Laguna Beach

Logan Leeds: Stu News salutes Laguna Beach High School 2020 Graduating Senior

Although Logan Leeds was accepted to Chico State, Humboldt State, Sonoma State, University of California, Merced, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal State Fullerton, and University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), he just made the big decision to attend Irvine Valley College (IVC) next year with hopes of being accepted into their Honors Program. 

Kimberly, Logan’s mother, says, “Logan’s original thought was to get two years of junior college completed since he wasn’t initially accepted to his top choice UC Santa Cruz and save money by staying home. His dream school, UCSC, had waitlisted him. Then last Thursday, they informed him he was accepted for the upcoming year, but he had to respond by Monday.

“This meant Logan spent the weekend deciding his life’s biggest decision, in turmoil trying to figure out what to do. Considering most likely the UC’s would be online in the fall semester, and he would be spending a lot of money to be only partially connected to his university, he finally made the decision to keep with his original plan of attending IVC.”

Logan Leeds sign

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Even though he was accepted at several colleges, including his dream college, Logan will be attending Irvine Valley College in the fall

Logan has many interests. He is a writer and wants to become a great storyteller. For seven years, he has been working on many, many revisions to the book he is writing. Logan has always loved the outdoors and feels most at peace when he is in nature. As a result, it’s not a surprise that he is also interested in the natural sciences and plans to take courses in evolutionary biology and adaptation.

During the quarantine, Logan managed to keep in touch with his friends on Discord playing Dungeons & Dragons and just chatting. He continues learning by teaching himself the piano, accordion, and violin – and also enjoys drawing. And, of course, he writes his book! To stay fit, he has been streaming classes from the Laguna Beach Dojo with Sensei Jeff Kash.

Congratulations, Logan!

In order to celebrate our graduating seniors’ achievements together as a community, we would like to extend an invitation to graduating seniors and their parents to submit announcements about college acceptances and plans for next year. Please submit your information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LBHS student starts Laguna Students Care and delivers respirator masks to Community Clinic


At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, Keller Kramer, a junior at Laguna Beach High School, got an idea. Keller started Laguna Students Care; the initial goal was to raise awareness about the Laguna Beach Community Clinic (LBCC) – then, to go a step further, for students to show their support by sponsoring the cost of medical-grade respirator masks and delivering them to the clinic. Keller’s goal is to have as many students as possible involved. 

“I came up with the idea of starting Laguna Students Care as a way to involve students in Laguna Beach to show their support for frontline workers during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Keller says. “It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless in such a crisis, so I was looking for a way to help out and make a difference. 

Local students raise funds

“I decided that I wanted to raise the funds with local students to cover the cost of the masks for the LBCC. All students are encouraged to join in and all contributions are welcome. No amount is too small! Any student who would like to get involved and contribute can go to on Instagram.” 

The first delivery of 250 KN95 masks was made on April 17. 

“In order to get the masks in the hands of the clinic staff as soon as possible, I decided to get the masks delivered first and then raise the funds later,” says Keller. “I felt confident that Laguna students would step up to the challenge, and they have done just that! I coordinated with Adriana Nieto-Sayegh who is the LBCC Clinical Director. In mid-April, the Clinic was able to start COVID-19 screening and testing. The masks from Laguna Students Care were delivered that same week.” 

LBHS student boxes

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Laguna Students Care delivered 250 masks on April 17; Maribel Alcala on left (RN at LBCC) and Adriana Nieto-Sayegh (Clinical Director at LBCC)

Adriana said, “Our COVID-19 screening and testing is in full swing, thanks in part to the PPE KN95 masks received from Laguna Beach students. This donation is instrumental in protecting our staff in the delivery of COVID-19 testing to our community and to provide much needed care to patients during this pandemic. Thank you to all the students involved! It’s great to see the youth involvement during this crisis.”

