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Laguna Beach

LBHS Surf Team battles Dana Hills and comes up with a giant win, dominates Aliso Niguel

Written by coaches Scott Finn and Alisa Cairns

The Laguna Beach High School Surf Team battled Dana Hills at Salt Creek last Thursday with classic conditions and surf in the five foot range. The event was a League event and the second meeting for the season. Many of the Laguna surfers found success and were key to the win, but you could say the MVP was Travis Booth with a runner up spot in Short Board and a crucial second in Bodyboard. 

Meanwhile our Girls team did their part with Kayla Coscino another MVP, taking the shortboard win and a second in Longboard, while Kalohe Danbara and Kelly Smith went 2, 3 in shortboard and Claire Kelly took third in Longboard. Laguna was out in front with numerous top results. 

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MVP Kayla Coscino

In Boys Shortboard Trey Lockhart, Sam Nelsen, Jeremy Shutts and Jake Levine all had wins and Kiko Nelsen had the wave of the day to take a very close second. Jett North did well to take a fourth. We have had a tough time in our Longboard and Bodyboard Divisions and the team has all rallied hard to fill the gaps with some of the surfers doing double duty. It came down to the last heat of the day with the Bodyboarders hitting the water. At the first meeting with Dana we had a chance to tie and just came up short and this time it looked like it might happen again. But as it turned out Travis Booth pulled through with a great Bodyboard performance and his second place finish was enough to give the Team an eight-point win 87/79 overall, the first time taking the win in a very long time.

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MVP Travis Booth

Day two, last Friday saw the team dominate Aliso Niguel in a non-league scrimmage. Several of the usual suspects had top performances, while some new younger kids also got in the mix and came in with some great results. 

Sam and Kiko Nelsen took wins as did Jake Levine, while Travis Booth took a couple of seconds in Boys Shortboard and Bodyboard once again. Jeremy Shutts displayed some nice surfing and took a second in shortboard while his brother Andrew took fourth in Bodyboard. Jameson Roller surfed nicely in Longboard to take a second.

Trey Lockhart took another win while his brother a Freshman took second and Jett North took a third. Several new surfers saw action led by Joseph Schenk who had some nice rides to take second in shortboard, while Lucas Jablon and Julian Williams-Goldberg took thirds and Zac Henderson had a fourth in Longboard. Our Girls did awesome once again with Kalohe Danbara taking the win, while Tess Booth was close behind finishing in second in Shortboard and third in Longboard and Kelly Smith took a third in Shortboard.

A big thank you goes out to all the parents and friends who showed up to support our Laguna kids.Our next event will be another League Event at T-Street on Friday, Nov 3 against San Clemente.

NCAA Signing Day at LBHS: Your community is proud of you all

The community gathered on the quad at LBHS Wednesday morning to celebrate the signing of letters of intent by 12 LBHS senior student-athletes, marking the culmination of 10+ years of dedication and hard work by these extraordinary young women and men.

Parents and grandparents were on hand to celebrate – as well as hundreds of LBHS students, who could be heard hootin’ and hollerin’ as their friends’ names and final college choices were announced over the PA system.

Seven girls water polo players signed their letters of intent – including Thea Wash (Stanford), Sophia Lucas (USC), Evan Tingler (Harvard), Alana Evans (Princeton), Isabel Riches (Brown), Kyla Whitelock (Fresno State), and Danielle Borelli (McKendree University). Diver Liv Mitchell signed her letter of intent to Brown, while swimmer Kasey Karkoska signed hers to Columbia. Girls sand volleyball player Lexi McKeown signed to Florida State, boys volleyball player Sam Bergi signed to UCLA, and rowing coxswain Jessica Morrell signed to UCSD.


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Photos by Kristin Karkoska/

Blue Sky Studio

(L to R) Liv Mitchell, Evan Tingler, Isabel Riches, Alana Evans, and Kasey Mitchell were all smiles Wednesday after signing their NCAA letters of intent in front of the community

Water polo standout Thea Walsh, an All-County goalie, will join former LBHS teammates (and USA Gold Medal Olympians) Makenzie and Aria Fischer at Stanford, which ’09 LBHS grad and USA Gold Medal Olympian Annika Dries also attended. When asked about her choice, Walsh said: “It’s literally been my dream school since 8th grade.”


