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LBHS Surf team takes second place at NSSA Regional State Championships

Story by Coaches Scott Finn and Alisa Cairns

Photos by Ellen Nelsen

The LBHS Surf team had a very successful weekend surfing in the NSSA Interscholastic Regional State Championships for the third year in a row. Laguna’s tremendous showing took them all the way to 2nd overall with an 84-point total, just 9 points behind San Clemente. 

Surf team one Jameson Roller

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Jameson Roller finishes third in Longboard

In all there were 10 schools competing. This is the best result for Laguna to date. It was definitely a whole team effort. 

Laguna was represented in each of the Division Finals. Jameson Roller led the way in Longboard finishing third, Kayla Coscino and Tess Booth both did awesome taking fourth and fifth, while Sam Nelsen won heat after heat dominating the field on Saturday and closed out the Men’s Final for Shortboard in sixth place.

Surf team two Sam Nelsen, Coaches Scott Finn, and Alisa Cairns, Kayla Coscino and Tess Booth

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Sam Nelson, Coaches Scott Finn and Alisa Cairns, Kayla Coscino, and Tess Booth help lead the LBHS Surf team to a big team

The rest of Laguna’s Men Shortboarders did super well also, making several rounds and helping LBHS to its impressive finish. Trey Lockhart and Liam McCue had some outstanding performances barely coming up short of advancement in the Quarterfinals. Meanwhile there was great surfing and efforts also put in by Kiko Nelsen, Jett Nelson, and Kyle Shaw.

Surf team three Kayla Coscino

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Kayla Coscino takes fourth in Longboard

The event was held at Seaside Reef at Cardiff-by-the-Sea in San Diego. Surf on Saturday was pretty good in the morning, but got progressively worse as the day went on. The weather was pretty bad with plenty of rain and some wind. Sunday afternoon prior to the Finals there was more wind and rain, but the kids still managed to navigate the conditions very well.

Surf team four Sam Nelsen

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Sam Nelson won heat after heat, dominating the field on Saturday, and closed out the Men’s Final for Shortboard in sixth place

LBHS Boys Tennis has busy week with four back-to-back matches

The LBHS Boys Tennis team had a very busy first week back from Ski Week with four back-to-back matches. 

The first opponent they faced was a mighty Aliso Niguel squad, resulting in a 7-11 loss in a match where three of the sets lost were in tiebreaks. This match easily could have gone to the Breakers, and Coach Rick Conkey was pleased with the depth of his Breakers team.   

Senior Mason Lebby won two sets at #1 singles (6-4, 6-3) but fell against Aliso Niguel’s #2 singles in a tiebreak. Junior Andrew Johnson notched a set at #2 singles and lost a tight set against Aliso Niguel’s #3 singles in a tiebreak.   

LBHS Boys Lebby

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Senior Mason Lebby

Sophomores Casey Boehm and Matthew Duong teamed up at #2 doubles to secure two sets (7-5, 6-2) but lost against Aliso Viejo’s #2 doubles team in a tiebreak. Kyle Herkins and Matt Berk paired up at #1 doubles to get a set (6-2) and seniors Scott Yoder and Francis Pillsbury also notched a set (6-3).

Wednesday’s opponent was Mission Viejo High School, resulting in an 11-7 victory for the Breakers. Coach Conkey was impressed with the tenacious and gritty play of doubles duo Casey Boehm and Matthew Duong, who won all three of their sets at #2 doubles (7-5, 6-3, 7-5). 

In the final set, Matthew came down with severe leg cramps – he found a way to dig deep to overcome his body and tough opponents and Casey was awesome as a supportive partner. Kyle Herkins and doubles partner Matt Berk won two of their sets (6-3, 6-3) at #1 doubles. 

Singles players Mason Lebby won two sets (6-2, 6-2) at #1 singles and freshman Ian MacLaughlin also notched two key sets (7-5, 6-2) at #3 singles. Scott Yoder and Francis Pillsbury added a set (6-4) at #3 doubles as did Andrew Johnson (6-2) at #2 singles.

LBHS Boys Ian

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Freshman Ian MacLaughlin

The closest match of the week was against St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, who lost in the second round of the CIF Division 2 playoffs last year. This match was a nail-biter until the last two sets of doubles, both lost in tiebreaks. If either set had gone to the Breakers, the score would have been tied 9-9 and the Breakers would have won in games. That was not in the cards as the Breakers lost 8-10. 

