon tournament. Laguna jumped out early, scoring one run in the second and then three more in the third, to take a 4-1 lead.

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Photo by Shari Morgan

Third base Sawyer Chesley

Sawyer Chesley, Cutter Clawson, Eric Silva and Jack Loechner all contributed hits and scored to help take the early lead. Blake Burzell started on the mound and pitched four innings, striking out seven and giving up two unearned runs. Wes Witteman pitched one scoreless inning of relief, helping the Breakers to a 4-2 lead after 5 innings. However, Capo would score five times in the 6th, all runs unearned on the day, lifting Capo to a 7-4 victory. Justin Holm took the loss in relief.

The Breakers finish their Spring Break schedule matching up at Santa Margarita High School on Saturday, April 7 at 12 p.m. Laguna returns to league play next week with two games with rival Calvary Chapel.


Annual City Boys and Girls Track Meet will be Friday, April 20 at LBHS

The City of Laguna Beach will host the annual Boys & Girls Track Meet on Friday, April 20 between 5 and 8 p.m. The track meet is open to children under the age of 14 (kids who were born in 2003 or after) and reside in Laguna Beach or attend school within the Laguna Beach Unified School District boundaries.

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Children run in heats with others their own age and can participate in sprints (50, 100 or 200 meters) or longer runs (400, 800 or 1600 meters).

Field events include: long jump, softball throw, high jump, and shot put.

The top four winners in each age division will advance to the Orange County Track Meet in May. 

Please register online by Thursday, April 19 at https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index?search=track+meet.


Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach brings The First Tee program to all three branches

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach announced that it has established a partnership with the The First Tee of Orange County, a golf development program for youth, to bring its “Drive” curriculum at all three branches this summer. 

The First Tee of Orange County is a division of The First Tee, an internationally recognized non-profit that introduces the game of golf and its integrated principles to young people. 

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Kids participating in the First Tee golf program/First Tee of Orange County 

The program focuses on nine core values: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment through its 1,200 locations across the United States. 

“We are honored and grateful to The First Tee of Orange County to bring the Drive program to the city of Laguna Beach through their selection and grant process,” CEO Pam Estes stated. “It will develop character, encourage healthy choices and teach life-enhancing principles for the youth of all ages in our community, with lessons they will benefit from for a lifetime.” 

Pam added, “The First Tee and our Club share values that align for a great relationship, including the notion that any kid who wants to try something new such as golf will have the chance to do so.”

Members can participate in an eight-week session as part their action-packed, fun-filled summer camp program at no additional cost to parents. Summer programming begins June 25 and runs through August 25 at Canyon, Bluebird and Lang branches, with all-day 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. rates as low as $150 per week, $40 per day. 

For more information, contact guest services at (949) 494-2535 or visit the Club website at www.bgclagunabeach.org.

Sibling discounts and scholarships are available.


Two LBHS Boys’ Basketball players to represent team’s league in County All-Star Game on April 21

Laguna Beach High School seniors Charlie Rounaghi and Owen McMurray have been selected to represent their team’s league in the Orange Coast Optimist Club’s 53rd Annual North-South 12th Grade All-Star Basketball Game at Cypress Community College on April 21 at 7 p.m. 

LBHS currently belongs to the Orange Coast League, part of the CIF Southern Section. Other members include Saddleback, Godinez, Estancia, Costa Mesa and Calvary Chapel high schools. 

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Photo by Candice Dartez Photography

Charlie Rounaghi

Rounaghi broke the school record for assists and steals during the LBHS team’s winningest season since 1962, a record of 26 wins and 4 losses. He also earned the season’s coach’s award and was co-MVP of the league. McMurray was voted most valuable defensive player by his teammates. Both were selected as first team all-league players. 

At the recent team banquet, Coach Bret Fleming reminisced, “I’ve known Owen and Charlie since they were little third graders taking my summer clinic. They couldn’t get enough basketball. These two guys have each dedicated hundreds of hours to practicing and perfecting their skills. This team is for those who are fully committed to working hard and putting in the time and effort. The all-star selection is a great way for these boys to cap off their high school careers. I’m extremely proud of them.” 

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Photo by Candice Dartez Photography

Owen McMurray

Everyone is invited to watch this elevated level of play. Proceeds from tickets will go to scholarships and youth and collegiate programs. 

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $6 by calling (949) 233-9548 or at the door for $10.


Boys & Girls Club will host “racy” 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala on May 12 

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is proud to present its 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala – “And We’re Off!” – on Saturday, May 12 at Montage Laguna Beach. The event will be Kentucky Derby-style themed soiree. 

Invitees are encouraged to dress to impress and pull out all of the stops when selecting a suit or dress for the big night. It is a chance for every female to express her inner Southern Belle, and every guy to get just as decked out as the ladies. 

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Submitted Photo

The Boys & Girls Club’s 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala on May 12 will be a night of “racy” fun

Guests will start the evening on the Montage lawn with tasty morsels and signature Southern cocktails. The evening will continue with an elegant dinner and rousing live auction followed by dancing to some live music that will make guests feel like they are partying it up at the Downs. 

This promises to be one of the events of the year, and a chance to generously support the Club and its some 2,000 youth members and families. Proceeds raised at the 18th annual Art of Giving Gala go directly towards empowering children of all ages to reach their full potential, no matter their financial situation. 

For more information about the Gala includint tickets or table sponsorships, contact Michelle Ray Fortezzo at (949) 494-2535 ext. 7584 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit the Club website at www.bgclagunabeach.org.


LBHS Boys Golf wins twice this week, captures fourth straight Orange Coast League Championship

LBHS Boys Golf played two league matches this week, winning both and capturing the team’s fourth straight Orange Coast League Championship.

“These final two league wins mean that senior players Kyle Sharp, Ben Sharp and Dante Fornaro just completed 4 years as varsity players going undefeated in Orange Coast league play,” said Coach Sean Quigley. “They have never lost a league match throughout their entire high school careers.”

