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LBHS student seeking 250 new or gently used shoes to help fight global poverty

One person’s unwanted shoes can help provide meaningful opportunities for someone else in need in a developing country, which is why LBHS sophomore Jessie Rose has launched a shoe drive to collect 250 pairs of new or gently used shoes.

The shoes that Jessie collects will be delivered to Soles4Souls – a nonprofit social enterprise that creates sustainable jobs and provides relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world. Founded in 2006, the organization has distributed more than 30 million pairs of new and used shoes in 127 countries. 

LBHS student seeking shoes

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Donate shoes to Jessie Rose’s fundraiser for Soles4Souls, the deadline is Feb 3

To schedule a pick-up in the Laguna area, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The deadline to schedule a pick-up is February 3.

Breakers Girls Basketball Club signups open for girls in third to eighth grades

LBHS Girls Basketball Coach Mike Tietz reports that the Breakers Girls Basketball Club has opened up signups for the spring season. He says, “We believe this club program is dramatically improving the development of our youth players and better preparing them for competing at high school level. The teams will be coached by the high school coaching staff (along with my daughter Brianna and me). We run most of the same drills, plays, offenses and defenses that high school team runs. We are focused on developing complete basketball players ready to compete physically, fundamentally and mentally at the high school level and to have the girls enjoying the process.”

Breakers Girls Mike and Brianna

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Coach Mike Tietz and his daughter Brianna

These teams involve girls in third through eighth grades. Tietz says, “We will be fielding three teams: a 7th/8th grade team, 5th/6th grade team and a 3rd/4th grade team. This is an inclusive club open for anyone who wants to participate. Players do not have to ‘make the team,’ however, space is limited as we will cut off the signups at 10 players per team unless we have enough for two teams at an age group. Spots are awarded on a first-come-first-served basis. We already have 20 players signed up, so those interested should let us know asap if they intend to play this spring. Spread the word so that everyone knows!”

The Breakers Girls Basketball Club will once again be hosting tournaments at Laguna Beach High School that will be run by the girls high school team. Each Breaker team will play from two to five games on the following weekends: April 13-14, April 27-28, May 11-12, and May 25-26.

Breakers Girls practice

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Breakers practicing

Practices (probably at Thurston Middle School) will start March 19 and run through May 26. Practices will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. Each team will have one and a half hour practices twice per week. Which teams will practice on what days and times hasn’t been finalized yet.

For returning players who already own a Breakers uniform, the cost is $150. For new players who wish to borrow a team provided Breakers uniform, the cost is $200, and the uniform will need to be returned at the end of the season. For new players wishing to purchase a Breakers uniform to keep and use for future seasons, the cost is $250. (This can also be used as your high school practice jersey.)

To sign up and reserve a spot or for questions, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

School Board meeting agenda for tonight includes Board recognition of PTA Reflections winners

The agenda for tonight’s (Tuesday, Jan 15) regular LBUSD Board meeting has been posted online here. The agenda includes the oath of office for new Board Member James Kelly at 4:55 p.m. The Board will adjourn to closed session from 5 to 6 p.m. with open session beginning at 6 p.m.

The agenda includes a Board recognition of PTA Reflections winners, as well as an informational presentation about the District’s journey to a K-12 social-emotional learning system. 

School Board track

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Tonight’s LBUSD meeting will provide the community with important schoolwide updates

On August 21, staff presented information regarding the Social Emotional Supports implemented at LBUSD schools during the 2017-2018 school year and ongoing services in 2018-2019. Staff also presented at the Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health regarding LBUSD implementation and more recently presented at the California School Boards Association Annual Education Conference. 

This presentation will include an overview of the information presented at both conferences, and also provide an update to include fall Universal Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Screening Data and aligned strategies to support student social and emotional well being.

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach receives generous donation from the family of Chip Harrell

Longtime local favorite pub-and-music venue, The Sandpiper Lounge, recently donated $10,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, honoring the memory of one of its beloved owners, Chip Harrell, who passed away last October. Chip and his brother Chuck owned the Sandpiper, known by residents as the Dirty Bird, together since 1969.

Boys and Harrell close up

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Family of Chip Harrell makes generous donation to BGCLB

 “At its heart, our Club is about helping kids in Laguna Beach and its surrounding area receive quality after school and summer programming that delivers meaningful impact day in and day out, so it is with deep gratitude that we received the generous donation in memory of Chip,” stated CEO Pam Estes. “It is a tribute that will directly help deserving families, when they need us the most, to fund scholarships for their kids to attend the Club. These donations, no matter what the amount, make a difference and are vitally important as they will touch the lives of hundreds of families we serve each year.”

Boys and logo

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Chip and his brother Chuck owned the Sandpiper together since 1969

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach service area includes LB, Aliso Viejo, Lake Forest and the surrounding communities, and occupies three sites in LB: 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.

