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Laguna Beach

LBHS track meet with Huntington Beach on May 12

Photos by Scott Brashier

LBHS girls

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Running free

LBHS jumper

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On a high

LBHS boys

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Turning the corner

LBHS finish

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Finish line

LBUSD announces LEAD Summer Enrichment Program

Laguna Beach Unified School District is launching the LEAD Summer Enrichment Program. From writing to yoga to robotics to math, students of all ages can continue to Learn, Enrich, Advance, and Discover in workshops rich in content and practice. These opportunities will support students for successful entry into the 2021-2022 school year. 

Summer enrichment workshops will be offered over two weeks – Week 1: August 2-6, Week 2: August 9-13 – at each of LBUSD’s four school sites, at zero cost to families. Students may sign up for one class per weekly session. A handful of the courses offered will span the entire two weeks. There will be no transportation provided by the district as session start and end times vary. 

LBUSD announces student

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Summer enrichment workshops will be offered for free through LBUSD 

“We are pleased to offer a wide range of incredible enrichment and readiness opportunities” said Michael Keller Ed.D., Director Social Emotional Support. “This is a true testament to the talented and student-centered staff in Laguna Beach Unified School District who go above and beyond to create engaging, enriching academic experiences for all students.” 

“I couldn’t be more excited for our students,” said Dr. Jason Viloria Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools. “Our students will be offered a wide array of robust enrichment opportunities tailored to pique their interest and foster a lifelong love of learning.” 

Registration is now open and will close on Thursday, June 10.

For more information, visit

LBUSD COVID-19 Dashboard

LBUSD COVID 19 Dashboard 5 14 2

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Courtesy of LBUSD

For more information and to access the dashboard, visit


Laguna Beach Unified celebrates incredible staff

Laguna Beach Unified School District staff has designated May 10-14 Staff Appreciation Week to celebrate and thank each of the district’s 363 employees as well as its incredible substitutes. 

Almost every aspect of our lives changed due to this pandemic, and LBUSD is grateful that its team worked collaboratively to put students first. Their willingness to change direction at almost a moment’s notice speaks volumes to the incredible human beings that work in Laguna Beach Unified. The district has pulled together to completely rethink how it leads and serves – from instruction and office support to maintenance and food service. 

Laguna Beach Ivonne Redard

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LBUSD celebrates Ivonne Redard, Laguna Beach Unified Community Liaison

There is no doubt the pandemic has provided us with the opportunity to think about all aspects of our work differently. It has allowed us to examine how we can leverage technology to meet the needs of every student every day. Nothing will ever take away the need for, and the value of, the personal connections and relationships vital to the work LBUSD does. The creativity displayed in sustaining that work both remotely and in person has been exemplary. 

“I’m honored to be working beside the quality and professional learning community that we have here in Laguna Beach Unified,” said Dr. Jason Viloria Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools. “The POWER OF LBUSD is stronger than ever! As we end the 2020-2021 school year, we encourage our staff to Recharge, Renew, and Reimagine and enjoy the praise you get during this week as we celebrate the awesome staff of LBUSD.” 

Staff Appreciation Week is a moment to say thank you to the district’s entire team for everything that they give in the name of helping students achieve. Thank you!

TOW Peace Crane Project inspires positivity and well wishes for community 

Top of the World Elementary School (TOW) students, staff, and families created a wonderful display of peace, love, and well wishes for our Laguna Beach community by creating peace cranes. They are now on display at Garage Collective and Soul Project through the weekend. 

The project was conceived by Lisa Roberson-Beery and Shaheen Sheik-Sadhal of the TOW PTA as a community service project. It took flight with Reem Khalil, local artist/art educator and owner of Refined Bohemian, Sarah Wolsey, TOW teacher and Art TOSA, in partnership with the Laguna Art Museum, as part of their Orange County Imagination Celebration. 

