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OC Boys & Girls Club mark Giving Day on August 15 – locals are asked to contribute

August 15 is a very special giving day for the 15 Orange County Boys & Girls Clubs. The Clubs are collaborating on this day to raise a total of $150,000 for the kids.

OC boys and building

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Beach Boys and Girls Club

Together the 15 Clubs combined have a total of 110 sites and serve over 95,922 youth annually. The local clubs are asking residents to note August 15 on their calendars and consider supporting the Boys & Girls Club on this very special giving day.

According to the Institute for Social Research and School of Public Health at the University of Michigan study, for every dollar invested in a Boys & Girls Club, the community receives $10 in return. 

For more information contact Michelle at (949) 715-7584 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

School Board meeting addresses need for School Resource Officer plus Student Instructional Calendar


The School Board meeting of July 17 included a presentation by Laguna Beach Police Department (LBPD) Chief of Police Laura Farinella, during which she presented a memorandum of understanding between LBPD and the Laguna Beach Unified School District to provide a School Resource Officer (SRO).

The meeting also addressed the prickly issue of changes to the Student Instructional Calendar.

School Resource Officer

In an effort to further promote safety for our schools, the Laguna Beach Police Department is developing a School Resource Officer program that will seek to develop and enhance rapport between youth, police officers, school administrators, and parents. LBPD would assign one full-time law enforcement officer to serve as the SRO during the regular school year. The SRO would be employed and retained by LBPD and school site principals would confer with the SRO to develop plans and strategies for improving safety on each Laguna Beach school campus, while adjustments to the program can be made throughout the school year.

The public comments included some in favor of an SRO officer on campus for safety reasons, and some opposed, fearing that this presence would only escalate problems such as altercations between students, and could mean backpack searches for contraband.

school board grounds

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

SRO will be trained to de-escalate situations when conflict occurs on school grounds

Chief Farinella stated at the meeting that it’s not about law enforcement, unless behavior is merited. Any enforcement would be in coordination with the school principal.

“It’s not enforcement; it’s education, it’s guidance, it’s prevention, intervention,” she said. “It’s all of those things, so it’s not about going through backpacks, putting the canine through the school, that is not what it’s about. We want [that person] to be a mentor and teacher.” 

There is training along guidelines from the School Resource Officer association including understanding education codes and social media issues. 

The chief further described the SRO methodology, “When kids have altercations, [and are] emotionally upset, the officers have de-escalation techniques.”

SRO would rotate among schools

LBPD would rotate the officer to all schools, most likely starting at the high school “and navigate around to the other schools throughout the day.” It might be El Morro one day, TOW the next. “Maybe opening car doors in the morning at one school, at lunch at a different school.” 

The chief clarified that there is no money exchange between the school district and the SRO. “We just want your approval to be embedded and woven into the fabric of the school system,” she said.

Chief Farinella stated that the effectiveness of the program would be reviewed after a year. “I would love to come back after a year and report, ‘these were the contacts, these were the issues’ – to quantify the success and also qualify, like ‘yes, we feel like there’s a sounding board for issues.’”

The Board is expected to vote on the agreement at the upcoming August 21 meeting. If approved, it would take effect by the fall and would last until August 2021.

Student Instructional Calendar

Also at the July 17 Board meeting, staff presented revisions to the proposed 2019-20 student instructional calendar per Board direction from the June 19 Special Board meeting; the presentation included projected start and end dates for future years through 2022-2023. At the direction of the Board, staff will bring forward alternate start and end dates for future years to the August 21 Board meeting as an information item. 

Leisa Winston, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources and Public Communications said, “To recap what we’ve done so far, over the last year our committee met to survey assumptions, review data, study the issue, and they developed the recommended restructure of the 2019-2020 school year.” 

After subsequent Board meetings (April 12, June 19), community input, and survey results, the committee identified its revised priorities for the school year.

The top three factors identified in the committee’s survey results for the new curriculum calendar were, for those who supported the committee’s recommendation: that the semester end at winter break, that there would be increased test preparation, and that the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week be off. For those who opposed the committee’s recommendation, they cited family vacations, traffic, and empty beaches as issues.

