Laguna Beach

Girls basketball registration now open at Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

Girls basketball registration is now open at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach. Registration includes practices, competitive league games, and a uniform. 

Boys & Girls Club Athletic Coordinator Erik Vasquez has an outstanding reputation among both Club kids and parents for making this league a great experience for everyone involved. 

From kindergarten through 9th grade, participants will learn basketball skills, enhance their self-esteem, and have a great time being part of a team.

Girls basketball team

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Registration for girls basketball at Boys & Girls Club is now open

 Skills Checks will take place the week of March 9. Pre-season camps will be offered the week March 16 and official practices begin Marth 30. 

To register, go to; log in and sign up through February 28.

For more information, contact Erik Vasquez at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is also actively recruiting both boys and girls volunteer basketball coaches and seeking corporate sponsorships for the year. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

LBHS girls’ basketball team shows promise: some great individual performances this year

By Coach Matt Tietz

LBHS girls’ basketball has wrapped up for the season. Coach Tietz reports:

“The team went 10-18 this season. It was a bit disappointing, but injuries, illnesses, and absences took their toll. Varsity players missed a combined 28 games this season. We struggled early and lost some games we should have won.

“After winter break, we were at full strength and started making some real progress. When we got to our tough league schedule we started showing some real promise. Although we have never won a league game and usually our average margin of defeat is 30+ points, we showed stretches within games that we can be competitive. 

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Coach Matt Tietz with members of the team

“Then in our second to last game of the season against Newport Harbor, we traded the lead often and had a chance to win in the closing seconds only to fall short 37-41. The last game of the year was against Marina where we again were competitive throughout the game and had a lead late but ultimately fell 45-52.

“Individually, we had some great performances this year. Madi Garwal again broke her own school single-season rebounding record with 316 rebounds. That brought her career total to 917 rebounds, which is a LBHS girls basketball record as well. Also in the record books is Julia Henry with 243 career blocked shots. Kenna Rudolph tied Anna Cheng’s record for most three-point baskets by a freshman with 56. 

LBHS girls playing

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Girls basketball team in action

“For the season, our scoring leaders were: sophomore Anna Cheng - 8.5 ppg, freshman Kenna Rudolph - 7.7 ppg, and freshman Sophie Marriner - 7.1 ppg. The rebounding leaders were senior Madi Garwal - 12.6 rpg, Sophie Marriner - 11.7 rpg, and Senior Julia Henry - 6.7 rpg.  The assist leaders were Madi Garwal - 2.9 apg, freshman Sabrina Yang - 1.6 apg and Anna Cheng - 0.9 apg.

“For the first time the program fielded a full-time junior varsity/frosh-soph team. The team went 6-12 (six losses by seven points or less), which is unheard of for a first-year program as they played against schools that have had those levels for years. The team was led by captains Sophia Seidensticker, Laila Hassan, and Brisa Campos, who all spent some time on varsity this season as well.

“The leading scorers were Laila Hassan with 87 points, Brisa Campos with 65 points, and Laura Mandala with 58 points. The team benefited from strong rebounding from Sarah Balian and Miella Caouette. Grace Clark-Alexander (niece of alum great Brittany Clark) improved and showed promise at the point guard position.

“On to next year!”

Breakers Girls Youth Basketball spring clinic is open for applications

The Breakers Girls Youth Basketball spring clinic, taking place March 3 through May 28, is a great opportunity for girls to improve their skill level and strengthen their love of the game. Sessions will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 - 7 p.m.; the clinic is open to all girls from first to eighth grade, no matter their skill level.

Coached by the LBHS girls basketball coaching staff, the clinic will focus heavily on the fundamentals of shooting, dribbling, passing, rebounding, and defense. 

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Coaches Matt and Brianna Tietz

“We as coaches have a vested interest in the girls’ improvement,” says coach Matt Tietz. “We hope one day to be coaching them at the high school level and we will do everything we can to make sure they want to play and are ready to compete.”

The coaching staff will explain the basic rules of the game and how they apply to the fundamental skills the participants are learning. The goal is then to build on the proper core mechanics and teach advanced skills.

Coaches will also teach concepts and strategies to improve the girls’ understanding of the game. They’ll also run drills that strengthen what has been taught, along with organizing competitions, scrimmages, and games that put skills to practical use.

Tietz notes that the fee of $100 is a great deal for 26 hours of professional coaching.