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LBHS Boys Golf captured its fourth straight Orange Coast League Championship, finishing a perfect 8-0 in league play

On Tuesday, the team traveled to Santa Ana to play Saddleback High School at Willowick Golf Course, par 36. The team won the match 208-276.

Senior captain Kyle Sharp was the medalist of the match shooting one over par 37. In addition, seniors Ben Sharp and Dante Fornaro both played well shooting 40. Sophomore Tai Diggins stepped up big too.

“A bright spot looking forward to next year was the play of Tai (Diggins), who came up from the junior varsity team and shot a very solid score of 42. Hayden Myers and Miles Stripling rounded out the scoring with both posting scores of 49,” said Coach Quigley.

On Thursday, the team hosted Costa Mesa High School at Aliso Viejo Country Club, the final league match of the season.

The team went into the match missing a couple of its regular starters. “We were anticipating a competitive match,” said Coach Quigley.

But ultimately the team stepped up. 

“Our players did a good job overall with course management and not taking too many risks with the windy conditions and it ended up paying off. At the finish, we won the match 217-233. The co-medalists of the match were Kyle Sharp from Laguna and Jimmy Solano from Costa Mesa; they both shot one over par 36. The rest of the players scores were Dante Fornaro 41, Gus Morck 42, Kyle Shaw 47, Miles Stripling 51 and Joseph Ravenna 55.”

The team’s overall record is now 10-3, and a perfect 8-0 in league play.

Boys Volleyball nets two wins too, wins 93rd straight league match

On Tuesday, Laguna Beach High School’s Boys Volleyball team defeated Saddleback in three games, 25-18, 25-15, 25-12. Andrew Reavis and Josh McManus led the way with nine kills each. Guy Thomas and Joseph Colliday also had eight kills apiece.

On Thursday, the team hosted Estancia at Dugger Gym, winning in three sets 25-18, 25-11, 25-18. Leading the way was Sam Burgi with eight kills and Geste Bianchi with seven.

The team (9-5 overall, 5-0 league) has now won 93 straight league matches.


Boys & Girls Club announces promotion of long-time member of staff, Hans Laroche, to branch director

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach announced yesterday the promotion of Hans Laroche as their new Canyon Branch Director. Hans has worked for the Club for 15 years and has been an invaluable member not only of the Canyon Branch, but the entire organization. 

Prior to joining the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, Hans had 17 years of leadership experience overseeing youth development programs and personnel, which included club operations and human resource services. Through the years, Hans has continued the grand tradition of the Boys & Girls basketball programs and offered many more sports, fitness and recreation activities within this department. 

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Hans Laroche

“His professional relationship building with our youth, parents, staff and community is humbling. Hans speaks from his heart and soul; and kids love it when he plays along with them, making them feel loved, wanted and that he hears their voice,” states CEO Pam Estes. She adds, “His number one goal is to make each child shine and grow within our walls; and for those not at our Club, to capture their imagination to see how the Club could be for them.” 

Hans states that one of his proudest moments at the Club is to see former members return and volunteer as a coach and mentor with his programs. “We welcome the community in congratulating Hans on his outstanding performance and wishing him the best of luck in his future position,” Estes says. 

For more information on the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach including after school and summer camp programming, contact guest services at (949) 494-2535 or www.bgclagunabeach.org.

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach service area includes Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, Lake Forest and the surrounding communities, and occupies three sites in Laguna Beach: Canyon Branch, Bluebird Branch and Lang Branch. Together, they offer a nationally recognized and award winning year round Out-of-School enrichment program that focuses on the whole family. 

From preschool to parenting classes, The Boys & Girls Club offers an array of services that focus on: academic success, good character and citizenship, healthy lifestyles and creative expression. Being an indispensable asset to the families of our community is a Boys & Girls Club time-honored tradition. For over 60 years, The Boys & Girls Club strives to support the youth of Laguna Beach through out of school recreation that celebrates the whole child.


Basketball’s Bret Fleming is named OC Register’s Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 season

Photos by Ali Rounaghi

LBHS basketball coach Bret Fleming has been named OC Register’s Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 season. The newspaper cites the following reasons for its selection of this most talented coach:

“Laguna Beach boys basketball coach Bret Fleming is highly-regarded among his peers for consistently getting the most out of the Laguna Beach roster. 

“For doing so yet again, Fleming is the Register’s Orange County coach of the year for the 2017-18 season.s

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Bret Fleming in action

The newspaper continued: “The Breakers had one of the best seasons in school history this past season. They won 26 games, going 26-4, one shy of the school single-season record for wins. The Breakers went undefeated in the Orange Coast League to win the league championship.”

While deeply honored at the award, Bret told Stu News, “As far as the award is concerned, nothing we’ve accomplished this year was done in isolation…I’ve got a terrific long-time assistant coach in Rus Soobzokov and this is really just another acknowledgement of what a great season we had.”

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Bret Fleming with team

“This group of young men really understood the concept of playing for something greater than themselves. They dedicated a huge amount of time practicing and preparing for this season, which resulted in winning two major tournaments and finishing third in another. They beat multiple teams that most people would consider upsets... 

“Above all, this group really loved each other and willingly sacrificed their own agendas for the good of the team. I’m extremely proud of all they accomplished this year.”

This was Fleming’s 23rd season coaching Laguna Beach basketball.

Stu News congratulates him, assistant coach Rus Soobzokov, and all the boys on a great season.


Boys Lacrosse is home game against Crean Lutheran this Thursday; three home games next week

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LBHS Boys Lacrosse team

The LBHS Boys Lacrosse team has a home game this Thursday, April 19 against Crean Lutheran at 5 p.m. The team will follow with three home games next week, including Monday, April 23 at 5 p.m. against Beckman; Wednesday, April 25 at 5 p.m. against San Juan Hills; and Thursday, April 26 at 4:30 p.m. against Sage Hill.  

Spectators and supporters are welcome!