#2 doubles Kyle Herkins and Mo Berri won twice (6-4, 6-1) as did the #3 doubles team of Scott Yoder and Andrew Duong (6-4, 6-3). Casey Boehm and Matthew Duong had a win at #1 doubles (6-2). All three Breakers singles players (Mason Lebby, Andrew Johnson, and Ian MacLaughlin) won a set each (6-0, 6-1, 6-0, respectively).

Friday’s match against Laguna Hills High School resulted in dominance by the Breakers’ doubles teams as they swept in doubles, winning all 9 sets with four of the sets scoring 6-0 for the Breakers, and the Breakers winning 12-6. Coach Conkey relied on the depth of his doubles players, with Taylor Tran and Diego Tellez also seeing a lot of court time. 

The boys rested over the rain filled weekend ready to take on their next opponents before league play begins later next week.

Thurston Middle School recognized as a 2019 California Distinguished School

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond recently announced that Thurston Middle School is among the 162 middle and high schools honored under the 2019 Distinguished Schools Program. 

Sponsored by the California Department of Education and California Casualty, the program recognizes outstanding education programs and practices. Schools are awarded for achieving exceptional student performance for two consecutive school years or closing the achievement gap between two school years. 

Thurston Middle School was recognized for its exemplary programs focused on increasing student academic achievement and social-emotional strength through collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication. 

Thurston Middle outside

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Thurston Middle School honored as a 2019 CA Distinguished School

“When a child feels connected and cared for in their school environment, they are better equipped for the academic rigors of school,” said Thurston Middle School Principal Jenny Salberg. 

“Because we believe this to be most vital during the middle school years, our staff focus on developing and maintaining positive relationships with students. They work tirelessly to build meaningful connections with each student, and we see the fruits of their labor every time we witness a student overcome a challenge to continue on their path to success,” she continued. 

In recent years, Thurston Middle School has implemented programs such as Where Everybody Belongs (WEB), No Place for Hate®, Restorative Justice, and a Co-Vitality Social-Emotional Health Survey, which helps identify students who are struggling emotionally.

Schools that applied were eligible based on their performance and progress on the state indicators as described on the California School Dashboard. Indicators include test scores, suspension rates, and graduation rates. 

Distinguished School award winners represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration, but also highly successful school climate efforts ranging from real-time conflict resolution to positive behavior intervention. 

The Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education will recognize Thurston Middle School at an upcoming Board meeting. This year’s award-winning schools and districts will be honored by the California Department of Education in April during a ceremony at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, and they will retain their titles for two years. Elementary and secondary schools are awarded in alternating years.

Thurston Middle School is located at 2100 Park Ave.

LBHS Drama & Park Ave Players present Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

One of the most enduring shows of all time, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be performed by the Laguna Beach High School Drama Department and Park Avenue Players on March 15-17 and March 22-24 at The Artists Theatre at LBHS. The Friday and Saturday shows start at 7 p.m. and the Sunday shows begin at 2:30 p.m.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a musical with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The story is based on the “coat of many colors” from the Bible’s Book of Genesis. This was the first Lloyd Webber and Rice musical to be performed publicly. (The Likes of Us, written in 1965, was not performed until 2005).

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a reimagining of the Biblical story of Joseph, his father Jacob, eleven brothers, and the coat of many colors.

LBHS Drama and poster

Performances on March 15-17 and March 22-24 at Artists Theatre at LBHS

Told entirely through song, the musical follows preferred son Joseph. After being sold into slavery by his brothers, he ingratiates himself with Egyptian noble Potiphar, but ends up in jail after refusing the amorous advances of Potiphar’s wife. While imprisoned, Joseph discovers his ability to interpret dreams, and he soon finds himself in front of the mighty but troubled, Elvis-inspired, Pharaoh. Joseph’s solution to Egypt’s famine elevates him to Pharaoh’s right-hand man and reunites him with his family.

The magical musical is full of catchy songs in a variety of styles, from a parody of French ballads (“Those Canaan Days”), to country-western (“One More Angel in Heaven”) and calypso (“Benjamin Calypso”), along with the unforgettable classics “Any Dream Will Do” and “Close Every Door.”

The irresistible family musical about the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel’s favorite son, is appropriate for all audiences. 