To sign up and pay, click here or email your interest/registration to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and pay by check at the first day of the clinic.

LBUSD Board of Education announces new TOW Principal

At the February 13 regular meeting of the Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education, the board took action to approve the appointment of Dr. Julie Hatchel as Principal of Top of the World Elementary School (TOW) effective April 20. 

Dr. Hatchel replaces Michael Conlon, who was promoted to the position of Director of Human Resources in September. She was selected from a candidate pool in a competitive process that included input and participation from the TOW staff and community. 

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Dr. Julie Hatchel announced as new TOW Principal

Dr. Hatchel has more than 20 years of experience as an educational administrator, currently serving as Principal at Deerfield Elementary School in Irvine. She holds a doctorate in education leadership from California State University, Fullerton and a proven track record of furthering student success and well-being through collaboration with teachers, staff, students, and families. 

“Through the screening and interview process, Dr. Hatchel demonstrated that she is a dedicated, reflective, and collaborative leader,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria. “We are excited to have her bring her diverse experiences and leadership skills to our district, where I know she will continue to work with the school community to support student achievement,” he stated.

Dr. Hatchel was one of 16 candidates selected from the pool of applicants to participate in the initial interview process. Six candidates were selected to move forward to the next round and were interviewed separately by two stakeholder panels consisting of parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators. From that group of candidates, three were selected to move on to the final interview panel with the Superintendent and other District administrators. 

“I am honored and excited to join the team at Top of the World Elementary,” said Dr. Hatchel. She continued, “I look forward to supporting the important work of the staff and community in continuing to provide an outstanding education for our students.”

The District will host a meet and greet event for the TOW community to meet Dr. Hatchel in April.

LBHS boys basketball defeats Ocean View, advances to 2nd round of CIF playoffs tonight

Boys basketball

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Photo by Ali Rounaghi

LBHS boys basketball defeated Ocean View on Wednesday in the first round of the CIF Division 3AA playoffs, 64-46. The Breakers, led by 6-foot-7 junior Nolan Naess, who scored 29 points on the game, will take on Hart Hill School tonight at 7 p.m. on the road in the second round of the playoffs.

Laguna Beach Unified School District presents Dr. Marc Brackett on March 12

On Thursday, March 12, the Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) invites the community to “LBUSD Presents: Dr. Marc Brackett” at the Laguna Beach High School Artists Theatre. 

The parent education event will feature a keynote presentation from Dr. Marc Brackett, Founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and author of Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive.

Laguna Beach Brackett

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Dr. Marc Brackett to speak at LBHS on March 12 

In his twenty-five years as an emotion scientist, Brackett has focused on the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, creativity, relationships, health, and performance. Research shows that American youths have stress levels that surpass those of adults. 

Brackett’s presentation to LBUSD families will focus on strategies and skills for understanding and mastering emotions so that they help, rather than hinder our success and well-being. 

“A critical foundation for student health and well-being requires all of us to understand and leverage the power of emotional and social skills to support students to thrive in school and in life,” said LBUSD Director of Social Emotional Support Dr. Michael Keller. “Dr. Brackett is at the cutting edge of science and intervention and we are excited to have him share tools and strategies to enhance students’ emotional intelligence,” he concluded. 

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“Permission to Feel” by Dr. Marc Brackett

One of the pillars of Brackett’s approach is the necessary collaboration that comes from parents, students, teachers, and leaders in prioritizing emotion in their conversations and behaviors.

“LBUSD Presents: Dr. Marc Brackett” will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at 625 Park Ave in Laguna Beach. Light refreshments will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the presentation will begin at 6 p.m. Childcare will be available for children in grades TK-5. To reserve your seat, and to learn more about this upcoming event, visit

Rangers FC takes youngest pro, Laguna native Francis Jacobs, with them to defend Alkass Cup

The Rangers FC professional soccer club will take the youngest professional player in the history of U.S. soccer, Laguna native Francis Jacobs, with them to Doha later this year when the club’s under-16s defend the Alkass Cup they won in 2019. Doha is the capital and most populous city of the State of Qatar. 

Jacob’s mother Cindy Jacobs says, “What an incredible opportunity Francis has been given by Orange County Soccer. They have invested so much in his career already. This trip with the Glasgow Rangers to play in a tournament in Qatar against other top teams from around the world is a dream for him, and we are so proud. I cannot wait to watch him having fun and doing what he loves to do.”

