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Laguna Beach

LBHS boys varsity and JV tennis teams bring home eight CIF medals for Wave League 

On May 10 and May 13, the Wave League CIF Championships for boys tennis were held at Marina High School. 

Under the leadership of coach Rick Conkey, Laguna Beach High School boys varsity tennis sent three singles and three pairs of doubles players to compete in the Varsity Individual CIF Championships. 

Singles player junior Ian Maclaughlin had to dig deep to overcome an opponent in the semi-finals who had previously beaten him in league play. Maclaughlin had a tough opponent in the finals and received a finalist medal for the singles competition.

LBHS boys doubles

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Boys varsity tennis winners of the Doubles Championship for Wave League with their coach and medals – (L-R) Chris Herkins, Jeff Herkins, Varsity Coach Rick Conkey, Matt Berk, and Casey Boehm

Two Laguna varsity teams played each other in the doubles final with the number one-seeded team, seniors Matt Berk and Casey Boehm, defeating the third-seeded team, freshman Chris Herkins and junior Jeff Herkins, 6-0, 6-2, for the title of Varsity Wave League Doubles Champions. 

In the semi-finals, Chris and Jeff Herkins had to overcome the second-seeded Newport Harbor team and a late deficit as they battled to earn an exciting semi-final victory in a third set super tie-breaker. The ending score was 3-6, 7-6, 10-3.

In the other doubles semi-final, Casey Boehm and Matt Berk overcame a first set pounding and match points to earn their final berth by defeating teammates Matthew Duong and Peter Durand. 

LBHS boys Barriga

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Christian Barriga (a junior) won the JV Wave League Doubles Champions medal along with teammate Chase Boshnack (junior – not pictured)

Coach Conkey says, “This match could have gone either way, with the score at the end being 7-6, 7-6. Senior Matthew Duong and Junior Peter Durand came in 4th place in the doubles section. Congratulations to LBHS for the doubles sweep!”

Under the leadership of coach Nic Radisay, LBHS JV sent three singles players and three pairs of doubles players to compete in the JV Individual CIF Championships also hosted by Marina High School. 

Freshman Lucas Silverman made it to the finals to become the JV Wave League Singles Champion while Juniors Chase Boshnack and Christian Barriga won the title of JV Wave League Doubles Champions.

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Cheer LBHS Class of 2021 on in parade on June 9

The community, families, and friends of LBHS Class of 2021 seniors are invited to cheer the students on as they wear their caps and gowns for a procession down Ocean Avenue from City Hall to Main Beach on Wednesday, June 9 at 3 p.m.

Cheer LBHS cheer on

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Cheer the LBHS Class of 2021 on during parade down Ocean Avenue on Wednesday, June 9

Bring bubbles, cowbells, and Big Heads – let’s show this class our support after making it through a challenging year! 

After the procession, meet at the north end of Main Beach to watch the cap toss and take photos on the beach with your senior.

Visit for the latest details.

Crew and cast members of LBHS virtual play The Addams Family deserve kudos


One can imagine that even in the best of times, putting together a play is a monumental challenge. However, picture the endless obstacles when cast members aren’t allowed to be in the same room to rehearse and film the final performance. It seems impossible, but the crew and cast of Laguna Beach High School’s production of The Addams Family: Quarantined Concert Edition did just that! 

The LBHS cast and crew overcame many hurdles to ultimately come up with the finished product, and the students deserve to be celebrated for their diligence. 

From Friday, June 4 through Sunday, June 13, the play will be available online. To purchase tickets, click here.

Jennifer Bullington, who did the marketing for the play, says, “The students have been very hands on in this production. I don’t think anyone understands how much hard work went into this.” 

Crew and Zoom

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Rehearsing via Zoom

The Addams Family is a musical the kids wanted to do for a while,” says Bullington. “We were lucky that there was a version of it available to be performed in isolation. It is rewritten from the Broadway show to allow for social distancing and Zoom performances. The cast couldn’t be in the same room much less with an audience. This isn’t a full play, it’s the concert version performed in isolation.” 

Producer and Director Celena DelPizzo-Howell says, “What these students and the production team have accomplished is truly remarkable, and I couldn’t be more proud. As an LBHS Theatre alumna and having 11 years’ experience working within the Theatre department, this program holds a very special place in my heart.” 

Since the cast couldn’t rehearse in person, one of the challenges was doing scenes together when they couldn’t be together. In what seems like an impossible situation, they recorded their voices and then they were edited together.