Tickets are on sale now and are $12 for students, $17 for adults, or $22 for premium seats. To book, go to

The Artists Theatre at LBHS is located at 625 Park Ave.

LBHS Girls Water Polo wins D1 CIFSS Championship

The Laguna Beach Girls Water Polo team captured the championship title at the D1 CIFSS finals in Irvine on Saturday, defeating Corona del Mar 9-8 in a thrilling 3 OT match.

LBHS Girls team

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Courtesy of CIF Southern Section

Laguna Beach wins in triple overtime and advances to the CIF SoCal Championships tournament 

The number one seeded Breakers girls, led by Coach Ethan Damato, will now take on eighth-seeded San Clemente High School on Friday, Feb 22 at 4:20 p.m. at Segerstom High School in the 2019 CIF SoCal Girls Water Polo Championships – Division I tournament.

All five of the team’s graduating seniors will go on to play at the college-level in the fall. Claire Kelly will attend UCSB; Quinn Winter will play at UCLA; Evie Laptin at UCSB; Bryn Giofreddi at Brown; and Cici Stewart at Princeton.

History made as first BSA troop for girls chartered to Laguna Presbyterian Church

A new mark was made in the 75-year history of Scouting in Laguna Beach on Sunday when ten girls received the city’s first charter for a troop for girls from the Boy Scouts of America.

The girls all have the aim of becoming Eagle Scouts – among the first females who will reach this accomplishment in the movement’s 109-year history.

The troop of girls will share the Troop 35 number with the 75-year-old troop of boys, also chartered to Laguna Presbyterian Church, but programming, meetings, and camping will be separate, as guided by the program of the parent organization, the Boy Scouts of America.

History made girls

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(L-R) Pam Jensen Troop, committee chair, Hane Heath, scoutmaster for girls, John Hovanesian, assistant scout master for girls, May Chapman, Chloe Duong, Isabel Griffin, Ani Hovanesian, Anneka Neukomm, Alexandra Keyser, Elizabeth Keyser, and Julie Anderson, in charge of family scouting for OC Council of BSA

“Since I was little, I saw my brothers having so much fun going camping, doing archery, and climbing rock walls, and now, I can do the same and work my way toward becoming an Eagle Scout, just like my older brother,” said Ani Hovanesian, one of the new Scouts. 

She and her nine fellow Scouts will take their first official Scout camping trip on March 14 in the Cleveland National Forest.

Boys and girls from kindergarten through age 17 may join Scouts BSA. To learn more about Scouting in Laguna Beach, visit for boys and girls aged 11-17 and for boys and girls in kindergarten through 5th grade.

School board agenda includes policy and by-law change


The Laguna Beach School Board will discuss at tonight’s meeting changes to its policies and by-laws that were first discussed at a special meeting on February 6.

District Superintendent Jason Viloria recommended a first reading by the Board of Education of by-laws and policies recommended by the board to move forward for addition, deletion, or revision, according to the agenda.

The board may waive a second reading or require an additional reading if necessary. 

Possible violations of the by-laws pertaining to chairing the board were brought to the attention of board members James Kelly, Jan Vickers, Peggy Wolff and newly re-elected Carol Normandin and Dee Perry. 

According to the current by-laws:

“The board shall hold an annual organizational meeting. At that meeting, the board shall each year elect one of its members to be clerk. 

After serving one year as clerk, the elected member may serve one year as president of the board. It is the intent of the board that all board members will rotate through the sequence of clerk and president.”

The board is proposing to drop from the by-laws the order of appointment and the intent for all board members to rotate though the sequence.

It has been noted that Perry was twice bypassed for appointment. 

The discussion is scheduled as the 24th item on the agenda. The public meeting begins at 6 p.m., preceded by a closed session at 4:30 p.m.

NJB Championship won by sixth grade Laguna Beach Basketball team in game against Anaheim Hills

The sixth grade Laguna Beach Basketball team just won the NJB Championship on Sunday. They beat Anaheim Hills in the finals 40-28. 

