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LBHS senior Isabel Riches will play for British water polo team in 2018 EU Nation’s Cup

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Isabel Riches

LBHS Senior Isabel Riches has been selected to the Great Britain/England Water Polo Junior National Team, with whom she spent spring break training in the Netherlands. 

Isabel next represents the England team when she plays in the 2018 EU Nations Cup, May 24-27, in the Czech Republic. Isabel will also continue as a D1 Varsity water polo player next fall at Brown University.

SchoolPower Chef Challenge serves up community support for our schools at Lumberyard

The 9th Annual Chef Challenge, generously hosted by Cary and Suzanne Redfearn of Lumberyard, once again served up a delicious culinary competition benefitting SchoolPower. The event on March 26 featured Laguna school principals as dueling guest “chefs” competing with two different three-course meals. 

Diners voted on their favorite items and the coveted golden spatula trophy was awarded to the victorious team. This year’s challenge had Principals Duddy and Conlon squaring off with Principals Allemann and Salberg. With a robust turnout of 114 guests and $8,600 raised, Chef Challenge was a win for our public schools. 

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Jason Alleman and Jenny Salberg, Winners of Golden Spatula

To kick things off, the cocktail competition got heated with SchoolPower Endowment President Chris Clark mixing up his Paloma Borracha (Drunken Dove) and SchoolPower President Kristin Winter concocting her special Salty Russian. Although both received rave reviews, ultimately Chris Clark took away the title.

While guests enjoyed the appetizers and main courses, team Allemann/Salberg worked the room to gain votes for their menu which included a delectable coconut curry crab ceviche appetizer. Team Duddy/Conlon vied for tallies on their side of the menu featuring a mouthwatering Bailey’s semifreddo dessert.

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Mixology Winner, Chris Clark with Kristin Winter

Kristin Winter thanked everyone for coming out to support the schools and added, “Cary and Suzanne Redfearn’s generosity and constant support of our schools is remarkable. It’s no wonder that the town feels such loyalty to the Lumberyard.” 

When the votes were collected, the results were close but the golden spatula went to team Allemann/Salberg. The champions were thrilled to win with veteran Salberg stating, “Chef’s Challenge at the Lumberyard is always an exciting evening...the food is delicious and the service is incredible. Clearly this win is a direct result of our hard work and continued dedication to providing our parents and students with superior service during the school day and outside of the school day.” 

For more information on SchoolPower, go to 

Three LBUSD teams go to Global Finals in Destination Imagination®: Creativity gets the prize

Three teams from Laguna Beach Unified School District that competed in the Destination Imagination® (DI) Affiliate (state/country) Tournament have advanced to the Global Finals taking place May 23 - 26 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

DI is a project-based educational program in which student teams solve open-ended challenges and present their solutions at tournaments. Global Finals is the culminating event of the DI Tournament with more than 1,400 of the top-scoring teams from 45 U.S. states and 14 countries participating. The scheduled festivities include the DI Tournament, interactive exhibits, pin trading, skills workshops, and more. 

“This accomplishment is demonstrative of the tenacity and passion that our students are capable of with the support of the community that surrounds them,” said LBUSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria. “Together with staff, parents, and volunteers, our students have been hard at work to prepare for this competition, and I am confident that they will continue to make us proud,” he concluded. 

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LBHS’s Brilliant Boom Bam Bananas are headed to the Global Finals

Laguna Beach High School’s Brilliant Boom Bam Bananas competed in the Scientific Challenge, which asked teams to create an amusement park attractions using scientific concepts. The team created a four-foot fidget spinner that team member Joseph Hovanesian rode during the performance, all in an underwater setting. Team members also included Evan Henry, Jared Moy and Miles Riehle. The team placed third at the affiliate tournament, qualifying for global finals. 

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Thurston’s Thunder McKings 

Thurston Middle School will be represented by two teams at the global finals: the Thunder McKings and Catnip. The Thurston McKings placed third in the Technical Challenge qualifying for global finals. 

Their challenge was to design and build a device to navigate a maze. Team members Michael Berg, Theo Cofffey, Will Coffey, Odin Fores and George Saba’s performance showcased a radio-controlled maze-traveling racecar complete with grandstand, fans, and sportscasters.