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Thea Walsh, pictured here with her parents, will join former LBHS teammates Makenzie and Aria Fischer at Stanford next year

Sand volleyball star Lexi McKeown said she chose Florida State because of the “bricks and trees.” She wanted something different than Laguna, but still wanted to feel at home. “Every building [at FSU] is brick, and the trees are just so beautiful too. The moment I stepped on campus, I knew it was right for me.”

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A Seminole and a Lion: Lexi McKeown and Kasey Mitchell

The event was one of three NCAA Signing Day events scheduled by LBHS this year, with other signings in other sports to be celebrated later in the school year.

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Sam Burgi, who will play volleyball at UCLA next year, with his mother Lori

Lexi McKeown, volleyball player extraordinaire: A special tribute to one of Stu’s favorite families

Mom Kathy McKeown wrote a very personal note to Stu News, wishing that Stu were still around to witness her daughter Lexi’s success. “Wish Stu were here to get to see her get to this point after you two [Stu and Shaena] so graciously supported her throughout her journey,” Kathy wrote. 

So, with Stu in mind, we thought we’d publish Lexi’s story in full, as written by her proud mom.

“Shoot for the moon, if you miss you’ll land within the stars”…and there’s not a game or practice where this player does not aim high, giving a 100 percent effort of herself and to her teammates. 

Fondly referred to as McCutie, the Empire Spikes Back, the Lexinator and McKillin, Lexi McKeown is a four-year LBHS Varsity veteran starting player and is saying goodbye this season to her six years spent on the indoor court playing in the gold division for T Street, Momentous and Laguna Beach Volleyball clubs.  

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Photo by Kristin Karkoska/
Blue Sky Studio

Lexi and proud mom Kathy

Next fall Lexi is headed to Florida State University on an academic/athletic scholarship where she will have her toes in the sand playing beach volleyball for the Division 1 number 4 nationally ranked Seminoles. Show us your tomahawk Lex! 

One of the top 2018 beach players in the nation, Lexi finished fifth in the BVCA, third in the USA Spring Open, second in the AAU Spring Classic, played first seed for the championship winning Los Angeles ICG Club in the AAU Power Elite league, fifth out of 56 U18 players in the annual Hermosa Beach Queen of the Beach Invitational tournament, first in the Junior Beach Volleyball League Series tournament #1, first in the U18 College Showcase gold division and second in the East Coast National Junior Championships.

When she’s not playing volleyball she’s either watching Netflix or studying..which has obviously been quite a bit over the last four years…she currently has a 4.5 GPA and plans on majoring in Biological Sciences with aspirations to go into the field of medicine, or star on Grey’s Anatomy.

Two time Varsity captain, second team all-league as a sophomore, Orange Coast league academic scholar athlete each year, last year’s MVP of the league and of the Varsity team, 2016 Max Preps Laguna Beach Player of the Year, and the Orange County Register Varsity Athlete of the Week in October, Lexi is a second-generation volleyball scholarship athlete; her mom, Kathy, also an LBHS grad, was awarded a full ride volleyball scholarship to the University of Notre Dame. 

Lex, your family is so very proud of you and we admire the genuine passion, perseverance and integrity you represent. You already sit among the stars, sweet girl, and we look forward to watching you shine brighter and brighter!

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach joins the global #GivingTuesday Movement 

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.

Occurring this year on Nov 28, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tues after Thanksgiving (in the US) after the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday kick off the holiday giving season. The hope is to inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support. 

“We’ve joined the #GivingTuesday movement because our programming delivery depends on the generous donations of our friends in the community, “says CEO Pam Estes. She adds, “Donations, no matter what the amount, make a difference and are vitally important as these funds will touch the lives of hundreds of children and families served each year. 

“We all win when a child has quality afterschool and summer camp programs. The impact is not only visible in the young people that show up to the Club every day, but in our alumni, who are advancing their education, energizing their communities, and realizing their dreams.” 

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(L-R) LBBGC Giving Tuesday Preschoolers Luke Stedman, Maylen Torres, J. Carlos Zaragoza

A cultural center in New York City, conceptualized #GivingTuesday as a new way of linking individuals and causes to strengthen communities and encourage giving. In 2016, the fifth year of #GivingTuesday, millions of people in 98 countries came together to give back and support the causes they believe in. Over $177 million was raised online to benefit a broad range of organizations, and much more was given in volunteer hours, donations of food and clothing, and acts of kindness. 

