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Laguna Beach


Laguna Beach Youth Football announces NFL FLAG powered by USA Football program

Young football players in Laguna Beach are invited to enjoy the fun and excitement of American’s favorite sport this winter. Laguna Beach Youth Football will offer NFL FLAG powered by USA Football to its youth athletes in winter of 2019. 

The season begins in December and runs through March 1, 2020. NFL FLAG powered by USA Football is the premier youth flag football program in the United States with more than 410,000 boys and girls ages 5-17 playing in leagues nationwide. Our league in Laguna Beach will be for boys and girls of all skill levels ages 5-15 (Pre-K through eighth grade). 

Laguna Beach field

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Courtesy of Facebook

NFL Flag powered by USA Football comes to Laguna Beach this December

Players in NFL FLAG powered by USA Football have fun while gaining the sport’s inherent benefits and being physically active. Young athletes learn every position on the field as well as football fundamentals through USA Football’s digital resources at www.usafootball.com

Divisions are as follows:

-- Pre-K/K

--1st/2nd

--3rd/4th 

--5th/6th

--7th/8th 

Games will be played on Sundays at LBHS. 

Coaches have free access to USA Football’s certified flag football coaching course, spanning the sport’s fundamentals to player health. All players receive NFL team replica jerseys and flags. 

“Flag is a terrific way to enjoy the fun of football while learning the fundamentals of the sport, getting exercise, gaining confidence and making lasting friendships,” Laguna Beach Youth Football Manager Ryan Kollock said. “USA Football provides our young athletes an exciting and rewarding experience with our country’s favorite sport.” 

“For more than 15 years, USA Football has helped millions of young athletes enjoy the best of football through coaching education, exciting versions of the sport and nationally endorsed standards of play.” USA Football Director of Events Brittney Brothers said. “This year will mark the greatest number of coaches and players involved with USA Football to date. We commend and value all high school and youth programs who share our commitment to their young athletes.” 

For more information about the upcoming season and to register your player, visit www.lagunabeachyouthfootball.com.


LBUSD seeks input for district planning

The Laguna Beach Unified School District is using an innovative online platform called Thoughtexchange to gather community feedback to inform the development of the District’s three-year Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). 

The district’s latest “Exchange” is online now at the link here, and will be open through Wednesday, Nov 13 at 8 p.m. The District asks students, staff, and families to share thoughts regarding the programs and services offered by the district to serve all students. 

The LCAP is an important part of California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), established in 2014. It describes how school districts intend to meet annual goals for all students, with specific activities to address state and local priorities. 

LBUSD seeks school

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBUSD uses new online platform to gather community feedback

“The LCAP is developed with the input of the Laguna Beach school community and it serves as a touchstone by which we guide and execute our efforts to educate all students,” said Dr. Jason Viloria, superintendent of schools. “Asking an open-ended question allows us to get a sense of the shared values and priorities of our community. The feedback will help chart a course for the district through to 2022 and it is important to me that everyone affected by the decisions made in our district has an opportunity to share their thoughts,” he concluded. 

An exchange has three simple steps: Share, Star, and Discover.

--Share your thoughts to open-ended questions, independently and confidentially.

--Read thoughts shared by you and other participants, and rate (star) each one out of five stars

--Discover what matters to the group by exploring the thoughts and how they were rated. 

These three steps together bring structure to the conversation. People share their thoughts, rate the thoughts of others, and learn what matters to the group. Thoughts and stars are public, however, names and email addresses of participants will never be associated with a Thought or rating.


LBHS boys cross country poised to enter CIF playoffs for the 21st consecutive year

Congratulations to the CIF-bound LBHS boys cross country team! The tradition of excellence continues for the Breakers again this year, as the team is poised to enter the CIF playoffs for the 21st consecutive year.

Paced by Logan Brooks (14:54) and Mateo Bianchi (15:03), the Breakers decisively won the varsity Sunset League and Conference titles this past Saturday at Huntington Beach’s Central Park. 

LBHS boys team

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Submitted photo

(L-R) Mael Metis, Tanner Burton, Logan Brooks, Gabe Neff, Mateo Bisnchi, and Chris Drews

Brooks and Bianchi finished first and second overall on the three-mile course, with senior Tanner Burton and freshman Christopher Drews also earning varsity all-league honors. At the JV level, senior Timmy Crawford paced the Breakers to a second place finish with a time of 17:20. Sophomore Luke Anderton also had a breakout race, winning the frosh-soph division in a time of 16:56.

