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Laguna Beach

Help Thurston Middle School students go to the Global Finals

Six Thurston Middle School students, part of a Destination Imagination (DI) team, recently competed in the regional tournament and earned third place in the Scientific category. They need your vote for a chance to go to the Global Finals and compete with their scientific solution.

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Thurston Middle School students who competed in the recent regional tournament, earning third place

Unfortunately, only the top two teams advance to the next level. However, there’s still a chance for them to go, but they need your support!

A member of the team, Colette (Coco) Reed, was selected as a finalist in a Pin Design competition and voting is taking place online through the end of the day on Sunday, March 18. 

Submitted photos

Colette (Coco) Reed’s pin design

The prize for Reed is $500 and, perhaps more importantly, their DI team would have the opportunity to go and compete in the Global DI Finals.

Vote online at Be sure to vote for “Colette” in the Middle School level.

Morgan, Lochner lead Breakers baseball to victory

Grady Morgan homered for the second straight game and Jack Loechner threw 5 innings, allowing only one run to lead Laguna Beach Breakers Varsity baseball to its second straight win, 7-1 over San Juan Hills. The win evened the Breakers record at 4-4 on the season.

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Photo by Sheri Morgan

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

Laguna took the lead in the first after a walk by Morgan, who eventually came around to score on a wild pitch. The Stallions tied it in the top of the third at 1-1, but Morgan’s two-run homer to straight away center in the bottom half put the Breakers ahead for good 3-1. Kolton Freeman’s single later in the inning put Laguna up 4-1.

Meanwhile, Lochner cruised through the Stallions lineup, giving up only one run on four hits, while striking out six. Remy Mackel and Cutter Clawson each pitched a scoreless inning of relief to complete the Breakers dominance on the mound.

The Breakers added three more runs in the sixth. Loechner and Eric Silva both singled and then Michael Kerner followed with an RBI single, his third hit of the day. 

Morgan followed with a two RBI double to complete the scoring for Laguna and giving Morgan four RBI’s on the day.  

If it doesn’t rain, Breakers battle Calvary Chapel on Friday for the League Opener.

Six LBUSD teams advance to State competition in Destination Imagination® Tournament

Six teams, of four to seven students each, representing Laguna Beach High School, Thurston Middle School, and Top of the World Elementary have qualified to move on to the Destination Imagination (DI) state competition in Clovis on April 7. 

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Photo courtesy LBUSD

Destination Imagination proves that education is often great fun

Destination Imagination is an international educational program that enhances the growth and learning students receive in the classroom. Teams of students, ranging from third grade through university level, solve one of six open-ended Challenges in the fields of STEM, fine arts, and service learning and present their solutions at tournaments.

For Laguna Beach, three teams competed in the Scientific Challenge: Unlikely Attraction. Their challenge was to explore scientific concepts used in amusement park attractions, design and build an attraction that uses scientific concepts during its operation, create and present a story that features the attraction operating in an unlikely location, and portray the unlikely location using sights and sounds.

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Photo courtesy LBUSD

(L-R) Jacob Cruz, Hannah Kaiser, Sebastian Otterholt, Keira Hundhausen, Lucas Durant

Two teams competed in the Technical Challenge. The challenge asked them to design and build a device to navigate a tournament-provided maze, design and build a prop that transforms in the maze, design and build a way to remove an object from the maze, and create and present a story about a journey through the maze.

Finally, two teams competed in the Improvisational Challenge where they were asked to research different cultures and famous explorers, create and present an improvisational skit about a quest to return a lost cultural treasure to its owner, integrate two explorers and a prop into the quest, and show how characters work together to overcome a setback.

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Photo courtesy LBUSD

(L-R) James Dechary, Tyler Palino, Dylan Newburry, Chris Herkins

 “Thurston Middle School DI teams represented Thurston with great intelligence, creativity, and humor,” said Ina Inouye Wu and Bjorn Avila, Destination Imagination club advisors at Thurston Middle School. They continued, “We are so proud of all the students for their months of hard work, perseverance, and out-of-the-box thinking to solve DI challenges.”

