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El Morro Elementary School is recognized for high achievement in student success

El Morro Elementary School was named to the 2017-2018 Educational Results Partnership Honor Roll for its high achievement and student success. 

The program, sponsored by the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE), is part of a national effort to identify higher-performing schools and districts that are improving student outcomes. El Morro Elementary is one of 1,798 schools in California to be recognized. 

The 2017-2018 Honor Roll is developed by the Educational Results Partnership (ERP), a nonprofit organization that applies data science to help improve student outcomes and career readiness. ERP maintains the nation’s largest database on student achievement and utilizes this data to identify higher-performing schools and districts. Schools that receive the ERP Honor Roll distinction have demonstrated consistently high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in achievement levels over time, and a reduction in achievement gaps among student populations. 

El Morro sign

“El Morro Elementary School is honored to be recognized on the Honor Roll for high achieving schools. This validates the hard work and dedication our staff puts in each day to meet the needs of all of our students,” said El Morro Elementary School Principal Chris Duddy. He continued, “It also confirms that the curriculum and teaching strategies we are implementing are working for our students.”

“Educational success must be data-informed,” said Greg Jones, ERP and CBEE board chairman. “These Honor Roll schools and districts are improving student achievement and we have the data to prove it. It’s critical that the business community support and promote educational success as today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce.” 

“At ERP we are committed to closing achievement gaps and removing educational obstacles for historically disadvantaged students,” said James Lanich, PhD, ERP president and CEO. “These bright spot schools and districts are implementing programs and practices that are improving educational equity and accelerating student success. We need to shine a spotlight on their work and encourage others to replicate it.”

In California, the ERP Honor Roll is supported by numerous businesses and organizations, including the Automobile Club of Southern California, Macy’s, Wells Fargo, Chevron Corporation and Enterprise Holdings.

A full list of ERP Honor Roll schools and districts can be found at

Breakfast with the Breakers is a great success

Photos by Scott Brashier

Despite the many events that took place this last weekend, LBHS’s community day, offering Breakfast with the Breakers, proved a great success.

The day included interactive activities, live performances, and much more.

From 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., athletic physicals were available for those wanting to play sports for the school (physicals are required), with fees going to help fund the LBHS Athletic Training room. 

Breakers day physicals

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Physicals were available for athletes

There were also optional Cardiac Screening tests for anyone interested.

Along with the Pancake Breakfast, booths with sports information and youth experiences for elementary kids were available, offering arts and school club information.

Breakers day crowd

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The event drew a healthy crowd

More of Scott’s photos from the Breakfast:

LBHS club walks to bring clean water by sponsoring the digging of three wells

Photos by Scott Brashier

The LBHS Walking for Water Club held a “walk for water” event on Sunday, June 3 at the Laguna Beach High School Track from 12 - 3 p.m. Last year’s walk brought in enough donations to fund the digging of two wells, one in Burkino Faso and one in East Africa.

LBHS club group

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The Walk for Water crew

The goal this year is to fund three wells in total – including one in Nepal, in a partnership with Rosalind Russell’s R Star Foundation.

LBHS club burkino

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Presenting the facts about water in Burkino Faso

Walking for Water supports the nonprofit Wisdom Spring in the effort to build wells in rural Africa. The walk symbolizes the daily struggle of women and children around the world, as they walk miles each day to access clean water. For more information, visit

The LB Water Polo 14U “A” team is seeded number one in Junior Olympics after win

The LB Water Polo 14U “A” team girls just finished the Southern Pacific Zone Junior Olympics Qualifier in first place.

This gives them the #1 seed for the 14U girls in the Junior Olympics National Championships this July at Stanford.

Congratulations from Stu News and good luck!