In August of 2019, Orange County Soccer Club announced the signing of 14-year-old soccer standout Jacobs, who became the youngest male to sign a professional contract in United States soccer history after inking his deal at 14 years, 4 months, and 29 days. 

The next youngest player was Freddy Adu, who was 14 years, 5 months, and 16 days old when he signed with Major League Soccer and D.C. United in November 2003. 

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Francis Jacobs signs professional soccer contract in 2019, becoming youngest professional soccer player in U.S. history

The Laguna Beach native joined amidst interest from multiple European clubs and made his historic first appearance in August 2019 against Las Vegas Lights FC.

Jacobs, who was one of three players to travel to Scotland for a training stint with the Light Blues, will be part of the group defending the Alkass trophy, Orange County SC has confirmed. 

Jacobs joined OCSC in 2019, following a successful stint with the Irvine Strikers, where his performances earned him national team call-ups with both the United States U-14 National Team and, most recently, as a participant in the 2018 U.S. Junior National Team camp. Jacobs had training stints with Bundesliga clubs Cologne and Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, but the option of staying close to home made joining OCSC the right step for the player and his family.

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Francis Jacobs battling it out on the field

Jacobs followed in the footsteps of Orange County SC teammate Aaron Cervantes, who signed his first professional contract at 15 years old prior to the 2018 USL Championship season. In 2019, Cervantes became a regular in goal for OCSC, recording eight appearances and two shutouts while splitting time with the United States U-17 National Team.

Age didn’t seem to be a barrier to success with goalkeeper Cervantes, who signed in 2018 and went on to make 14 appearances so far through August of 2019. 

Already standing at almost six-feet tall, Jacob’s impressive physicality can see him mistaken for someone much older and the American looks to have a massive future ahead of him.

Despite hailing from Laguna Beach, Jacobs holds a British passport, which would make signing the teenage prodigy much easier for the Light Blues.

LBUSD Board of Education recognizes exemplary students and staff

Last week’s LBUSD Board of Education meeting was a recognition event celebrating the district’s exemplary students and staff.

The board recognized 2019 CIF Southern Section Doubles Tennis Champions Sarah MacCallum and Ella Pachl. The duo beat Beckman’s Victoria Aguirre and Kiki Nguyen 6-1, 6-3 to win at Seal Beach Tennis Center. 

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2019 CIF Southern Section Double Tennis Champions Sarah MacCallum and Ella Pachl (left)

The board recognized Laguna Beach High School senior Logan Brooks and junior Mateo Bianchi for an outstanding 2019 cross country season. 

Logan Brooks was named League Champion (1st team All-League), All-CIF (15th place at CIF Finals), All-State (3rd place at State), First Team Orange County, and he set a 5K record for Laguna Beach High School at 15:24.7. 

Mateo Banchi was named League Runner Up (1st team All-League), All-CIF (2nd place at CIF Finals), All-State (10th place at State), First Team Orange County, and he set a junior three-mile record for Laguna Beach High School at 14:43.3.

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LBHS senior Logan Brooks and junior Mateo Bianchi (middle)

For Girls Cross Country, the board recognized LBHS junior Jessie Rose, who was named League Champion All-CIF (8th place at CIF Finals), All-State (8th place at State), set a 5K School Record (18:12), and a junior 3-mile record (18:00). 

Senior Morgan Falkowski was also recognized for her accomplishments. In the 2019 season, she was a member of the 1st Team All-League and named to the All-CIF list (5th place at CIF Finals). 

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LBHS senior Morgan Falkowski (middle)

On November 14, Laguna Beach High School Sophomore Gavin Pike was at Thalia Street Beach waiting to be picked up after school when he noticed a woman and her son caught in a riptide. 

Having just completed training with the Laguna Beach Lifeguards in a pilot program on lifesaving techniques and how to spot dangerous ocean conditions the week prior, Gavin jumped into the water and saved them. The board recognized Gavin at the January 28 meeting for Exemplary Service. 

The Annual Kids Paint Out is one of the elements of the Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational. Eight students from Laguna Beach Unified School District are invited to come outdoors for a plein air painting experience with a professional artist that mentors students in the creation of a plein air painting from start to finish. All LBUSD 4th-graders participate in The Plein Air Project.

LBUSD Board Plein

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Laguna Plein Air Painting Invitational participants recongized

The Reflections Art Program was established by the California State PTA in an effort to increase community awareness of the importance of arts in education. The theme for the 2019-2020 Reflections Art Program was “Look Within.” Winners selected by the Laguna Beach Council of PTAs were recognized at the January 28 Board Meeting. 

