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Thurston Middle School holds first spring session of Laguna Beach NJB club basketball

On Thursday, March 28, Thurston Middle School (TMS) held the first spring session of Laguna Beach NJB club basketball for eighth graders who are looking for a bridge to high school tryouts.

Thurston Middle School players

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Courtesy of James Azadian

The TMS eighth graders and Varsity Team players are all smiles in the gym 

These eighth graders will be trying out this June to join the Boys Basketball Team at LBHS. Three of the Varsity Team players from the high school (Ashton Azadian, Jack Halverson and Mason Tate (pictured in the middle) are teaching drills, skills and high school plays to the incoming freshmen.

This is the first time in Laguna Beach history where they are offering club ball bridging eighth graders to high school basketball.

Thank you to the kindness and generosity of the Varsity players to be lending their time to invest in the next wave of Breakers. The 8th graders and Varsity Team players were all smiles.

The Varsity Team players all graduated from Thurston, so it was really special for them to return to TMS to work with these young ballerz!


Breakers’ girls basketball rewrote the record books…and things are just getting started

Before we move completely to spring sports at our local high school, it’s definitely worth a look back at this year’s Breakers’ girls basketball team. 

First off, coach Matthew Tietz and his program finished at 21-13, qualifying for the CIF Sectional Playoffs, reaching the semi-finals, and then qualifying for the State Regionals before being eliminated in the 2nd round.

Those credentials in themself make this the most successful season in school history. These add to it: 21 wins are the most ever in one season; this is the first team to ever advance beyond the 2nd round of CIF Sectionals; first team to ever qualify for the CIF State Regionals; first team to ever win a state regional playoff game; and, with four playoff wins they tied for as many as any other team in school history.

The good news for Coach Tietz is that this year’s team only included one senior, guard Anna Cheng. And although Anna’s season was hampered by injuries, she got healthy toward the end of the year and subsequently became a force in the playoffs, hitting 16 3-pointers in the Breakers’ five playoff games.

Breakers girls basketball team

Courtesy of LBHS Athletics

(L-R) Breakers’ girls basketball team: Kate Cheng, Alicia Mendoza, Sabrina Yang, Alex Grombchevsky, Sophie Marriner, Kenna Rudolph, Izzy Gray, Anna Cheng, Brisa Campos, Maryana Wollam, Elaina Seybold

According to Tietz, “Anna graduates as one of the best all-around players in school history. She is a 4-year starter and 3-year captain. Anna is a 3-time winner of the team’s Offensive Player of the Year and was voted Best Teammate 3 times. Her 160 career 3-pointers ranks 2nd in school history. She is in the top 10 in points, steals and blocked shots in school history.”

In addition to Anna, the team was led by Co-Most Valuable Players Sophie Marriner and Kate Cheng. Along with the team MVP awards, the pair were both named 1st Team All-CIF and 1st Team All-League. 

Junior forward Marriner led the team in scoring, rebounding and assists, despite being the focal point of most opponents’ defenses according to Tietz. Her 423 rebounds shattered her own school record, led CIF-SS Division 5AA and ranked 5th in the entire state. 

According to Tietz, “Cheng was among the top freshmen in the state.” She led the team in blocked shots and was 2nd in scoring, rebounding and assists. 

The contributions didn’t stop there. “Junior wing Kenna Rudolph blossomed into a much more complete player this season,” according to Tietz.

She again led the team and 5AA with 48 3-pointers on the season, but also took on a much larger role, increasing her assist production 5-fold and doubling her steal totals, while reducing her turnover rate. She was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year for her efforts at that end of the court.

Junior Sabrina Yang and Sophomore Alex Grombchevsky split the duties at point guard and also played wing. Again, according to Tietz, “The pair were essential in breaking opposing teams’ presses and getting their team into the offense.” The two also combined for 117 assists. 

Grombchevsky led the team in steals and Yang led the team in taking charges, again. Grombchevsky was named All-League Honorable Mention and won the team’s Offensive Player of the Year award. Yang won the team’s Best Team Spirit Award for her endless enthusiasm.

The team also had a strong bench. 

Sophomore Izzy Gray returned to basketball after several years away from the sport. She provided the team with energy off the bench and her versatility allowed her to play inside and out, hitting big 3-pointers and grabbing important rebounds. She also shared the honor of being named Best Teammate (along with Anna Cheng). 

