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Tonight’s School Board meeting will include a Resolution supporting National Bullying Prevention Month

The agenda for tonight’s (Tuesday, September 24) regular LBUSD Board of Education meeting has been posted online here. Open session will begin at 6 p.m. at the District office, at 550 Blumont St, with closed session occurring beforehand at 5 p.m. 

Tonights School mural

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Photo by Mary Castillo 

Artist Timothy Robert Smith stands before LBHS mural representing No Place for Hate

The agenda includes staff presenting an opening of the school year report. The Board will consider approval of the College and Career Advantage (CCA) annual agreement, a Resolution supporting National Bullying Prevention Month, and purchasing of new audio-visual system, closed captioning services, and online agendas for Board meetings.


Breakers football loses close one to Dana Hills in “Honor The Valor” game

Photos by Alan Gibby

Breakers football 1

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LBHS Football traveled 8.6 miles south to Dana Hills High School on Friday in the two schools’ annual rivalry matchup

Breakers football 2

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Veterans were honored at the special “Honor The Valor” game, including LBHS graduate and Vietnam Veteran Steve Gibby (seen here). Steve played for the legendary coach Hal Akins and was an All-League lineman for the LBHS Artists.

Breakers football 3

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The Breakers (2-1) lost a nail-biter 10-7 to the Dolphins (4-0), who are ranked No. 12 in the CIF Section Division 12 poll. Quarterback Andrew Johnson and the team look to rebound on Friday at Bellflower High School, followed by the team’s league opener at home against Estancia on Friday, Sept 27.

Breakers football 4

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LBHS Principal Dr. Jason Allemann, seen here with Dana Hills High School Principal Joshua Porter, came to LBHS after serving as principal at Dana Hills High School. His son plays on the Dana Hills High School football team.


LBHS Surf team opens season with a win over Newport Harbor 

        The Laguna Beach High School surf season opened with a bang, with the team notching a commanding victory over Newport Harbor High School at Thaila on Thursday, Sept 12.

Coaches Scott Finn and Alisa Cairns were very happy with the win: “While Newport is no longer in our league, we had a fun non-league event to kick off our season and took the overall win 82-66.”

Laguna Beach Danbara, Kulber, Booth

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Kalohe Danbara, Lilie Kulber, and Tess Booth

Conditions were good, the coaches report: “The surf was fun, and weather was nice, and the Laguna surfers made the most of their home break and put in some memorable performances in a number of heats and divisions.” 

Laguna Beach Booth, Howson, Linder

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Tess Booth, Jade Howson, and Devyn Linder 

Christian Schenk and Tai Diggins got things going well in the first heat of the morning, each finding great rides. There was a tie between them for first, which was broken with Christian finishing in first and Tai in second. The following heat saw Joseph Schenk securing second place. 

Laguna Beach Christian Schenk

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Christian Schenk 

Birthday boys Kiko and Sam Nelsen surfed really solid with each taking a very close second while Tyson Lockhart also took second and Dane Cameron had a nice clutch ride to take third.

Laguna Beach Kalohe Danbara

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Kalohe Danbara 

The coaches reported that the women went out strong too: “Our women surfers went out and were just as strong as previous years as they dominated both Shortboard and Longboard taking the top three spots. In the Shortboard heat, all three of our women looked great, the win went to Kalohe Danbara with Tess Booth and Lilie Kulber just behind in second and third.”

Laguna Beach Jade Howson

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Jade Howson

“Our Women Longboard followed up with lots of nice rides and looked like they had a whole lot of fun with Jade Howson taking the win and Tess Booth in second, while Freshman Devyn Linder did a great job finishing in third.”

The Men’s Longboarders surfed well with Zac Henderson taking the big heat win, while Tate Warner surfed well and finished third. 

The total scores were: Women’s Shortboard 15/6, Women’s Longboard 15/6, Men’s Longboard 11/10, and Men’s Shortboard 41/44. 

The next event for the LBHS Surf team is scheduled for next Wednesday, Sept 18 at Thalia against Aliso Niguel at 6:30 a.m.


Two Laguna Beach High School students receive National Merit® honors

Laguna Beach High School students Kenneth Chu and Kyle Herkins have been named Semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. These talented seniors will have an opportunity to continue in the competition for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million next spring.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.