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Reflections Art Program winners 

The board recognized the 2020 LBUSD Classified Employee of the Year Division Winners: Liz Drudy, Child Nutrition; Gary German, Maintenance & Operations; Megan Weinert, Support Services & Security; and Robin Lux, Paraeducator & Instructional Assistant. 

LBUSD Board winners

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2020 Classified division winner Gary Ferman (center)

The board recognized the 2020 Classified Employee of the Year, Laguna Beach High School Administrative Assistant Durinda Klein. 

The board recognized the 2020 LBUSD Teacher of the Year, El Morro Elementary School 3rd-grade teacher Tamara Wong.

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Tamara Wong, 2020 LBUSD Teacher of the Year

Students get creative at LBHS, and the results speak for themselves 


“This is how school should be,” a student says of Mrs. Dawn Hunnicutt’s popular Creative Writing classes, offered to juniors and seniors for the first time this year at LBHS. And that statement is typical of the sentiments I heard when l observed one of the workshop sessions last week.

“We’re learning from the inside out, creating for ourselves, rather than analyzing or studying someone else’s work,” students told me. “That makes it so much fun and so interesting. We love the freedom to use our imaginations without having to follow strict guidelines, the way it is in all our other classes.”

Developed by Mrs. Hunnicutt based on college courses, the creative writing curriculum is meant to foster writing in a creative and meaningful way, through exploration and experimentation and the use of mentor texts.

“At the end of the day, I want my students to have not only a love for writing, but a command and confidence, a marketable skill, that they can take with them no matter which path they choose,” the English teacher and department head says.

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Department head and English teacher Dawn Hunnicutt, whose brilliant creative writing curriculum is bringing books alive in class

“We start off the year with creative nonfiction, and I spend the first couple of weeks acclimating the students to the tools writers use to generate ideas: notebooks, observation walks, brainstorming techniques, and so on. We begin the year also with a book club, where students get to choose a nonfiction title from a selection of eight books. 

“One day for the next three weeks, they meet in their book clubs, and we as a class discuss moves made by authors that we may want to mimic. It’s your story, I tell them; you decide which techniques you might want to use. From there, we are off and running creating our own pieces, and I try as best I can to write beside them.

“We are currently in our fiction unit, and students are working on short stories and will begin a fiction book club in about a week or so. We will then progress to drama, and students will create a 10-minute play while reading a play together as our mentor text.

“The capstone to the class is a multi-genre project that weaves together several pieces with a similar thread.”

Challenging, but exciting

Students have plenty of leeway to choose which subjects they’d like to focus on in their writing. They agree that this freedom is both one of the biggest challenges and yet also their favorite aspect of the class. 

“The writing prompts are so broad and we’re not given specific guidelines, so it’s hard sometimes to come up with new ideas for all the different assignments,” one teen says. “We’re so used to being told exactly what the expectations are for getting certain grades. Sometimes that’s scary, not knowing what direction to take.”

Another student tells me, echoing many others, “I love that we aren’t restricted to a certain rubric to get a grade. We can truly write about who we are in the way we want to write about ourselves and things we care about.”

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Photo by Dawn Hunnicutt

The atmosphere in the classes is celebratory as students find joy in studying writing from the inside out

Mrs. Hunnicutt has told the class that the important thing is to be able to see “a couple of feet ahead of your headlights.” 

“One of the kids came up to me looking quite glum,” she says. “He said to me, ‘Mrs. Hunnicutt, I’m afraid my headlights are off and the car is stopped.’ I thought that was funny, and also a really good way to describe how plenty of writers feel at times.”

She advised the blocked writer to take an offramp for a while until he felt ready to continue.

Much of the enthusiasm for the class is a result of the collegial approach exemplified by the writing groups.

Writing groups raise comfort levels

“We get into writing groups, bounce around ideas, and go over drafts,” Mrs Hunnicutt says. “I tell them to be kind to each other but not to be afraid of getting or giving feedback. Of course, I give feedback too.”

The strategy is working well. Wandering from group to group as the students read their work aloud, I heard suggestions including, “You might want to get further into the head of your character, tell us about his emotions” and “Perhaps include more details about the setting” along with accolades for descriptions or plot devices that were working well.