Winners of the State competition compete at the global competition in Knoxville, Tennessee in May.

SchoolPower Executive Director Robin Rounaghi announces her departure

SchoolPower Executive Director Robin Rounaghi announced her departure from the organization on Monday.

Rounaghi started volunteering for SchoolPower when her oldest son was in kindergarten; he’s now a sophomore in college. After many years as a trustee and board leader (including two stints as President), and the last five years growing the organization as Executive Director, Rounaghi has announced that she will be leaving SchoolPower this summer. 

SchoolPower wishes her all the best as she starts the next chapter of her career, and is grateful for her extraordinary leadership and endless enthusiasm throughout the years. 

“I can’t imagine an organization of any type, anywhere, being better served than the way SchoolPower, LBUSD and our entire community has been served by Robin Rounaghi,” says SchoolPower supporter and Endowment board member Brent Martini.

“Partnering with Robin over the last five years has been one of the most enriching and productive relationships I’ve enjoyed in my 58 years. It all starts with Robin’s complete commitment to our kids, which is always at the forefront. It was beautiful to watch Robin be the caretaker and enabler of the goals and aspirations of the teachers, district leaders and parents. Robin has been a wonderful gift to our community.”

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Robin Rounaghi as pictured a few years ago in Laguna Life & People

Some highlights of Rounaghi’s many accomplishments during her tenure include:

Building a stronger, more productive partnership with LBUSD, including elevating collaboration and impact regarding Fund-a-Need initiatives, Large Grants, and Teacher Grant Process.

Increasing participation of the Laguna Beach business community, including the creation of the Real Estate Honor Roll.

Improving SchoolPower’s operations, adding policies and procedures to provide sustainability.

Expanding SchoolPower’s outreach, resulting in greater participation among all school families.

“SchoolPower has been like a second family to me. My belief in our organization and its mission is as strong as ever. It is the strength of our board leadership, our staff, our generous supporters, and our educators that gives me confidence that the progress we’ve made will continue,” says Rounaghi. She is committed to supporting the search process for her replacement and laying the groundwork for a smooth transition.

After her departure this summer, she plans to spend more time with her dad, who is fighting Parkinson’s, and her mom, his full-time caregiver. Going forward, Rounaghi says, “I’m excited to see what SchoolPower accomplishes in the years ahead. I look forward to supporting SchoolPower as a donor and a very well-behaved event guest.”

SchoolPower will be posting the open Executive Director position on its website, job sites and locally. To learn more about SchoolPower, go to

LBHS receives California Award of Merit for civic education program

Laguna Beach High School is among seven Orange County schools recognized by the California Courts system for its efforts to engage students in civic learning. An Award of Merit was presented to Laguna Beach High School for its civic learning practices in Advanced Placement (AP) European History and its Model United Nations (MUN) program.

Co-sponsored by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the award is now in its sixth year and is designed to celebrate successful efforts to engage students in civic learning and to identify at each grade span effective models that can be replicated.

There were more than 70 California public schools recognized for efforts to engage students in civic learning. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Unusual view of LBHS, capturing its unique setting

Schools earn points if students are engaging in any of the six proven practices in civic education, including classroom instruction, discussion of current events, service learning, extracurricular activities, school governance, and simulations of democratic processes. 

“In AP European History students study the causes and effects of poverty throughout European history and then in small groups choose one topic related to their studies that they would like to address,” said Laguna Beach High School World History and Advanced Placement European History teacher, Heather Hanson. 

“Together they must develop an action plan, perform ten hours of service, and reflect on their learning. Service learning requires students to make deeper connections to what they’re learning while giving them an opportunity to make a difference in their communities,” she added. 

“In MUN, students have the opportunity to engage in meaningful simulations of the democratic processes throughout the year, including planning and executing their own MUN conference, often addressing the most pressing issues of the day,” said US Government and Model United Nations teacher, Jonathan Todd. He continued, “Both programs empower students with the knowledge and the tools they will need for informed civic action now and in the future.”