Laguna Beach Boys Varsity Tennis serves up a win against Costa Mesa

Photos by Candice Dartez

Mason Libby

Sam Reynolds

Blake Hawkins

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Laguna Beach Boys Varsity Tennis won their match this week 15-2. Mason Lebby, Mohammed Berri, Andrew Johnson, Diego Tellez, Sam Reynolds and Casey Boehm all won their singles matches. Doubles winners were Blake Hawkins and Matt Berk in an exciting tie-breaker. 

Kyle Herkins and Francis Pillsbury won their doubles matches. Taylor Tran and Mathew Duong as well as Andrew Duong and Matt Berk won theirs.


LBHS Boosters will rock the night away

The Black Tongued Bells and James Clay Garrison & the Giant Peach will perform a benefit concert on Friday, April 27 from 7 p.m. to midnight as part of the Blue Water Music Festival. The concert will benefit the LBHS Tennis and Booster programs.

The Black Tongued Bells

The event will be held at The Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach.

Only 200 tickets are available and they’re expected to sell out fast. Call Rick Conkey at (949) 573-8624 with questions or to purchase tickets.

The Woman’s Club is located at 286 St. Ann’s Drive.


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.


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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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.


Proposed changes to school year calendar elicit passionate responses

By SUZIE HARRISON

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.


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.


LBHS Drumline beats the competition in music category, places third in Scholastic B division

LBHS Drumline definitely saved the best for last in the semi-final competition at King High School in Riverside recently. They came in third place in their Scholastic B division and gained first place in that music category.  

They also won third place overall, out of 46 schools, in the music category. 

Winter Percussion drumline is a competitive drumming ensemble that incorporates drill movements similar to marching band and uses both marching and concert percussion instruments to perform in a gymnasium. In essence, it is a percussion-only marching unit, with a blend of theatrical elements. 

Led by Rudi Moore and Emmanuel Mora, under the direction of Jeremy Chung, this is a very talented group of kids.  

Chung notes, “The students have the option to join Drumline as an extracurricular activity. We don’t turn students away as long as they are committed and can be at all the extra rehearsals. All Drumline students are also involved with other music classes at LBHS – wind ensemble, string ensemble, jazz band, etc. 

“The Drumline is part of the instrumental music program and competes in the American Drumline Association circuit. The competitive Drumline was formed eight years ago when I became the music director at LBHS,” he explains.

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The triumphant Drumline team

Participating students rave about their experiences with Drumline, which may not have as high a profile as many student activities, but provides great enjoyment and valuable musical education for participants.

“The past four years, Drumline has meant more to me than just learning rudiments and being perfectly in sync with a complex musical pulse,” says Michael Davidson, Battery Section Leader. “It’s made me a better human being. Put in a setting with people who live, breathe, and love the same thing you do creates a bond that’s truly unbreakable. Every loss and victory each contained so many valuable lessons that will stay with me throughout the rest of my musical career and life.”

Student Kendra Nugent had never played an instrument, much less read sheet music before she joined Drumline. 

“Drumline has been a wonderful experience for me. The entire group was very supportive to each other had such a positive attitude,” Kendra says. “Because of this program, I can now understand most music terms and read the basics of sheet music. I am so glad to have been a part of this program and can’t wait to see what comes next.’

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The nature of Drumline makes it tricky to capture all the kids in action

Sydney Davison (yes, Davison, different spelling and no relation to Michael!), who is the Pit Team Leader, has this to say: “Drumline for me has been a wonderful experience. I have learned an exotic instrument, and I have made many friends. Every part of it has been memorable, and it is fun to be part of a team.”

Parents are also very impressed with the benefits of Drumline in improving their kids’ ability and enhancing their existing talent.

“Drumline has been a big part of my son’s life for the past four years. It has helped him improve his skills tremendously,” Judy Davidson, Michael’s mother, says. “It’s such a joy seeing him play the snare drum with passion and precision. Jeremy Chung and Rudi Moore have been a positive influence in helping Michael achieve his dream of going to Berklee College of Music.”

Drumline incorporates so many elements

Chris Davison, Sydney’s dad, notes, “Before my two kids joined the group, I had never heard of Drumline. Now I love to go to all their competitions and performances. It is fun to watch because there are so many elements: Music, costumes, choreography, stage props, and sometimes a little theater. 

“For my kids, it was an opportunity to learn mallet instruments like marimba and bells that they normally wouldn’t be playing in regular band. Drumline has also helped them develop their skills as a team player and working with others as a tight-knit, synchronized group.”

Unfortunately the team can’t participate in the Drumline Finals competition; most of the students are also in the LBHS wind ensemble and they will be performing in a music festival in SFO the same weekend.

Congratulations to the group for a high-profile season!  

--Lynette Brasfield


LBHS senior Isabel Riches will play for British water polo team in 2018 EU Nation’s Cup

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Isabel Riches

LBHS Senior Isabel Riches has been selected to the Great Britain/England Water Polo Junior National Team, with whom she spent spring break training in the Netherlands. 

Isabel next represents the England team when she plays in the 2018 EU Nations Cup, May 24-27, in the Czech Republic. Isabel will also continue as a D1 Varsity water polo player next fall at Brown University.


SchoolPower Chef Challenge serves up community support for our schools at Lumberyard

The 9th Annual Chef Challenge, generously hosted by Cary and Suzanne Redfearn of Lumberyard, once again served up a delicious culinary competition benefitting SchoolPower. The event on March 26 featured Laguna school principals as dueling guest “chefs” competing with two different three-course meals. 

Diners voted on their favorite items and the coveted golden spatula trophy was awarded to the victorious team. This year’s challenge had Principals Duddy and Conlon squaring off with Principals Allemann and Salberg. With a robust turnout of 114 guests and $8,600 raised, Chef Challenge was a win for our public schools. 