Other outstanding performances were had by freshmen standouts Alex Boyd (17:18) and Will Goodwin (17:40).

The Breakers will race next at CIF Prelims in Riverside on November 16.


Preschool Trick or Treat

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Preschoolers trick dinosaurs

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Is this Jurassic Park? No, it’s the Laguna Beach Recreation Department’s Annual Trick or Treat for preschoolers at the Susi Q.

Preschoolers trick minion

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Tiny minion in the Wizard of Oz

Preschoolers trick volunteers

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Volunteer helpers from the Susi Q Senior Center


LBHS Surf Team excels at Individual League Finals

The Individual High School League Surfing Finals were held at Upper Trestles on Tuesday and the Laguna Beach High School Surf Team did an outstanding job. The team had representation in every Division Final. The event showcased the top surfers from Laguna Beach, San Clemente, and Dana Hills going for individual honors.

LBHS surf girls

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Submitted photo

(L-R) Lilie Kulber, Tess Booth, Kalohe Danbara, Jade Howson, and Scout Mitchell

Coaches Scott Finn and Alisa Cairns said, “The weather in the morning was quite chilly and when not in the water, everyone was bundled up. The surf was pretty fun with some groomed three-foot rights and lefts to be had, and there was certainly some outstanding surfing performances put in by many of the Laguna kids and others.

“The Laguna Women shined as they have all year.” 

LBHS surf kiko

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Submitted photo

Kiko Nelsen 

New to the event this year was Lilie Kulber who had an impressive showing, finishing off a beautiful ride with a solid gouge to score an 8.5 out of 10 in the final. 

“The only thing keeping her from the overall win was an interference, which put her into second in the Shortboard,” report the coaches. 

Tess Booth had a great day as well, successfully making both the Shortboard and Longboard Final, while she got a bit skunked in the Shortboard Final finishing sixth. The Longboard Final went very well, and she scored several good stylish rides, finishing in second overall. 

LBHS surf Sam and Kiko

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Kiko and Sam Nelsen 

“In Mens Shortboard, Kiko Nelsen was on fire throughout the event,” said the coaches. In his stacked Semi-final heat, he scored several excellent waves, looking unstoppable and took a trip straight to the Final where he finished fourth overall.

Meanwhile, Sam Nelsen was also ripping but was a little unlucky, just missing out in the same stacked Semi-final that included his brother and also three of the San Clemente surfers, one of whom was the eventual event winner. 

In Longboard, Zac Henderson did very well, making some nice nose rides and fancy footwork to finish in fifth overall.


LBHS football drops tough one in overtime thriller, 56-49

Photos by Scott Brashier

The Laguna Beach High School football team dropped another tough one on Friday night, an overtime loss to Western High School (Anaheim), 56-49. 

LBHS football team

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Team takes the field

The Breakers fought hard throughout the game, which was also Senior’s Night, scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 42 apiece and force overtime.

Quarterback Andrew Johnson and receiver Raul Villalobos combined for the third-longest play in Laguna Beach history on a 94-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. 

LBHS football Johnson

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Quarterback Andrew Johnson throws a pass 

By quarter, the points gained were:

First Quarter: LB 0, Western 14

Second Quarter: LB 21, Western 21

Third Quarter: LB 7, Western 0

Fourth Quarter: LB 21, Western 14

Overtime: LB 0, Western 7

LBHS football Villalobos

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Raul Villalobos on a touchdown catch and run

Breakers are now 5-4 overall, with a 1-1 league record.

The team’s next game, the final regular season game, will be played at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach on Friday, Nov 1 at 7 p.m.


LBUSD Board of Education adopts resolution in support of Dyslexia Awareness Month

At the October 22 regular meeting of the Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) Board of Education, the board reviewed and adopted Resolution 19-10: Support of Dyslexia Awareness Month. 

The resolution recognizes the significant impact dyslexia can have on academic achievement and emphasizes the district’s commitment to creating the conditions and culture that support world-class learners. 

Dyslexia is one of the most common language-based learning challenges students face. Between 5 and 10 percent of the population is estimated to have dyslexia, while 70 - 80 percent of those with reading difficulties are likely to have some form of dyslexia. Although the causes of it are varied and not fully known, scientists believe that there are genetic components predisposing certain individuals for dyslexia.