Those who are interested in joining the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach’s #GivingTuesday initiative can visit For more details about the #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday website, Facebook page ( or follow @GivingTues and the #GivingTuesday hashtag on social media.

Laguna Beach High School Girls Soccer Coach Bill Rolfing retires after 13 seasons

A farewell note from Coach Bill Rolfing

I’m happily stepping down from directing Laguna Beach High School Girls Soccer Program after 13 rewarding seasons. During my first stint at LBHS, leading the LBHS Boys Soccer Program (1979-1984), I helped start the Girls Soccer Program (1982). While coaching the Boys Varsity, the squad reached 1980 CIF DII semifinals. Team trips to New Zealand, conducting coaching clinics and founding Laguna Beach Soccer Club were highlights.”

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Girls’ Soccer team members surround Coach Rolfing

 Returning to LBHS in 2004, I set a goal of rebuilding the LBHS Girls Soccer Program and bringing championships to the school. That was achieved with all three teams! The 2017 season finished at a peak with undefeated Orange Coast League Titles for Varsity and Junior Varsity at 10-0-0. The Varsity Team completed a record-setting campaign with a 20-4-2 overall record, 10-0-0 in league with 7 shutouts, CIF quarterfinal appearance and a final 2017 CIF D4 ranking of # 2.

The last six years elevated the LBHS Varsity to three Orange Coast League Championships (‘12, ‘14 & ‘17), undefeated desert tournament titles and six consecutive trips to CIF Playoffs. From 2011 to 2017, the Varsity Team set a record of only 7 losses in the 60 OCL matches.

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Coach Bill Rolfing leaves the field… with Assistant Amanda Sylvia

“Thanks to scores of dedicated players who worked hard to take their game to the next level. Congrats to the many who went on to play in college and all the players who continue to call soccer their game. Particularly, it was a dream to coach daughters, Emily ‘05 and Sarah ’07.

Finally, it has been a huge honor to share this successful experience with long-time Varsity Assistants and partners, Amanda Sylvia ANHS ’01 and Courtney Hamchuk, LBHS ‘05. Together we chose good paths, built character, shaped players and built championship girls soccer teams for this small public school by the beach.

Stu News wishes Coach Rolfing all the best for his retirement. Congratulations on a truly remarkable run. You have been a game-changer for the LBHS soccer program - and in the lives of all those young men and women who have played for you.

PTA Coffee Talk draws a SRO crowd for the film SCREENAGERS about Growing up in the Digital Age


It was sitting room only at the packed PTA Coffee Talk screening of “SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in the Digital Age,” at Thurston’s Black Box Theater on Wednesday night. Concerned Laguna Beach parents and their kids came together to find tips and solutions for the glaring problem of excessive electronics usage, too much screen time, and Internet exposure experienced by today’s youth.

Physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston first saw these problems with her own kids, learning that the average kid spends 6.5 hours a day looking at screens. In her documentary, “SCREENAGERS,” Ruston delves into the struggles over social media, video games, academics, and Internet addiction. She reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and offers solutions on how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance.

 “I am a big advocate of having that balance. I think there are a lot of times technology is great. But there’s definitely a time and place for it,” said Coffee Talk Chair Sharael Kolberg. “I know my own daughter, when she was little, we went without technology. And I saw such a dramatic impact on her in such a short amount of time, that I can attest to. It really is very impactful for your kids to cut down, and they are going to put up a fight.”

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Photo by Suzie Harrison

A partial crowd shot of the capacity crowd at the PTA Coffee Talk’s screening of the documentary Screenagers

“What I hope that we take away is just to open the line of communication between parents and kids regarding technology usage, the amount they are on it, and the dangers involved that can happen to anyone,” said Kolberg. “We need to be constantly reminded how important it is to keep the line of communication open with our kids. It’s really the main message.”

Alicia Glass, Coffee Talk event coordinator, has a stepdaughter at Laguna Beach High School and a daughter in second grade at El Morro Elementary School.