NJB Championship team

Submitted photo

(L-R) Kai Patchell, Dylan Sirianni, Henri Rounaghi, Luke Tankersley, Sawyer Thompson, Santino Rossi, Preston Towe, and Rex Bradshaw with Coaches Chris Sirianni and Arash Rounaghi 

Coach Sirianni says, “This year’s team was so fun to coach because of their hustle and unselfish play. All of their hard work paid off this weekend in winning the Championship against Anaheim Hills! “

Laguna’s U14 Girls win AYSO Section 11 Championship, ending season with 25-0 record

The U14 Girls division of AYSO Region 86 - Laguna Beach won the Section 11 Tournament this weekend held in Santee, CA. After winning the South Orange County Area L tournament back in December, the team advanced to the Section 11 tournament, which was comprised off all area tournament winners from San Diego, Orange, and southern Los Angeles counties. 

Lagunas U14 team

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AYSO Section 11 Champions - GU14:

Kneeling front row (L-R): Rosie Murphy, Ellie Marshall, Talia Stewart, Chloe Cismoski, Sienna Mason, Lucce Sutula, Lila Golden

Standing back row (L-R): Mara Williams, Julie Van der Baan, Coach Trevor Murphy (arms raised), Rylee Goode, Cate McMackin, Sophia Boultinghouse

Coach Trevor Murphy says, “Our team from Laguna Beach has accumulated a 25-0 record dating back to the beginning of the fall season in September.”

Lagunas U14 trophy

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(L-R) Mara Williams, Julie Van der Baan holding trophy, and Rosie Murphy

The team will represent the Southern California Section in the Western States Championships scheduled for March 16 at the Lake Forest Sports Park. They will be facing winning AYSO squads from Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Northern California.

LB Riptide girls’ soccer team secures epic semi-finals win in monsoon weather

By Coaches Paul Parker & Sophia Parker

Photos by Sean Mulvaney

The Laguna Beach Riptide U12 girls’ soccer team, competing in the 2019 All Star Tournament, secured an extraordinary victory last weekend in the semi-finals against Mission Viejo.

“It turned out to be an epic encounter,” said coaches Paul and Sophia Parker. “Both teams holding nothing back in a see-saw game in what started out as a mild drizzle but soon turned into something resembling a monsoon.”

LB Riptide girls Gonzalez

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Elizabeth Gonzalez drives the ball down field contributing to one of two goals during regular time that led to the shootout

The Riptide team includes local superstars Cailin Mulvaney, Capri Henrichsen, Elizabeth Gonzalez, Ava Steris, Ava Guziak, Morgan Saunders, Payton Taylor, Anna Sandquist, Chiara Berman-Yumas, Aubrey Anderson, Karina Aleknavicuis, and Shaye Bruns.

LB Riptide girls goalie

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Cailin Mulvaney poised to block Mission Viejo’s final penalty shot that led to Laguna’s epic victory

“We went a goal behind in the first half due to a penalty decision against us, but came storming back in the second half equalizing from a strong run and finish from Capri,” said the coaches. “We then started to find our stride and soon took the lead through a long range effort from our central midfielder Elizabeth.”

LB Riptide girls Taylor

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A rain-soaked Payton Taylor clashes with Mission Viejo and clears the ball out of danger

“By now it was a game of endurance, with the field resembling a lake in parts, both teams fully committed to try and get through to the final. With just minutes to go, Mission Viejo equalized and when the final whistle blew it was all square at 2-2. This meant it would be decided by a dramatic penalty shootout.”

LB Riptide girls Karina

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Karina Aleknavicuis launches one of many counter attacks during the semi-final battle

“Each team had to nominate an initial five penalty takers, with the team scoring most winning. The first two players on each team converted and then we fell behind with our next two penalties being saved, so our fate was hanging in the balance. Mission had to convert just one of their next two penalties to win, but one went wide and the other hit the crossbar and bounced over the goal.”

LB Riptide girls Morgan

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A flooded field couldn’t stop Laguna’s Morgan Saunders from shutting down Mission Viejo’s offense

“Morgan had to score for our team or it was all over, but she held her nerve and duly found the corner of the net. It was now sudden death, one miss would decide the tie. The next two penalties were converted for both teams and then dramatically our keeper Cailin saved Mission’s final penalty to send us through to Thursday [last] night’s final against Ladera Ranch.”

LB Riptide girls Capri

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Capri Henrichsen fakes out Mission Viejo’s defender before scoring one of the two goals during regular time that led to the shootout

“There were jubilant scenes in the pouring rain as we had triumphed in the most testing conditions against excellent opponents. We are all excited for the next chapter and, hopefully, prevailing in the final, the winner of which then goes to compete in the Section All Star Champions Tournament in San Diego.”

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