Share this story

LBUSD Board of Education to hold Facilities Master Plan Study Session and Workshop on May 23

On Tuesday, May 23 in the Thurston Middle School Library, the Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) Board of Education will hold a Facilities Master Plan Study Session and Workshop. The workshop will allow the community to ask questions and provide additional feedback to the board.

Since the presentation of the initial proposals at the Study Session on March 23, 2023, feedback has been received via email, at the four open houses hosted throughout April and May, in public comment and through the online form. The district is answering Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in a document now available on the website at

“We received a lot of constructive feedback at the open houses, some of which staff has immediately incorporated in the proposals with additional options for the aquatic center that are now available on the website,” said LBUSD Board of Education Clerk Kelly Osborne. “We want to continue to engage with our community, listen to their concerns and answer their questions to continue to make adjustments and more clearly define the projects,” she concluded.

The workshop will be live-streamed and begin with an overview of the capital improvement projects proposed at 550 Blumont St. and 625 Park Ave., and 670 Park Ave., including a presentation of additional options shaped by feedback received to date.

“The initial proposals have generated a lot of valuable discussions and ideas as we’ve had the opportunity to connect with the community to share what we’ve learned in these initial stages of our planning process,” said LBUSD Superintendent Jason Viloria, Ed.D. “I appreciate the opportunities I’ve had to connect with several individuals throughout this process and thank our staff for the time they’ve dedicated to responding to the feedback we have received. Community collaboration is instrumental in identifying creative solutions to meet the needs of our students, and I am confident that we will arrive there in partnership with our community,” he concluded.

The Ten-Year Facilities Master Plan is updated annually at regularly scheduled meetings of the board of education, which are live-streamed and open to the public. Community members can subscribe to LBUSD’s newsletter, “It’s A Wrap,” to receive regular updates from LBUSD, its teachers, students, staff and the board of education. The newsletter is issued after every regularly scheduled meeting of the board.

Share this story

Laguna Beach Schools Performing Arts Boosters Band receives FOA Foundation grant

The Laguna Beach Schools Performing Arts Boosters Band was awarded a grant of $2,500 from the Festival of Arts (FOA) Foundation to continue their support of the Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) and Thurston Middle School (TMS) instrumental music programs.

In 1989, the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts Foundation was established in order to financially support the arts in Laguna Beach in the form of scholarships to graduates of Laguna Beach High School and as grants to nonprofit art organizations and educational institutions in and about the city of Laguna Beach. The Foundation operates independently from the Festival of Arts. To date, the Festival of Arts along with the Foundation cumulatively has awarded nearly $2.6 million in grants to the art community in Laguna Beach and more than $3 million in scholarships.

Laguna Beach Schools band

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Schools Performing Arts Boosters Band 

Laguna Beach Schools Performing Arts Boosters Band

The Laguna Beach Schools Performing Arts Boosters will use the grant to provide students with professional coach instruction at summer band camp at LBHS and guest clinicians throughout the year at both LBHS and TMS.

“The LBHS music program thanks the Festival of Arts Foundation for their continued support of music education in our schools. We couldn’t be more grateful for their generosity!” said Jeremy Chung, director of LBHS instrumental music program.

Steven Wade, director of TMS instrumental music program and LBHS jazz program said, “We are truly grateful for the kind generosity of the Festival of the Arts Foundation. The grant is extremely important to our program this year to provide coaching and support for student music projects. Thank you for continuing to provide essential encouragement and resources to help our program develop.”

The FOA Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the instrumental music program at Laguna Beach Unified School District and will be recognized at the next instrumental music concert. For more information about the Festival of Arts Foundation, including its grants and scholarships, visit

Share this story

LBHS art students collaborate to create floral pop-up mural gracing the Promenade

By Zealan Munsey and Tatum Brennan, LBHS Student Journalists

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Beach is a town filled with art, art and more art. Starting as an artist’s colony, the little town has grown but stayed true to its roots, with dozens of art galleries, aspiring artists and murals sprinkled here and there.

Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) continues to show the town’s past by boasting a thriving art program, which in fact had the opportunity to showcase students’ talents this past week, hosting a floral art pop-up mural in Downtown Laguna. 