Getting students onboard

Keller says, “As Junior class president and a varsity water polo player, I understand the value of setting a goal and getting everyone involved. I thought it would be a great opportunity for students and maybe more meaningful to the clinic staff, if the contributions came in small amounts, from lots of Laguna students. I started Laguna Students Care as a way to facilitate student involvement with the mask project. Going forward, I hope to continue the success of Laguna Students Care as a way for our local students to be involved and show our support for other important causes. 

“I chose the Laguna Beach Community Clinic because I felt that they were an organization that has always been there to support even the most needy in our community with affordable health care – this is their 50th year. I have benefited over the years by the health care I received at the clinic and this seemed like a great opportunity to give back.” 

LBHS student Keller

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(L-R) Maribel Alcala (RN at LBCC), Keller Kramer, and Adriana Nieto-Sayegh (Clinical Director at LBCC)

Dr. Chau Ngo of LBCC said when he learned of the mask donation, “It’s great to see the best of human spirit in a crisis situation, especially from our local young men and women.” 

How was Keller able to purchase the masks at the remarkably low price of two dollars per mask? 

Keller explains, “My father, Eric Kramer, is President of BITS Ltd, a Laguna Beach-based business that imports energy-saving products from China. Last month, they were able to bring in KN95 masks to offer at-cost to local Laguna Beach organizations.”

LBCC to acknowledge each student contributor

To date more than 30 students have become involved in Laguna Students Care, and that number is still growing. “The aim is to have as many students as possible involved to show our support and appreciation of our local frontline health care providers. LBCC is so supportive of young people getting involved that they plan to personally acknowledge each student that contributes to the mask project of Laguna Students Care.” 

For more information about the mask project or to suggest other causes for future Laguna Students Care projects, contact Keller Kramer at (949) 436-8536 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LBHS honors 2020 Graduating Seniors and Athletes

LBHS honors woven fence

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

2020 Graduating Class celebrated 

LBHS honors photos

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Laguna Beach High School maintenance worker Roger Romero putting up the salutes to LBHS Senior Athletes

Avalon Brice: Stu News salutes Laguna Beach High School 2020 Graduating Senior

Avalon Brice is Director General of Laguna Beach High School’s Model United Nations Program. She has interned and worked at KX FM for two years, working in social media. 

Avalon will be attending Scripps College in the fall where she will major in Politics and Culture, while minoring in Spanish. 

Avalon Brice closeup

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Photo by Candice Dartez

Avalon Brice will attend Scripps College

Congratulations, Avalon!

In order to celebrate our graduating seniors’ achievements together as a community, we would like to extend an invitation to graduating seniors and their parents to submit announcements about college acceptances and plans for next year. Please submit your information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Zoë Waters: Stu News salutes 2020 Laguna Beach High School Graduating Senior

Zoë Waters has been an active member of the Performing Arts Department at Laguna Beach High School for the past four years. She’s had the opportunity to perform in over 23 productions at the high school in plays (including Eurydice in Eurydice, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and Emily in Our Town) and musicals (the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat and about to open as Belle in Beauty and the Beast before school shut down). 

Zoe Waters Beauty

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Zoë as Belle and Senior Dane Hobrecht as the Beast during the last rehearsal of “Beauty and the Beast”

Zoë has also participated in multiple choral concerts and is a member of the Laguna Beach High School Dance Company. 

She is proud to be this year’s recipient of the No Square Theatre Scholarship and is a semi-finalist in the OC Register’s Artist of the Year competition. 

Zoe Waters school

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Zoë will attend the University of Washington, majoring in Drama

She is thankful to friends and family who have supported her artistic endeavors, and will be majoring in Drama this fall at the University of Washington. 

In order to celebrate our graduating seniors’ achievements together as a community, we would like to extend an invitation to graduating seniors and their parents to submit announcements about college acceptances and plans for next year. Please submit your information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Stu News invites LBHS seniors to share their college acceptances and plans for the fall

Unfortunately, there are few areas left unaffected by the pandemic, and in many cases, it has resulted in the cancellation or postponement of milestone events. Since there is a chance that the Laguna Beach High School graduation ceremony will be put on hold, Stu News would like to honor the seniors who will be moving on to college in the fall or have other endeavors in mind. 

