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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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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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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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.

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


     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!

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

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.

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