Winners are selected from each grade span by a panel of experts based on the depth and breadth of their civic learning classes, clubs, and programs. All winners are featured on the California Courts Civic Learning Awards Web page at

Breakers’ pitching shuts out Calvary, 3-0, now have won four straight games

Blake Burzell, Joe Sweet and Eric Silva combined to pitch a two-hit shutout Friday to lead the breakers to a 3-0 victory to kick off Laguna’s final season in the Orange Coast League. Laguna is the five-time defending champion of the league. 

Laguna took the lead in the top of the second inning. After two quick outs, Jack Loechner reached second on an error and Silva was hit by a pitch.  

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Photo by Sheri Morgan

Jack Loechner rounding third

Christian Holm then singled to left to bring in Loechner. Michael Kerner, continuing his recent hot streak, lined the second pitch of his at bat to center to score Silva and Holm, giving Breakers’ pitchers all the runs they would need. 

Burzell, now 3-0 on the season, pitched five no-hit innings to earn the win with Sweet and Silva finishing off the two-hit shutout.  

Laguna is now 5-4 on the season having won four straight after a slow start. The team goes on the road this next week to face Saddleback on March 20 and Godinez on March 23.


Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation hosts first Annual Lawn Bowling Tournament fundraiser, April 20
         Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation has announced their first Lawn Bowling Tournament fundraiser. This unique event will be held Friday, April 20, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club, 455 Cliff Drive, in beautiful Heisler Park. 

Lawn Bowling is a game played with heavy balls, the object of which is to propel one’s ball, so that it comes to rest as close as possible to a previously bowled small ball (the jack). Lawn bowling is played chiefly outdoors (although an indoor version is also popular in the UK) on a closely trimmed lawn called a green. 

LB Lawn Bowling Club in Heisler Park

Upon entering the tournament, individuals will be placed into teams of four. Before the tournament begins, the coaches from the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club will show participants how to properly play the game. After a few practice rounds, the tournament will begin. 

The tournament will be run in bracket-play. Once all teams are entered (teams must be entered by April 18), the brackets will be displayed at the event. There will be a taco cart, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. By purchasing a tournament entry or social ticket, attendees will receive a wrist band for a taco plate and access to the open bar. There will be a few raffle prizes, so participants should get ready to purchase raffle tickets. 

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LB Water Polo Foundation in Patriots Day Parade

From Olympic gold medalists to NCAA and age group national champions, Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation (LBWPF) has produced some of the best water polo players in the United States. Boys and girls from eight to 14 years of age achieve a better understanding of the water polo game as they practice and improve on the fundamental techniques in preparation for the Junior Olympic national championships each July. 

For more information, go to or contact Foundation General Manager Robert Grayeli at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Anneliese School’s Heroes & Role Models welcomed Kailee’s aunt, Linda Cohn

Linda Cohn, renowned ESPN sportscaster and NSMA (National Sports Media Association) Hall of Fame 2017 Inductee, was quite busy this weekend. After co-hosting the Lady Ducks Fashion Show on Monday, benefiting CHOC (Children’s Hospital of Orange County) at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, Linda paid a special visit to Laguna Beach’s own Anneliese School. 

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Blue Giant Photography, David Takata

Linda Cohn with her niece, Kailee (right) at Anneliese School

Her niece, Kailee Cohn, a fourth grader in Mr. Mike’s class, chose her aunt Linda Cohn as her heroine for her Heroes & Role Models Project. As part of the presentation, Kailee made an outstanding poster of Linda along with a video presentation of Linda speaking in front of 700 students last year in Anaheim about Finding the Positive. Kailee was so inspired by Linda’s giving back to our youths message that she brought in Linda herself for a Q&A session. Cohn greeted the class, sharing her story with signature energetic style and good sense of humor.