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Jason Alleman and Jenny Salberg, Winners of Golden Spatula

To kick things off, the cocktail competition got heated with SchoolPower Endowment President Chris Clark mixing up his Paloma Borracha (Drunken Dove) and SchoolPower President Kristin Winter concocting her special Salty Russian. Although both received rave reviews, ultimately Chris Clark took away the title.

While guests enjoyed the appetizers and main courses, team Allemann/Salberg worked the room to gain votes for their menu which included a delectable coconut curry crab ceviche appetizer. Team Duddy/Conlon vied for tallies on their side of the menu featuring a mouthwatering Bailey’s semifreddo dessert.

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Mixology Winner, Chris Clark with Kristin Winter

Kristin Winter thanked everyone for coming out to support the schools and added, “Cary and Suzanne Redfearn’s generosity and constant support of our schools is remarkable. It’s no wonder that the town feels such loyalty to the Lumberyard.” 

When the votes were collected, the results were close but the golden spatula went to team Allemann/Salberg. The champions were thrilled to win with veteran Salberg stating, “Chef’s Challenge at the Lumberyard is always an exciting evening...the food is delicious and the service is incredible. Clearly this win is a direct result of our hard work and continued dedication to providing our parents and students with superior service during the school day and outside of the school day.” 

For more information on SchoolPower, go to www.lbschoolpower.org. 


Three LBUSD teams go to Global Finals in Destination Imagination®: Creativity gets the prize

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. 

“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. 

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

Laguna Beach High School’s Brilliant Boom Bam Bananas competed in the Scientific Challenge, which asked teams to create an amusement park attractions using scientific concepts. The team created a four-foot fidget spinner that team member Joseph Hovanesian rode during the performance, all in an underwater setting. Team members also included Evan Henry, Jared Moy and Miles Riehle. The team placed third at the affiliate tournament, qualifying for global finals. 

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Thurston’s Thunder McKings 

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 maze. Team members Michael Berg, Theo Cofffey, Will Coffey, Odin Fores and George Saba’s performance showcased a radio-controlled maze-traveling racecar complete with grandstand, fans, and sportscasters.

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Thurston’s Catnip team celebrates achievement

Catnip placed third in the Improvisational Challenge, also qualifying for finals. The team was asked to perform an improvisational skit about two explorers on a quest to find a missing cultural treasure. Team members May Chapman and Quinn Butler played explorers Queen Teuta and Howard Carter on a quest to find and returned Machu Picchu to its rightful owners, played by Ophelia Chapman and Ani Hovanesian.

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The Destination Infiltration team in action

Team Destination Infiltration, who also represented Thurston Middle School at the State Tournament, received first place in their instant challenge score and may qualify for the Global competition. In the scientific category, team members James Dechary, Chris Herkins, Dylan Newburry and Tyler Palino, performed a creative story featuring a shrunken scientist being mistaken for a jellybean, eaten, and finding himself inside a body-themed theme park.

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


Top of the World Elementary School named 2018 California Green Ribbon School 

Top of the World Elementary School is a California Green Ribbon School and the recipient of a Green Achiever certificate from the California Department of Education, the highest achievement given to schools who have been nominated to compete on a national level for the US Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition award.

More than 30 public schools and school districts selected as California Green Ribbon Schools were recognized as part of the California School Recognition Program by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson at an event hosted at Top of the World Elementary School on Monday. 

The event included an awards ceremony and presentations from Laguna Beach Unified School District staff showcasing the gardens, Waste Management recycling programs, energy efficient facilities, and more. 

“Top of the World Elementary has been providing robust and innovative education for students since its inception 50 years ago,” said LBUSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria. “This recognition speaks to our commitment to developing environmentally and socially conscious students by providing opportunities for them to make positive impacts on the local and global community,” he continued. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Top of the World Elementary

Over the last few years, Top of the World Elementary has been working to integrate sustainability practices with campus-wide campaigns including a coin drive that raised over $2,000 for a school in Kenya to purchase three dairy cows and a greenhouse; an ocean awareness club spreading knowledge about the dangers of littering the ocean waters that led to a fundraising of thousands of dollars to help clean up local waters and a partnership with Waste Management to improve the on-campus recycling program; a campaign to divert uneaten pre-packaged food items from the trash cans into a collection bin that is donated to the LB Friendship Shelter on a daily basis; a partnership with Schneider Electric to help implement energy conservation district-wide; and finally, one of the oldest school garden programs in all of OC with three on-site gardens totaling one-half acre, which are used as outdoor classroom spaces. 

The ED-GRS recognition award honors schools, school districts, and Institutes of Higher Education for excellence in resource efficiency, health and wellness, and environmental and sustainability education. The recognition award is part of a larger US Department of Education effort to identify and communicate practices that result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness; and reinforces federal efforts to increase energy independence and economic security.


LBHS Women’s Shortboard Surf Team wins High School State Team Championships

By Coaches Alisa Cairns and Scott Finn

On Saturday, Laguna Beach High School Surf Team had a record day with the women’s shortboard team crowned team champion at the Scholastic Surf Series High School State Championships. The event was held at Oceanside South Jetty, and it was a nice day. The surf was a little tricky, but decent in the three to four foot surf range with light winds. Laguna Beach High School surfed in the team competition of the contest as all 14 High Schools were competing in the various divisions. Everyone worked really hard, with some doing double duty in two divisions.

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(L-R) Coach Alisa Cairns, Kalohe Danbara, Tess Booth, and Kelly Smith

Our women’s team, as a whole, has been so strong the last couple of years in the various events with plenty of depth and consistency. Saturday’s team of Tess Booth, Kalohe Danbara and Kelly Smith worked really well together, each doing her part to take the team all the way to the end with the major win and really solid performances along the way. 

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Tess Booth

In the first round, the team was up against Half Moon Bay and they won 13-7. Next they surfed against Carlsbad with a 12-9 win. The semi-finals were a breakthrough performance for all three, and they easily defeated Edison 15-6. The women were on a roll and went into the final against Santa Barbara beaming with confidence and took another decisive win 14-7. 