Crew and Mr Addams

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Gomez Addams – Joe Hovanesian 

“The phrase ‘You can do hard things’ is painted on the ground at Top of the World Elementary School,” says Music Director Amanda Bistolfo. “Whenever I walk on to the campus on Thursdays and see these words, I immediately think about The Addams Family. What a crazy project! Who are we to think we could put on a filmed musical in two months? And yet, we did. The unusual nature of this project demanded the best of our creativity, flexibility, and perseverance.” 

The 17 cast members each recorded themselves individually singing their parts from their homes. These vocal tracks were mixed together to create the chorus. Then each student had to video themselves lip syncing and dancing to their recordings. Each video file and vocal recording from each student for each song was then layered together on screen. 

Insights into the production:

--The speaking scenes were all filmed at the same time on Zoom. 

--In the end they had 712 clips, and it took 60 hours of editing to put it together! 

--The costumes were all handed out from the LBHS costume shop so the kids could get dressed and do makeup at home. 

--They made sure each student had the lighting they needed at home by purchasing ring lights.

Crew and trio

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More Zoom rehearsing 

“Never did I think that I would ever…choreograph a musical via Zoom!” says Choreographer Sabrina Harper. “What a journey this has been over the last six weeks. After the pandemic shut down our 2020 production of Beauty And The Beast, I was very excited to receive the call from Celena asking to be part of the creative team for The Addams Family, and have the chance to work again with the talented students at LBHS.” 

Congratulations to the cast and crew

Cast: Gomez Addams – Joe Hovanesian, Morticia Addams – Shelby Thomas, Wednesday Addams – Claire Tigner, Lucas Beineke – Charlie Besso, Alice Beineke/Ancestor – Lila Goldstein, Mal Beineke – Luka Salib, Uncle Fester – Oliver Zinn, Pugsley Addams – Brooke Lattin, Grandma Addams – Harley Firouz, Lurch – Will Neukomm, Lupe Addams – Scarlett Wheaton, Addams Ancestor – Sydney Alderson, Addams Ancestor – Ayla Keller, Addams Ancestor – Hannah Le, Addams Ancestor – Anneka Neukomm, Addams Ancestor – Amanda Nguyen, Addams Ancestor – Dahlia Tarazi.

Production Assistant – Nicolette Firouz.

Music Assistants –Hannah Le, Shelby Thomas, and Claire Tigner.

Dance Captains – Lila Goldstein and Dahlia Tarazi.

Don’t miss the chance to see this production – a result of the talent and tenacity of these amazing LBHS students.

Click here for tickets.

School Board gives direction on returning to in-person meetings, rescinding superintendent’s “emergency powers”


The Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education made some post-pandemic plans during a meeting this week, 

At their meeting Thursday (May 27), the LBUSD board gave direction to staff to prepare for in-person/Zoom hybrid meetings to return in July and to expect the superintendent’s “emergency powers” to be rescinded by June 15.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school district declared that emergency conditions existed last March. To ensure the health and safety of students and staff, the board approved a resolution that delegated authority to the superintendent to take necessary actions to relocate students and staff, continue student transportation, provide alternative education program options, provide leaves of absence for employees, when appropriate, direct staff to serve as district service workers, pursuant to the government code, and make alternative repairs or improvements to school property.

The resolution specifically delegated authority to the superintendent and/or his designee to enter into contracts without advertising or inviting bids or for any dollar amount when necessary or respond to emergency positions of the district sites, continue operations in a safe and effective manner, such as responding to educational needs, hiring personnel, such as nurses, and flexibility of using maintenance and operations staff. 

Ultimately, the resolution was intended to provide the superintendent with sufficient authority to maintain operations during COVID-19, explained Board President Carol Normandin.

The resolution is to remain in effect until California declares the state of emergency has ended, she said. At such time, the board will take appropriate action to withdraw the delegation of authority.

LBUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Jeff Dixon explained that one of the powers is to make purchases that, essentially, exceed the bid limit, which right now is about $96,000.

“So that’s without advertising for bids, you can make purchases of materials, supplies services up to that amount, prior to going to the board and doing a formal advertisement for bids,” Dixon explained.

Under the resolution, the district entered into seven total contracts. Of those, four were ratified by the board of education, the others did not get up to the BID limit, Dixon explained.

He listed the contracts, including temporary portable classrooms, COVID testing for student and staff, a disinfecting company that cleans classrooms, school sites, and offices every day, the purchase of plexiglass desk shields, the purchase of cleaning supplies, and technology equipment to support virtual learning for students.