Two Laguna Beach

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National Merit semifinalists Kyle Herkins (left) and Kenneth Chu with their respective counselors, Jeanne Brown and Nichole Rosa

The nationwide pool of Semifinalists represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors. Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as the initial screen of program entrants.

National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists will be notified of their Finalist status in February 2020. National Merit Scholarship Program winners will be notified beginning in April.


LBUSD reaffirms commitment to decreasing chronic absenteeism, down 50 percent in two years

Nationally, nearly 8 million students miss almost a month of school in excused and unexcused absences every year according to Data Matters. 

Each September, schools, city agencies, and others in the U.S. join a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the value of regular school attendance and focus on reducing chronic absenteeism in the new school year. 

In the Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), Goal 1 of the Local Control and Accountability plan is to “increase student academic achievement and social and emotional strength through collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication.” A key metric in measuring progress towards this goal is chronic absenteeism, due to the significant impact school attendance has on student learning outcomes. 

Chronic absenteeism is described as missing 10 percent of the school year – or about 18 days – for any reason, excused or unexcused. Research indicates that this is the point at which absenteeism begins to affect student performance.

In 2016-17, California identified chronic absenteeism as a metric in the state’s accountability system and provided schools and districts with the data to help guide improvement efforts.

This initial data identified that the LBUSD chronic absenteeism rate was higher than the state and county average, which prompted a systematic look at existing attendance processes and procedures districtwide to identify areas that needed more focused efforts. 

To help support the implementation of the district’s new processes and procedures, in 2017-18 the LBUSD Board of Education approved the addition of a second high school attendance specialist.

In recent years, LBUSD has taken data-driven steps to ensure that children are attending school more regularly. Using chronic absence data as a diagnostic tool, staff implemented a comprehensive three-tiered approach focused on prevention, early intervention, and intensive intervention. 

LBUSD’s prevention efforts focus on universal strategies to encourage good attendance for all students, including raising parent awareness, recognizing students for positive attendance, and data progress monitoring. District schools provide early intervention for students who need more support to avoid chronic absence, which includes systematic parent notification, staff outreach to families, and counseling if necessary.

 Finally, when needed, intensive intervention provides support for students facing the greatest challenges to getting to school in coordination with district and county attendance review boards. Using this approach, chronic absenteeism has dropped nearly 50 percent over the last two years. 

A year ago, LBUSD’s rate dropped below the statewide average and will likely fall below the county average when that data is released later this fall. The chronic absenteeism rates for LBUSD schools and the district are listed in Figure 1 below, including the year-to-year changes. 

LBUSD reaffirms table

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Chronic Absenteeism at LBUSD has decreased

Improving school attendance is not a solo effort. While attendance improvements may begin in a single classroom, school, or district, the most effective and sustainable approaches are data-driven and supported by coordinated prevention and intervention.

These key ingredients of change have been instrumental in the success of students and schools in Laguna Beach and the surrounding areas the district serves. In 2019-2020, LBUSD will continue to focus on solidifying meaningful relationships critical to the success of its students.


LBHS cheerleading squad hosts cheer clinic on Saturday, Sept 21

Football season is here and it’s time to cheer! Young ones can learn how from the LBHS cheerleaders as the squad once again holds its Laguna Beach Cheer Clinic on Saturday, Sept 21. 

Open to boys and girls in kindergarten through eighth grade, participants will learn how to cheer, chant, and dance with the LBHS cheerleading squad.

Attendees will also perform at the LBHS vs Estancia home football game on Friday, Sept 27.

Laguna Beach team

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Boys and girls in kindergarten through eighth grade will have the opportunity to learn from and cheer with the LBHS cheerleading squad

A fee of $55 (prepaid) includes the cost for the halftime and first quarter performances, all instruction, an LBHS Cheer T-shirt, scrunchie, poms poms, snack, and water. The cost is $60 on the morning of the clinic.

The clinic takes place at LBHS Dugger Gym on St Ann’s St; the cheerleaders will direct participants. Registration is at 8:45 a.m., and the clinic runs from 9 a.m. to noon.