A student shared with me that being in a writing group where he could trust the people and feel a level of comfort made him more confident about himself as a person and more willing to share “personal stuff.”

Quite a few of the students have written personal, emotional stories, for example about a grandfather’s stroke, or a father’s upbringing, or a parent’s death. Some wrote about their own battles with anxiety or depression.

“No one has to share anything with the class unless they want to,” the teacher emphasizes. “Sometimes they find they can’t write about the subjects that they are most emotional about. I reassure them that often writers need the perspective of time before they can tackle difficult subjects.”

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Workshops and readings take place in a relaxed environment as student writers gather in circles on the football field

Many of the writing samples are funny. The odes, in particular, seem to have brought out the students’ sense of humor. A cross-country runner wrote an Ode to her Running Shoes. Another penned an Ode to her Bed, and another Ode to Blue Gatorade (nectar of the gods).

Other narratives tell of moments of insight, for example wisdom gained during a tennis match that didn’t turn out the way the student would have liked, or from a beloved grandparent. 

A popular assignment was the charge to tell a story in just 34 words. 

“We watched a Visa Gold commercial about Dan Jansen, a speed skater who was expected to win the gold just after his sister passed away, but he fell and shocked the world. He returned years later, won the gold, and took his victory lap with baby daughter Jane,” Mrs Hunnicutt explains. 

“The whole story is told beautifully in 34 words, so I asked the students to write about a defining moment in their lives in 34 words. With concision comes power, and that exercise exemplifies that.”

Assessing success

Creative writing is very hard to assess and assign a grade, so participation, daily writing and reading, timeliness, and revision are huge components of the class. 

Interestingly, Mrs Hunnicutt turned to the science department for help.

“In chemistry, during labs, you’re experimenting, you’re hands-on, just like writing,” she says. “Your work isn’t judged against a singular set of guidelines, which is similar to the way I have to assess students’ writing. The science department was super-helpful.”

Even some the most reluctant writers among the students have found themselves caring passionately about their work. I encounter just such a lad in one of the workshops, which are held on the football field, a relaxed setting that calms any nerves students might have about sharing their work.

The teen is quite frank. “I thought this would be a really easy class. I didn’t plan to put much effort into it. But now I’m finding I do want to write, I do want to do well, I do care. And I’ve been reading so much.” 

A parent agrees with his assessment. “Prior to taking Creative Writing, [my teen] dreaded writing. In fact, she choose to take this class in hopes of learning how to write without it being a burden, as well as the fact that Mrs. Hunnicutt was the one that would be teaching the class,” the parent says. 

“Over the course of this year she has actually started to enjoy writing, and with that her writing has improved immensely. We are so grateful to Mrs Hunnicutt for sharing her gift of teaching, connecting so well with her students, and inspiring them to learn.”

Certainly the students I spoke to are passionate about her classes – 163 juniors and seniors signed up, and there was a waiting list to register.

Writing and reading become joyful for the kids

“The feedback from kids and parents has been amazing,” Dawn Hunnicutt says. “For the vast majority, the class has been a welcome respite from the structured writing imposed on them for so many years. Many of them have discovered that they actually enjoy writing and reading now, and that has given me so much joy.”

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Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Students take their critiquing seriously and listen carefully to each other’s work

One mother writes to Stu News: “Our daughter loves Mrs. Hunnicutt’s creative writing class. It has inspired a new love of reading for pleasure and we spent hours over the holidays sitting together by the fire and reading. 

“The different writing genres that the students are exposed to in the course fosters their creativity. Mrs Hunnicutt’s teaching style, attitude, humor, and general aura are such a positive influence in our daughter’s life. She looks forward to her class every day.”

The class is UC approved and counts toward one year of the required four for high school graduation and college admission. 

“It took a bit of persuading and a lot of research to get the class approved,” Mrs Hunnicutt says. “I am thankful I work in a district that supports innovative curriculum. The fall semester was the most rewarding semester of my teaching career. I am living the dream by teaching this subject.”

LBHS principal Dr. Jason Alleman can’t speak highly enough of Mrs Hunnicutt and her initiative in developing the Creative Writing program.

“She is one of many remarkable educators on the LBHS campus and the perfect person to develop and lead this coursework. I am proud of the efforts she has made and the work she has taken on. It has resulted in students building skills and confidence in their writing, speaking, and articulating their ideas and points more effectively and, most importantly, growing a lifelong passion for reading literature and writing.”