The authority was only utilized to approve those contracts, said Superintendent Jason Viloria.

School Board gives LBHS

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The school board anticipates the superintendent’s “emergency powers” to expire by June 15

“We’ve used this scenario in the contracts so that we could bring our students back onto campus in a safe manner, and that’s the sole reason that we were able to use this in that way,” Viloria said. “Everything else…was brought to the board for your consideration and your vote.” 

Some board members questioned if the emergency authority would be needed for any other contracts in the near term.

“I don’t think we can predict at this time,” Dixon replied. “I don’t think we were able to predict a pandemic in March.”

There are so many uncertainties, he’s not sure if it will be needed again.

“To be honest, I don’t know,” Dixon concluded. 

They can’t ask them to predict something they couldn’t possibly predict, Normandin said.

Residents who spoke during public comment encouraged the emergency powers be removed. 

It’s quite far into the pandemic, said resident Aaron Talarico.

“It probably is time to move on from this,” he said. “We elect the board members, we trust you guys to do the right thing, to have our best interests in hand, we want you guys making the decisions.”

Anne Morreale agreed that residents elected the board members to make the decisions, not the superintendent. Also, she added, it’s no longer needed. 

“An emergency doesn’t last over a year, it’s not an emergency,” it’s ridiculous, Morreale said. “And it’s been one bad decision after the other. So, enough is enough.”

Board member Jan Vickers clarified that the term “emergency” is still relevant under the guiding agencies’ definition.

“This was passed in March, at the start of what we are still under guidelines for,” Vickers said, “so even though it’s been a long time, we’re still required to operate under those guidelines until they end from the various health departments.”

When they voted for this, the board gave a directive to Viloria that they still wanted to make the decisions and that the superintendent would “do everything he could” to hold a special meeting when there was anything to be decided regarding openings, distance-learning, or virtual academies, Vickers explained. He hasn’t needed to do that, she said. 

The board has been regularly meeting and voting on agenda items via Zoom for most of the pandemic. 

“[Calling it] one bad decision after the other, I’ll take responsibility for that,” Vickers said. “I have not seen that it’s been harmful to the district. If people feel that way, I said, as a board member, I take responsibility for that. We made the decision to vote.”

Viloria had emergency authority in case he could not get the board together, and there was a need to make an emergency decision, she said.

She supported keeping the emergency powers in place until the rules and regulations end from the state and county health departments.

Although board member Dee Perry disagreed. 

“I think that the emergency conditions no longer exist, if something else came up, we could pass another emergency resolution,” Perry said. 

She gave examples of other school districts in the region that have canceled or revoked their superintendent’s emergency powers.

“I think we should do the same,” she said. “I don’t think we need to have our superintendent have all the power.”

But that’s a misstatement, Normandin quickly said.

All the power he has, is the power provided in his contract under the law, Normandin said. The only thing this resolution provided was the ability for Dixon to secure contracts quickly.

“If he hadn’t done that, we would not have had the ability to send elementary school back, because we wouldn’t have had the space,” Normandin said. “And we don’t know what’s to come. We’re all hoping it’s over, like let’s all celebrate, it’s done, but as I say, he can’t just predict that.”

School Board gives Viloria

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Superintendent Jason Viloria

There was also discussion about setting an expiration date for the emergency powers to end.

In other local school districts, many similar resolutions were written to coincide with the end of the school year in order to naturally expire, Board Clerk Kelly Osborne said. The board is able to approve an emergency purchase within a short time frame, should they need to, she added. 

It was developed to end when the state ends their emergency declaration, Normandin explained. So, the authority will automatically end when the state retracts the emergency declaration, which appears to be happening on June 15.

“I think between now and June 15 we are for sure going to be moving in a different direction as a state. I think the rates are showing that and there’s a lot of positive things to look at,” Viloria said. “(But) we never know, so we don’t have a crystal ball in that sense.”

Viloria recognized the point to having an end date and the end of the school year is sensible. They should get more information over the next few weeks, before the June 8 board meeting, he added. 

“We all recognize that between now and June 15 we’re supposed to be receiving a new CDPH guidance as to what our next steps are,” Viloria said. “My hope is that we’ll have a really good picture of what it is that we need to do going into the fall and we should have long enough runway in order to accomplish that.”

Ultimately, the board agreed to provide direction that if the state rescinds its emergency order on June 15, the superintendent’s emergency powers will automatically expire, and, in the case the state doesn’t do that, the June 15 is suggested as an end date. The resolution will return to the board as an action item for a vote on June 8.

