Kids get an attentive audience at the Library when they Read to a Dog (or Dogs): It’s great practice

By ALEXIS AMARADIO

Each month, the Laguna library hosts a “Read to a Dog” event. Recently Salsa Maria, a 14 year old Red-Fox English Labrador Retriever, waited at the Library along with her brother Dempsey to hear kids of all ages reading books and (importantly) giving them a treat afterwards. 

Salsa Maria has had quite the run, coming here every month, and is looking forward to retiring soon, so her brother Dempsey is in training to take her place in becoming the “dog of the month.” 

Salsa Maria and Dempsey are two trained service dogs who have a history of helping out throughout the community in the past years thanks to their owners Nanci and Jerry Nielsen. The Nielsens have dedicated their time to the community with their canine helpers by their side, working at the hospital, feeding the homeless, and helping out at therapy organizations. 

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Brother Dempsey and Sister Salsa Maria take turns in between each reading 

Nanci and Jerry have lived here for the last 31 years, and met at Saddleback Community College. They shared a fun memory about how they decided to get married there in one the lecture halls, and they often go back to stroll down memory lane (or memory hall, in their case). 

They both have always loved to volunteer, and when they found the opportunity to attend the “Read to a Dog” event with Salsa Maria and Dempsey, they knew it was something special. 

Nanci loves the idea of the children reading to the dog. “It’s good practice for kids to read because dogs don’t judge if they get something wrong, it gives the kids confidence to keep going.” 

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Nanci and Jerry love helping the community and look forward to coming to the library each month 

Salsa Maria and Dempsey are kind souls, just like their owners, and the library is thrilled to have them each month. Children of all ages, and even adults, can come read to Salsa Maria and her brother Dempsey for fun or to practice. 

Kid alert: Read to a Dog takes place again next Tuesday, Sept 26, from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m.

So - kids who love to read aloud or want to practice their writing skills might want to attend the next Read to a Dog event this coming Tuesday. Come meet Venus and Georgie, therapy dogs from Beach Animals Read to Kids (B.A.R.K.)! Children can read to a certified therapy dog, eager to listen and love. 

Aaarf! Sign up at the Children’s Desk. Drop-ins welcome too. For more information on this event or to sign up, visit www.ocpl.org.


Boys & Girls Club holds fourth Annual Night at The Ranch on Sept 22 followed by a fun after-party

The 4th Annual Night at the Ranch will be held on Friday, Sept 22, at The Ranch in Laguna Beach from 5 – 10 p.m. The night promises to be an unforgettable evening of celebration. The iconic band The English Beat will be playing. 

All proceeds from this event go directly to the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach.

Guests will be treated to a farm-to-table dinner, open bar, exciting live and silent auction items, and of course live music. 

What’s more, the parties will keep going with an after party in the Sage ballroom from 10 p.m. - 11:30 p.m. There will two bars open with local D.J Laura Buckle playing music nonstop.

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Last year’s event was magical

Club alumnus, Leif Hanson, had the idea of the Night of the Ranch event five years ago and now it is one of the best events in Laguna. Leif, a resident of Laguna Beach does not have children who attend the Club, nor does he utilize the services or programs offered currently, but he did as a child. He attended what was the Boys Club during his formative years as a young boy and was looking for a way to give back to his Club. He enlisted his good friend and fellow Club Alumnus Steve Blue and together with their amazing committee they have made this event a success. 

“The number of kids who need us has grown so fast that we’re just trying to keep up. Now we need more support than ever so we can be there for all of the kids who need the Club,” says CEO Pam Estes. “Leif, Steve and every supporter of last year’s event came to help at a critical time, and we’re happy to have their generous support again this year.” 

Individual tickets are available for $200 and sponsorship packages start around $500. This event will sell out, so organizers want to make sure that you purchase your tickets to this event before tickets are gone. 

For more information about the event and to purchase admission visit www.bgclagunabeach.org


Huge come-from-behind win for LBHS surf team at Billabong Junior Tag Team event

Written by Coaches Scott Finn and Alisa Cairns

The Laguna Beach High School Surf Team pulled off a huge come-from-behind victory over San Clemente, Dana Hills and Newport Harbor at Salt Creek last Saturday.

With the sun out and the surf pretty inconsistent and tough, four of the Laguna High School surfers opened the 2017/18 season with a stunning victory. Billabong hosted a Junior team event, inviting the South Coast League High Schools to compete in a tag team format that included three male and one female surfer from each high school team to surf in an hour long heat.

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Italo Ferreira, Jake Levine, Kelly Smith, Travis Booth and Joseph Schenk

Joseph Schenk, followed by Kelly Smith, a recent transfer student, got things started for Laguna. They were relatively quick getting their waves to allow plenty of time for anchors Travis Booth and Jake Levine. Laguna was down in the bottom, however Travis was able to get a good score and pull Laguna a little closer while they still had Jake, their double whammy surfer, to go. 

Most teams used their double whammy early, but Laguna saved theirs to the very end and Jake went to work looking for the right wave to allow for a high score. He was going to need a wave above a 7, nearly an excellent score if Laguna had any hope of finishing somewhere above the bottom. 

Jake’s first two attempts weren’t what he was looking for so he had to dig deep on his final ride. As he took off and stood up on the left he claimed it putting up his arms to signal this would be his double whammy ride. He then hit several nice turns and cutbacks and the judges ate it up, throwing him a 7.53 that was doubled.

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Jake made it happen…

 When the final tally was done and the awards were given out, Laguna was the giant surprise going all the way to first place and edging out San Clemente by .29. For the win Laguna Beach High School was awarded $500 for the team, stuffed backpacks full of prizes and a sweet Surfboard trophy! 

With this event being sponsored by Billabong they had a treat having one of their team riders Brazilian WCT surfer Italo Ferreira in town for the Lowers event come down and give out the awards. He also surfed off to the side putting on a clinic with his huge air assault!

Final scores were Laguna Beach High School 24.93; San Clemente High School 24.64;Dana Hills High School 19.87; and Newport Harbor High School 10.11.

A big thank you to the families, friends and teammates who showed up to support the team. Laguna Board riders also participated in a separate tag team Junior event that day and finished second overall with the four-person team made up of almost all of our high school kids as well.

Next up for LBHS will be a non-league event against Aliso Niguel High School at Salt Creek on Friday, Sept 22.


Four LBHS students named as Semifinalists in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program 

Laguna Beach High School students Charlotte Hoffs, Andrew Keyser, Joseph 

Ravenna, and Ben Sharp have been named semifinalists in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program. These talented seniors will have an opportunity to continue in the competition for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million next spring.

“In recognizing the accomplishments of these National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, it is truly impressive to have these students vying for an opportunity as a National Merit Finalist going into their senior year,” said principal Dr. Jason Allemann. “This group of students fairly represents the product of hard work in rigorous classroom settings.”

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Left to right: LBHS Principal Dr. Jason Allemann, Ben Sharp, Charlotte Hoffs, Joseph Ravenna, Andrew Keyser

To be considered for the Merit Scholarship, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance for the Finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title. 

The nationwide pool of Semifinalists represents less than one percent of US high school seniors. About 1.5 million juniors entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists will be notified of their Finalist status in Feb 2018.  National Merit Scholarship Program winners will be notified beginning in April.

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