Sophomore Elaina Seybold provided the team with a strong post presence and rebounds off the bench. 

Junior guard Brisa Campos supplied the team with energy and smothering defense and Freshman Alicia Mendoza had little experience but demonstrated unlimited athleticism. 

With all these returners coming back, you have to figure that Coach Tietz is counting the days until the beginning of next season.

Congrats, Breakers! Well deserved.


51st ASICS Laguna Beach Trophy Invitational 2022 held at LBHS on March 19

Photos by Scott Brashier

The Laguna Beach High School Track and Field program hosted the 51st ASICS Beach Trophy Invitational on Saturday, March 19. The meet, at LBHS, was open to boys and girls divisions, broken into two categories, frosh/soph and varsity.

Two of the featured events were the Boys and Girls Varsity Eric Hulst 3200 Meter Run, limited to the top 30 entries in each. The event is named after former Laguna Beach High School star Eric Hulst, arguably one of the most accomplished, if not the best, distance runners ever in Orange County history. A LBHS 1976 graduate, Hulst died of brain cancer at the age of 34.

51st ASICS boys 3200

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Varsity boys during the Eric Hulst 3200 Meter Run

51st ASICS boys high hurdles

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Varsity boys’ high hurdles

51st ASICS girls low hurdles

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Varsity girls’ low hurdles

Other races on the day included virtually all distances and sprints to distance, including relays.

The field events were pole vault (Boys Pole Vault were contested at Newport Harbor High School beginning at 9 a.m.), high jump, long jump, triple jump, shot put and discus.

Forty-four teams attended from throughout Southern California, and two from out of state including The Lawrenceville School from Lawrenceville, New Jersey and Foothill High School from Henderson, Nevada.

The racing began at 7:30 a.m. with the frosh/soph Girl’s 3200, with races scheduled throughout the day, closing with the 1600 relays which began at around 4 p.m.

The field events began at 8 a.m. with the long jump and opening heights for the high jump. 

51st ASICS boys long jump

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Varsity boys’ long jump

51st ASICS girls 3200

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Varsity girls during the Eric Hulst 3200 Meter Run

51st ASICS boys high jump

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Varsity boys’ high jump

Trophy Invite awards were given to the top six performers in all events on both varsity and frosh/soph levels. The top three relay teams received medals.

The first-place finisher in all individual varsity events received a custom backpack (Limit one backpack per athlete) and the top 10 finishers in the Eric Hulst 3200 received an ASICS backpack. All athletes in the Eric Hulst 3200 received a small gift pack.

Athletes of the Meet were awarded to the top overall male & female athletes.

51st ASICS spectators

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Spectators rally for the athletes

For the complete race results, go here.


51st ASICS Beach Trophy Invitational runs all day tomorrow at LBHS

The Laguna Beach High School Track and Field program will host the 51st ASICS Beach Trophy Invitational tomorrow, March 19. The meet, at LBHS, is open to boys and girls divisions, broken into two categories, frosh/soph and varsity.

Two of the featured events will be the Boys and Girls Varsity Eric Hulst 3200 Meter Run, limited to the top 30 entries in each.

The event is named after former Laguna Beach High School star Eric Hulst, arguably one of the most accomplished, if not the best, distance runners ever in Orange County history. A LBHS 1976 graduate, Hulst died of brain cancer at the age of 34.

Other races on the day include virtually all distances and sprints to distance, including relays.

51st ASICS girls race at finish

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Photos by Scott Brashier 

The field events include pole vault (Boys Pole Vault to be contested at Newport Harbor High School beginning at 9 a.m.), high jump, long jump, triple jump, shot put and discus.

Forty-four teams are attending from throughout Southern California, and two from out of state including The Lawrenceville School from Lawrenceville, New Jersey and Foothill High School from Henderson, Nevada.

The racing begins at 7:30 a.m. with the frosh/soph Girl’s 3200, with races scheduled throughout the day, closing with the 1600 relays beginning at roughly 4 p.m.

The field events begin at 8 a.m. with the long jump and opening heights for the high jump. A schedule of events can be found here.

51st ASICS long jump sand flying

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Trophy Invite awards will be given to the top six performers in all events on both varsity and frosh/soph levels. The top three relay teams will receive medals.