For a registration flyer, click here or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LBHS senior Kyle Herkins earns every merit badge in scouting

Kyle Herkins, a senior at Laguna Beach High School, has accomplished what fewer than 450 scouts in the 109-year history of scouting have ever done – earn every merit badge in scouting. This is out of 110 million scouts! 

Herkins, an Eagle Scout, went beyond the 21 required badges and earned 138 merit badges and 23 palms. 

Out of over a 110 million scouts in scouting history, only 5.7 percent earn the Eagle rank and even fewer, only .0038 percent, earn every merit badge. 

Herkins earned his Eagle rank in 2014 and continued his goal of earning every merit badge. It took him seven and a half years and a lot of help and commitment to earn all 138 merit badges. The last ones were especially hard because Herkins was a junior at Laguna Beach High School, taking a lot of Advanced Placement courses, and was on the varsity tennis team. 

Kyle Herkins kiln

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Kyle Herkins using a kiln for the Pottery merit badge

Herkins says he decided to go beyond the 21 merit badges needed to earn Eagle status and earn all 138 because with each merit badge, he learned more about a subject that could help him decide on his future career. Even though Kyle plays the piano, trombone, and bassoon, the merit badge he had the hardest time with was the Bugle merit badge. It took almost nine months of lessons and two teachers to master the bugle enough to earn the badge. No wonder it is the least earned merit badge according to scouting records. 

There were physical as well as mental challenges. Another difficult badge was the Backpacking merit badge where he had to go on four backpacking trips covering 70 miles of hiking. For Scuba he had to get his PADI certification, which included doing a number of dives. 

Kyle Herkins Rouda

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Kyle Herkins with Congressman Harley Rouda, who presented him with a certificate for becoming an Eagle Scout and earning 138 merit badges and 23 palm awards 

However, his favorites were Game Design and Chess. Game Design in particular, because he got to see how games were designed and designed his own game. Chess, because he likes to play. 

When asked what he has enjoyed about his years of scouting Kyle says that he has learned leadership by serving in leadership positions in his troops and working as a staff member at National Youth Leadership Training camp. He has participated in many community service projects including his own two Eagle Scout projects at El Morro Elementary School. 

Kyle Herkins kid

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Kyle In front of one of his Eagle Scout projects at El Morro Elementary

Kyle has been exposed to a lot of people, ideas, and things he would not have otherwise been exposed to like surveying, composite materials, horseback riding, cross country skiing, sailing, nuclear science, welding, and metalwork to name a few. 

He went on some really fun campouts where he got to go white water rafting, kayaking into ocean caves, try out archery, and fly fishing. Most of all he has met some really great leaders and made some great friends. The experiences have been enjoyable and worthwhile. This summer Herkins worked on earning more scout awards while working as a summer intern at Epson America in PC Support. 

What’s up for his future? He just started his senior year in high school this month and is hoping to study engineering in college next year.


LBHS cheerleading squad hosts cheer clinic on Saturday, Sept 21

Football season is here and it’s time to cheer! Learn how from the LBHS cheerleaders as the squad once again holds its Laguna Beach Cheer Clinic on Saturday, Sept 21. 

Open to boys and girls in kindergarten through eighth grade, participants will learn how to cheer, chant, and dance with the LBHS cheerleading squad.

Attendees will also perform at the LBHS vs Estancia home football game on Friday, Sept 27.

Laguna Beach team

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Submitted photo

Boys and girls in kindergarten through eighth grade will have the opportunity to learn from and cheer with the LBHS cheerleading squad

A fee of $55 (prepaid) includes the cost for the halftime and first quarter performances, all instruction, an LBHS Cheer T-shirt, scrunchie, poms poms, snack, and water. The cost is $60 on the morning of the clinic.

The clinic takes place at LBHS Dugger Gym on St Ann’s St; the cheerleaders will direct participants. Registration is at 8:45 a.m., and the clinic runs from 9 a.m. to noon.

For online registration or questions, email Cheer Boosters at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LBUSD observes National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month:
A Climate of Care

The month of September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Communities across the nation raise awareness about the impact of suicide, take time to reach out and support those impacted by loss, and enhance efforts to connect individuals who are at a heightened risk of suicide to qualified mental health crisis systems of support. 