The committee’s revised recommendations have, thus, identified six factors of change in the 2019-20 instructional calendar: 180 school days, no change to Thanksgiving week (school in session on Monday and Tuesday), two district-wide non-student days (January and March), starting approximately one week earlier on August 26, finals ending before winter break, and the school year ending June 11.

For more information, the revisions to the proposed student instructional calendar may be seen here.

LBUSD hires new Director of Assessment and Accountability

Laguna Beach Unified School District welcomes a new Director of Assessment and Accountability, Dr Chad Mabery. 

LBUSD chad mabery

Photo from MBUSD website

Dr Chad Mabery

Mabery joins LBUSD from the Manhattan Beach Unified School District where he previously served as the Director of Data, Assessment, and Professional Development in the Educational Services Department. 

With almost 20 years of experience as an educator, Dr. Mabery has held roles as a middle school teacher, vice principal, and principal. He received his Doctorate of Education in Education Leadership from UCLA and his Master of Arts in Education Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

New LBHS football helmets could be a giant step forward in preventing brain injuries


Laguna has responded to the growing crisis of sports related brain injuries with the purchase of new helmets for the football team. The new helmets are designed with specific cushioning technology and are intended to help protect players from concussion.

New LBHS football Noah

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Photo by Sammer and Luna Tarazi

Noah Driver runs the ball - new helmets are on the way

 “The LBHS athletic boosters and the high school staff discussed the potential purchase of new helmets for the 2018-19 football season,” said Leisa Winston, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources & Public Communications for LBUSD. “While the existing helmets are certified and comparable to the majority of surrounding high schools’ equipment, the new Vicis helmet technology was identified as a purchase for our athletes due to its ability to reduce impact forces during tackles.”

New LBHS football Helmet

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Courtesy of Vicis

The Vicis Zero1 helmet technology

The helmets, called the Vicis Zero1, look similar to regular helmets from the outside, but beneath the surface they are layered with high-tech cushioning. They consist of lots of separate spring-like columns in multiple layers. According to the manufacturer, this keeps the head protected from multiple forces. The softer outer shell helps to slow impact forces before they reach the head and brain. The Zero1 also offers a wider field of vision than traditional helmets. 

The NFL has recently invested in preventing, diagnosing and treating head injuries including a program called the Head Health Challenge – a competition to encourage companies to study and develop products to improve player safety. Vicis was one of the winners. The Vicis Zero1 helmet was designed by scientists and engineers, along with Vicis co-founder, Sam Browd, who is a pediatric neurosurgeon.

In 2017, the Zero1 helmets were worn by more than 60 NFL players, including Russell Wilson, Alex Smith, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, and Lamar Miller.

New LBHS football Team

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Photo by Sammer and Luna Tarazi

LBHS Football confers with coach – are they excited about the new helmets? Yes!

While no helmet can assuredly prevent concussions, testing by the NFL and the NFL Players Association over the last several years concluded that the Vicis Zero1 ranked highest in safety.

Vicis has recently made the Zero1 helmets available online, and for high schoolers, at a price point below the NFL level at $1,500 per helmet. According to the Zero1 site, the helmets will cost $950 for these students. 

Winston confirms that the cost for the helmets will be shouldered jointly for Laguna Beach High School, “The District and athletic boosters have agreed to jointly fund the cost of the new helmets with existing funding available. There will be no fundraising necessary to purchase the new helmets.” 

Booster rep Misty Ball is excited that the boys will be utilizing this advanced technology. “We are thrilled about these new, much safer helmets for our boys!”

Art mural underway at LBHS – No Place for Hate

Story and photos by MAGGI HENRIKSON

Scaffolding is up, and paintbrushes are out at Laguna Beach High School. Leisa Winston, Asst Superintendent LBUSD, explains, “The mural on campus is a reflective piece that will represent the variety of students, activities and experiences of LBHS. It is a product of the No Place for Hate work we have initiated in the district.”

Art mural Timothy Robert Smith

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Artist Timothy Robert Smith is creating the new mural at the high school

Timothy Robert Smith is the artist wielding the paintbrush. The work is in progress on the side of the school building that heads down to the track and field. It depicts students and their interests – including sports and academia, dance, marching band, etc., from a perspective seeming to float above. 

