Boys Cross Country team goes to State Finals

Matt Neev will compete in individuals

The Laguna Beach Boys cross country team finished seventh in the CIF Division 4 Finals at Mt. Sac and qualified to compete in the State Finals in Fresno this coming weekend.

Top runner Matt Neev finished second – just two-tenths off the winning pace – and will be running for individual honors in Fresno.


SchoolPower’s Second Annual Lumberyard Chef Challenge taken by the “surf” menu from Culverhouse


DR. Joanne Culverhouse reacts to the acknowledgement of her victory

For the second consecutive year, Thurston principal, Dr. Joanne Culverhouse’s “surf “ inspired menu defeated LBHS principal Dr. Don Austin’s “turf” inspired menu, but only by eight votes in the SchoolPower Lumberyard Chef Challenge.

Dr. Austin accepted his defeat gracefully stating, “I believe the ballot counters failed to examine each form to determine the ‘intent’ of the voter. Next year I intend to hire a PR firm. I also plan to spend the year slandering Dr. Culverhouse.”

Modest in her victory, Dr. Culverhouse thanked the Lumberyard restaurant and its master chef, Armando Ortega who prepared the menus of both “chefs”, for their support and declared her intention to win next year’s event where she will be “…going for the triple crown!”

Raising $8300 for Laguna’s schools, this 2nd Annual SchoolPower Lumberyard Chef Challenge fundraiser has become a much-anticipated social event due, in no small part, to the charisma of the two challengers, Dr. Culverhouse and Dr. Austin.

However, it simply would not exist without the exceptional generosity of Lumberyard owners, Suzanne and Cary Redfearn, who not only host the event at their restaurant, but are also the creative minds behind the event’s premise. SchoolPower vice-president, Marcus Skenderian, applauded the Redfearns and the synergy between a local business and the schools, saying, “This event is a great example of a local business embracing our schools and, as a result, having a very strong impact on the community as a whole.”


Photos by Kristin Karkoska and Ken Munroe

Laguna’s outreach parent mentors make connections

Every Age, Every Stage is a family friendly outreach program designed for parents of children identified eligible for Special Education. The program is committed to providing parents with the information they need at every age and every stage to help them make well-informed decisions on behalf of their child. The components of the program include providing parents with one-to-one and small group meetings, as well as parent education opportunities.

These programs provide opportunities for parents to connect with parents of children who are similar in age and who share similar concerns.

Irene White, LBUSD Special Education-Student Services Director, shares the benefits of this resource program, “As the Director of Special Education, I believe that good communication between parents and district staff is essential in building trusting relationships. It must be maintained as a top priority. Our Parent Mentors are trained parent volunteers who provide parent-to-parent support sanctioned by the District. This support can be initiated at any time and can be limited to only one conversation or can be support that is provided on an ongoing basis.”

Goals of the Parent Mentoring Program include:

Support parents in understanding the Individual Educational Plan (IEP) process

Listen to program concerns

Dissemination of community resources and encouraging parent involvement in parent education opportunities provided by LBUSD

Assist parents with program planning

Encourage parent involvement in their child’s program

Promote the understanding of the role and function of special education staff and how to access services

Parent Mentor Lisa Vanderbeek shares her experience, “Being a parent mentor for Laguna Beach Unified School District allows me to connect with other families of children with ADD/ADHD and autism. While offering support, I'm able to ease some of the fear and frustration parents experience when navigating their child's educational environment, both in the classroom and at home. At some point, each of us needs help, and it's comforting for parents to know that help is available, especially at the District level.”

Parent Mentor Kelly Boyd continues, "It's a pleasure to serve the Laguna Beach Unified School District Special Education Department as a volunteer Parent Mentor coach. Serving unique needs families in the community is an opportunity to provide a lifeline to those parents struggling with a child's diagnosis. It's a frightening time for many families. Many parents may want to brush the issue under the carpet or ignore it completely, especially in the high-pressure, overachieving, academic, and athletic environment that we live in today. If I can help just one family fight the unique needs diagnosis stigma and get the right information to help a child be successful in elementary school and beyond, I've done my job as a parent mentor."

Amy Neufeld, who also volunteers as a Parent Mentor, remarks, "Giving another family the support they need as they navigate through the unknown world of special education is incredibly rewarding. Aside from being a support to families of children with unique needs, parent mentors are able to get a pulse on what needs and wants are out in the special needs community. We relay this information to the District and then in turn the District is able to provide the necessary support. Through this program we are able to make a great system greater. I am honored and proud to be a part of it."

White concludes, “Our program is about providing parents with parent mentors who are compassionate and understanding. It’s about support and friendship during our shared journey.”

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