Also on the board’s agenda on Thursday was consideration for returning to in-person meetings. 

With an aim to return to in-person meetings by July, the school board agreed with staff’s recommendation to pursue hosting the meetings at Thurston Middle School and gave direction to develop a Zoom and in-person hybrid meeting when they return.

Since last March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the school board has been meeting virtually. They passed an ordinance that allows the virtual meetings to continue until the state of emergency is lifted by the governor and/or the board can follow all the health guidance to hold the meetings physically without increasing the spread of the virus.

School Board gives Thurston

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When school board meetings return to in-person, they will likely take place in the library at Thurston Middle School

New guidelines will be released soon, Normandin noted, and the district is looking at options to enhance the meetings for the public and provide a more welcoming environment.

The challenge is that since there is still guidance of six feet of social distancing, the board room they normally meet in pre-pandemic is too small, Viloria said. 

“We would not be able to fit everybody who is on this screen in that board room,” he said.

After considering a few alternatives, staff found that the Thurston library would work the best. It’s a large enough space for the board and a public audience, and there are very few night events held in the room, he explained. 

“Again, recognizing that we don’t know exactly what will be in store for us on June 15, we still have Cal/OSHA guidance we have to follow as employees of the school district,” Viloria said.

Staff recommends installing new cameras, something that was approved pre-COVID but wasn’t completed. 

It’s also about $8,000 cheaper (in terms of installing cameras and updating the technical equipment) to move to the Thurston location because they already have a lot of the technology requirements, LBUSD Chief Technology Officer Michael Morrison said. The new cameras and tech could also be used it for other events at the school.

The overall cost estimate is around $40,000 for everything, he added. 

As far as the timeline goes, staff believes they could hook up a camera with a single wide-angle lens as a temporary solution to livestream the meetings until the full hookup was ready. The drawback would be that the image would not be as clear and crisp as the current Zoom video.

Osborne noted that, according to public comments, there was a desire to see the board members close and clearly enough to see facial expressions, which was mentioned as a reason for returning to in-person meetings. But, as Osborne pointed out, that also means that a wide-angle lens that doesn’t offer a sharp image may be the wrong way to go. They should wait to do it right and have the better tech and video options set up in July.

Public speakers also agreed that the ability to see who is in attendance is also an advantage of in-person meetings. Several suggested a hybrid meeting, allowing people watch and comment both in-person and virtually. 

All the speakers were in favor of the board returning to in-person meetings. 

“I do think it’s time to show that you’re not afraid anymore and that the science is clear, it’s okay to be outside of your house, and be around other people, and do your job,” said Anne Morreale. “It’s time for you all to be looking people in the eyes and being held accountable for some of the decisions you’re making, because, I think, you all maybe are hiding behind Zoom a lot of times, and…maybe that’s just my impression, I don’t know because I can’t see you, I can’t interact with you, eye to eye.”

It needs to be more personable, she added.

“It’s hard to have any kind of relationship with a TV screen, a computer screen, or anything else like that,” Morreale said.

The situation has also offered a unique opportunity for the school district to expand connecting with more people through Zoom in the future, she added. 

Staff hopes everything will be fully installed by the July board meeting. The global computer chip shortage (as the pandemic hit, consumers stocked up on personal PCs and other electronics) slows down the timeline, Viloria said. 

Thurston would then become the permanent location for board meetings.

“Because if we’re going to invest the infrastructure to do this, we recommend that that location be utilized and, in all honesty, it is a better layout for board meetings,” Viloria said. 

Daytime meetings would likely need to be relocated, but many of those are closed sessions anyway, so they could be hosted at the district office. 

Board members agreed to the Thurston location starting at their first meeting in July (provided that the technology is ready by then as staff hopes), with Zoom meetings in June (aside from hybrid closed sessions), and continuing the hybrid Zoom options when in-person meetings return in July.

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LBHS Girls Beach Volleyball team heads to State tournament

The Laguna Beach High School Breakers Girls Beach Volleyball team are 6-2 heading to the State tournament on June 5 at Dockweiler Beach in Playa Del Rey. Coach Selznick becomes the first coach to take two different teams to State. His 2017 squad from Palisades High School finished 2nd to Mira Costa.

