Laguna Beach

Laguna Women’s Open beach volleyball tournament returns to Main Beach on May 11

Photos by Scott Brashier

For years, the best beach volleyball players have played in Laguna. 

On Saturday, May 11, the Laguna Women’s Open beach volleyball tournament is sure to excite the crowd again. Check-in starts at 8:30 a.m. and the games being at 9. Bring your umbrella, head down to Main Beach, and let the fun begin. 

Womens Laguna ball

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Bump, set, spike…get ready for a fun tournament in Laguna 

This tournament will be a pool play tournament on five courts with a single elimination playoff. There will be a guaranteed prize pot of at least $3,000. The winners will also have their names put on a perpetual trophy. 

Womens Laguna team

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Fun in the sand at a previous Laguna Women’s Open 

For more information and to register,

Main Beach is located at 107 South Coast Hwy.

LBHS student Joseph Hovanesian’s Eagle Scout Project receives top OC honors 

Laguna Beach High School sophomore Joseph was honored on Wednesday night with the Eagle Scout Project of the Year award at the Eagle Scout recognition dinner of the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts. His project involved creating a sewing program for a nonprofit youth shelter in the developing country of Armenia. 

Hovanesian, whose video describing his project was played for the audience of 500 at the recognition, has been a Scout since he joined Tiger Cubs in first grade. He dreamed up the project in the spring of 2017, when his family was planning a two-week summer vacation to their ancestral homeland. “I’ve always enjoyed creating things, and I had learned to sew the year before. I wanted my Eagle project to benefit young people in Armenia,” he said. 

He learned about Orran, a shelter in Armenia’s capital city that takes children who were found begging on the street and gives them educational and enriching after-school activities. Sewing was notably missing from their offerings, so Joseph set out to raise $1,500 in the US to buy Orran two sewing machines and supply them with enough fabric and supplies for a year’s worth of teaching. 

To raise the money, Joseph created a website, made an appearance on KX 93.5’s “Caroline’s Cause Corner” with Caroline Rustigian, and made presentations at Thurston Middle School and at his church. 

Hovanesian Eagle Project Award

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Hovanesian (center) receives the Eagle Scout Project of the Year Award from (L to R) Jeff Herrmann, CEO, and Mark Engstrom, Chairman of the Board of the OC Boy Scouts

An outpouring of support ensued. He raised over $5,000 – more than twice his goal – and received five large duffel bags of donated fabric, much of it from a local dress shop and from Pacific Coast Drapery Manufacturing, owned by Sam Eidt, the dad of a fellow Scout. With the added funds, Joseph’s project was able to buy four sewing machines and support the salary of a teacher in Armenia for the sewing program’s first year. 

With his family and his donated supplies, Joseph traveled to Armenia and taught the first two lessons to about 20 local children. “Before the trip, we did a dry run sewing lesson with my guy friends in Laguna to get me ready, but I actually found it easier to teach a bunch of girls whose language I didn’t speak in Armenia because they paid much closer attention,” said Joseph.

At LBHS, Joseph takes part in drama and Destination Imagination. Only one in 25 Boy Scouts earns the Eagle rank. The requirements include leadership experience, 21 merit badges ranging in topic from Environmental Science to Lifesaving, and a service project where the Scout plans, develops, and gives leadership in a significant effort that benefits others. Having achieved their Eagles together on December 5 last year, Joseph and his fellow Scout Logan Leeds added to the list of 117 Eagles in the 73-year history of Troop 35, chartered to Laguna Presbyterian Church. 

Scouts BSA is a program of the Boy Scouts of America for both boys and girls from kindergarten through high school. 

To learn more about Laguna Beach Pack and Troop 35, visit

To view Joseph’s project video, click here.


LBHS Boys Tennis brings home four CIF medals

On Monday, April 22, Laguna Beach High School Varsity Boys Tennis, under the leadership of Head Coach Rick Conkey, sent four singles players and four sets of doubles to compete in the Varsity Individual CIF championships at Edison High School. 

One player made it to the finals, Mason Lebby, battling all the way to his final match where he ultimately lost to the Wave League champion. Mason will receive a medal and qualified to compete in the state championships in May.

LBHS Boys court

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Playing for the CIF win

On the same day, the boys’ JV team, under the leadership of Coach Nic Radisay, sent four singles players and four sets of double players to compete in the JV Individual CIF championships also hosted by Edison High School. 