The first-place finisher in all individual varsity events will receive a custom backpack (Limit one backpack per athlete) and the top 10 finishers in the Eric Hulst 3200 will receive an ASICS backpack. All athletes in the Eric Hulst 3200 will receive a small gift pack. In case of a tie, both athletes will receive an award.

Athletes of the Meet will be awarded to the top overall male & female athletes.

View the meet program, listing entrants and schools for each event

51st ASICS girl shot putter

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Spectators are encouraged, $10 for adults, $5 for students, under 10 are free and CIF Cards will be honored. Parking is available around Laguna Beach High School and at Thurston Middle School, with a shuttle service running continuously between the two schools.


The Best of Laguna Beach Banner2

LBHS buddies undertake vast “Creation” project in stained glass

By Diane Armitage

It’s been 42 years since these two buddies met at Laguna Beach High School. 

That may seem like ancient history to Dirk Maes and Kaj Garmshausen. In a matter of weeks, though, the two will certainly be making history with the installation of a 3,000-piece stained-glass work of art for Dana Point’s St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church.

Over 10 feet high and more than 34 feet in length, the magnificent stained-glass installation, a total of 22 panels, will weigh close to 4,000 pounds. It required a full team of structural engineers and architects at Domus Studios to create a steel framework sturdy enough to house the entire creation which, fittingly enough, is themed “The Creation Story.”

LBHS Buddies Kaj and Dirk with panels

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Photo by Diane Armitage

(L-R) Longtime Laguna Beach artists Kaj Garmshausen and Dirk Maes are completing one of the region's largest stained-glass installations for Dana Point’s St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church

This particular creation is also a rarity in that it is done in the Dalle de Verre (“slab of glass”) technique, a faceted glass style first developed in Paris by Jean Gaudin in the early 1930s. Gaudin discovered that breaking or chipping the glass slabs created variants and facets that more beautifully reflected and refracted light. The process transforms thick pieces of glass into a mosaic of cascading, rich color.

LBHS Buddies stained glass panel

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Photo by Diane Armitage

The rare Dalle de Verre stained-glass technique was developed in the 1930s to more beautifully reflect and refract light

A chip off the old block, literally

There’s something, though, that makes this stained-glass project even more special: Maes’ father, Joseph (who went by “Jos”), crafted the original five stained glass panels for this church 29 years ago. Maes and Garmshausen have simply continued where Jos left off.

“Maes’ father’s work was impeccable. This is really an extension of what he imagined and created 30 years ago. We owed it to him to get it right,” said Garmshausen.

Jos Maes: A pathfinder for Dalle de Verre stained glass in the U.S.

Born in Belgium, Jos attended art school for 10 years, honing his craft in stained-glass creations. There were no formal mentors in Dalle de Verre at the time, so he eventually taught himself the craft, relying on his foundational knowledge in stained glass to make the leap. 

When he moved to the United States in 1956, he was one of just two or three Dalle de Verre practitioners in the country. In fact, years later, one of America’s most well-known stained-glass artists, Elizabeth Devereaux, mentored for four years with Jos before setting up her own successful studio.

LBHS Buddies Dirk's dad and mom

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Courtesy of Dirk Maes

Jos Maes trained himself in the Dalle de Verre stained-glass style in Belgium and later moved to the U.S. as one of the premier artisans of the craft. Jos is pictured here with his wife (and Dirk’s mother), Denise.

“My Dad was the first guy in the Orange County Yellow Pages who did stained glass, let alone Dalle de Verre glass,” said Maes. 

“After we moved from Pasadena to Laguna Canyon in 1963, he set up shop at what used to be Kubisak’s Antiques and started taking on all sorts of church and retail projects.

“He became well known for the work he was doing in churches, so St. Edwards called him in the early 1980s to create those first five panels. At that point, I was old enough to help him with the project, so it’s been quite a walk around the circle for me to arrive back to where it all began,” added Maes. 

Doodles on napkins and many hand-drawn sketches

At about this time last year, the architectural firm employed by the church contacted Maes to discuss an expansion of the stained-glass edifice in the narthex (lobby) of the church. As the scope grew larger, Maes decided he might need help pulling off the design of such a large piece, so he called in his high school buddy, Kaj Garmshausen. 

More renowned for his beautiful wood sculptures and whimsical pen-and-ink Santa Claus holiday cards, Garmshausen said he felt “rather overwhelmed” with the request.

“We’re talking a huge drawing that had to really incorporate those original five panels from Dirk’s dad. It was intimidating,” said Garmshausen.