TOW Peace store

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Peace cranes on display at Soul Project

Inspired by the Children’s Peace Monument in Japan dedicated to community and world peace and the beautiful story of Sadako Sasaki and her 1,000 cranes, each origami crane is folded with a message of positivity for our community or the environment. Sadako and the cranes became a symbol for world peace in Japan after her death in 1955.

With the challenges of the past year given the COVID-19 pandemic, the TOW PTA wanted to create an artful way for children to bring positivity to Laguna and encourage support for local small businesses that always support youth initiatives in our community. 

TOW Peace hanging

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A positive intention for peace in our community 

The exhibit invites the community to fold a crane and participate in the installation to grow the positive intention for peace in our Laguna community and the world. Come see the colorful origami crane creations and please support local Laguna businesses Garage Collective and Soul Project by stopping in for a Mother’s Day gift, and lift up our local artist Reem Khalil of Refined Bohemian by taking her adult and youth art classes and camps. 

Garage Collective is located at 1524 S Coast Hwy.

Soul Project is located at 1516 S Coast Hwy.

For information on Reem Khalil’s classes and camps, go to

LBUSD COVID-19 Dashboard

LBUSD COVID 19 Dashboard 5 7 21

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Courtesy of LBUSD

For more information and to access the dashboard, visit


2021 LBHS All Class Reunion

2021 LBHS class photo

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Photo by Marielle Leeds

Class photo on May 1 at Heisler Park. Everyone all got together and had a great time at the 2021 All Class Reunion. 

2021 LBHS organizers

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Photo by Marielle Leeds

Organizers of 2021 All Class Reunion – Beth, Dede, Amanda, Jeff, Carolyn, and Marielle

2021 LBHS attendees

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Photo by Marielle Leeds

Attendees at the reunion. “So many stories!” says Beth Leeds. “And it happened because of our teamwork – (including me), Amanda, Dede, Glenda, Rick, and Jeff. Thanks to Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis for the picnic tables. And the Stu News press release that got everyone there. Teamwork makes the dream work!”

 Laguna Beach High School awarded grants for VAPA programs

The FOA Foundation recently awarded Laguna Beach High School with grants totaling $25,000 toward ceramics, band, dance, and the visual and performing arts departments. 

The FOA Foundation, which operates independently of the Festival of Arts, was established in 1989 to preserve and promote the fine arts and all other artistic endeavors regarding Laguna Beach. 

Laguna Beach High School teachers applied to receive $5,000 grants to enhance the programs and opportunities available for students to continue learning and developing their skills in visual and performing arts. 

“The FOA Foundation strives to help enrich the lives of our young students, with the hope that these dollars will make a difference in their perspective on art and culture,” said Scott Moore, president of the foundation. “It has been our experience that these young boys and girls, men and women, hold on to these early art-filled years, and give back to their communities in their adulthood.” 

Teachers have been able to provide students with real-world experiences and opportunities as a result of the grants. 

“The generosity of the FOA Foundation has allowed us to build on the rich history of musical theatre at Laguna Beach High School. Our production of Once Upon a Mattress was a success, much in part to the spectacular costumes and props which the grant covered. As a direct result of the Foundation’s support, students, families, and community members alike were exposed to a professional style production,” said Alexis Karol, LBHS drama teacher. 

Laguna Beach building

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The FOA Foundation has awarded grants totaling $25,000 to LBHS

Karol has invited several professionals to work with students, including performer and choreographer Paul Nygro and New York City playwright and screenwriter Jeffrey James Keyes. Students gain first-hand knowledge and experience from seasoned professionals and as a result, have been successful in their performances throughout the school year. The dance department plans to utilize the funds to continue providing community members with unforgettable experiences and performances by students.

“The instrumental music program and band boosters are very grateful to have the support of the FOA Foundation and to receive this grant,” said Jeremy Chung, chair of the music department. “The money will be used to enhance the music program and benefit all music students involved as well as the community.” 