In order to celebrate these achievements together as a community, we would like to extend an invitation to graduating seniors and their parents to submit announcements about college acceptances and plans for next year. 

Stu News Grace

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Photo by Kirra Nash

Grace Houlahan, LBHS Senior and Water Polo star, will attend Princeton University

When submitting, please include a short biography/story, fall plans including colleges you’ve been accepted to and/or plan to attend, why you are excited about your future, and what you hope to achieve. Also please include a few high resolution photos along with the name of the person who should receive photo credit.

We are aware that there are still seniors hearing from colleges – and will until the end of the semester. In the meantime, we will feature students weekly to celebrate them and look forward to honoring their accomplishments.

Please submit your information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LBUSD implements “do no harm” grading and assessment during period of distance learning


On Tuesday morning, the Laguna Beach Unified School District Board (LBUSD) held a special meeting to field questions from board members and consider public comments regarding the grading model during the distance learning period. The guiding principles in the district’s research into grading and assessment were: equity and do no harm to students.

 Superintendent of LBUSD Dr. Jason Viloria said at the outset of the meeting, “I am pleased that we were able to get a fair policy in place for both students and staff. It’s important that the teachers feel comfortable with it since, by the educational code, they are the ones who issue the grades. We had lots of guidance at the state level, and it was our intent to show how the different districts approached it, and I’m happy with our approach.”

The policy came after much consideration and discussion, and Dr. Viloria admitted that, “it didn’t happen instantly.” It was sent to parents on Monday night.

In a release issued by the LBUSD earlier this week, Dr. Viloria said, “As we continue into this sixth week of distance learning, we want to provide you an update on how student learning will be assessed during the period of distance learning. First and foremost, these decisions were made in consideration of equity and doing no harm to students. During periods of school closure or other emergencies in which distance learning is provided, teachers will provide grades or reports on progress that reflect a ‘do no harm’ approach to all students during the period of the closure and reinforce the efforts of our students who continue to engage in learning.” 

These interim policies are explained in further detail below and summarized in a flyer that can be accessed by clicking here.

LBUSD Grading: Hold Harmless Statement 

Student grades will not be negatively impacted as a result of the school closures and the implementation of distance learning. Teachers will continue to monitor and support student progress toward mastery of grade level skills and standards. Participating in virtual classes and completing assignments and activities will prepare students with the key skills they need in preparation for next school year, allow them to raise their final semester grade, and may influence placement in next year’s courses. 

Middle and High School (6-12) Interim Grading and Assessment 

Semester two grades: equity for all

In alignment with the guidance from the California Department of Education, a combination of traditional grades and credit/no credit is an equitable approach for all secondary LBUSD students. Teachers will issue second semester grades for all students enrolled in their classes, based on the grade selection options of A, B, C, Credit, or No Credit. This policy provides a greater range of opportunities for students to use the school dismissal time period to engage in distance learning, practice and learn new skills, and improve their grades. This policy does not place high school students at a disadvantage when considering post-secondary options. 

By issuing letter grades of A, B, or C, current high school students will have an opportunity to contribute to their GPA for university admission and scholarship purposes, consistent with the policy prior to school dismissal. By issuing credit in lieu of a grade not meeting the standards of an A, B, or C grade, students are not disadvantaged in the college admissions process, comparable to students from other districts who select a credit/no credit model. 

A “credit” designation would not hurt or help a student’s grade point average (GPA). Students who are not successful with distance learning during a period of closure or other emergencies for a course will be assigned no credit. Students who receive a “no credit” designation will be provided with additional opportunities during summer school or through credit recovery or other programs during the school year to take a class for full credit. 