“I finally landed on the idea to ask Dirk for any of his dad’s old notes or sketches and – fortunately – he had a pile of thumbnails and doodles on napkins,” said Garmshausen. 

“Once I spent some time with his dad’s sketches, I suddenly had this moment when I could see the entire design in my head. I went right back up to my studio and drew the whole thing in just a couple of hours. When I called Dirk to tell him I had it done, he didn’t even believe me,” said Garmshausen with a laugh.

LBHS Buddies Kaj with original drawing

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Photo by Diane Armitage

After immersing himself in the notes and sketches from Maes’ dad, Garmshausen sketched the entire panel in a couple of hours

“I drove over to show it to Dirk, and we knew we had it. And then, I got to fill in all the colors so that we could present it to Pastor Philip (Smith) at the church. As soon as we unrolled it to show it to him, he knew we had it, too. It was such a great moment,” said Garmshausen.

Addressing Dad’s original creation first

Then the real work began…finding and ordering all the thousands of thick colored glass blocks from just three remaining Dalle de Verre glass-blowing studios in the world. 

“We started with the original five panels that Dirk’s dad had created, but we discovered that the glass he used was unattainable; the colors just aren’t made anymore,” said Garmshausen. “It became a real process to create something that flowed with those original colors but acted as a close complement, too.”

Meanwhile, the glass-blowing studios in West Virginia, Germany and Kokomo, Indiana were dealing with COVID shutdowns and supply chain issues of their own. 

“Most of the time of this project has been spent waiting around for the glass to arrive,” said Maes. “It delayed us by about six months.” 

While he waited, Maes meticulously removed the glass from his dad’s original panels and recast their exact configuration into stronger epoxy. Then, he printed Garmshausen’s original artwork at full size and began “paint by numbering” the entire matrix as a key for the incoming 3,000 pieces of glass. Garmshausen became a willing apprentice as Maes began teaching him the 90-year-old technique. 

As the glass finally began to arrive, the two would, for example, discuss 12 different shades of yellow to determine which was to be placed where. And they would, for instance, return to the glass originators to try “a second round of teal that looked more like seafoamy teal,” noted Maes. 

LBHS Buddies Dirk with two teals

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Maes compares slabs of teal, each of which has its own place in the “Creation” story

“You can’t just say, ‘Oh, this will work well enough,’ and put something in that really doesn’t belong to the ripple of color gradation you’re creating,” said Maes. “It’s just got to be the right glass for that right space,” he finished.

“This is the ‘Creation,’ man! You’ve got to get it right on the first pass,” added Garmshausen. 

Once selected for their place in history, the glass pieces are carefully chiseled and hammered into their appropriate shapes. They are then laid on a bed of sand that is bound by a wooden casting frame. A matrix material of sand and epoxy resin is carefully poured between the glass pieces, requiring at least 24 hours to harden. 

LBHS Buddies glass flat

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Photo by Diane Armitage

The glass is secured in an epoxy mix of sand and resin that requires more than 24 hours at just the right heat to harden to a steel-like substance

Waiting for the light

Beginning March 21 and extending through the end of the month, Maes, Garmshausen and their experienced team will begin the actual installation at the church. 

Until then, 22 panels, stacked shoulder to shoulder in Maes’ small studio, yearn for the day when they will become one with the light. 

Find these artists

Dirk Maes owns Maes Stained Glass at 2621 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. His phone is 949.394.5934. He regularly creates and updates stained-glass projects for homeowners as well as for churches, cathedrals and retailers. See his award-winning work at www.MaesStainedGlass.com

Kaj Garmshausen is a master artisan, wood sculptor and furniture maker and self-described peacemaker and lover of nature. It’s best to message him at his Facebook page.   

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at https://thebestoflagunabeach.com/ and follow on Instagram @BestofLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).


School district offers free, fun event to show off Passport to Learning 

On Saturday, March 12, the Laguna Beach Early Learning Community Task Force invites families with young children to join them for their 4th Annual Passport to Learning event, a free, in-person early learning, family fun adventure at the Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Center Terrace designed to help families learn simple, yet effective ways to build school readiness skills for children 0-5 years old.