Visual arts teacher Bridget Beaudry-Porter also thanks the foundation for its commitment to supporting the LBHS art and digital photography programs. “This grant is indispensable to the continuance of our 2D arts programs. With this grant, our students will be provided the necessary tools to express themselves visually. We will be able to purchase needed canvases, paint, drawing materials, pastels, paper, watercolors, and studio equipment. These materials are essential in helping my students get into top universities and receive scholarships to further their career in the arts industry,” said Beaudry-Porter. 

Utilizing funds from this grant will also allow students in ceramics classes to continue creating art and showcase it to the community of Laguna Beach. Ceramics courses benefit over 100 enrolled students at LBHS. Each year, students showcase their work publicly such as at the Coastal Eddy A Gallery on South Coast Hwy, Laguna College of Art and Design’s Color It Orange Invitational, and the 3D art show at the Irvine Fine Arts Center. 

“I am so thankful for the continued support of the FOA Foundation,” said Somer Selway, ceramics teacher. “The grant allows us to provide all the necessary tools and equipment needed to continue nurturing and enriching the lives of the students at LBHS.” 

“Every day, up to 140 students enter our facility with the desire to study dance and express themselves in a healthy and positive way,” said Estee Carrizosa, dance teacher and dance production advisor. “Dance is one of the greatest outlets for young people to achieve their fullest potential, artistically and academically. I am extremely grateful to have received support from the FOA Foundation to continue providing our students with these ongoing opportunities.” 

The dance department offers students an opportunity to meet, learn, and engage with guest teachers for open-level master classes after school. The teachers range from a variety of professional experience in the commercial, concert, and Broadway dance scenes. Carrizosa hopes to bring in guest choreographers to continue working with students, dance companies to host residencies as part of the daily curriculum, and guest teachers to lead open master classes in all genres and styles of dance.

PTA acknowledges that “LBHS Teachers and Staff Rock” with rock garden and events


During “Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week,” the Laguna Beach High School PTA has found several ways to celebrate its teachers and staff. The first is the “Our LBHS Teachers & Staff Rock” garden, in which personalized rocks for each teacher, staff, and coach have been placed.

“We also have other hand-painted rocks with positive and encouraging messages of gratitude for our teachers, staff, and coaches,” says PTA President Jimmy Azadian. “The LBHS PTA did this to honor and show gratitude for our high school teachers, staff, and coaches, especially in this very difficult school year.” 

Parents and students organized at the Britt Family Home’s garage in Arch Beach Heights to paint the rocks, and then the PTA Teacher & Staff Appreciation Committee (Lisa Britt, Lori Mitsuka, Sheila Parker, and Azadian) delivered the rocks and placed them inside the high school quad on Friday, flanked by special signs we designed that read: “Our LBHS Teachers and Staff Rock!”

Sheila designed the signs and also served on the Executive Board and is the treasurer. Lori is the PTA historian.

PTA acknowledges painting

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(L-R) Steve Britt, Ashton Azadian (the sophomore class president), Lisa Britt, and Angela Chin (mother of high schooler Maesen Silva) painting rocks

“The rock garden idea was hatched by Lisa Britt, who is the mom of high schoolers Owen Britt and Brandon Brit,” Azadian says. “Lisa serves on our LBHS PTA Executive Board, as our Parliamentarian and Communications Officer. She is also a former elementary school teacher, so I could think of no better person to head up our Teacher and Staff Appreciation Committee. Her inspiration for the rock garden came from the national movement to have permanent kindness-inspired rock gardens on school campuses throughout the country. 

“This Monday is the start of teacher and staff appreciation week at the high school, so we wanted to make sure the rock garden was in place for when the teachers and staff arrive to campus on Monday morning,” says Azadian. “We have other awesome events planned for our teachers and staff, as well.” 

PTA acknowledges rocks

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Painted rocks placed in LBHS quad 

Many volunteers donated their time to the PTA to paint personalized rocks for the rock garden, and there are many other rocks painted with positive and inspiring messages of kindness and gratitude, and really cool art. Each teacher, staff member, and coach will be given their customized rock at the end of the week, and they can choose to keep it on their desks at school or take it home. 