In 2015, former California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1369, requiring schools to assess struggling readers specifically for dyslexia. The law also required that the California Department of Education post information on its website to help teachers find a proven, evidence-based approach for teaching reading to students with dyslexia. 

In anticipation of these guidelines, LBUSD formed a Dyslexia Workgroup comprised of regular and special education teachers, reading intervention staff, school psychologists, principals, and the director of special education, among other instructional administrators. The workgroup developed a preliminary plan focused on evaluating current practices, specifically, early reading instruction, and districtwide assessments used when suspecting dyslexia. 

In 2017, the California Department of Education introduced the California Dyslexia Guidelines to assist general education teachers, special education teachers, and parents in “identifying, assessing, and supporting students with dyslexia.” The LBUSD workgroup carefully examined the document and created a comprehensive action plan focused on four key areas: screening and assessment, instruction, training, and parent education. 

Now in the third year of implementation, school psychologists, special education teachers, and specialists have developed a sophisticated understanding of dyslexia and how to assess for it. In K-5, general education teachers and reading specialists have the skills and tools to complete universal screeners and targeted diagnostics to identify students at risk and implement various interventions based on research.

Last year, all kindergarten and first-grade teachers were trained in the Orton Gillingham Approach, a multisensory approach specifically designed to help struggling readers by explicitly teaching the connections between letters and sounds. A multisensory approach means that instructors use sight, hearing, touch, and movement to help students connect language with letters and words. This approach has proven to be essential in building teacher skills to improve reading instruction for LBUSD’s early learners. 

This year, LBUSD’s kindergarten and first-grade teachers will undergo Orton Gillingham refresher training, while receiving coaching support from Orton Gillingham experts in their classrooms. Special education and intervention teachers will attend training to improve their understanding of Orton Gillingham methodology specifically designed for upper elementary and older students who continue to struggle in literacy development and require foundational reading skills. Further work at the secondary level includes the introduction of universal screening at the sixth and ninth-grade levels and the development of specific interventions and accommodations for identified students. 

LBUSD has taken great strides to understand and address the needs of our students with dyslexia; however, there is always more work to do. The district will continue to focus on increasing the awareness of dyslexia and to implement research-based practices so that every child has an equitable opportunity to be a successful learner.


Parents of El Morro students want closer ties to Laguna

By BARBARA DIAMOND

A group of El Morro Elementary School parents have asked the city to provide all police services to the campus, including a School Resource Officer, and to annex the campus.

The requests will be discussed at the October 29 City Council meeting.

Since the parents made their appeal to the city in September, City Manager John Pietig has authorized Police Chief Laura Farinella to provide all police services to El Morro. Pietig has also reached a tentative understanding with Laguna Beach Unified School District Superintendent Jason Viloria to split the cost of an additional School Resource Officer for the campus.

The addition of a second SRO would still keep Laguna at the lowest ratio of officers to students nearby, at two officers per 1.522 students. Nearby Irvine’s ratio is 12 officers to 2.917 students. Newport Beach has three officers per 7.150 students.

Police services have to be confirmed by the council. The second SRO is subject to approval by the council and the Board of Education. 

Annexation is a more complicated process. 

The El Morro campus is in the school district but not in the city limits – similar to the situation of some Laguna Audubon property owners. 

Staff has reviewed the annexation process, which must be approved not only by the city, but also by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO). 

Parents of school

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

El Morro parents want closer ties to Laguna

The commission would require the city to also annex the property between the current Laguna Beach city limits and El Morro, according to the staff report on the agenda item. 

Annexation of the state-owned open space and the Moro Campground between the campus and the city limits would not be subject the city’s land use authority and would not pay property tax. Staff had not identified any source of additional revenue as of the completion of the report.

Annexation would include changes to the city’s General Plan and Local Coastal Plan, which would need to go to the California Coastal Commission. 

The LAFCO process alone would require several meetings, as well as consultations with utility companies that service the area.

The best guess at the cost of annexation, which would include GIS mapping, surveys, meetings with stakeholders, the Laguna Beach Planning Commission, the City Council, the coastal commission, and LAFCO is in excess of $100,000. The process would probably take at least two years.

Annexation advocates have cited police services to the campus and the belief that cellular towers in the vicinity of the school will have to be programmed to route phone calls to the Laguna Beach Police Department dispatch center.   