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Thurston’s Catnip team celebrates achievement

Catnip placed third in the Improvisational Challenge, also qualifying for finals. The team was asked to perform an improvisational skit about two explorers on a quest to find a missing cultural treasure. Team members May Chapman and Quinn Butler played explorers Queen Teuta and Howard Carter on a quest to find and returned Machu Picchu to its rightful owners, played by Ophelia Chapman and Ani Hovanesian.

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The Destination Infiltration team in action

Team Destination Infiltration, who also represented Thurston Middle School at the State Tournament, received first place in their instant challenge score and may qualify for the Global competition. In the scientific category, team members James Dechary, Chris Herkins, Dylan Newburry and Tyler Palino, performed a creative story featuring a shrunken scientist being mistaken for a jellybean, eaten, and finding himself inside a body-themed theme park.

The annual Global Finals competition is the world’s largest celebration of student creativity with more than 17,000 people in attendance each year. For more information see

Top of the World Elementary School named 2018 California Green Ribbon School 

Top of the World Elementary School is a California Green Ribbon School and the recipient of a Green Achiever certificate from the California Department of Education, the highest achievement given to schools who have been nominated to compete on a national level for the US Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition award.

More than 30 public schools and school districts selected as California Green Ribbon Schools were recognized as part of the California School Recognition Program by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson at an event hosted at Top of the World Elementary School on Monday. 

The event included an awards ceremony and presentations from Laguna Beach Unified School District staff showcasing the gardens, Waste Management recycling programs, energy efficient facilities, and more. 

“Top of the World Elementary has been providing robust and innovative education for students since its inception 50 years ago,” said LBUSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria. “This recognition speaks to our commitment to developing environmentally and socially conscious students by providing opportunities for them to make positive impacts on the local and global community,” he continued. 

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Top of the World Elementary

Over the last few years, Top of the World Elementary has been working to integrate sustainability practices with campus-wide campaigns including a coin drive that raised over $2,000 for a school in Kenya to purchase three dairy cows and a greenhouse; an ocean awareness club spreading knowledge about the dangers of littering the ocean waters that led to a fundraising of thousands of dollars to help clean up local waters and a partnership with Waste Management to improve the on-campus recycling program; a campaign to divert uneaten pre-packaged food items from the trash cans into a collection bin that is donated to the LB Friendship Shelter on a daily basis; a partnership with Schneider Electric to help implement energy conservation district-wide; and finally, one of the oldest school garden programs in all of OC with three on-site gardens totaling one-half acre, which are used as outdoor classroom spaces. 

The ED-GRS recognition award honors schools, school districts, and Institutes of Higher Education for excellence in resource efficiency, health and wellness, and environmental and sustainability education. The recognition award is part of a larger US Department of Education effort to identify and communicate practices that result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness; and reinforces federal efforts to increase energy independence and economic security.

LBHS Women’s Shortboard Surf Team wins High School State Team Championships

By Coaches Alisa Cairns and Scott Finn

On Saturday, Laguna Beach High School Surf Team had a record day with the women’s shortboard team crowned team champion at the Scholastic Surf Series High School State Championships. The event was held at Oceanside South Jetty, and it was a nice day. The surf was a little tricky, but decent in the three to four foot surf range with light winds. Laguna Beach High School surfed in the team competition of the contest as all 14 High Schools were competing in the various divisions. Everyone worked really hard, with some doing double duty in two divisions.

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(L-R) Coach Alisa Cairns, Kalohe Danbara, Tess Booth, and Kelly Smith

Our women’s team, as a whole, has been so strong the last couple of years in the various events with plenty of depth and consistency. Saturday’s team of Tess Booth, Kalohe Danbara and Kelly Smith worked really well together, each doing her part to take the team all the way to the end with the major win and really solid performances along the way. 

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Tess Booth

In the first round, the team was up against Half Moon Bay and they won 13-7. Next they surfed against Carlsbad with a 12-9 win. The semi-finals were a breakthrough performance for all three, and they easily defeated Edison 15-6. The women were on a roll and went into the final against Santa Barbara beaming with confidence and took another decisive win 14-7. 

MVP would have to go to Freshman Tess Booth, who was the iron woman, winning most of her five heats of the day. She not only competed well in the shortboard, but also put in a solid performance in longboard. Tess and her teammates, Maya Takayabashi and Destiny Thompson, competed well against La Costa Canyon, but did not advance, missing out 8-13.