“We’ve been really good at communicating with the older girl about the dangers of social media and what not. She has been great and actually doesn’t use social media,” Glass said. “We put her on an old-school flip phone and she’s perfectly fine with that. It has been really great. And I think socially, that’s helped her a lot. She’s not into the drama.”

What’s more concerning to Glass is the even younger generation’s attachment to electronics, as with her child in second grade, who started using electronics in kindergarten.

“My daughter, in kindergarten, they start them on iPads. So, they’re already doing lessons on iPads in kindergarten now at the schools and learning how to use all this technology. It’s fully integrated in their day today,” said Glass. “Now she’s really getting into YouTube and things of that nature. So, I am hoping I can learn some tricks from this movie to kind of implement with her because we are seeing her more and more addicted to electronics.”

Thurston seventh-grade student Bella Piskun, who came with her father Boris to see the movie and potentially learn some new tips, said she knows of some students addicted to their devices.

“Usually people look at Instagram or Snapchat and sometimes it’s addictive. Whenever you turn on your phone, your eyes can’t look away,” Piskun said, referring in particular to Instagram. “My dad wants me to be more responsible with technology, like don’t look at inappropriate stuff, do the right thing.” 


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Photo by Suzie Harrison

Like Boris and Bella Piskun, many parents and their teens came to see “Screenagers,” a film about balancing life with screen time and electronics usage

Clay and Kimberley Leeds and their two sons Logan, 15, and Elliot, 11, were all in. 

“I’m here because I am concerned about the amount of screen time that kids are exposed to throughout the week,” Clay said. “We take the point of view that screens are useful, and if you’re doing homework, that’s fine, that’s good. But electronics and video games, we limited to two hours a day on Friday and two hours a day on Saturday and that’s it for the week.”

Kimberley said, “I’m hoping to affect my children’s understanding of why I limit their screen time at home. Because during the week they’re not allowed at all unless it has something to do with school, which is difficult because almost everything is on electronic devices now, instead of just paper and pencil.”

She reiterated that during the school week, they ban electronic video games, social media, and interacting with people via electronic devices because it’s becoming an addiction. 

“Their social interaction skills are not so fabulous when they are on the screens. I also find that they’re overly emotional when it’s time to turn it off. Or they don’t get along very well, their wick is so short with each other when they have been playing,” said Kimberley. “So I can tell there’s an effect internally, an instantaneous need – I want rewards immediately. I want what I want when I want it.”

To learn more about “SCREENAGERS,” visit

14 LCAD students to exhibit at Laguna Beach First Thursdays Art Walk galleries on Dec 7

 One of the nation’s top colleges of art and design, Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) announced that 14 students from the BFA in Fine Arts major will exhibit their artworks in select LB art galleries as part of LCAD’s Professional Mentoring Program, an annual collaboration between LCAD and participating Laguna Beach First Thursdays Art Walk galleries.

The 2017 LCAD Professional Mentoring Program exhibition will take place on First Thursdays Art Walk from 6–9 p.m. on Dec 7. The public is invited to tour participating galleries to view student art works.

 LCAD’s Professional Mentoring Program pairs fine arts majors with member galleries of First Thursdays Art Walk. The course is designed to prepare artists with business skills with which to launch a successful career.Representatives from the galleries guide students through the fundamentals of exhibiting their work in the professional area and educate them about the business side of operating a gallery. 

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The Virgin Mother by Natalie Terenzini

With the exception of juried student exhibitions through LCAD’s satellite galleries, LCAD campus and the LCAD Gallery, many students have never exhibited their work professionally. Proceeds from the sale of student art will not only go to student artists, but a portion is designated for scholarships.

Robin Fuld, Instructor of Professional Studies and Director of Career Services at LCAD. has coordinated the program for 16 years and is a former member of First Thursdays Art Walk board of directors.

 “There is neither another mentor program nor art walk like this in the nation,” Fuld said. “Laguna Beach is unique among California’s art communities in that its First Thursdays Art Walk brings together world-class galleries with one of the nation’s top art and design schools to enhance student education, giving them a competitive edge in the professional art world.”

Many LCAD Fine Arts alumni who have participated in the program have continued their careers with the mentoring galleries as exhibitors, assistants, installers, consultants and managers.

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In the Moment by Dan Nguyen

Jackie Whitney of Whitney Gallery, a participating gallery this year and previously for many years, said “The students are so nice and very appreciative of any information you can give them about the art business.” 