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach depends on the generosity of individuals, businesses, and foundations to fund its programs and operations. Members of the community can make a difference in the life of youth in many ways by visiting

For more information about The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, visit or call (949) 494-2535

LBHS Girls Basketball: Big turnaround, bigger plans for the future


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Beach High School may be the smallest public high school in Orange County, but its successful athletics program belies its size. The LBHS Breakers compete with – even dominate – teams from schools with much larger student bodies. So when the LBHS Girls Basketball team went 0 for 24 last year, needless to say, it didn’t generate a lot of buzz. However, in what has to be one of the most remarkable turnarounds one can point to in school history, this year’s team has amassed a very impressive mid-season 15-3 record as of press time.

Building a youth program for the future

Third year head coach Matthew Tietz knew he was going to have to build his team from the ground up. With no youth program feeding the high school team when he took over, some of his players arrive with very little background in the sport.

 “When I interviewed for the position, the first thing I asked was ‘What’s the youth program?’” explains Tietz. Hearing that, other than the Boys and Girls Club program that gets a lot of girls through third grade only to see them bleed off into other sports by sixth grade, there wasn’t one. “We started a youth program that runs out of here (LBHS) and Thurston. Lance Neal (LBHS Athletic Director) has bent over backwards to get us a gym and a team.”

Taking an 0-24 team to 15-3 in a season

So that will help in the future, but how do you take a team that lost every single game they played to one that has been dominating in the span of one year? “We had three starters come back,” says Tietz. “They’re really big on improving. I told them last year, ‘We’re going to learn this year to play better next year.’” And while that may sound easy, as a new coach who is trying to get his team to buy into his way of doing things only to have that team lose every single game, it is no small feat to get them to come back for more.

LBHS Girls Tietz and Brianna

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LBHS Girls Basketball Head Coach Matthew Tietz and his daughter and Assistant Coach Brianna

Credit goes to the players…

“It’s a credit to the girls,” he says. “They’re buying into it. When I first started, they weren’t as willing, but the ones who are here now…there are no selfish players.” Of course, that is true; the players do deserve much of the credit, but the coaches – Tietz and his daughter, Brianna – can’t be left out of the equation.

As well as the coaches

Tietz played basketball in high school, but says his main sport was football.  However, as he had a daughter, if he wanted to coach her, coaching football wasn’t really an option. Brianna was in third grade when Teitz started coaching her in basketball. He coached her all the way until she got to Northwood High School in Irvine. Even then he was offered a position to help coach her team there but opted out. “I didn’t want to cramp her style,” he says. 

Now Brianna is a college graduate and she and Tietz have helped teach the LBHS girls a lot of things, not the least of which is how to win. Tietz admits he created a schedule that would help with this, playing teams he felt his girls could beat. However, getting teams to play a team with an 0-24 record took some convincing. 

A 14-game streak comes to an end

Tietz will not have the same problem next year. Not only were the other teams caught off guard by the Breakers’ improvement, Tietz and his players were, as well. “I knew we’d improved, but we beat these teams by 30-40 points. The other coaches are looking at me and I just had to tell them we’re a little surprised by our success as well.”

The team had a 14-0 streak going before losing to a team Tietz says they could have beaten. “They’d like to play that one again,” he says of the girls, explaining that the pressure of the streak was definitely a factor in the loss. 

Hugely improved, but still a ways to go

Now, with the streak behind them, the team has the “opportunity” to play four teams from upper division schools. Corona del Mar was the first of these tests. I met with Tietz before the game and he was optimistic, but also realistic. “We can just relax and play our game and see what happens. They’re probably 30 points better than us, but we’ve got nothing to lose.” 

LBHS Girls team

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The LBHS Girls Basketball team:

(L-R in front) Rebecca Sanchez, Mia Pitz, Anna Cheng, Alia Hassan;

(L-R in back) Autumn Moreland, Claire Smithers, Julia Henry, Madi Garwal

Unfortunately, the end result was a sobering 13-60. Clearly, while great progress has been made, the team still has a way to go to compete with the bigger schools. Nevertheless, they are committed to this year’s goal of making it to the CIF playoffs. “We’re ready for that level already,” says Tietz. 

Vying for some student body attention

With such a drastic turnaround taking place, I asked some of the players if they felt the school was taking notice. Captains Madi Garwal, Julia Henry, Mia Pitz, and Anna Cheng were tempered in their responses. They acknowledged that their friends were definitely aware, but were less sure about the student body as a whole.

“It’s so much about volleyball and water polo and the schools those players are getting into,” explains Henry. “We’re not there yet, obviously.” She adds, “We’d love more student support.”

“Boys basketball games are an event,” says Henry by way of comparison.