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(L-R) Joseph Schenk, Sam Nelson and Liam McCue

The men’s shortboard started the day first up against Coronado High School. Our guys surfed really hard and competed well with some outstanding performances and top finishes put in by the likes of Travis Booth, Sam Nelsen, Kiko Nelsen and Liam McCue. Meanwhile Joseph Schenk, Luke Hagopian, Ryan McGee, Luca Elghanaya and Lucas Jablon also gave their all. Unfortunately, the team narrowly missed out from advancement, losing by a meager one point at 32-33 points. 

In bodyboard, Travis Booth and Ryan McGee stepped up big time doing double duty, while ripping and having a good time along the way. They won their first round against Oceanside and narrowly lost to Dana Hills. Longboard also saw double duty and a solid effort put in by Sam Nelsen, who took a second place. Joseph Schenk and Luke Hagopian also surfed well, but unfortunately, were edged out by La Costa Canyon 9-12.

Boys & Girls Club hosted 10th Annual Community Partner’s Breakfast and gave out awards

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach proudly hosted its 10th annual Community Partner Breakfast on Tuesday, April 10 at [seven-degrees] in the Canyon. Board of Directors President Phyllis Phillips expressed the importance of partnership and collaborations and their vital role in helping the Club accomplish the organization’s mission to enable all young people to realize their full potential as healthy, caring and responsible adults. 

Pam Estes, Chief Executive Officer, delivered a poignant State of the Club speech where she addressed several Club initiatives the organization will be focusing on in the upcoming year. 

“We have some big goals that we see as meaningful ways to help more of the youth who need us in the community,” stated Pam.  

These projects include plans for a potential off-site teen center, additional inclusionary programming for the special needs population, gender equity for young females and Lake Forest expansion opportunities.

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BGCLB CEO, Pam Estes with Aliso Viejo Mayor, David Harrington

The mayor of Aliso Viejo, David Harrington, received the Program Partner Award for AV’s investment of more than $300,000 since 2006 to ensure the city’s children have access to quality after school and summer programming at the Club. Massen Greene Foundation received the Agency Partner Award, as their organization has invested $95,000 over the last four years in support of the Club’s Eco-Smart program that teaches young people to be great stewards of the earth. 

Restaurant owner Gretchen Andrews of Starfish Laguna Beach received the Corporate Partner Award as she has contributed nine straight years of support towards the Club’s events including catering at Girls Night Out, toy drives and onsite fundraisers.

Former Board President, now Emeritus member, Bob Whalen, received the Community Partner Award, as his family has championed the Club in numerous ways over the years, including being a strong advocate for all youth in the great city of Laguna Beach. 

Beau Bianchi took home this year’s Crevier Legacy Award, an honor given to a former Club member who has brought long-term impact on the organization as an outstanding role model for the community and embodies the philanthropic spirit the Club hopes all its members will someday achieve. Beau, along with his wife Brandee, have been a catalyst for bringing additional inclusionary and social skills programming for children with special needs at the Club. Their goal is to ensure that all kids can have a positive and safe place to go when they are not in school, while having additional support systems in place to achieve greater social agility with peers.

 The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach’s Community Partners Breakfast began ten years ago by Emeritus BOD President Bob Whalen to recognize the partnerships built between the Club and the community leaders that help benefit the 2,000 youths the Club serves on an annual basis.

For more information on the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach including after school and summer camp programming, or about the annual breakfast, contact guest services at (949) 494-2535 or visit

Boys & Girls Club hosts “racy” 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala May 12, offering awesome auction items 

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is proud to present its 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala – “And We’re Off!” – on Saturday, May 12 at Montage Laguna Beach. The event will be Kentucky Derby-style themed soiree. 

Invitees are encouraged to dress to impress and pull out all of the stops when selecting a suit or dress for the big night. It is a chance for every female to express her inner Southern Belle, and every guy to get just as decked out as the ladies. 

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The Boys & Girls Club’s 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala on May 12 will be a night of “racy” fun

Guests will start the evening on the Montage lawn with tasty morsels and signature Southern cocktails. The evening will continue with an elegant dinner and rousing live auction followed by dancing to some live music that will make guests feel like they are partying it up at the Downs. 

Wonderful live auction items include an Angels “Baseball Once” offering four front-row seats plus an opportunity for your child to act as an honorary bat boy/girl, an adult to throw the ceremonial first pitch, and so much more. 