“Either way, it serves to remind them how much they are loved and appreciated by the students and parents of LBHS,” says Azadian.

Other events planned

“As for the other events, we are having opportunity drawings each day for the teachers, coaches, and staff. Items ranging from gelato gift cards, Mexican restaurant gift cards, to Aviator Nation apparel will be awarded to the teachers, staff, and coaches each day, for the daily opportunity drawing,” says Azadian. “All prizes were donated by high school families as well as local businesses in our community. They total over $1,200 in donations.”

PTA acknowledges coffee

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Jedidiah Coffee Company 

Yesterday and today, the teachers, staff, and coaches will be treated to Shirley’s bagels and Krispy Kreme donuts, as well as a specialty gourmet coffee bar hosted by a barista, who will be serving up customized hand-crafted coffee drinks. The coffee bar is hosted and donated by Jedidiah Coffee Company, an outstanding local business run by a family here in town. They have always been supportive of our LBHS PTA and students. 

When teachers, staff, and coaches arrived at the teachers’ lounge on Monday, they received a special boxed gift from Mission Hospital, thanking them for helping us raise healthy teens. Each boxed gift included a beautiful earth-ware coffee mug, lip gloss/chap stick, stress-relief ball, information on raising healthy teens, a notepad, and a pen.

On Wednesday, the teachers, coaches, and staff will be treated to a special lunch with mini-sandwiches, cookies, and specially made LBHS Breaker water bottles.

On Thursday, the teachers, coaches, and staff will again be treated to a special lunch, this time with gourmet mini burritos, gourmet salsas and hot sauces, and the specially made LBHA Breaker water bottles.

PTA acknowedges signs

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Special signs placed around the outer periphery of the school 

On Friday, the PTA will share a special video created by the students, thanking all of their teachers, coaches, and the staff, and also host a Candy Bar that would make Willy Wonka jealous! The candy bar will have so many different candies, sweet treats, and you name it. A nice “cheat day”. from the usual healthy diet. A sweet treat for all of our sweet teachers, coaches, and staff.

Also, when everyone steps onto campus tomorrow, they will see the specially designed teacher appreciation signs PTA ordered and placed along the outer periphery of the school. The signs will remain up throughout the week. 

Azadian adds, “Bottom line, we have the best teachers, coaches, and staff, and they have done so much for our students! We are grateful for them and this week is a time to honor and appreciate them in a big way! They are the “T” in PTA!”

LBUSD announces new Public Information Officer

The Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education approved the creation of a Public Information Officer position for LBUSD at the February 11 Board Meeting. After an extensive search, LBUSD is excited to introduce Shelley Spessard Ed.D. as its new PIO. 

Shelley began her career as an elementary special education teacher, general education teacher, and finally as an administrative designee at the elementary and high school level with Lincoln Unified School District. She then transitioned to Stockton Unified School District, where she served as an assistant principal, principal, and most recently as Director of Marketing and Communications. 

LBUSD announces Shelley Spessard

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Shelley Spessard is LBUSD’s new PIO

Mike Conlon, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, shared, “We are excited to have Shelley bring her wealth of experience to the LBUSD family. I’m sure you’ll see her around the schools as she helps to spread the word about some of the amazing things happening on our campuses. Please take a moment to extend a warm welcome to Shelley!”

Dr. Jason Viloria, Ed.D. Superintendent, stated, “I look forward to working with Dr. Spessard to continue our work to enhance and improve LBUSD communication in our community and stakeholders. I appreciate the school board’s approval of this important position for Laguna Beach.” 

Shelley Spessard shared, “I am excited to join this incredible school community and look forward to telling the story of Laguna Beach Unified School District. 

The LBUSD Public Information Officer will assist the media in gathering information and reporting on district news.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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