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Anastasia (Staci) Ensminger: Stu News salutes Laguna Beach High School 2020 Graduating Senior

Staci Ensminger might have been best known around campus for her grace and poise as a dancer. Coaches and trainers may have targeted her strength and dexterity as an aerial artist. Teachers probably considered the diligence that landed her a Scholar Award and three years on the Laguna Beach High School Honor Roll. Staci’s parents – proud of it all – are possibly most impressed by her compassion, her moral character, her patience, and her devotion to the underdog. 

From the time Staci was small, she pursued gymnastics with intense enthusiasm. She read books while doing the splits. Walking down the street, she might break into a handstand. She could cartwheel down the beach or carry a conversation in a backbend. Never content to simply sit, Staci would contort, invert, and flex herself into impossible positions. By the age of 10, she began winning state titles in various events and all-around competitions. But by the time she turned 12, she grew restless for something more. That’s when she took flight – literally. 

Anatasia Staci closeup

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Photo by Jeff Rovner

Staci will attend San Diego State University in the fall to study psychology and occupational therapy

Staci discovered the aerial arts while training with The Ruby Karen Project. Under Ruby’s coaching, Staci took 1st place in different categories at the 2014, 2015, and 2018 West Coast Aerial Arts Festival; 1st place in static hoop at the 2017 VIVA Fest in Las Vegas; gained acceptance at the prestigious Ecole Nationale De Cirque in Montreal 2016 and 2017 summer programs; and was chosen as a coveted guest performer multiple times at Irvine’s Barclay theater. Once she mastered the craft, she began coaching and choreographing pieces of her own. 

“Because of her very strong fundamentals, both academically and artistically, her attention to detail, and methodical and organized approach, Staci developed skills to create and bring to life choreography carrying not only beautiful stories but important social messages, that continuously inspire many students, younger and older, that look up to her,” Coach Ruby Karen says. “But Staci’s ultimate success is mainly contributory to her personality and character. 

She is driven, dedicated, persistent, hardworking, eager to learn, and always keeps a positive attitude.” 

Anatasia Staci dance

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Submitted photo 

Staci’s performances have garnered her many awards

That strong character drove Staci to also join the humanitarian organization Le PeTiT CiRqUe, committed not only to the circus arts, but also to giving back to the community. In 2018, Staci flew with the troupe to Oslo, Norway to perform for the Nobel Peace Prize Concert. Her efforts also financially benefited children battling Treacher Collins Syndrome and other disadvantaged and disabled youth.      

At 18, Staci has already figured out how to combine her lifelong skills into a compassionate career. Staci discovered RAD Camp (“Rising Above Disabilities”) in 2018. She devoted her school vacations to working with children and young adults with developmental disabilities, logging more than 900 hours of community service time to the cause. 

Combining years of flexibility, dexterity, and core strength training, Staci plans to study occupational therapy and someday open a circus studio offering therapeutic treatments for developmentally disabled individuals. “The hope is to help them strengthen their balance, coordination, and self-esteem,” says her mother, Irina Ensminger. 

Anatasia Staci beach

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Submitted photo 

Staci hopes someday to open a circus studio offering therapeutic treatments for developmentally disabled individuals

“From what I have seen of Staci, she is above the rest,” says Laguna Beach High School Dance Director Estee Fratzke. “When she puts her mind to something, she commits wholeheartedly and selflessly.” 

Staci plans to study psychology at San Diego State University this fall. We can’t wait to see where her journey will take her, but we know wherever she goes, she will soar to ever-greater heights.

Congratulations, Staci! 

In order to celebrate our graduating seniors’ achievements together as a community, we would like to extend an invitation to graduating seniors and their parents to submit announcements about college acceptances and plans for next year. Please submit your information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

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