Art mural Scaffold

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Mural showing students and their diverse interests

The piece is similar in its use of perspective to one Smith created for LCAD (across Laguna Canyon Rd from the main campus). The LCAD mural is like looking at the view from below, whereas the high school mural is what the artist describes as “a twisted view.” Smith is also a teacher at LCAD, and is working on the mural with the help of some of his students.

LBUSD receives No Place for Hate® designation

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has designated Laguna Beach Unified School District a No Place for Hate® district, recognizing its commitment to creating safe and respectful learning environments for students. 

No Place for Hate is a research-based initiative that follows many of the recommendations for creating a positive school climate laid out by the National School Climate Center. The initiative provides PreK-12 schools with an organizing framework for combating bias, bullying, and hatred, leading to long-term solutions for creating and maintaining a positive climate. 

A district must fulfill several requirements to receive a No Place for Hate designation including a district-wide needs assessment. LBUSD accomplished this by gathering data from all students, staff, parents, and guardians to assess school climate strengths and areas of need. The process included universal screenings that provided detailed insight into the quality and character of the students and school life. 

LBUSD receives sign

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Sign at Top of the World Elementary urges kids to take responsibility

Additionally, each school site must form a No Place for Hate committee, sign the No Place for Hate Promise, and complete three or more school-wide activities during the school year that recognize differences and promote respect through active learning. 

“The Laguna Beach Unified School District has made a dedicated commitment to the implementation of a comprehensive social and emotional support (SES) system for all students K-12 because we recognize the paramount role it plays in a positive school climate,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria. “We strive to support every student, every day, and we appreciate the support and guidance the ADL has provided as we move forward with this mission.”

The ADL will present LBUSD with the No Place for Hate designation at the school board meeting in the fall.

Each school promotes No Place for Hate

Each school in the district is pursuing a broad campaign with the goal of No Place for Hate. At El Morro Elementary, the Character Counts® program is a school-wide initiative that teaches character development based on six ethical values: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. Each month, students are invited to participate in activities that practice those values. The month’s activities culminate with an assembly recognizing students who demonstrated a true understanding of the ethical value in theory and practice.

At Top of the World Elementary, students participated in activities throughout the year like “No One Eats Alone Day” and welcomed guest lecturers like Sam Silberberg who visited the school on the anniversary of his escape from a death march to speak against bullying.

Thurston Middle School encourages its students to “Be Thurston.” Being Thurston means to be an up-stander, be a friend, be a role model and be Thurston SMART. Thurston SMART students: Solve their problems, Make great decisions, Achieve, Respect, and are There and Ready. These philosophies are supported by school-wide activities that are developed around a different theme each month and rotate through subject areas.

At Laguna Beach High School, a committee made up of students from each grade level is dedicated to the implementation of character development activities campus-wide. The activities often encourage civic engagement through the presentation of timely and relevant topics of discussion that bring heightened awareness to the entire student body.

School Board meeting – approval of plans and thanking of community partners

At the June 26 School Board meeting, the Board of Education took a moment to recognize the community partners whose dedication and support allow the LBUSD to expand and enhance educational opportunities for students. 

School Board meeting Clark

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Submitted photo

The School Board thanked Chris Clark (holding plant) who represents the SchoolPower Endowment fund

These community partners included: Lumberyard Restaurant, Cary Redfearn, owner, an Outstanding Business Partner; Festival of Arts Foundation, Scott Moore, president; PTA Council, Sheila Parker, president; SchoolPower Endowment, Chris Clark, president; SchoolPower, Kristin Winter, president, Robin Rounaghi, executive director (retiring this year).

School Board meeting Refearn

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Cary Redfearn, owner of Lumberyard Restaurant, was recognized as an Outstanding Business partner

The Board of Education approved the 2017-2020 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and Annual Update. The Board stated, “LCAP is the touchstone by which we guide and execute our efforts to educate children. It is comprised of goals that focus District practices and resources to ensure students are college and career ready upon graduation.”