Also available: dinner for twelve guests at Montage Resort; exotic vacations of various lengths in Mexico, Massachusetts, and Arizona; a year-long lease of a 2018 Jeep Cherokee Overland; as well as one-of-a-kind art.

This promises to be one of the events of the year, and a chance to generously support the Club and its some 2,000 youth members and families. Proceeds raised at the 18th annual Art of Giving Gala go directly towards empowering children of all ages to reach their full potential, no matter their financial situation. 

For more information about the Gala includint tickets or table sponsorships, contact Michelle Ray Fortezzo at (949) 494-2535 ext. 7584 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit the Club website at

Breakers Baseball drops Godinez 12-0

The Breakers swept their season series with Godinez on Friday with a 12-0 victory.  Eric Silva, Cutter Clawson, Jack Loechner and Aidan Booth all had multiple hits to lead the Breaker attack. Grady Morgan, Sawyer Chesley and Michael Kerner also drove in runs for the Breakers, now 15-8 on the season and 10-0 in the Orange Coast League.

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Grady Morgan slides to the plate: Breakers give it their best every game

Blake Burzell started on the mound and threw three shutout innings with five strikeouts to earn the win. Clawson and Silva each pitched a scoreless inning in relief.  

The Breakers will face Costa Mesa this week, playing an away game today at 3:30 p.m. and then playing a home game on Friday, May 4 at 3:30 p.m.

Senior Day will be Wednesday, May 9 at 3:30 p.m., the team’s last regular season game of the year. The CIF playoffs start the week of May 14.

TOW kids donate enough peanut butter to the Food Pantry to make more than 5,520 sandwiches

Anne Belyea, executive director of the Food Pantry, tells Stu News that she is overwhelmed by the support that Laguna offers the nonprofit.

“We have such a generous community,” Anne says. “Today I was able to go to TOW to thank the students for donating 460 pounds of peanut butter and jelly!  What a great job!”

To put that into perspective, a grizzly bear weighs around 500 pounds. In other words, that’s a lot of peanut butter.

It’s enough, in fact, to spread on 5,520 sandwiches.

Which is enough to scare the heck out of someone with arachibutyrophobia – a fear of peanut butter sticking to the top of one’s mouth – but also enough to bring great joy to many kids who would otherwise go hungry.

Maybe it is time to challenge the other schools to equal or beat this donation?

How about two grizzly bears’ worth of peanut butter?

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TOW kids were excited to donate 460 lbs of peanut butter to the Food Pantry

“We had a five year old in the community who just hosted a dance party with his friends and brought in $750, a bag of change and 150 lbs. of groceries.  

“When he came in to the Pantry to deliver the food, he showed me his dance moves! He break-dances! My heart is full!” Anne rejoices.

Spinners at Rhythm Ride also help fill the shelves

Members of local spin studio Rhythm Ride and owner Stephanie Chapel also got a big shout-out from Anne. 

“As part of their tenth anniversary, they donated 150 pounds of groceries,” Anne says. “Ever since previous owner Shelley Arends Cornwell opened the studio a decade ago, she has made community and health a dual focus and thus sponsored many food drives for us.”

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Spinners are exhilarated at the size of the donation they were able to put together 

“Adequate nutrition is important to good health, and the Pantry exists to make sure that no one goes hungry. Many of our area’s low-income families, elderly, and student populations rely on us to help them make ends meet. 

“We are excited and pleased that the next wave of management will carry on this compassionate effort.”

LBHS Softball team sets their eyes on the playoff prize after key victory

The Breakers softball team is taking aim at the end game after they overpowered Estancia 6-4 on Monday to complete an Orange Coast League sweep, their second win in six days against Estancia. 

Junior Emily Thomas threw a complete game with eight strikeouts. Laguna Beach ratcheted up the score with plays by Rhys Campbell, Madilyn Garwal, Mia Pitz, Maddy Melchor, and a daring steal by Cierra Wunder. 

Wunder took the opportunity and stole home in the sixth inning; it was the second time in two games that a Laguna Beach player executed this rare and bold move.

“That effort is the definition of this program, and it is unbelievable to see where this was three years ago and where we are now,” said Coach James Crawford. “It’s spectacular. It’s awesome.”

Following their win against Estancia, the team dropped a game against Godinez on Wednesday, 1-18. They look to bounce back today (Friday, May 4) in a key league game at Costa Mesa High School. The game starts at 3:15 p.m.

The team is now 10-10-1 overall and 3-5 in league play.

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