LB water polo

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Submitted photo

14 U team wins top seeding: Back row (L-R): Coach Rob Carver, Hannah Carver, Tasha Denny, Lauren Short, Genoa Rossi, Lela McCarroll, Charlotte Riches, and Cleo Washer

Front row (L-R): Myha Pinto, Avery Montiel, Ava Houlahan, and London Boyd

Thurston’s jury is out: John White guilty as charged

Story and photos by MAGGI HENRIKSON

It was a mystery that Thurston Middle School’s Forensic Crime Team investigated since discovering the gruesome “murders” of three people in Dana Point Harbor last March. Er, make that Roanoke Island, and the year was 1585. 

The student-driven scenario was built around a historical fiction scripted by the students. They played out the parts of the murder mystery and subsequent investigation, all supported by advanced, modern era forensic technology. The year-long project came to its conclusion last Friday during the courtroom trial “Roanoke: Murder in the Lost Colony.”

Thurstons jury Martinez

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Thurston teacher, Michelle Martinez, stands before the defense – Defense Attorney Cassidy Morgan (left) and her lineup of witnesses 

The Forensic Team club was started by social studies teacher, Michelle Martinez, and is open for all 6 - 8th graders. For the past three years, Cox Communications has provided support for the program, through their Innovation in Education grant. Martinez designed the program to teach students how to analyze and apply critical thinking to real-life problem solving.

Who’s the bad guy?

Sir Walter Raleigh had been charged with establishing a colony in the New World, by her majesty Queen Elizabeth I. He provided the colonists with one year’s worth of essential supplies, while he returned to England. After three years he returned to find the entire colony of 115 people had disappeared. In the Crime Team’s scenario, John White was travelling with Sir Walter Raleigh, and he was devastated on his return to find his entire family was gone along with the colonists. He blamed Raleigh for their demise.

Thurstons jury Mustache

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Prosecution Attorney Keegan Thomas points out just how unfortunate it is that Gilbert looked so much like Raleigh! 

The team “prosecutor” presented evidence that John White had murdered the victim, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Raleigh’s brother, aboard their ship in a case of mistaken identity. They did have eerily similar mustaches! 

Evidence and discovery

Medical Examiner, Gabby Finkelstein, presented the biological report on the three bodies found: Below deck, it was determined that Paul Martin had been suffocated by a pillow – he was purple around the eyes and had small feathers in his mouth and lungs; the dead man found beneath the water was the ship’s night watchman, Victor Smithfield, who had drowned, with evidence of blunt force trauma to the head; Sir Humphrey Gilbert had been stabbed twice in the back and once in the neck. 

Finkelstein concluded, “All were killed differently but in the same time frame.”

There were several witnesses. The Spanish “Captain” Joaquin Andres was ashore and saw some shadows on the deck of the Royal Ark. Captain Andres’ testimony, in Spanish, was niftily translated by Interpreter Austin Plank in the courtroom. 

The French “Captain”, interpreted by Margaux Huot-Marchand, saw a Native American on the deck, maybe Manteo, the Croatan tribal leader, whose tomahawk was found at the scene. Manteo was presented to the court, played by Quinn Butler, and stated that he was a tracker who had come to the ship to report that they’d found no clues as to the disappearance of the colonists – but then he discovered the dead man. “My tomahawk was dropped when I was alarmed,” he said.

Thurstons jury Jury

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To aid the jury in its decision, part of the modern day evidence was presented via virtual reality headsets showing video of the forensic analysis done by the team 

The jury shall decide

After DNA and ballistics evidence pointed toward John White, the Defense Attorney, played by Cassidy Morgan, had a tough time. She protested, saying there were just too many other fingerprints to prove his guilt. Besides, he is a Quaker, a man of God and doesn’t believe in killing. 

The Prosecution Attorney, played by eighth-grader Keegan Thomas, ultimately brought forth enough damning evidence and posited reasons that the jury sided with – John White killed the two guards quietly because they had witnessed his brutal murder of Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Gilbert had been savagely killed, shot and stabbed, to inflict the most pain, in an act of revenge for the loss of his family. 

The jury convened and talked it out before the audience in Thurston’s Black Box theatre. Whodunnit? They concluded John White done it – guilty by reason of insanity. He was sentenced to exile from the colony.