Before I left, Dawn Hunnicutt and I discussed the importance of “story.”

“Story matters,” she says. “I explain it to the students by having them read a notice about the dangers of vaping. Then I have them read a personal story about the impact that addiction to vaping had on a young man. They understand the difference it makes to hear a first-hand account, and the power of writing.”

Next up? A literary journal, showcasing the students’ work – and, I’m convinced, in years to come, the publication of many short stories, novels, and poems written by the talented kids in this most wonderful of classes.

By paying kindness forward, Thurston Middle School students raise big bucks for their school


Celine Macmillan, PTA president and mastermind behind Thurston Middle School’s ongoing Kindness Challenge, this week found herself reading through 1,900 heartfelt pledges of kindness made by nearly 700 middle schoolers.

“It was heartwarming to see all the ways our Thurston students were spreading kindness,” she says.

The Kindness Challenge is modeled on a program called Raise Crazy. Students are given a secret code to create their own personal website. They list several acts they will undertake to pay kindness forward, then they email family and friends with a request to donate to the school on their behalf in support of their acts. Students check off their pledges as they are completed. 

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(L-R) PTA Board member Melissa Vermilya, Fin the Shark mascot, and PTA President Celine Macmillan staff a Kindness station where 100 students wrote thank you cards

Pledges seem to group in three areas: 

Donations of money to causes including the Laguna Food Pantry, saving wildlife in Australia (especially koalas), and the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, as well as donations of goods such as basketballs for the Boys & Girls Club as well as for Thurston students at recess, toys for the Dog Park, household items to the Assistance League, bingo prizes for Susi Q, socks and cans for the less fortunate, and food for the Village of Hope.

Writing letters of appreciation to police, firefighters, lifeguards, teachers, family members, and friends, and chalking quotes and “nice statements” on sidewalks to inspire passersby to do acts of kindness.

Volunteering time to refurbish school gardens, clean up beaches, parks, and neighborhoods, help restore habitat for Laguna Canyon Foundation, assist the Laguna Food Pantry, bake cookies for veterans and crepes for Thurston staff, play piano at a senior center – and support climate change initiatives to save the bees.

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Students wrote birthday cards to a Marine who is turning 104

Major projects include Spread the Love of Reading, which teacher Jenny Hill is coordinating with her students. They will be reading to TOW elementary school 1st and 2nd graders, visiting seven classrooms. 

Art teacher Ivy Leighton is painting the Thurston bathrooms with some of her students.

“I am working with a group of excited students to create inspirational and uplifting artwork to adorn the bathroom doors and mirrors,” Leighton says. “The students will create designs full of positive messages and then I will digitalize them and create colorful stickers to go on bathroom doors and around the edges of the mirrors! 

“Our hope is to spread messages of kindness, self-worth, and happiness to help bring hope on challenging days, or just to remind students that they are doing great and should continue to help others and be confident.”

Kalani Robb and Johnny Redmond of Catch Surf in San Clemente came out to show their support, telling 6th grader Brody Azadian and his brother, Ashton Azadian (TMS 2019 Alumnus), that kindness is the key to being surf champs.

Catch Surf donated two Odysea surfboards to give to Thurston PTA as well as a bunch of stickers as prizes for the Kindness Challenge. They told Brody that they were stoked by his acts of kindness, loved his Kindness Challenge T-shirt, and that Catch Surf looked forward to continuing its support for Thurston’s students and “little shredders.”

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Catch Surf of San Clemente donated two surfboards

“We are very grateful for their support and offer our special thanks,” Macmillan says.

Jenny Salberg, Thurston principal, notes, “I continue to be humbled by the kind acts and gestures of our 690 middle schoolers. I am inspired by the positive conversations that our students are having amongst themselves as well as school-wide about making positive choices that support all. 

“This Kindness Challenge, which aligns with the state-supported The Great Kindness Challenge, has created an environment that is creative and engaging for all involved on our campus.” 

The goal is to help fund Thurston PTA expenses, which benefit students, teachers, and the school.

“As of now, we’ve raised more than $30,000 and donations are coming in all the time,” Macmillan says.

The school is going to tie the Kindness Challenge to Thurston’s Film Festival. Students can create a video of their Kindness Challenge and that way inspire other students to pay it forward. 

For more information about sponsorship levels and benefits, sponsorship levels for monetary and in-kind donations, and prize donations for opportunity drawings for the middle school students, go to

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