Charity Oetgen, a recent LCAD alumna said “This is the same class I took with Robin in 2013, while I was still an undergraduate in LCAD’s BFA program in Drawing and Painting. The Mentoring Program component of the class allowed me to apply what I learned in a professional gallery setting. Upon graduating, I was thrilled to be accepted into LCAD’s MFA program and, as a part of that study, served as a Teaching Assistant in several classes, including Robin’s Professional Studies class.  I consider it a real honor—and a blast—to now be a co-instructor with Robin, coordinating events, and serving as an LCAD liaison to FTAW for those students in our class. I now have a successful art career, and am truly grateful that I learned how to start my business before I graduated.”

Oetgen recently published six paintings in an issue of National Geographic that honored the 50th anniversary of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Oetgen also appeared at three events during Dr. Jane Goodall’s US tour to mark the 40th anniversary of the Jane Goodall Institute.

For more information on the participating member galleries and students, visit, or

Girls Cross Country heads to State Championships

The Laguna Beach High School Girls Cross Country team is making great strides. They have successfully advanced to the State Championships. The race will be held in Fresno this Saturday.

In the Orange Coast Finals leading up to the State Championship, Laguna proudly saw Evie Cant, Jessie Rose, and Angelina Dyrnaes winning 1st through 3rd places.

The last time Laguna girls advanced to the State Championships was 2014.

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LBHS Girls Cross Country team will run in the State Championships this weekend in Fresno. (Left to right) Sierra Read, Jessie Rose, Evie Cant, Grace LaMontagne, Kaitlin Ryan, Syney Schaefgen, and Angelina Dyrnaes

LB Water Polo Foundation’s 1st Annual Parent-Player Fundraiser will pit age-group players against parents

The Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation is pleased to announce their First Annual Water Polo Parent-Player Games fundraiser. Admission is free. The event will take place at Laguna Beach High School and Community Pool at noon on Sun, Dec 3.

Age -group water polo players will challenge their parents in the pool, which should provide great entertainment. 

There will be a silent auction offering noteworthy sports memorabilia, premium resort and restaurant gift certificates. Attendees can also enjoy a meal from the taco cart and a treat from the snack bar, or purchase some goodies from the Foundation’s new official gear supplier HARDCORESPORTS. All proceeds benefit the Foundation.

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Watch the age-group water polo players challenge their parents on Dec 3

Game times are as follows: 12:30 p.m. will be the 10U Coed team in course #1, 12:30 p.m. will be the 12U Girls team in course #2, 1:20 p.m. will be the 12U Boys A team in course #1, 1:20 p.m. will be the 12U Boys B team in course #2, 2:10 p.m. will be the 14U Girls A team in course #1, and 2:10 p.m. will be the14U Girls B team in course #2.

From Olympic gold medalists to NCAA and age group national champions, Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation has produced some of the best water polo players in the United States. Boys and girls from 8 to 14 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, contact Foundation General Manager Robert Grayeli at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

LBUSD seeks stakeholder input for Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Survey

On Dec 1, the Laguna Beach Unified School District, in partnership with Hanover Research, will begin administration of the 2017-18 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Survey to gather feedback on the implementation of the district goals and state priorities. 

This survey is designed to assess stakeholders’ perceptions of progress towards the district’s goals within the areas of student achievement, instructional support, college and career readiness, professional development, learning environment, and stakeholder engagement.

“Stakeholder input is critical in this process,” said Amy Kernan, director of assessment and accountability. “We are seeking participation from students, parents, staff and community members to ensure we are making progress.”

Survey takes 25 minutes to complete and will be open until Dec 15

The Local Control Accountability Plan is a component of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Under the LCFF, all local educational agencies prepare an LCAP, which describes how districts intend to meet annual goals for all pupils, with specific activities to address state and local priorities.

In 2014, Laguna Beach Unified developed an LCAP process to meet both requirements from the state and the expectations of the district’s stakeholders. This developed into an ongoing process for growth that includes the district’s vision, mission, and annual goals. Stakeholder input is vital to the development of data-informed goals and the evaluation of outcomes.

To access the survey, please visit: The survey will take approximately 20 minutes to complete and will be open until Dec 15.

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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. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

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