LBHS Boys group

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Boys JV Tennis Winners – Singles and Doubles Championship for Wave League – stand proudly with their coaches

Freshman Jeff Herkins destroyed his opponent with a 6-0, 6-1 win to be named the JV Wave League champion. Our doubles champions, Freshmen Jake Rasmussen and Junior Andre Marciano, dropped their first set but showed heart and brains to adapt against their opponents as they staged an epic comeback winning the last two sets both in dramatic tiebreakers.

LBUSD April 23 Board of Education Meeting summary

At the April 23 meeting, the LBUSD Board of Education recognized Thurston Middle School’s designation as a California Distinguished School. Thurston Middle School was recognized for its exemplary programs focused on increasing student academic achievement and social-emotional strength through collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication. 

LBUSD April group

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Thurston Middle School Principal Jenny Salberg (second from left) with Thurston staff members

At the meeting the Board also took action to approve a recommended Student Board Member Selection Process developed by Student Board Members Kaitlin Gunsolley and Piper Warner in conjunction with staff. The recommendation is a four-step process that includes an invitation to all eleventh grade students, an application process, and a two-part interview process. 

The Board additionally took action to reschedule the September 10 meeting to August 27. 

A community member placed an item on the agenda to request clarification on the policy and practices for weighting grades at LBHS. After public comment, the Board provided direction to staff to present information on this topic at the May 28 Board meeting.

The Board took action to approve the contract services agreement with The Aspen Group for a one-day Governance training session. 

Ending the meeting, the Board took action to approve several updated Board policies and approved Board Bylaw 9310. The Board did not approve Board Bylaws 9322 and 9323.3 at this meeting and provided direction to bring them to a future Board policy workshop for further discussion.

Two LBUSD teams advance to Global Finals in Destination Imagination® Tournament

Two teams from Laguna Beach Unified School District competing in the Destination Imagination® (DI) Affiliate Tournament have advanced to the Global Finals taking place May 22-25 in Kansas City, Missouri.

DI is a project-based educational program in which student teams solve open-ended challenges and present their solutions at tournaments. Global Finals is the culminating event of the DI Tournament with more than 1,400 of the top-scoring teams from 45 U.S. states and 14 countries participating. The scheduled festivities include the DI Tournament, interactive exhibits, pin trading, skills workshops and more. 

Two LBUSD art

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Students Evan Henry, Joseph Hovanesian, Jared Moy, and Miles Riehle at state tournament

“Creative thinking is a critical problem-solving skill that encourages students to approach problems with fresh perspectives to develop new solutions,” said LBUSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria. “The Destination Imagination® Tournament provides an opportunity for students to hone their social-emotional self-management skills as they learn to cope with risk, confusion, and disorder to complete the varying challenges,” he concluded. 

Two LBUSD mountains

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Students Ophelia Chapman, Ani Hovanesian, Uma Bhatia, Quinn Butler, and May Chapman in Yosemite

Laguna Beach High School’s Brilliant Boom Bam Bananas competed in the Technical Challenge: On Target. Their challenge was to design and build an aircraft that takes off, flies, and lands; design the aircraft to deliver a team-created payload; and to create and present a story about one or more characters exploring a remote place. The team placed second at the affiliate tournament, qualifying for global finals. 

Two LBUSD medals

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Joseph Hovanesian and Jared Moy with their trophy

Thurston Middle School’s Catnip competed in the Improvisational Challenge (Heads Up) and placed third, qualifying for global finals. The challenge asked them to research historical figures found on coins from around the world, create and present an improvisational skit that includes the historical figures in a tale, integrate an event that has an impact on the tale, present the skit in two parts changing between comedy and tragedy, and present the skit in two styles, changing from verbal to nonverbal.

Two LBUSD catnip

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Quinn Butler, Uma Bhatia, Ophelia Chapman, May Chapman, and Ani Hovanesian at state tournament

The annual Global Finals competition is the world’s largest celebration of student creativity with more than 17,000 people in attendance each year. Global Finals 2019 will mark the 20th year of the international event for creative problem solvers.

El Morro and TOW to host shoe drive to help fund 6th Grade Science Camp

El Morro and Top of the World PTA’s are hosting a shoe drive April 22 through May 1 to raise funds for next school year’s 6th Grade Science Camp on Catalina Island.

The community is asked to kindly donate old sneakers and cleats at the drop-off lines and collection bins at the school’s offices. 

El Morro group

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El Morro 5th graders, seen here, will benefit from donations of old sneakers and cleats

The shoe donations will help support our schools and micro-businesses (tiny shoe stores) in developing countries, while staying out of landfills.

There is also an opportunity for 5th graders to become shoe ambassadors where they can collect these shoes from neighbors. 