Additionally, the Board took action to approve the final 2018-19 All Funds Budget that was brought forward for public comment at the June 12 School Board meeting, and to approve the instructional minutes for all LBUSD schools for the 2018-19 school year. The bell schedules will be made available under the About section on each school website.

Other District news

Four LBHS teachers were awarded grants totaling $20,000 from the Festival of Arts Foundation to enhance the fine arts department, specifically the school’s art, ceramics, dance, and theater programs. Each teacher received a $5,000 grant for their program.

On June 20, LBUSD kicked off the summer break with its annual end of the year employee appreciation barbecue.

LBUSD School Board meeting tonight will consider action on LCAP, the budget, instructional schedules

Insert LBUSD logo

The open session of the LBUSD School Board meeting will begin at 6 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, June 26). The Board will recognize several community partners for their contributions to the district during the school year. The Board will consider action on the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), the all-funds budget for 2018-2019, and instructional bell schedules for each school site. 

The Board will also consider action on approval of routine annual agreements and the 2018-19 proposed employment agreements for management and unrepresented staff, including contract amendments for the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendents.

The agenda for Tuesday’s regular Board meeting has been posted here: page.cfm?p=1046.

Laguna Beach High School programs receive Festival of Arts Foundation grants

Four Laguna Beach High School teachers were awarded grants totaling $20,000 from the Festival of Arts (FOA) Foundation to enhance the fine arts department, specifically the school’s art, ceramics, dance, and theater programs. Each teacher received a $5,000 grant for their program.

The Laguna Beach FOA Foundation was incorporated in 1989 to preserve and promote the fine arts and all other artistic endeavors in and about Laguna Beach. The foundation operates independently from the Festival of Arts. To date, the Festival of Arts, along with the Foundation, has cumulatively awarded nearly $2.6 million in grants to the art community in Laguna Beach. 

Laguna Beach high

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Beach High School

“Visual Arts students appreciate the continued support of the Festival of Arts Foundation that allows students to develop skills for creativity and innovation in post-secondary careers,” said Bridget Beaudry-Porter, a visual arts teacher at Laguna Beach High School. She continued, “With this grant, students can create artwork with canvases, paints, paper, and art supplies. As a teacher, I am very grateful for this historically artistic community which so strongly supports arts education.”

Teachers have used the grants to provide students with real-world experiences and opportunities, including after-school open level master classes for the dance program and exhibit opportunities for the arts and ceramics programs at local galleries. 

“LBHS Drama is grateful for the support received from FOA, which helped elevate the production values related to our spring musical, providing our students with a professional-style experience and our audiences with a crowd-pleasing show,” said Laguna Beach High School and Thurston Middle School Drama Teacher and Director Alexis Karol. “Additional funding was utilized to bring in professional experts for master classes, enriching the student experience with unique opportunities for study and training,” she concluded.   

The FOA Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the visual and performing arts in the LBUSD and will be recognized at the school board meeting tonight, Tuesday, June 26 at 6 p.m. For more information about the Festival of Arts Foundation, including its grants and scholarships, visit

Special Board of Education meeting tonight will review survey results regarding recommended changes to school calendar

The Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education will hold a special Board meeting tonight, Tuesday, June 19 at 6 p.m. in the LBHS Library to review survey data regarding recommended changes to the school calendar, which have been recommended to go into effect at the start of the 2019-2010 student instructional year.

LBUSD partnered with Hanover Research, a private research firm located in Washington D.C., to administer an opinion survey of students, parents, teachers, and staff regarding recommended changes to the District’s academic calendar.

Special Board of Education

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Submitted photo

Will the school calendar change for LBUSD students starting in 2019-20? Results of the Board of Education’s special survey, presented tonight (Tuesday, June 19) to the public, will likely play a big role in the decision.

The changes recommended by the committee include moving the calendar start date up a week and a half earlier, to August 21, and moving the end date up a week earlier to June 11. This would align LBUSD with other nearby districts that have made similar changes in recent years.

The calendar survey data review is an information only item. No action will be considered at the board meeting. The Board will provide the district staff with direction on the next steps in the process.

Tonight’s special meeting is open to the public.

For additional information, including the recommended 2019-2020 calendar, visit

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