LBHS Spring Music Concert tonight – all are invited

Members of the public are invited to attend a free instrumental music performance by Laguna Beach High School student musicians at 7 p.m. tonight, Tuesday, June 5 in the LBHS Artists’ Theatre, 625 Park Avenue.


Submitted photo

The LBHS Band performed for audiences at Disney’s California Adventures earlier this year

The LBHS Spring Instrumental Music Concert will feature wind and string ensembles directed by Jeremy Chung, the jazz orchestra directed by Steven Wade, a special piece performed by our award-winning Drum Line, and more! Enjoy the music while supporting the arts and youth in our community.

Men’s Volleyball Open proves as popular as ever: Read Friday’s issue for the details and more photos

Photo by Scott Brashier

Mens volleyball crowd

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Getting the jump on summer at the Men’s Volleyball Open

Brooks Street Classic is open, and hopin’ for surf


The 55th Annual Brooks St, Surfing Classic waiting period was officially opened this weekend but unfortunately the lack of surf so far this year continues!

brooks street wave

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Brooks Street, 2017

However, there is much to share regarding this year’s Classic. We are super stoked that Shaun Stussy designed the 55th Annual contest t-shirt featuring a photo from the very first running of the Classic back in 1955 that was taken by Dick Metz. Thanks to the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center for providing us with the image for this year’s t-shirt.

Brooks Street T shirt

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T-shirt design for the Brooks Street Classic

We have re-added a new (old) division to this year’s Classic, in the “Legends” Division, for competitors 60 years and older. The Legends Division was featured in previous Classics but was suspended due to lack of participation. We have seen a rise in surfers pushing past their 60s and are hoping to see a full Legends Division at this year’s Classic.

A big thank you to local sculptor Randy Morgan for creating the trophies for this year’s Classic. Everyone is going to want one of these on the mantelpiece!

Note: We recently lost one of our Brooks St. Classic family members with the passing of Penny Steris, who loved volunteering her time, energy, pop-up tents and anything else we needed to help run the Classic. A memorial and paddle-out was held Sunday June 3. She is dearly missed!

LBHS club’s Walking for Water big fundraising event is this Sunday – and it’ll be fun for the whole family

Walking for Water is a project a world away from the hardscrabble life of its beneficiaries. In Burkina Faso, Kenya, Ghana, and Nepal there are children the same age as their Laguna counterparts who must walk every day – sometimes for hours – just to retrieve the water needed daily for their families. 

The Laguna Beach High School club Walking for Water aims to make water more readily available for these kids through their fundraising efforts this Sunday, June 3. 

Walking for Water’s annual event is their main fundraiser of the year and the community is invited to help out, while having fun too. From 12 - 3 p.m. there will be fun, games and raffle prizes on the high school track. With the money raised, the club plans to put in four wells – three in Burkina Faso and one in Nepal.

LBHS clubs Walking

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The plan is to make four wells available for kids like these in Burkina Faso and Nepal who must walk miles for water

The nonprofit club partners with Wisdom Spring, Inc. all year long to work toward bringing clean drinking water to rural areas around the world. In the last ten years, more than 28 wells have been built in sub-Saharan Africa, providing clean water to over 30,000 people. 

The LBHS club has made their own website and everything else it entails to make this event happen. For more information visit,

Come on down this Sunday – rain or shine – and think about how important clean water is to all of us. Have some fun, and do some good! 

LBHS Spring Music Concert June 5 – all are invited

Members of the public are invited to attend a free instrumental music performance by Laguna Beach High School student musicians at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5 in the LBHS Artists’ Theatre, 625 Park Avenue.


Submitted photo

The LBHS Band performed for audiences at Disney’s California Adventures earlier this year

The LBHS Spring Instrumental Music Concert will feature wind and string ensembles directed by Jeremy Chung, the jazz orchestra directed by Steven Wade, a special piece performed by our award-winning Drum Line, and more! Enjoy the music while supporting the arts and youth in our community.

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