During Passport to Learning, children will receive a travel guide and an adventure map to navigate through each learning station (and win prizes!). Experts will help guide each family to support and help build effective communication strategies, fine and gross motor skills, early literacy skills, social-emotional learning skills and school readiness skills. Lakeshore Learning and the Priority Center’s School Readiness Program will also be in attendance to offer prizes and early learning resources for young families.

School district offers

Courtesy of LBUSD

Passport to Learning allows youngsters to explore different activities and play in a fun environment

“We are very excited to return to offering this event in person,” shared Irene White, LBUSD director of special education. “Both parents and their children will have a great time engaging in many hands-on activities offered by a team of professionals. Parents will also be provided with information on activities that promote kindergarten readiness.”

“The kids love this event. They have a blast while the parents learn. The event seems like a carnival at the park. While the kids explore the different activities and play, parents learn about important developmental milestones and strategies to support their child’s success. Historically, the families do not want to leave after the event ends,” said Cherie Francis Boegeman, occupational therapist. 

“We enjoy participating in this event each year. We are able to offer quality connections and tangible, real-life application ideas for families in our community that help support their child’s development. Added bonus…it’s fun for all!,” said Anne Herzog, local preschool director.

Passport to Learning will take place from 9-11 a.m. at 380 3rd St., Laguna Beach. Registration for this learning adventure is highly encouraged; RSVP prior to the event to secure your spot. Families will be able to register onsite using a QR code on the day of the event. For any questions regarding Passport to Learning, contact Sandee Bandettini at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Future events and more details about the Laguna Beach Early Community Task Force can also be found at www.lbusd.org/preschool.

This event is sponsored by the Laguna Beach Early Learning Community Task Force. The task force is dedicated to promoting young children’s academic, social-emotional and physical readiness. To ensure that children are healthy and ready to learn when they enter school, the task force uses the Early Development Index (EDI) as a reference point, which helps measure five key domain areas and is used to produce a holistic, community level measurement of childhood development during the kindergarten year.


Riddle Field opens to fanfare for rededication and Opening Day

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Little League Baseball returned to Riddle Field on Sunday, March 6, with the pomp & circumstance deserving of an institution celebrating its 70th anniversary.

Current and former players, parents and local dignitaries joined in for the festivities. The day also marked the completion of a major overhaul to Riddle Field that began last Fall.

Riddle Field Peter Blake

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Kids wait at the backstop excited about the fun ahead, with Councilmember Peter Blake, in the middle, looking on

Through multiple community donations and a matching grant from the city, some $200,000 was raised and put toward improvements. Specifically, sod replacement, a completely new infield skin, new warning track, and base anchors and a pitching mound were completed. Additionally, the field’s irrigation system was also entirely revamped.

Several local families, led by the Offield Family Foundation, made the field improvements possible.

The event was delayed several days from its original opening day plans of Friday, March 4, because of wind and the threat of rain.

But when the time came Sunday, it was a day all could comfortably enjoy.

A players’ parade began the festivities as youth from all ages, many in their uniform tops, walked around the field and waved Riddle Field green flags.

Riddle Field players parade

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Kids of all ages walk the outfield grass enjoying the splendor of the revamped Riddle Field

Smiles all around appeared to be the norm for the day.

Once the parade concluded, it was time for remarks from some of the dignitaries on hand, including Laguna Beach Mayor Sue Kempf, who was instrumental in working with city leadership to earmark funds for the project.

Riddle Field Mayor Sue Kempf

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Mayor Sue Kempf makes her remarks for the rededication and Opening Day

Nothing says baseball and opening day more than someone throwing out the first pitch. In Sunday’s case, there were two first pitches.

The first one was thrown by Laguna Beach Police Sgt. Jesse Schmidt. It wasn’t the sergeant’s first time on a baseball diamond. In 2003, Sgt. Schmidt was drafted in the 10th round by the San Francisco Giants. He played seven years before moving on to his career in law enforcement. 

He has worked for 12 years with the LBPD.

Riddle Field Schmidt

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Former professional baseball player and now with the LBPD, Sgt. Jesse Schmidt rubs up the ball before throwing out his first pitch

Not to be outdone, next up was Laguna Beach Fire Division Chief Api Weinert who was tasked with throwing out the second first pitch.

And, although the chief’s resume didn’t include a professional baseball career, his form, including a high leg kick on his wind-up (ala Juan Marichal), demonstrated nearly perfect form.

Riddle Field Weinert

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LBFD Division Chief Api Weiner winds and delivers!