Elementary (K-5) Interim Grading and Progress Reporting 

End of year report cards:

Since the trimester three commenced at the same time as distance learning, teachers will provide narrative summaries for the third trimester report card focused on student engagement in learning activities, participation in distance learning lessons, and performance on teacher-created assignments, activities, and informal assessments. Grades and marks for trimesters one and two will continue to appear on student report cards. Given that elementary students have varying levels of access, support, and independence, teachers will not provide marks or grades on standards nor effort for the third trimester to ensure equity and a do no harm approach. During the third trimester, teachers will not use the Aeries gradebook to calculate percentages for students in third through fifth grade. Rather, the Aeries gradebook will be utilized as feedback for students to indicate which assignments have been completed or not completed.

During the meeting, it was emphasized that staff (teachers, administration, and counselors) will work with students struggling with distance learning issues.

Dr. Viloria said, “We gathered input from staff at all levels and considered guidance from the California Department of Education and colleges and universities in developing these interim policies. While each school district’s needs may be different, LBUSD staff considered the unique needs of our students and staff, including access and proficiency with digital tools, engagement, and motivation to continue learning for the remainder of the school year. If you have further questions about your child’s progress or grades, please reach out to your child’s teacher.”

Walking for Water Club at LBHS gets creative after annual event canceled due to COVID-19


This year would have been the 16th Annual Walking for Water event held at the Laguna Beach High School track to raise funds for the nonprofit organization Wisdom Spring. This is the club’s largest fundraiser, so due to the cancellation of all public events, they face the challenge of coming up with other fundraising ideas.

Most people we know just turn on the faucet for water, but not everyone has that luxury. One-third of the world has limited access to water, and the Sub-Saharan is the one of most water-stressed countries – 300 million people in the region lack access to safe water. This is the critical issue that the club is tackling with a vengeance.

On March 7, the documentary 20 Miles A Glass by Colter Johnson was released and picked up by PBS. It focuses on Wisdom Spring and follows students from two high schools – one of them being Laguna Beach – as they organize annual walk-a-thons at their respective locations in an effort to raise money and bring attention to the water crisis. 

Walking for group

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Seniors in the club: (L-R) Nicole Rhyner, Youth Director Susan Hough, Jessica Berk, Madison Rogers, and Andre Savage (missing senior Wes Abrahams)

 Club member Tess Brobeck says, “Walking for Water focuses on raising money to build wells and providing education to people living in West Africa (Burkina Faso, Kenya, Ghana) and India. As of 2018, our club raised enough money to build 27 wells in Burkina Faso and in India. Our club is composed of Laguna Beach High School students who want to make a difference. Each year, our club, through Wisdom Spring, hosts a “walk” to raise money. We have been working all year to get sponsors in our community and prepare for this event. 

“Due to COVID-19, our event that we have been working for all year has been canceled. Despite this setback, our club has found other ways to help by giving back to the community in these uncertain times. We meet bi-weekly with the President of Wisdom Spring Susan Hough on Zoom to keep our project alive and voice our support.”

Club members inspire Youth Director

 “These young students inspire me and give me hope for a brighter future.  They meet with me virtually,” says Susan. “They show up and bring their creativity every week in order to be of service in their own community as well as in the world community. I am so excited to see how we do this virtually and also what these amazing young people do moving forward as they grow up. They will be leaders and changers and I am blessed to be able to watch this unfold.” 

The club has also produced a “Gratitude” video to share on social media and the website to demonstrate what the club is doing now to help the community at this difficult time. More than suggestions in how to cope during the pandemic, the members offer appreciation for what they have during this time – food, housing, and families – and offer a sincere “thank you” to the workforce that supplies our needs. To view the video, click here.

Walking for track

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Members gather on track where fundraiser would have been held (photo taken prior to the pandemic)

Another project they’re working on is a painting gallery. 