MVP would have to go to Freshman Tess Booth, who was the iron woman, winning most of her five heats of the day. She not only competed well in the shortboard, but also put in a solid performance in longboard. Tess and her teammates, Maya Takayabashi and Destiny Thompson, competed well against La Costa Canyon, but did not advance, missing out 8-13.

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(L-R) Joseph Schenk, Sam Nelson and Liam McCue

The men’s shortboard started the day first up against Coronado High School. Our guys surfed really hard and competed well with some outstanding performances and top finishes put in by the likes of Travis Booth, Sam Nelsen, Kiko Nelsen and Liam McCue. Meanwhile Joseph Schenk, Luke Hagopian, Ryan McGee, Luca Elghanaya and Lucas Jablon also gave their all. Unfortunately, the team narrowly missed out from advancement, losing by a meager one point at 32-33 points. 

In bodyboard, Travis Booth and Ryan McGee stepped up big time doing double duty, while ripping and having a good time along the way. They won their first round against Oceanside and narrowly lost to Dana Hills. Longboard also saw double duty and a solid effort put in by Sam Nelsen, who took a second place. Joseph Schenk and Luke Hagopian also surfed well, but unfortunately, were edged out by La Costa Canyon 9-12.


Boys & Girls Club hosted 10th Annual Community Partner’s Breakfast and gave out awards

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach proudly hosted its 10th annual Community Partner Breakfast on Tuesday, April 10 at [seven-degrees] in the Canyon. Board of Directors President Phyllis Phillips expressed the importance of partnership and collaborations and their vital role in helping the Club accomplish the organization’s mission to enable all young people to realize their full potential as healthy, caring and responsible adults. 

Pam Estes, Chief Executive Officer, delivered a poignant State of the Club speech where she addressed several Club initiatives the organization will be focusing on in the upcoming year. 

“We have some big goals that we see as meaningful ways to help more of the youth who need us in the community,” stated Pam.  

These projects include plans for a potential off-site teen center, additional inclusionary programming for the special needs population, gender equity for young females and Lake Forest expansion opportunities.

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BGCLB CEO, Pam Estes with Aliso Viejo Mayor, David Harrington

The mayor of Aliso Viejo, David Harrington, received the Program Partner Award for AV’s investment of more than $300,000 since 2006 to ensure the city’s children have access to quality after school and summer programming at the Club. Massen Greene Foundation received the Agency Partner Award, as their organization has invested $95,000 over the last four years in support of the Club’s Eco-Smart program that teaches young people to be great stewards of the earth. 

Restaurant owner Gretchen Andrews of Starfish Laguna Beach received the Corporate Partner Award as she has contributed nine straight years of support towards the Club’s events including catering at Girls Night Out, toy drives and onsite fundraisers.

Former Board President, now Emeritus member, Bob Whalen, received the Community Partner Award, as his family has championed the Club in numerous ways over the years, including being a strong advocate for all youth in the great city of Laguna Beach. 

Beau Bianchi took home this year’s Crevier Legacy Award, an honor given to a former Club member who has brought long-term impact on the organization as an outstanding role model for the community and embodies the philanthropic spirit the Club hopes all its members will someday achieve. Beau, along with his wife Brandee, have been a catalyst for bringing additional inclusionary and social skills programming for children with special needs at the Club. Their goal is to ensure that all kids can have a positive and safe place to go when they are not in school, while having additional support systems in place to achieve greater social agility with peers.

 The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach’s Community Partners Breakfast began ten years ago by Emeritus BOD President Bob Whalen to recognize the partnerships built between the Club and the community leaders that help benefit the 2,000 youths the Club serves on an annual basis.

For more information on the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach including after school and summer camp programming, or about the annual breakfast, contact guest services at (949) 494-2535 or visit www.bgclagunabeach.org.


Boys & Girls Club hosts “racy” 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala May 12, offering awesome auction items 

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is proud to present its 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala – “And We’re Off!” – on Saturday, May 12 at Montage Laguna Beach. The event will be Kentucky Derby-style themed soiree. 

Invitees are encouraged to dress to impress and pull out all of the stops when selecting a suit or dress for the big night. It is a chance for every female to express her inner Southern Belle, and every guy to get just as decked out as the ladies. 

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The Boys & Girls Club’s 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala on May 12 will be a night of “racy” fun

Guests will start the evening on the Montage lawn with tasty morsels and signature Southern cocktails. The evening will continue with an elegant dinner and rousing live auction followed by dancing to some live music that will make guests feel like they are partying it up at the Downs. 

Wonderful live auction items include an Angels “Baseball Once” offering four front-row seats plus an opportunity for your child to act as an honorary bat boy/girl, an adult to throw the ceremonial first pitch, and so much more. 

Also available: dinner for twelve guests at Montage Resort; exotic vacations of various lengths in Mexico, Massachusetts, and Arizona; a year-long lease of a 2018 Jeep Cherokee Overland; as well as one-of-a-kind art.

This promises to be one of the events of the year, and a chance to generously support the Club and its some 2,000 youth members and families. Proceeds raised at the 18th annual Art of Giving Gala go directly towards empowering children of all ages to reach their full potential, no matter their financial situation. 

For more information about the Gala includint tickets or table sponsorships, contact Michelle Ray Fortezzo at (949) 494-2535 ext. 7584 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit the Club website at www.bgclagunabeach.org.


Breakers Baseball drops Godinez 12-0

The Breakers swept their season series with Godinez on Friday with a 12-0 victory.  Eric Silva, Cutter Clawson, Jack Loechner and Aidan Booth all had multiple hits to lead the Breaker attack. Grady Morgan, Sawyer Chesley and Michael Kerner also drove in runs for the Breakers, now 15-8 on the season and 10-0 in the Orange Coast League.