LBHS art students mural wide view.jpg 1

Click on photo for a larger image

The student-designed floral pop-up mural in Downtown Laguna combined fresh florals with found objects

Students from Jamie Kough’s Advanced Placement Art, Art Production 1 and 2 classes apprenticed alongside Laura Williams, floral designer and owner of Poppyhill Flowers and Kough, who in addition to serving as LBHS’ art teacher is also the principal of JK Designs, whose art and installations comprise found objects.

LBHS art students Arianna Nikkah.jpg 2

Click on photo for a larger image

LBHS art student Arianna Nikkah will add her floral bouquet to embellish the mural

LBHS art students trio.jpg 3

Click on photo for a larger image

(L-R) LBHS art student Dana with Laura Williams (Poppyhill Flowers) and LBHS art teacher Jamie Kough get together in front of the mural

LBHS art students Evan Garcilazo.jpg 4

Click on photo for a larger image

LBHS art student Evan Garcilazo strikes a pose at the mural replete with colorful flowers, spray paint cans and painted “found art”

LBHS diligently incorporates a great amount of art-related activities, displays and shows. Our art students gain an abundance of knowledge and passion from having classes that give them the freedom to express themselves.

The pop-up debuted on the Promenade on Forest Avenue on Thursday, May 4 and stayed up through May 6. It featured creative found object sculptures made from trash and materials and combined them with nature (florals and foliage).

The set-up took multiple hours of getting the materials down to the site, positioning them and arranging the flowers to make a unique mural.

LBHS art students Brighton and Evan.jpg 5

Click on photo for a larger image

LBHS art students Brighton and Evan enjoying the Promenade

“Logistically, working with students who I know this isn’t their specialty makes me love art even more. It definitely was hard, though,” said Kough. “Transferring it was very labor-intensive for not only me, but everyone else involved. Bringing it [mural] back from the recycling center (Irvine-based Tierra Verde donated trash and materials), cleaning it, taking it back to my house from the school, as well as getting up at 4 a.m. for this…all to come down here. It was brutal, but so worth it.”

The students worked on the art piece over the last several weeks during their class periods, and then got the day off school on Thursday (May 4) to help construct the pop-up Downtown. They collaborated to create one large art display with different components like a crane painting, painted flower designs, and of course, real-life flowers themselves. So, while each student contributed something different, they were able to create a beautifully strung-together piece of all types of floral design.

LBHS art students florals and eveready.jpg 6

Click on photo for a larger image

Bright orange blooms juxtaposed with an orange-painted handheld Eveready battery exudes a “pop art” feel

LBHS art students upcycling.jpg 7

Click on photo for a larger image

A scooter painted hot pink is upcycled into art

SchoolPower graciously handled the funding for the project, obtaining flowers for Kough and her students from around Orange County. SchoolPower is a nonprofit volunteer organization run by parents in Laguna Beach that raises money for students, working closely with the school district.

“I think finding out how supportive the district is was the most rewarding thing. That was amazing. I felt so supported not only as an artist but also as an educator,” said Kough.

When the pop-up was deconstructed on May 6, the public was invited to take the flowers home.

Be sure to check out both Jamie Kough’s work (JK Designs) at and Laura Williams’ Poppyhill Flowers at

Editor’s Note: Student writers Zealan Munsey and Tatum Brennan are in James Brusky’s LBHS Brush & Palette class.

Share this story

Crystal Apple Awards ceremony recognizes LBHS teacher’s and coach’s achievements

The 10th Annual Crystal Apple Awards were held Sunday, May 1 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Aliso Viejo. The Crystal Apple Award is a way for students from Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Aliso Niguel and Dana Hills high schools to recognize and thank the teachers who have had a positive impact on their life. Unlike most teacher awards which are chosen by administration, the Crystal Apple Awards are chosen by the students themselves, and so, mean a lot to the teachers/coaches who receive them.

Crystal Apple Awards Chuck Henry.jpg 1

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos by Alan Gibby

The Crystal Awards ceremony was hosted by former NBC4 news anchor Chuck Henry

The awards ceremony was hosted by former NBC4 News Anchor Chuck Henry and was well attended by students and families from all four high schools, cheerleaders from Dana Hills and Aliso Niguel high schools, community members, all four high school principals, city councilmembers from Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo and Laguna Woods and trustees from both the Saddleback Valley and Capistrano Valley school boards.