LBHS Girls Beach group

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(L-R) Dempsey Sadler, Lucy Loughlin, Jacqueline Witteman, Sophie Reavis, Mikayla Smith, Ella Tyus, Louisa Lofranco, Bella Mullin, Natalia Hagopian, Annabelle Kieswetter, Sydney Freeman, Brooklyn Yelland, Eva Gardner, and Coach Dane Selznick (not present: Sophie Black and Macie Murphy)

The Breakers were State finalists in 2018 and 2019 and were the favorites last season, which was canceled before the playoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

LBHS teachers are awarded Crystal Apple Awards

On May 20, 122 staff members at Laguna Beach High School enjoyed a sumptuous sack breakfast as part of the Crystal Apple Awards.

For the past eight years, the Crystal Apple Awards have hosted a red-carpet event for local high school teachers, but this year things were different because of health restrictions, hence the breakfast.

Two LBHS teachers received the coveted Crystal Apple Award: Spanish teacher Ms. Sandra Johnson, and creative writing teacher Mrs. Rickie Farnes. 

Students worked together over a three-month period to nominate teachers and create videos discussing why they felt their teachers deserved to be honored with the coveted award. 

LBHS teachers group

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Students put together sack lunches for LBHS teachers and staff

Ms. Johnson said she was ecstatic to win such a prestigious award. “I grew up with brothers who were big athletes and had walls full of trophies,” she said. “I’m so excited to finally have a trophy of my own.”

This one, she added, meant a great deal to her because it was from her students. 

“During my freshman and sophomore year, Ms. Johnson and I would have lunch together with my friend every Wednesday. She would teach us fun stuff, like calligraphy. It was so kind of her because she would just welcome me with open arms,” said Abigail Williams, who nominated Ms. Johnson. “She always had positive conversations with every student, and it was so nice to have a teacher that wanted to talk to you and didn’t just want to be your teacher, but to be your friend too. Ms. Johnson is the most kind, understanding, and welcoming teacher ever. 

“Thank you so much, Ms. Johnson, for all of the time you put into not just being a teacher, but being a motherly figure at the school. Every day when students come into your classroom, you always have the biggest smile on your face, and you make everyone eager to learn. 

“Even if it’s the student who doesn’t want to learn or wants to learn every Spanish word in the world, you are there to be their friend, their teacher, and their mentor. You’re just a person that anyone could go to if they need anything. You make the whole experience of being a high school student so much easier and more enjoyable,” added Abigail.

LBHS teachers two

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Mrs. Rickie Farnes, nominated by Brooke Lattin

Ninth-grader Brooke Lattin nominated Mrs. Farnes, saying that she was such a fun and creative teacher. 

“I’ve had so many fun experiences in that class,” Brooke said. “Focusing in Zoom classes was very difficult for me because it was so easy to get distracted. What would have been a boring Zoom class was very fun with her and her creative ways. One of the activities that we did was a talk show where we all got to be a character from the book we were reading, Romeo and Juliet. It was a good way to learn and have fun at the same time.

“I had so much fun in 9 Honors English. I’ve always loved creative writing, and she has helped fuel my love and helped me become a better writer, and I am so thankful for that.”

In response to her award, Mrs. Farnes says, “I feel so honored to receive this award. Being a first-year teacher in the midst of a pandemic is challenging, and knowing that I made an impact on my students means the world to me. The students here at LBHS are amazing, and I’m grateful I get to be a part of watching them learn and grow.”

The Crystal Apple Award is a special way for the youth of Aliso Niguel, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, and Dana Hills high schools to recognize and thank the teachers who have had a positive impact on their life, according to the organization. The awards recognize teachers who go above and beyond, inspiring and connecting with their students, especially important this year given the unusual circumstances.

More information about Crystal Apple Awards, go to

LBUMC presents “Rainbow Connections” at Messy Church on Sunday

This month’s Messy Church, to be held on Sunday (May 23) between 4 and 5:30 p.m. at Laguna Beach United Methodist Church (LBUMC), will focus on “Rainbow Connections.” All in the community are welcome to the interactive, intergenerational get-together.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event will be held outside on the patio of the church, where family groupings will be masked and properly distanced.

LBUMC presents painting

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An attendee at last month’s Messy Church uses paints made from plants

Barbara Crowley, the leader of Messy Church at LBUMC, says, “We’ll focus on the story of Noah’s Ark and our activities will reinforce the promise that we are caretakers of the earth and that earth’s creatures will thrive.”

Messy Church is an international organization, which encourages hands-on and creative exploration of Bible stories appropriate for the entire family.

Registration is required to assure COVID-19 space guidelines. RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

LBUMC is located at 21632 Wesley Drive, up the hill from the Gelson’s Shopping Center.

Additional information is available at

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