In school-age youth across the U.S., death by suicide is the second leading cause of death. In Orange County, statistics from 2016 indicate that there were 16 youth deaths by suicide, up from 7 in 2007, according to the California Department of Public Health. Across all age groups, death by suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the most recent full year of data collection in 2017 according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), National Vital Statistics System.   

Within National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, LBUSD observes National Suicide Prevention Week that runs from September 8 through 14 and emphasizes the power of connections and the importance of discussing mental health in everyday moments. These efforts aim to destigmatize an individual’s experiences of distress and promote action to connect those in need to qualified supports. 

World Suicide Prevention Day, on September 10, promotes the collaborative commitment of working together to prevent suicide through increasing awareness about the complex set of causes, risks and warning signs, and compassion and care for individuals in distress. 

LBUSD observes yoga

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LBUSD promotes social and emotional strength in students through various ways including yoga sessions 

In the Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), an important area of focus has been to increase the social and emotional strength of all students in our schools. LBUSD’s efforts have been focused primarily on increasing mental health awareness and reducing stigma in the identification and access of professional support, school-wide and classroom prevention, and enhancing crisis systems of support. 

For the LBUSD student population of close to 2,800 students at four school sites, the district employs a team of credentialed school-based mental health professionals, including seven school counselors, four school psychologists, and two student support specialists providing services as school social workers as well as a dedicated Director of Social Emotional Support that oversees the district’s programs. 

There are multiple ways LBUSD’s team of school-based mental health service providers, administrators, teachers, and staff focus on suicide prevention efforts. LBUSD is one of the first school districts in the state to implement a universal social-emotional learning screening program that is made available to all students in kindergarten through 12th-grade, two times per year. 

This best practice approach enables school-based support teams to use evidence-based screening tools to identify students who are at risk and may be in need of further support, further enhancing LBUSD’s prevention work. 

Additionally, all staff who directly serve students in grades 6 through 12 are trained annually on the topic of suicide prevention, which includes training in identifying the risks and warning signs of students in distress, and how to take timely and decisive action to connect students to qualified support. 

At the middle and high school level, the student support specialists lead suicide prevention week activities to increase staff and student awareness on the impact of suicide, risks and warning signs, and how to access supports for themselves, a friend, family member, or colleague. 

The Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) student support specialist, Ms. Alex Aronson, co-leads suicide prevention awareness classroom lessons alongside School Resource Officer Corporal Ashton in all 9th grade health classes. Lastly, in response to recent legislative changes, suicide prevention hotline information has been placed on the back of every student’s school identification card in grades 6 through 12. 

LBUSD observes sign

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September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month 

The work of suicide prevention, and youth suicide prevention, in particular, is a community effort that includes schools, families, public health officials, emergency responders, and more. There are multiple local and national resources available to help increase knowledge and awareness of suicide prevention, risks and warning signs, and ways to provide crisis support.

 One California-based resource, Know the Signs, provides important information about identifying indicators of risk through conversations, actions, and social media. 

Know the Signs provides a conversation framework for concerned family members or friends in starting the conversation, listening and expressing care, creating a safety plan, and getting help.

Lastly, Know the Signs helps individuals connect to qualified crisis resources, including:

--National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

--National Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741741

--Trevor Project: National Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ Youth: 1-866-488-7386

For individuals needing support after losing someone to suicide, resources can be found at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at www.afsp.org


Vic 4-man volleyball tournament…a Labor Day weekend delight 

Photos by Scott Brashier

Vic 4 man winners

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This year’s winning team: (L-R) Piper Naess, Shanti Nunn, Samuel Bridge Burgi, and Kelsey Rudolph with their winning coffee mugs designed by longtime Sawdust exhibitor Mike Brennan. In all the years of winners, there has never been a winning team made up of three gals and only one guy...except this year.

Vic 4 man block

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The Vic 4-man was started in 1981 by Beth and Jerome Pearlstrom. Their daughter, Lael Fersenious, is now running it.

Vic 4 man spike

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Bump, set, spike…Samuel Bridge Burgi wasn’t going home without a fight for the win

Vic 4 man group

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Although only four went home with the first prize, all the contestants had a great time at the tournament

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