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Photo by Sheri Morgan

Grady Morgan slides to the plate: Breakers give it their best every game

Blake Burzell started on the mound and threw three shutout innings with five strikeouts to earn the win. Clawson and Silva each pitched a scoreless inning in relief.  

The Breakers will face Costa Mesa this week, playing an away game today at 3:30 p.m. and then playing a home game on Friday, May 4 at 3:30 p.m.

Senior Day will be Wednesday, May 9 at 3:30 p.m., the team’s last regular season game of the year. The CIF playoffs start the week of May 14.


TOW kids donate enough peanut butter to the Food Pantry to make more than 5,520 sandwiches

Anne Belyea, executive director of the Food Pantry, tells Stu News that she is overwhelmed by the support that Laguna offers the nonprofit.

“We have such a generous community,” Anne says. “Today I was able to go to TOW to thank the students for donating 460 pounds of peanut butter and jelly!  What a great job!”

To put that into perspective, a grizzly bear weighs around 500 pounds. In other words, that’s a lot of peanut butter.

It’s enough, in fact, to spread on 5,520 sandwiches.

Which is enough to scare the heck out of someone with arachibutyrophobia – a fear of peanut butter sticking to the top of one’s mouth – but also enough to bring great joy to many kids who would otherwise go hungry.

Maybe it is time to challenge the other schools to equal or beat this donation?

How about two grizzly bears’ worth of peanut butter?

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TOW kids were excited to donate 460 lbs of peanut butter to the Food Pantry

“We had a five year old in the community who just hosted a dance party with his friends and brought in $750, a bag of change and 150 lbs. of groceries.  

“When he came in to the Pantry to deliver the food, he showed me his dance moves! He break-dances! My heart is full!” Anne rejoices.

Spinners at Rhythm Ride also help fill the shelves

Members of local spin studio Rhythm Ride and owner Stephanie Chapel also got a big shout-out from Anne. 

“As part of their tenth anniversary, they donated 150 pounds of groceries,” Anne says. “Ever since previous owner Shelley Arends Cornwell opened the studio a decade ago, she has made community and health a dual focus and thus sponsored many food drives for us.”

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Spinners are exhilarated at the size of the donation they were able to put together 

“Adequate nutrition is important to good health, and the Pantry exists to make sure that no one goes hungry. Many of our area’s low-income families, elderly, and student populations rely on us to help them make ends meet. 

“We are excited and pleased that the next wave of management will carry on this compassionate effort.”


LBHS Softball team sets their eyes on the playoff prize after key victory

The Breakers softball team is taking aim at the end game after they overpowered Estancia 6-4 on Monday to complete an Orange Coast League sweep, their second win in six days against Estancia. 

Junior Emily Thomas threw a complete game with eight strikeouts. Laguna Beach ratcheted up the score with plays by Rhys Campbell, Madilyn Garwal, Mia Pitz, Maddy Melchor, and a daring steal by Cierra Wunder. 

Wunder took the opportunity and stole home in the sixth inning; it was the second time in two games that a Laguna Beach player executed this rare and bold move.

“That effort is the definition of this program, and it is unbelievable to see where this was three years ago and where we are now,” said Coach James Crawford. “It’s spectacular. It’s awesome.”

Following their win against Estancia, the team dropped a game against Godinez on Wednesday, 1-18. They look to bounce back today (Friday, May 4) in a key league game at Costa Mesa High School. The game starts at 3:15 p.m.

The team is now 10-10-1 overall and 3-5 in league play.


Join LBHS for Breakfast with the Breakers and don’t forget about your 2018-2019 Breaker Fastpass 

On Saturday, June 2, join Laguna Beach High School for a community day to eat Breakfast with the Breakers in the Quad from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. This day will include interactive activities, live performances, and much more.

From 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. athletic physicals will be available for $40 per athlete. Proceeds will fund the LBHS Athletic Training room, and will benefit those wanting to play sports for the school, because these physicals are required. Also, there will be an optional Cardiac Screening for anyone interested, which will be $85. 

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Join LBHS for their second annual Breakfast with the Breakers and help support athletic programs 

Also from 9 a.m. - noon, there will be a pancake breakfast for everyone with a $5 donation per person. Sports information with booths and youth experiences for elementary kids will be available the whole time, along with multiple arts and school club information. For more information on this upcoming event, visit www.lbusd.org.

Additionally, all families are invited to get the LBHS Breaker Fastpass for the year 2018-2019. All proceeds will benefit LBHS Athletic Boosters. Donations can range anywhere from more than $200 to a minimum of $50, and donations are rewarded with a range of items from free entry to all sports games, your family’s name on a football field banner, and Breaker pride, all depending on the donation package you choose.

 Donations support all the school’s exceptional sports programs as well as state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. 

For more information or to sign up to donate, contact the Athletic Secretary at (949) 497-7750.


LBHS Golf wins all four CIF spots at OC League Tournament – and Ben Sharp is named 2018 MVP

LBHS Golf played this week in the Orange Coast League Individual Tournament, winning places one through five and claiming all four CIF playoff spots.

This was a 36-hole event over two days at Skylinks golf course in Long Beach. The first day, there were approximately 30 players from all the different teams in the league and everyone played 18 holes of golf. The low 12 scores returned for the final day. The first day’s scores carried over and were added to the second day’s scores. 

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Kyle Sharp on the tee

Laguna entered seven players into the tournament. The following five Laguna players made the cut to compete the second day with their scores and standing after the first day: 1st: Ben Sharp – 74, 2nd: Kyle Sharp – 78, 3rd: Chase Gioffredi – 80, tied for 4th: Gus Morck and Dante Fornaro – 82.

On the second day of the Orange Coast League Tournament, the tees were all the way back at the black tees, measuring at 6,909 yards. It turned out to be a great day for the program with the five remaining Laguna players finishing 1-5, Coach Quigley said. 

All of them earned First Team All-League. In addition, all four of the CIF individual playoffs spots from the OC League went to Laguna players. 