Proud to be part of the journey 

But this is not to give the impression that the girls are in any way resentful of their place on the proverbial totem pole. They are all quite clear-eyed about the why’s and the how’s of building a program that generates the kind of excitement and pride that others do on campus. And while their success this year stands in stark contrast to their troubles last year, they understand it will take time to get the program to the level that their games are seen as events on campus. For the girls who are seniors, that change will come after they’ve graduated. Still, a legacy has to start somewhere.

LBHS Girls action

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Madi Garwal takes a shot in practice at the LBHS gym

Until then, they seem to be having a lot of fun. The practice I sat in on showed the girls definitely working hard but there was a joyfulness that was impossible to miss. The team had just come back from an overnight trip to Glendale where they played a game and then went to Magic Mountain. “There is no drama on this team. They all really get along,” says Tietz. 

All that’s needed is an interest

So for any girls out there who have an interest in basketball, contact Coach Tietz at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The club teams will be starting up in the spring and he hopes to have at least three teams for third to fourth grade, fifth to sixth, and seventh to eighth grade. The club will host four tournaments and they will be run as a fundraiser for the girls basketball team. ”If you have a desire to play, we can turn you into a basketball player,” says Tietz confidently. Based on his results so far, his confidence is more than justified.

LBHS coach Rick Conkey to offer Holiday Boys and Girls Tennis Camp

Students are invited to take the opportunity this holiday school break to focus on their tennis skills. LBHS girls and boys tennis coach Rick Conkey, along with an international-level coaching staff, will offer a four-day clinic. It’s open to seventh to twelfth grade players and offers an effective student to pro ratio. 

LBHS coach court

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Rick Conkey in action at the vintage Laguna Moss Point tennis court, where he has been teaching for years

Students will be able to take advantage of the latest state-of-the-art coaching equipment and methods including video analysis, programmable ball machines, a speed gun, and bio-mechanical breakdown and analysis of all major strokes, strategy, court position, and drills. 

“We will enable students to both recognize and take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself in their game,” explains coach Conkey. “We are offering drop in rates and four-day rates to allow some flexibility in joining us on the court over the holiday.”

The camp runs from December 31 through January 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost is $149 with a daily drop in rate of $45. 

Sign up through the City of Laguna Beach here.

LBUSD Board of Education Dec 11 meeting highlights

LBUSD held its monthly Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Dec 11. During the meeting, Board members Carol Normandin and Dee Perry took their Oaths of Office. All Governing Board members must take the oath or affirmation prior to entering upon the duties of their office. Dr. James Kelly, LBUSD’s newest Board member, was unable to attend and will be sworn in at the January 15 Board meeting.

The Board also elected its slate of officers as following: Jan Vickers, President; Carol Normandin, Clerk; James Kelly, Member; Dee Perry, Member; and Peggy Wolff, member. 

Additionally, the Board approved the 2019 meeting dates as follows: January 15, January 22 (Board Governance session), February 12, March 12, March 26, April 23, May 14, May 28, June 11, June 25, July 16, August 13, September 10, September 24, October 8, October 22, November 12 and December 10. 

LBUSD Board red

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Board members Carol Normandin and Dee Perry taking the Oath of Office at Tuesday’s meeting

Also during the meeting, the Approval to Accept the 2017-2018 District Audit took place. Every year, the school district must file an audit report for the preceding fiscal year with the County Superintendent of Schools, the State Department of Education, and the Controller. 

The Laguna Beach Unified School District audit was performed by the independent auditing firm of Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Company, LLP. The audit determined that the District’s financial status remains positive and the firm highlighted the exceptional accounting practices in place in LBUSD. During the meeting, the Board of Education took action to approve the acceptance of the 2017-2018 District Audit. 

Another important item on the agenda at Tuesday’s meeting was the Approval of Positive Certification of First Interim Report. Local educational agencies are required to file two reports during a fiscal year (interim reports) on the status of the educational agency’s financial health. 

The interim reports must include a certification of whether or not the agency will be able to meet its financial obligations; the certifications are classified as positive, qualified or negative. A positive certification is assigned when the district will meet its financial obligations for the current and two subsequent fiscal years.

The Continuous Improvement: Approval of Career and Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG) Expenditures was another agenda item. The California Career Technical Education (CTE) Incentive Grant program was established in 2015 as a state education, economic, and workforce development initiative with the goal of providing K-12 students with the knowledge and skills necessary to transition to employment and postsecondary education. 

LBUSD’s allocation of the grant for the 2018-2019 school year is $110,995; the funds are to be used for continued implementation and expansion of the CTE Program at LBHS.

LBUSD placed on the College Board’s 9th Annual AP District Honor Roll 

Laguna Beach Unified School District is one of 373 school districts in the U.S. and Canada being honored by the College Board with placement on the 9th Annual AP District Honor Roll. 