Staff is recommending that the council approve Laguna Beach police services to El Morro, direct Pietig to enter into an agreement with the school district to add a second School Resource Officer to the roster, and split the $200,000 cost. 

The city would also have to appropriate $70,000 for the purchase of a car for the SRO, the cost of which would also be spilt with the district. 

Recommendations also include directing Pietig to continue to look into options to direct 911 calls from cellular towers close to the school to the city’s  dispatch center, if possible without adversely impacting calls from other nearby areas; and to explore ways to annex the school for much less the $100,000.


Round Robin beach volleyball tournament results from Main Beach

Round Robin ladies

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Submitted photo

QOB II 2019 Open Division: (L-R) Samantha Thomas, Amanda Vialpondo champs, Alicia Zamparelli, Aurora Santos

Round Robin gents

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Submitted photo

2019 KOB, Men’s Open Division: (L-R) Todor Dimitrov, Cameron Bordeau champs, Daniel Pop, Carl Bunge 2nd


SchoolPower’s Dodgeball Tournament is a hit for Laguna Beach schools

More than 380 costumed players on 50 teams ducked, dived, and dodged balls at Laguna Beach High School on October 16 for SchoolPower’s 10th annual Dodgeball Tournament. 

The popular event raised over $13,000 for SchoolPower, the parent volunteer-based, nonprofit education foundation that has raised money for Laguna Beach public schools since 1981. 

“The kids bring so much excitement and joy to the tournament,” said Jeff Bhaedhayajibh, first-time coach of We Kick Balls. The popular event included students from all four local schools, teachers, PTA leaders and school staff, Laguna Beach firefighters, and local business supporters. 

SchoolPower's Dodgeball game

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Photo by Kristin Karkoska, Blue Sky Studio

Maeve, of The Mighty NarBalls, team hurls a ball at the opposing team during SchoolPower’s Dodgeball Tournament

Adding to the energy were Dodgeball chair Kristine Flynn and her planning committee of SchoolPower trustees, plus hundreds of parent coaches, volunteer referees, and cheering spectators. Nick Alexander Imports served as the Terminator Sponsor with Bala Shala Yoga for Kids joining as a Court Sponsor. 

Competition was fierce in all three divisions. Seventh grader Nico Bammer of the Dodgeball Devils was up for the challenge. “The tournament is exhilarating!” he said. Eighth grader Hannah Kaiser of the Crazy8’s acknowledged, “It’s fun even if you get beat up.”

Repeated throughout the afternoon was an appreciation for how the event brings people together. El Morro student Reagan Levine embraced the teamwork required. “We know what everyone’s strengths are,” she said of her team the Dodging Devils, “and we’ve learned to work really well together.” Motley Crew coach Jill Nugent highlighted that the event connects kids who don’t normally spend time together, saying, “It’s great for the kids to work with kids of the other gender in a fun way to raise money for our fabulous schools.”

In the high school/adult bracket, defending champions Prescribe Wellness pulled off a three-peat, with one of their two teams taking home the championship trophy once again. 

SchoolPower's Dodgeball sign

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Photo by Kristin Karkoska, Blue Sky Studio

Piper, of the Duck and Cover team, celebrates as the last player standing during SchoolPower’s Dodgeball Tournament

Class rivalries played out on the court when the seniors on team 2020 defeated the juniors of Last Kid Picked in a final game for a second-place finish. “It was so much fun to play one last time and to beat the juniors, showing them the Class of 2020 is the best!” said senior Grace Houlahan.

Beyond bragging rights, champions from each division won $500 in prize money to designate to a teacher or school program of their choice. 

For more details about Dodgeball, visit www.lbschoolpower.org/dodgeball-tournament.   

The following teams dodged their way to victory.

Division Winners:

--4th/5th - Ball Dogs

--6th-8th - VSCO

--HS/Adult - PrescribeWellness 2

Best Costume Winners:

--4th/5th - The Mighty NarBalls

--6th-8th - Balls of Cereal

--HS/Adult - RhythmRide

SchoolPower’s mission is to enhance the educational experience of the whole student as they grow from TK through 12th grade. In 2018-19, SchoolPower contributed over $736,000 to Laguna Beach school district to help support a wide range of programs, including music, visual and performing arts, STEM, digital literacy, field trips, athletics, social emotional support, service learning, and academic support. 

SchoolPower’s Wave of Giving campaign is on now at: give.lbschoolpower.org.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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

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