The final standings for LBHS players were: 1st: Ben Sharp – 74/79 = 153, 2nd:Kyle Sharp – 78/77 = 155, 3rd: Chase Gioffredi – 80/79 = 159, 4th: Dante Fornaro – 82/81 = 163, 5th: Gus Morck – 82/83 = 165.

It was a big day for senior Ben Sharp. The coach says he was striking the ball really well and played two smart days of golf, which gave him scores of 74 and 79, and a two-stroke win over his twin brother Kyle Sharp.  

Ben Sharp’s first OC League Tournament, and he wins

This was the first OC league tournament for Ben, as academically he is the #2 ranked student at the high school and although he has qualified to play, he did not play in the prior two annual tournaments because playoffs conflicted with AP testing. This year, however, he decided to rearrange his schedule and play.  

“Ben is a good ball striker, has a good short game and can putt lights out,” said Coach Quigley. “When you have all these skills and you don’t tend to get into any big trouble on the course, it will move you to the top of the leaderboard. It all came together for him and it’s great to see him earn the win and Orange Coast League MVP for 2018.” 

The coach added, “It’s great to see all five of our Laguna players sweep the top spots in the tournament. This team and all these individual players really excel because they have high golfing IQ’s and are committed to improving all the time. They play golf year round and several of them compete in the junior tournament schedule in Southern California. 

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Gus Morck, Kyle Sharp, Chase Gioffredi, and Ben Sharp (with assistant coach Tom Levinstein) celebrate a recent win; Dante Fornaro, who earned a CIF playoff spot in the OC League Tournament, is not pictured here

“They are committed to not only improving their golfing skills, but also their fitness and how they perform on the course with good decision-making and course management. When you put it all together, this team is one of the deepest and most talented teams we’ve had at Laguna in a long time and it’s been fun for me and the other coaches to go along for the ride with them.”

The Sharp brothers are sharp players

Senior captain Kyle Sharp won this same tournament last year and he made a good run over the first nine holes yesterday shooting even par and gaining two strokes on his brother. But he dropped some shots on the back nine and had to settle for second place this year.  

“Overall, Kyle has been the foundation of our success this year as a team,” said Coach Quigley. “He has been the low scoring player in 11 of the 17 matches we played this year.  He consistently scores well, averaging one over par 37 for nine holes. He is driven to get better all the time and he has the one quality that all high achieving athletes possess – he is a fierce competitor. Attitude and a strong desire to compete will take you a long way and those qualities should help him at the next level when he plays golf in college for the University of Redlands.”  

Junior Chase Gioffredi finished in third place and qualified for CIF playoffs again this year after making it last year as a sophomore.  

“Chase has off the charts physical skills and has the ability to score really low at any time,” said the coach. “If he has a good day in the CIF tournament, he has the potential to be in the running to not only make the cut but also place high on the leaderboard.” 

Dante Fornaro qualifies for CIF playoffs, the third year in a row

 Senior Dante Fornaro finished fourth and again qualifies for CIF playoffs for the third year in a row.  

The coach added, “Dante is a very smart player and rarely if ever makes any mistakes in his decisions.  His ball flight is consistent and straight and he also has a good short game.  If everything comes together in CIF, he can also post a low score and be in the running to make the cut.” 

In addition, one great accomplishment this year is that seniors Kyle Sharp, Ben Sharp and Dante Fornaro have all been on the varsity team since they were freshmen and they have won four straight league championships.  They have never lost a league match throughout their careers.  

“It’s been fun working with them as golfers and watching them grow up from being little freshmen boys (all of them weighed about 115 pounds as freshmen) into young men ready to go off to college,” said Coach Quigley.

CIF playoffs take place in the next couple of weeks

There are two tracks for CIF playoffs in golf, individual and team. 

“Even in the first round they are super competitive,” Quigley says. “There are no divisions; rather, all players/schools are grouped into several regional tournaments regardless of school size.

“Laguna is in the southern individual regional and our players will compete with players from most of the leagues in Orange County, Long Beach, San Gabriel Valley and the Trinity league private schools like JSerra, Mater Dei, Santa Margarita, etc. So, there are a ton of good players who will go on to play in college who won’t even make it out of the first round.  

“Laguna has not had any boys make it out of the first round in a long time. We did have a girl, Grace Komoroczy, make it to the second round a couple times about 10 years ago.” 

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LBHS golf team

The first round of CIF individual playoffs takes place on Monday, May 7. Kyle Sharp, Ben Sharp, Chase Gioffredi and Dante Fornaro will be entered for Laguna. There will be approximately 115 players in the tournament and only the top 20 move on to the next round.

CIF team playoffs, first round, kick off on Monday, May 14. Laguna will compete with approximately 24 other teams. Only the top two teams advance.

On Thursday, May 17, the CIF Southern Section Individual Championships and Team State Qualifier take place. If any individual or team advances past the first round, they will play in this tournament, held in Santa Barbara.

And those winners will advance to a SoCal Regional Final followed by the State Final.


Alumni reunion and picnic takes place tomorrow at Heisler Park

The all-class picnic and reunion for all Laguna Beach High alumni will take place tomorrow, Saturday, May 5 at Heisler Park, 375 Cliff Drive.  The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Remember this place? Then don’t forget to go to the reunion picnic tomorrow…


Breakers Baseball shuts out Costa Mesa 4-0

Cutter Clawson pitched five and two thirds strong innings, giving up two hits and striking out 11 Mustangs to earn the win Tuesday afternoon for the Breakers at Costa Mesa.  

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Photo by Sheri Morgan

Cutter Clawson strikes out 11 Mustangs

Eric Silva closed out the game to earn his fourth save of the season. The Breakers’ offense has been rolling lately but was held to just four runs Tuesday. Aidan Booth led the offense with three hits and scored a run. Christian Holm drove in two runs in the third with a two RBI single and Grady Morgan drove in Holm with an RBI single later in the inning. Laguna scored an insurance run in the seventh inning on an error.