To be included on the 9th Annual Honor Roll, LBUSD had to, since 2016, increase the number of students participating in AP while also increasing or maintaining the percentage of students earning AP exam scores of 3 or higher. 

LBUSD placed school

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBUSD earns College Board’s AP District Honor Roll

Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn higher AP scores is an objective of all members of the AP community, from AP teachers to district and school administrators to college professors. 

“I am always impressed by the ongoing success of our students,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria. “These are rigorous courses that demand a high level of dedication, and I am proud to see an increase in student participation as a result of the ongoing efforts of our staff to identify and support students who have not traditionally accessed AP courses and through the addition of new AP course offerings. In our focus on continuous improvement, we have dedicated resources to ensure that every student feels supported academically and social-emotionally as they take on these challenges,” he concluded. 

In 2018, more than 4,000 colleges and universities around the world received AP scores for college credit, advanced placement, or both, and/or consideration in the admissions process. Inclusion in the 9th Annual AP District Honor Roll is based on a review of three years of AP data, from 2016 to 2018, looking across 38 AP exams, including world language and culture. 

In order to qualify, districts must: 

Increase participation/access to AP by at least 4 percent in large districts, at least 6 percent in medium districts, and at least 11 percent in small districts; increase or maintain the percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students taking exams; increase or maintain the percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam; and improve or maintain performance levels when comparing the 2018 percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher to the 2016 percentage, unless the district has already attained a performance level at which more than 70 percent of its AP students earn a 3 or higher.

The complete 9th Annual AP District Honor Roll can be found here.

LBHS Girls Basketball is 15-1 after going winless all of last season

LBHS Girls Basketball continues its remarkable turnaround season, ending the week with a 15-1 record.

“It’s been a lot of fun watching the girls’ hard work pay off,” said Coach Matthew Tietz. “I expected us to be better and competitive and the girls were skeptical but hopeful, but I don’t think anyone saw this kind of success coming. I’m very proud of these girls.”

LBHS Girls

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2018-19 LBHS Girls Varsity Basketball team (missing Hana Ford and Claire Smithers)

 “This is the mid-way point of the regular season and the schedule gets significantly harder from here…next week we start our Sunset League schedule and we know that even a single victory from that point on will be hard to come by. The girls are ready to battle and we’ll see what happens,” said Coach Tietz.

The success of the season thus far has come from great team defense that is allowing just 18 points per game and an unselfish, balanced offense that has everyone contributing, according to Coach Tietz. 

The team is being led by senior Point Guard Mia Pitz. She is averaging 12 points, 3.7 assists and 3.8 steals per game and her season totals in those categories put her near or at the top of the CIF Division 5A rankings. Junior Madi Garwal’s 170 rebounds is putting her on a pace to destroy the school record of 293 she set last season and is currently 3rd in the entire state in that category. Another great two-way and all around player, Madi is averaging 7.2 points, 13.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 3.2 steals and 2.2 blocks per game. The third returning starter, junior Julia Henry continues to be a force on defense leading Division 5A and 10th in the state with 32 blocked shots. The other two starting spots have been filled nicely by freshmen Anna Cheng and Autumn Moreland. Anna leads the team in scoring at 13.3 points per game and her 35 3-pointers ranks #1 in Division 5A and #4 in the entire state. That number also surpasses school legend Alexandra Lewis’ total for a freshman at LBHS. Her 55 steals also ranks #1 in Division 5A. Autumn has provided the team with much-needed physicality inside. Despite giving up several inches in height to her opponents, Autumn’s tenacity has resulted in 9.9 rebounds per game. She also contributes at the offensive end with 3.2 points per game. 

The bench has also has made significant contributions to the team’s success. Sydney Mangus, Clarice Curras, Laila Hassan, Rebecca Sanchez, Zoe Payne-Carter, and Claire Smithers as a group have averaged 5.9 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2 assists per game. The team also has Hana Ford waiting in the wings as she complies with CIF’s mandatory sit out period for transfers. 

“Hana will be a force inside and figures to be a large part of the team’s end of season push for a spot in the CIF playoffs,” said Coach Tietz.

The Breakers’ next game is against Corona del Mar on Tuesday on the road. Tip-off is at 5 p.m.

Watch and listen for the Laguna Beach Girl Scouts caroling with Santa on the trolley this Friday

On Friday, Dec 14 from 4 - 9 p.m., hundreds of local girl scouts will be on board the trolleys singing holiday carols for the community to enjoy, while they traverse the streets of downtown Laguna.

Watch and Santa

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Local Girl Scouts join Santa on the trolley for a night of Christmas caroling fun

In addition to caroling for the Laguna community, participating girl scouts will also make hundreds of candy cane cards for our military troops stationed abroad during the holidays. Join in with the holiday singing fun or simply stop and listen as they go by singing delightful songs. 

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