Tess says, “Our goal is to document how it feels to be a teenager living through a global pandemic, and what we hope life after the pandemic will look like. We are having every member of our club express how they are feeling during this time through art. Susan Hough has been supporting us in making this project work. Susan Brown, a member of the Phen-Dey Foundation, is also collaborating to help us make this happen. We have no certain rule on how we must express ourselves, so the art can be ranging from painting to collages. We are looking to get a local art museum to show some of these pieces in their gallery.

“The goal of this project is to convey the message that we are not alone and everyone is in this struggle together. It also helps to bring our club together even though we have not seen each other in over a month. In addition, we have been discussing when we will host our next walk. Our previous walks consisted of a great silent auction, raffles, music, and games for kids. Many of these things that we have been planning now obviously cannot happen. Despite this challenge, we have been discussing having a virtual walk where people can learn more about us and donate online at”

Walking for surfboards

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Members of the club with Steve Adams (in his gallery), who donated a painting for the silent auction for the Walking for Water Fundraiser

“We are thinking of having the silent auction online to further raise money. We also have a film, 20 Miles a Glass, which was recently picked up by PBS. The film talks about our Youth Walking for Water Project, and we were planning on showing it as another way of raising money. We were originally going to have the showing in the theater at our school, but we are now forced to rethink this. We have been talking about doing a virtual showing of the movie so people can watch our film from the safety of their homes. We are still deciding which of these, or both, we will be doing to raise money. We are also looking for any donations that we can get!”

More information can be found at or by contacting Susan Hough, the youth project coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling (703) 505-5152.

Barbara’s Column

A learning curve for teachers 


When COVID-19 closed California schools, districts scrambled to provide teachers with the tools they needed to continue to educate their students. 

Technology was the answer. The learning curve is steep, but teachers are meeting the challenge of conducting classes online, thanks to special training, personal initiative, and commitment to their students.   

“We are learning as we go,” said Rachiel Macalistaire, a Laguna Beach resident who has been teaching for more than 20 years, currently in the Capistrano Unified School District. “When the schools were closed, my district said ‘Okay, we will have early spring break’ and the district began online training for the teachers,” said Macalistaire. “The district has about 2,000 teachers. Imagine getting them all trained at the same time.” 

Every training class was recorded and archived for future use, which Macalistaire thinks is prudent. 

“The hardest thing for some teachers is there is so much to learn,” said Macalistaire. “All the platforms, applications, and tools are being adjusted as soon as we can learn them.” 

She praised textbook publishers who have responded to the new demands on teachers by putting hard copies up online.

Teachers have varying degrees of expertise with technology. Sometimes the students are more expert than the teachers. The kids have grown up with a variety of devices completely foreign to their parents. 

A learning boy

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St. Catherine School second grader Dylan embraces online learning

Students around the world have been using Flipgrid for years. Who knew?  Flipgrid is an online tool that allows students to create and share recordings with classmates and to respond to questions or prompts from teachers.

Macalistaire believes lessons learned in this epidemic will forever change education.

“I think every teacher would agree with that,” said Mandy Anderson, also a Laguna Beach resident who teaches in the Capistrano District. “At the start of the year, no one could have predicted this. I can’t believe what I have learned.” 

Her learning curve is two-fold. She is a teacher in the Capistrano District, while her two children go to school in Laguna Beach. 

“The balancing act is a challenge,” she said. “I am giving information to my students, and I am getting information for my kids. There are bad days when I think I am not able to deal with this and then I think, ‘Okay, I can do it can do it.’” 

Anderson, who has been teaching for 19 years, said as teacher and a parent, you have to put the kids first. 

At the beginning of every class, she reminds her students that the COVID-19 crisis is temporary.

“How are you doing?” she asks. “Is there anything you want to talk about?”

She loves Flipgrid because it allows her to talk to students one-on-one or all at once. 

But one outcome brightens her day. She has watched her two sons forge a closer bond.

Her advice to others in a similar me situation: don’t be too hard on yourself. Do the best you can.

She feels for her eighth-grade students who will miss out on the usual awards presented to students heading to high school. There will be no graduation ceremony. 