An opening exhibition game, between a Rotary-sponsored team and a VFW-sponsored team followed the afternoon’s festivities. But prior to that, both teams lined up along the infield, one team between first and second and the other between second and third.

The teams were surrounded with representatives from the VFW Local Post 5868.

Riddle Field teams lining up

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Team VFW lines up between second and third, Team Rotary lines between first and second, as members of the VFW Local Post 5868 present the colors

 And, in case anyone is fooled thinking Riddle Field just represents a quaint little baseball field, don’t be. Two local age-group teams showed up proudly displaying their Championship pennants.

Riddle Field Junior Division

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The 2021 banner speaks for itself with the ELEV8’s Junior Division CA District Championship pennant

And finally, the MJ Group were also champions, winning the AAA Division California District 55 Tournament of Champions.

Riddle Field AAA Division 55

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Proof that winning starts young in Laguna Beach

Here’s wishing a season filled with success and health. Oh, and enjoy the new digs at Riddle Field and thanks to all of those who made it possible.


LBHS Girls Water Polo finish season 2nd in CIF-SS and CIF State Finals

Story by Steve Riches

This past Saturday, Laguna Beach High School Girls water polo finished their 2021/2022 season with a 27-7 record, earning 2nd place in the CIF State Southern California Regional Final.

This was a rematch of the previous weekend when the girls had finished 2nd in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division Final.

LBHS Water Polo

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Courtesy of LBHS Girls Water Polo Team

Back Row (L-R): Nathan McConnell (Coach), London Boyd, Ava Knepper, Charlotte Riches, Ava Houlahan (Captain), Carly Rohrer, Lauren Smith, Isabel Foley, Lela McCarroll, Lauren Short, Presley Jones, Sienna Jumani, Jacob Prill (Coach) and Ethan Damato (Head Coach); Front Row (L-R): Ally Beck (Coach), Tasha Denny, Hannah Carver, Kara Carver, Myha Pinto, Jordan Schneider, Cleo Washer, Lexi Parness, Lauren Schneider and Emmy Hensley.

The girls began their season in early December with a home win against Murrieta Valley (23-3.) Due to last year’s large graduating senior class, this was the first high school season this group of girls had played together as a team.

At the end of the first week, the team traveled up to Santa Barbara for two games, beating San Marcos (14-8) and Dos Pueblos (20-7). The next couple of weeks saw several decisive wins against San Clemente (16-2), Orange Lutheran (8-7), Martin Luther King (13-3), Mater Dei (7-6) and Foothill (12-8).

After the brief holiday break, the girls returned to action in the Bill Barnett Holiday Cup beating Corona del Mar (12-3), Santa Barbara (18-6), Foothill (8-7), then Newport (10-9) in the finals to win first place for the eighth consecutive year. This win over Newport was to be the first of six in-season matches against Newport.

2022 began with the girls’ loss to Newport (5-7) in their first Surf League match, followed by an overtime loss to Orange Lutheran. The team bounced back with a league win against Los Alamitos (12-11). They then had another league loss to Newport (8-15) followed by a league win against Corona del Mar (13-9).

The next weekend the team returned to Santa Barbara, prevailing in all their matches, against Dos Pueblos (20-6), San Marcos (11-3), Santa Barbara (15-5) and Agoura (15-6). 

The following week saw a second league win against Los Alamitos (8-7). Later that week, the team played in the inaugural Newport Elite 8 Invite, losing to Newport (7-13) and Foothill (6-7), winning against San Marcos (13-11), Mater Dei (10-6) and Orange Lutheran (12-7).

As February began, the girls secured second place in the Surf League with a win against Corona del Mar (12-5) and #2 seed in the CIF-SS Open Division playoffs.

In the CIF quarterfinals, the girls met San Marcos again and won in an overtime battle (9-8) which sent them to the semifinals vs. Orange Lutheran. Laguna then beat Orange Lutheran handily (10-3) and advanced to the finals vs. Newport. The final game at Woollett Aquatic Center saw Laguna fall to Newport (6-11), earning them second place in the CIF-SS Open Division.

Last week, the top teams from CIF-SS and CIF-SD faced-off in the CIF State Southern California Regional Championships. In the quarterfinals, the girls won against Grossmont in the semis (18-2), beat Orange Lutheran in overtime (13-10) and fell to Newport in the final (2-9), earning a second-place finish. 