The Breakers will face Costa Mesa Friday (today) at home at 3:30 p.m.  

Senior Day will be Wednesday, May 9 at 3:30 pm.


Were you at the LBHS All-Alumni picnic last Saturday at Heisler Park?

Photos by Scott Brashier

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See how many of your friends you can find in Scott’s photos – gallery below…


LBUSD regular Board Meeting takes place tonight, Tuesday, May 8

LBUSD’s regular Board Meeting takes place tonight, Tuesday, May 8. The open session will begin at 6 p.m.  

The Board will recognize classified employees for years of service and LBUSD employees of the year.  

Also, the Board will consider action on contracts for professional services in research, instruction and business.

The agenda for Tuesday’s regular Board meeting is posted at www.lbusd.org/uploaded/1-District/Board/Documents/2017-2018/Agendas/May_8,_2018_Board_Meeting_Agenda.pdf.


LBHS Tennis boasts eight winners in Individuals League Championships

Laguna Beach High School Boys Tennis competed on May 2 and 3 in the Orange County League Championships for Individuals and came up winners.

In singles, Mason Lebby outmatched Jake Hastings of Estancia 7-5, 6-1.

In doubles play, Mohammad Berri/Mathew Duong beat Blake Hawkins/Matt Berk in the semis 7-5, 6-1. Kyle Herkins/Francis Pillsbury handily outpaced Tran/Tran of Costa Mesa 6-3, 6-2. In the doubles finals matchup, Mohammad Berri/Mathew Duong took the win from Kyle Herkins/Francis Pillsbury in three sets 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.

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Photo by Rob Lebby

Singles Champions (left to right): Jake Hastings (Estancia) 2nd place, Mason Lebby (LBHS) 1st place, and Diego Tellez (LBHS) 3rd place

Singles Champion was awarded to Mason Lebby, followed by runner-up: Jake Hasting (Estancia), 3rd Place: Diego Tellez, and 4th Place: Andrew Johnson.

The Doubles League Champions were Mohammad Berri/Mathew Duong, followed by runners-up: Kyle Herkins/Francis Pillsbury, 3rd Place: Blake Hawkins/Matt Berk, and 4th Place: Tran/Tran.

The team will be playing in the league Team Championships this week.

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Photo by Rob Lebby

Head Coach Rick Conkey (back row) smiles with the team (left to right): Mo Berri, Diego Tellez, Kyle Herkins, Matt Duong, Matt Berk, Blake Hawkins, Mason Lebby, Francis Pillsbury, and Andrew Johnson


Breakers Baseball secures league title despite suffering first league loss

Laguna Beach baseball dropped its first league game of the season Friday afternoon, losing to Costa Mesa 6-3. The Breakers outhit Costa Mesa 11- 4 but hit into two double plays and couldn’t come up with the big hit, leaving 11 runners on base.

Costa Mesa made the most of its chances, with five of six runners reaching base on walks, taking the lead in the third on a three-run homer by Tyler Corkhill.

Blake Burzell started for Laguna and took the loss, giving up five runs in 2 1/3 innings. Wes Witteman pitched 3 2/3 effective innings to keep Laguna close. Jared Angus led the LBHS hitters, tallying three hits. Cutter Clawson, Sawyer Chesley and Michael Kerner each added two hits.

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Photo by Sheri Morgan

Junior Wesley Witteman pitching for The Breakers

The Breakers are now 12-1 in league play, 17-9 overall. The regular season finishes this week, with the Breakers playing an away game against Estancia today, May 8 at 3:30 p.m. 

Senior Day will be at home Wednesday, May 9 at 3:30 p.m., also against Estancia.


Breakers Baseball finishes regular season with a win, prepares for CIF run

LBHS Baseball finished off its regular season with back-to-back wins against Estancia Tuesday and Wednesday. The Breakers finished the regular season 19-9 overall and 14-1 in league, winning the Orange Coast League for the 6th straight year.  Laguna will move to the Sunset League for the 2018-19 season.

Tuesday’s game featured a strong pitching performance by Jack Loechner as the Breakers defeated Estancia by the score of 8-0. Aidan Booth went 4-5 with 2 RBI and Grady Morgan went 2-3 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI, leading the Breakers’ offensive attack.

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Photo by Sheri Morgan

Senior Sawyer Chesley

Wednesday was Senior Day for Laguna Beach. Laguna will graduate 10 seniors this spring and all 10 saw action in their final regular season game. The game was close until the 5th inning, when Laguna’s bats came alive. The team posted 8 runs in the inning, leading the Breakers to a 13-4 victory. 

Morgan, 2-3 with a double, triple and 2 RBI, and Booth, 3-4 with 3 RBI, again led the offense. Cutter Clawson had three hits and Christian Holm had a 2-RBI double to round out the offensive attack. The Breakers’ seniors dominated the mound Wednesday with Blake Burzell, Remy Mackel, Joe Sweet and Justin Holm all contributing to the win. Mackel picked up the win, throwing one scoreless inning.

Laguna will compete in Division 2 CIF Championship starting next week. The 32-team playoff bracket will be announced on Monday, with the first round starting Thursday.

Regular Season Stat Leaders:

AVG – Aidan Booth .500 (16 games), Michael Kerner .433 (24 games), Grady Morgan .424 (28 games)

2B – Grady Morgan 16, Eric Silva 8, Kolton Freeman 7

3B – Cutter Clawson 2, Kolton Freeman 2, Grady Morgan 2

HR – Grady Morgan 6, Sawyer Chesley 2, Aidan Booth/Jack Loechner/Kolton Freeman/Cutter Clawson 1

Hits – Grady Morgan 39, Jack Loechner 31, Eric Silva/Cutter Clawson/Michael Kerner 26

Runs – Grady Morgan 34, Eric Silva 30

Wins – Jack Loechner 7, Blake Burzell 6

Saves – Eric Silva 4

SO – Blake Burzell 47, Jack Loechner 42, Cutter Clawson 38

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