“Sometimes I just cry for these kids,” said Anderson. 

Roberta Haines has been teaching at Anneliese Schools for five years. Her class of sixth graders will also be missing some of the traditional graduation perks, such as trips out of the country and ceremonies. 

A learning close up

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Teacher Roberta Haines

“Middle school is a big transition,” said Haines. “It’s pretty sad. This is the only school some of my students have ever known, starting in pre-kindergarten. That’s really tough on pre-teens.” 

Anneliese is not under the jurisdiction of the Laguna Beach Unified School District, but it does closely follow the district’s curriculum, Haines said. 

However the private school does not rely so much on computers. Haines even teaches her students cursive. 

“It wasn’t clear how we would make [technology-dependent classes] work best for the kids,” said Haines. “It has been an emotional roller coaster, but we have found our rhythm together. I really try hard to connect on a social or emotional level every day. I know their body language and I tap into their energy level.” 

Parents have told her that her energy helps their kids get through the day. She considers that a compliment. 

The kids tell her they would really rather be in the classroom. That too is high praise.

El Morro Elementary School teacher Greg Tagawa meets every day with his fifth grade class. The students look forward to seeing their friends and sharing with them. 

“Yesterday we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to all the kids having birthdays,” said Tagawa.

Married and the father of a five-year-old who is in pre-school, Tagawa said his biggest challenge is finding a balance between home and online teaching 

“I am there for the kids at all hours,” he said.

But transitioning to online teaching was less onerous for him because Laguna Beach has always provided a lot of technology in the classroom. Students are used to working on computers. 

He teaches fifth graders in a variety of subject, but favors math.

“I love the way kids solve the problems and you can see the light bulb go off,” said Tagawa.

Basically, he just loves his fifth-grade students. 

“They are so sweet, so well-mannered, and you can trust them,” he said. 

“Hopefully, the COVID-19 epidemic won’t change the kids, but it might change teaching.

“When we get back, we will evaluate where the students are and see what they need,” said Tagawa. “But teachers are great at adapting and Laguna Beach is so supportive.” 

He is sorry his students will not get to experience the traditional Promotion Ceremony.

“It’s kind of a big deal,” Tagawa said. “We are having talks about what we can do to make it special even if it is different – something the kids can look forward to.” 

Something that will put a smile on their faces, and an important component of Tagawa’s teaching philosophy.

Penny Dressler has been teaching at Thurston Middle School for 20 years. She teaches a total of 200 students: Physical Education to sixth and seventh graders and Health to eight graders. 

A learning couple

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Penny and Mark Dressler

State law requires students to have 200 minutes of activity a week. An activity calendar is provided for each of Dressler’s PE students, in which to record their activities: 120 minutes of their choice and 120 minutes from a buffet list. 

Dressler also suggests fun activities for students, such as creating their own game and telling the class the rules, or videoing a trick shot like bouncing a ball off the wall and into a basket. 

“The reason for the options is to encourage a variety of activities,” said Dressler. 

Students log in their activities in the calendar on the honor system.

“At the end of the week, I check the log,” said Dressler. “The biggest challenge is AWOL students.”

She also tries to make the health class interesting by making it relevant.  The class this week studied environmental health in honor of Earth Day.  Dressler is very comfortable with the technology being used to teach during the epidemic. 

“I did some tech training the district offered in recent years,” said Dressler. “It has made it easier for me than for some older teachers.”

But she misses the personal contact with students and fellow educators. 

“We have a weekly full staff meeting and it is nice to connect,” she said. 

Contributions to this column are welcomed. Submit to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LBHS Seniors sign

LBHS Seniors Logan

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Logan Brooks, Cross Country and Track, University of California at Irvine

LBHS Seniors Augie

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Augie Renezender, Water Polo, Loyola Marymount University

LBHS Seniors Grace

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Grace Houlahan, Water Polo, Princeton University 

LBHS Seniors Sahil

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Sahil Das, Diving, New York University

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