Crystal Apple Awards Meghan and Brooke.jpg 2

Click on photo for a larger image

(L-R) LBHS English and Theater teacher Meghan Minguez-Marshall was nominated by LBHS Junior Brooke Lattin

Crystal Apple Awards Brooke at podium.jpg 3

Click on photo for a larger image

Brooke Lattin shares the reasons why she nominated her teacher, Meghan Minguez-Marshall

Crystal Apple Awards Meghan accepts award.jpg 4

Click on photo for a larger image

Meghan Minguez-Marshall accepts the Crystal Apple from student Brooke Lattin

Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) winners for the 2023 Crystal Apple Awards were Meghan Minguez-Marshall and Football Coach John Shanahan. 

Junior Brooke Lattin nominated Meghan Minguez-Marshall, who teaches English and Theater, and shared, “She is the best theater teacher. Ms. M cares about her students and does not hesitate to push them beyond their limits. She has helped me become a better writer and actress, all in the short span of a few months!”

Crystal Apple Awards Coach and Ryner at arch.jpg 5

Click on photo for a larger image

(L-R) LBHS Football Coach John Shanahan was nominated by football player Ryner Swanson, a junior at Laguna Beach High School

Crystal Apple Awards Ryner at podium.jpg 6

Click on photo for a larger image

Ryner Swanson shares the reasons why Coach Shanahan deserves a Crystal Apple Award

Crystal Apple Awards Ryner and Coach handshake.jpg 7

Click on photo for a larger image

(L-R) Ryner Swanson shares a congratulatory moment with Coach John Shanahan on receiving the Crystal Apple Award

Junior Ryner Swanson, who nominated his football coach John Shanahan, said, “He completely changed Laguna Beach football and teaches his players to be amazing young men. He’s one of the best people I’ve met in my life and I know I will always have a relationship with him.”

Crystal Apple Awards Jason Alleman.jpg 8

Click on photo for a larger image

Laguna Beach High School Principal Dr. Jason Allemann (right) along with Principal Bill Hinds (Laguna Hills High School, left) and Principal Michael Hatcher (Aliso Niguel High School, center) listen to the awards presentations

Laguna Beach High School Principal Dr. Jason Allemann was there to congratulate the winners.

Share this story

LBUSD announces 24/7/365 mental health care coordination service for students, staff and families

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, the Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) announced its selection of Care Solace, an organization determined to calm the chaos of mental health care coordination, to expand access to community mental health and substance use treatment providers for students, staff and families.

With Care Solace, families and staff gain access to a dedicated Care Companion™ to navigate the mental health care system on their behalf, calling providers to find the right fit and availability. They help families with private insurance, Medicaid and no insurance, and are available 24/7/365 in any language.

“Increased student needs for mental health care demand that we continue to identify opportunities to integrate these services into our school settings where students can easily and readily access them,” said Superintendent and Chair of the Orange County Superintendents’ Mental Health Workgroup Jason Viloria, Ed.D. “In recent years, adding resources to meet students’ social, emotional and behavioral needs has become an even greater priority for schools in Orange County. Partnerships with organizations such as Care Solace introduce new layers of support to our already robust school-based mental health support systems,” he concluded.

LBUSD announces scribble day

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos courtesy of LBUSD

El Morro Elementary School students in Peer Assistance and Leadership Club (PAL) help lead a Mental Health Monday activity during lunchtime

Care Solace’s care navigation system uses proprietary technology and a vast database of behavioral and mental health care resources to find carefully verified therapists and programs in minutes.

“We believe that social-emotional well-being is essential for learning and success. With Care Solace, our team of school psychologists, school counselors and student support specialists can extend our impact and reach to ensure students, families and staff have timely access to qualified mental health care,” said Director of Social and Emotional Support Michael Keller, Ed.D. “This resource helps simplify the complexity of accessing high-quality care services while families are in crisis,” he concluded.

LBUSD announces Keller

Click on photo for a larger image

Michael Keller, Ed.D., updates the board on school-based mental health services

In collaboration with families, educators and community partners, the Orange County Department of Education in April introduced the “Empowering Students to Thrive in Education, Career and Life” strategic vision that describes how local communities can work together to ensure children are thriving in all aspects of their lives. The comprehensive 50-page report, spearheaded by the Orange County Superintendents’ Mental Health Workgroup, outlines shared objectives for the health, well-being and success of students. It also provides examples of effective partnerships and supports that are currently contributing to student thriving, which is defined as flourishing physically, socially, emotionally and academically.