The students were thrilled and asked great questions about what was Linda’s favorite sport to who her favorite player was. Kailee brought in Linda’s book, Cohn-Head: A No-Holds-Barred Account of Breaking Into the Boys’ Club for all to share.

Following the presentation, the entire class brought their Heroes & Role Models posters outside for a quick group picture.

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Blue Giant Photography, David Takata

Anneliese School commented, “It was so fantastic. She is so inspirational!”

“I am so proud and impressed with the Anneliese School for having such a great program for kids. This school has an amazing staff and allows the kids to grow in their space. It’s truly a magical setting where the intelligences are carefully cultivated, lives are empowered and true potentials are realized,” said Cohn. “I love their motto, ‘Be a part of a school that inspires children to live meaningful lives and make a positive difference in the world.’

“It’s important that our youths recognize that anything is possible as long as they follow their passion and find the positive. My message has always been to carve your own path and know that anything is possible.”

Breakers baseball team dominates Saddleback: Bats and arms came ready to play

Laguna’s bats and arms came ready to play Tuesday. Breakers’ hitters jumped on Saddleback for 25 runs and 19 hits, leading the team to a 25-0 victory. The pitching was equally effective. Jack Loechner started on the mound and was perfect through two innings before retiring early. 

Remy Mackel and Kent Cebreros combined for six strikeouts on the bump to no-hit the Saddleback side.  

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Submitted by Monica Silva

Eric Silva, Freshman, trotting home

Saddleback did not advance past second base the entire game. Senior Michael Kerner was hot with four hits while Grady Morgan and Sawyer Chesley both homered over the fence for Laguna. 

Laguna is now 2-0 in League play. The team’s next game is today (weather permitting), Friday, March 23 at Godinez before returning home next Tuesday, March 27 against Costa Mesa, and Friday, March 30 against Estancia.

LBHS boys varsity golf matches this week: the winning continues

By Sean Quigley, LBHS Head Golf Coach

On Monday, the LBHS Boys Golf Team had an Orange Coast League match on Estancia’s home course, Mesa Verde Country Club, in Costa Mesa (par 36). Mesa Verde is one of the most challenging and best courses the team plays all year.

Laguna won the match 202-227, bringing the team’s record up to 2-0 in league and 4-3 overall.

The medalist (low score of the match) was senior captain Kyle Sharp. He shot an even par 36. This was the fifth time this year he has won medalist honors. 

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Team captain, Kyle Sharp

In addition, junior Chase Gioffredi finished strong when he went on a tear with three birdies in a row on holes 7, 8 and 9 to finish one over par at 37. Senior Ben Sharp also played extremely well shooting three over par at 39.

The green complexes on this course can be tough, rewarding good shots and penalizing poor shots; so having three players finish under 40 tells me they were playing smart and hitting good shots. 

Player scores on Monday: Kyle Sharp – 36, Chase Gioffredi – 37, Ben Sharp – 39, Gus Morck – 42, Kyle Shaw – 48, Miles Stripling – 49.

On Wednesday, LBHS took on Costa Mesa High School at Costa Mesa County Club, a par 35-course. Laguna won 198-225, bringing our record up to 3-0 in league, and 5-3 overall. Kyle Sharp was the medalist again, shooting 37. He has been the medalist in six of the eight matches we have played this year.

Junior Gus Morck stepped up and shot his best score of the season, posting a four over par 39. In addition, senior Ben Sharp has bounced back nicely over the last two matches, posting a 38 today and a 39 in our last match (on Monday).

Player scores on Wednesday: Kyle Sharp – 37, Ben Sharp – 38, Chase Gioffredi – 39, Gus Morck – 39, Miles Stripling – 45, Kyle Shaw – 47.

We are off to a great start in the Orange Coast League with a 3-0 record.  We have won League for the last three years, so another first place finish this year would give our seniors a clean sweep of four straight championships during their high school careers.  

Our team scores have been good, consistently in the high 190’s to 208.  Overall, we are posting lower team scores than last year so our prospects look good so far.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

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