“I am Incredibly proud of this team and the way we competed this entire season,” said Head Coach Ethan Damato. “As a group, we grew so much together and proved to be one of the best teams in the country. More than anything, this group should be remembered for their resilience and ability to play through adversity. As a coach, they were a very special team to coach. They showed up hungry every day to get better and were a pleasure to work with.”

LBHS Girls Season Stat Leaders:

Goals: Ava Houlahan 73, Ava Knepper 72, Charlotte Riches 67

Assists: Ava Houlahan 49, Lela McCarroll 35, Lauren Schneider 34 

Steals: Ava Houlahan 76, Ava Knepper 37, Lauren Schneider 36

Ejections Drawn: Charlotte Riches 56, Ava Houlahan 32, Cleo Washer 20


School district offers free, fun event to show off Passport to Learning 

On Saturday, March 12, the Laguna Beach Early Learning Community Task Force invites families with young children to join them for their 4th Annual Passport to Learning event, a free, in-person early learning, family fun adventure at the Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Center Terrace designed to help families learn simple, yet effective ways to build school readiness skills for children 0-5 years old.

During Passport to Learning, children will receive a travel guide and an adventure map to navigate through each learning station (and win prizes!). Experts will help guide each family to support and help build effective communication strategies, fine and gross motor skills, early literacy skills, social-emotional learning skills and school readiness skills. Lakeshore Learning and the Priority Center’s School Readiness Program will also be in attendance to offer prizes and early learning resources for young families.

“We are very excited to return to offering this event in person,” shared Irene White, LBUSD director of special education. “Both parents and their children will have a great time engaging in many hands-on activities offered by a team of professionals. Parents will also be provided with information on activities that promote kindergarten readiness.”

School district offers

Courtesy of LBUSD

Passport to Learning is a free, in-person early learning, family fun adventure

“The kids love this event. They have a blast while the parents learn. The event seems like a carnival at the park. While the kids explore the different activities and play, parents learn about important developmental milestones and strategies to support their child’s success. Historically, the families do not want to leave after the event ends,” said Cherie Francis Boegeman, occupational therapist. 

“We enjoy participating in this event each year. We are able to offer quality connections and tangible, real-life application ideas for families in our community that help support their child’s development. Added bonus…it’s fun for all!,” said Anne Herzog, local preschool director.

Passport to Learning will take place from 9-11 a.m. at 380 3rd St., Laguna Beach. Registration for this learning adventure is highly encouraged; RSVP prior to the event to secure your spot. Families will be able to register onsite using a QR code on the day of the event. For any questions regarding Passport to Learning, contact Sandee Bandettini at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Future events and more details about the Laguna Beach Early Community Task Force can also be found at www.lbusd.org/preschool.

This event is sponsored by the Laguna Beach Early Learning Community Task Force. The task force is dedicated to promoting young children’s academic, social-emotional and physical readiness. To ensure that children are healthy and ready to learn when they enter school, the task force uses the Early Development Index (EDI) as a reference point, which helps measure five key domain areas and is used to produce a holistic, community level measurement of childhood development during the kindergarten year.


Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Foundation seeks scholarship applications

The Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Foundation (LBHSSF) is taking applications for college scholarships, so Laguna Beach High School seniors it’s time to apply. The deadline is Thursday, March 3. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

to learn more.

LBHSSF began awarding scholarships to graduating LBHS seniors in 1947. The program has grown over the past 70 plus years through the combined efforts of its community volunteer board of directors, LBHS faculty and generous donors. This past year, 239 scholarships were awarded to 99 graduates for a total of $355,125.

Laguna Beach High graduates

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBHSSF

Laguna Beach High School graduates let their mortarboards soar

Scholarships are awarded for academic excellence, athletic, musical and theatrical pursuits, overcoming obstacles, pursuit of specific educational endeavors and specific education disciplines. Some awards are financial need based, some require attendance at community college or a four-year university. 

The Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. The board is comprised of community members who donate their time, energy and professional expertise. The board is most grateful to the scholarship donors, the Faculty Selection Committee and the High School Scholarship Coordinator for their continued partnership in making this a collaborative, community effort.

If you would like to learn more about the organization, how to become involved in the foundation, or wish to make a donation, email them, as 100% of your donation goes to fund scholarships. www.lbhssf.org.

Shaena Stabler, President & CEO - Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com

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