The Care Solace service is now available at no cost to LBUSD students, staff and their families. For more information about Care Solace, visit

Share this story

Local lawn bowler wins big, defeats No. 1 ranked player

The Southwest Division of Bowls USA held their annual Singles Lawn Bowling Tournament at the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club on April 19 and 20. The more than 60 participating players came from as far east as Wisconsin and as far north as Washington State.

Local lawn bowls Richeson

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Tom (“String Bean”) Richeson

After two long grueling days, local legend Tom (“String Bean”) Richeson came out victorious, defeating the No. 1 ranked lawn bowler and four-time USA champion Charlie Herbert, in a wire-to-wire barn burner.

The Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club will be hosting the U.S. Open in October, where the best players from all over the globe will come to play in one of the biggest lawn bowling tournaments. 

For more information, visit

Share this story

LBUSD introduces new Coordinator of Environmental Literacy position and reports on progress toward goal of carbon neutrality by 2030

On Thursday evening (April 20), at its regularly scheduled meeting, the Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) Board of Education approved a new teacher on special assignment (TOSA) position and job description for Coordinator of Environmental Literacy to lead the district’s efforts in implementing environmental literacy education and the LBUSD Sustainability Plan. 

In April 2022, the LBUSD Board of Education adopted Resolution 22-04 in Support of Earth Day, Climate Action, Environmental Literacy and Sustainability. (To access, click here.) The resolution directed the superintendent to establish an Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Task Force to connect with outside entities to evaluate and communicate the district’s sustainability and environmental literacy practices and identify additional opportunities for growth.

“A year ago, the board committed with Resolution 22-04 to reduce carbon emissions produced through district and school operations to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030,” said LBUSD Board President Jan Vickers. “I do not underestimate the impact our schools and students will continue to have on making Laguna Beach more environmentally friendly. The goals established by the Sustainability Task Force and the progress that we have seen to date demonstrate the early impact of our promise,” she concluded. 

LBUSD introduces Joe Vidal

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBUSD

Joe Vidal, principal of Thurston Middle School, emphasizes the impact of schools and students on the environment

The LBUSD Sustainability Task Force was formed in September 2022 and identified three major goals in alignment with the California Green Ribbon Pillars (to access, click here.): 

–Reduce environmental impacts and costs.

–Improve the health and wellness of schools, students and staff .

Provide effective environmental education which teaches many disciplines and is especially good at effectively incorporating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) civic skills and career pathways.

“Environmental literacy is essential to providing our students with the skills and knowledge they need to become agents of change for a more sustainable future,” said Superintendent Jason Viloria, Ed.D. “There is no doubt that future generations will face critical environmental concerns, and I am grateful for the board’s support of this new role that will allow us to effectively integrate environmental education into every aspect of the student experience to deepen student learning and understanding of the world around us and their role in it,” he concluded. 

The application for the Coordinator of Environmental Literacy is expected to open in May. To learn more about LBUSD’s sustainability initiatives, visit

Share this story

LBHS Senior swimmers recognized at Senior Day

On Tuesday, April 18, LBHS Senior swimmers were recognized half-way through the swim meet between LBHS and Edison High during Senior Day.

“Senior Day is the day where the coaches honor the seniors in front of their team and families. The seniors are recognized for the college they will be attending and, what they will be studying. It’s an honoring of the outgoing seniors. They also enjoyed a senior dinner,” said Cherese Denny, team mom.

LBHS Senior swimmers group

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

LBHS Senior swimmers (Back row, left to right): Makenna Jenal, Brady Bumgardner, Charlotte Riches, Jana Jocic and Lauren Schneider; (Front row, left to right): Jordan Schneider, Myha Pinto, Cleo Washer, Tash Denny, Mia Rommerswinkel and Lauren Short.

Share this story

Twenty-eighth class graduates from Laguna Beach Police Citizens Academy

On Thursday, April 13, the 28th class of the Laguna Beach Police Department Citizens Academy graduated. The graduation ceremony was held at the Mozambique restaurant in Laguna Beach. Sixteen students graduated from the program and have joined the Citizens Academy Alumni, now 520 strong! Attending the graduation ceremony were family members of the graduates and staff representatives from the Laguna Beach Police Department. 

twenty eighth class group

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

Top row (L-R): Jailer Jonathan Delgado, CSO Nicole Rice, Jenn Sarnsen, Ross Fallah, Sandy Conrad-Jauregui, Rick Jauregui, Demetrio Toreeblanca-Lopez, Cadet Julio Perez-Martinez; Middle row (L-R): Gregory Miller, Mariann Tracy, Ed Runyon, Nansea Williams, Franky Duschane; Front row (L-R): Alexandra Linden, Steven Kinaly, Miranda Barone, Lisa Runyon, Corrie Larek, Elena Balidio, Shelly Bennecke

The Citizens Academy is a 12-week non-stress course that meets one night a week from 6-9:30 pm. The program is designed to provide community members with a better understanding of the Laguna Beach Police Department and to help foster better relations between police personnel and community members. 

twenty eighth class car

Click on photo for a larger image

Citizens Academy participants attend training session

The Citizens Academy includes instruction in the following areas: history of the police department, investigations, traffic enforcement, accident investigation, driving under the influence investigation, gangs, narcotics, crime prevention, crime scene investigation, police K-9 program and volunteer programs. Academy members are also given a chance to shoot at the police firing range, participate in mock car stop scenarios and take a tour of the Orange County Jail. 

 The next Citizens Academy will start in January 2024. If you are interested in attending the next class or have questions regarding the Citizens Academy, contact Ross Fallah at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Share this story

Laguna Beach FC’s under 13 boys win first-ever state championship 

Laguna Beach FC Boys U13 team defeated Capo FC, 1-0, on Sunday, March 19, to complete the improbable journey to winning the SOCAL State Championship.

Coached by the Laguna Beach High School boys’ varsity coach and founding director of LBFC, Andy Thomas, the team began the journey to the State Cup finals in early February with 54 teams from all over Southern California competing for the title. Having won all three games in their bracket, the boys from Laguna Beach FC went on an eight-game winning streak, eventually defeating Capo FC 1-0 on a goal scored by Henry Hitzel with only five minutes remaining.

Laguna Beach FC red haired kid

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos by Owen Bishop

Mason Moratorio (blue headband) hustles to gain control of loose ball

It was their first SOCAL State Championship in just three short years of history. LBFC was formed in January 2020 with seven teams, just as a global pandemic crippled the world, so optimally not the best timing to launch a new soccer club.

But the hard work paid off.

Laguna Beach FC taller kid 44

Click on photo for a larger image

LBFC’s Charlie Christian (44) moves the ball downfield

“To win a State Championship may only happen once in these boys’ lifetime, it’s a very special achievement,” said Coach Thomas. “The progress that these boys have made in one year has been exceptional. They put in extra practice throughout the competition and all of the boys on the squad contributed to the victory. I’m hoping this is the start of a legacy for LBFC and I could not be prouder of the boys and their achievement.” 

Laguna Beach FC team photo

Click on photo for a larger image

Team proudly offers up #1 surrounding championship trophy.

Back row (L-R): Gavin Trotter, Charlie Christian, Isaac Garner, Oliver Schroeder, Enzo Funk, Pablo Bianchi, Dylan Simchowitz, Henry Hitzel and Coach Andy Thomas. Front row (L-R): Alec Watson, Jax Trotter, Shane Dimaggio, Oliver Bishop, Brody Smith, Sebastian de Quillien and Mason Moratorio

A true community club, LBFC is sponsored by Procurri LLC, their partner for biannual e-waste events and Gorjana, Good Culture, Brand Armada, The Wine Gallery, The Salt Horse, Skyloft, Gobatri, The Mike Johnson Group and Meital Taub Properties. 

LBFC also receives support from with the City of Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach Unified School District and the OCSC professional soccer team.

Shaena Stabler, President & CEO -

Lana Johnson, Editor -

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

Email: with news releases, letters, etc.


Email: for questions about advertising


*The content and ads in this publication do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the publisher.

© 2023 2S Publishing, LLC - All Rights Reserved.