For more information or questions, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LCAD students partner with Net-Works to design flags for crosswalk at S Coast Hwy and Anita St


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Venturing across Coast Hwy in Laguna got a lot safer on Wednesday as students from Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD) delivered flags they created for pedestrians using the crosswalk at S Coast Hwy and Anita St. As locals know, walking across Coast Hwy, even in a designated area, is tricky business. 

Beloved Laguna poet John Gardiner expressed it best in an excerpt from his poem “Crossing the Street In Laguna Beach.” Thank you for not killing me in the metal-grilled cross-hairs/of your monstrous SUV as I crossed the street/cautiously, in full view, in daylight, in the crosswalk/where I thought I had a lawful right to be…

 “Flags have been used off and on forever here and around 400 of them have been stolen,” said Don Sciortino, who founded Net-Works Laguna Beach and runs Laguna Exchange on the corner of S Coast Hwy and Anita St, a nonprofit Buy, Sell and Trade boutique that aims to help the homeless enter a new season of life. 

LCAD students mom and son

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Without flags, cars don’t stop for mom and son who attempt to cross the street

However, the new flags aren’t just any flags, these are works of art. Although LCAD and Sciortino have collaborated for a couple of years, this is the first project involving the students designing flags.

Sciortino said, “Robin Fuld, Director of Career Services at LCAD, wanted to partner with us and recruit students for community service as volunteers and to build bridges between us. They want to learn, and I’ve hired one or two to work in the stores. Robin and I had a vision that they could help with the artwork. In the future, we are looking to create student designed inspirational graffiti on the side of the store and T-shirts produced by students, with a percentage of sales going back to them.”

LCAD students with Don

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(L-R) Don Sciortino, founder of Net-Works Laguna Beach and LCAD students Noel Rabina, Samantha Ames, and Jordyn Wong

Fuld says, “We have had students who volunteer at Net-Works by teaching art classes and helping feed the homeless on Sundays. We have a very nice relationship with Don, and as he said, some students have worked in the store.” 

Assistant Dean of Students at LCAD, Julian Velarde, adds, “It’s important for students to work for the common good, by giving back, in particular. Students took part in the project, working between classes and at lunchtime.” 

Fuld continues, “At LCAD, we want students to graduate as global citizens and think outside themselves and volunteering is important. These projects help them build confidence and leadership skills as well as experience in team building.”

LCAD students Jordyn Wong, Samantha Ames, and Noel Rabina helped design and deliver the flags.

LCAD students walking across

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Noel, Don, Jordyn, and Samantha walk safely across the street

Students were excited about the opportunity to be part of the creation of the flags and feel safety is a big priority.

Jordyn said of the project, “I decided to help create the flags and promote safety in Laguna, so people would feel safe downtown. Sometimes drivers speed up and do not slow down.”

Samantha said, “It was a good thing for the school to do for the Laguna Beach community. It’s a great step in raising and spreading safety awareness.”

So, if you’re down that way, take a look at the colorful and unique flags on either side of the crosswalk at S Coast Hwy and Anita St, grab one, wave it wildly so the cars see it, and feel a little safer as you step off the curb.

Laguna Exchange is located at 995 S Coast Hwy.

For more information, go to or call (949) 436-3379.

Laguna Beach Unified School District presents 

Dr. Denise Pope

On Wednesday, May 1, the Laguna Beach Unified School District invites the community to “LBUSD Presents: Dr. Denise Pope” at the Laguna Beach High School Artists Theatre from 5 - 8 p.m.

The event will feature a keynote presentation from Dr. Denise Pope, Senior Lecturer at Stanford University and co-author of Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids.

Laguna Beach Denise Pope

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Courtesy of

Dr. Denise Pope

The presentation will be focused on successful parent-school partnerships to support: 

--Healthy, engaged children;

--Strategies for reducing academic stress and finding individual paths to success; 

--Increasing your child’s resilience, creativity, and well-being;

--The importance of college fit. 

“Dr. Pope’s work as co-founder of Stanford University’s Challenge Success Program is revolutionizing how schools, parents, and students define success,” said LBUSD Director of Social Emotional Support Dr. Michael Keller. “The Challenge Success journey is about schools making pivotal shifts to enhance engagement, health, and deliver supports to enable students to cultivate their unique passions and identify their personal path to success,” he concluded.

Light refreshments will be served beginning at 5 p.m. and the presentation will begin at 6 p.m. Childcare will be available for children in grades TK-5. 

Those interested in attending the event are encouraged to RSVP at to ensure that there is an accurate headcount for food and seating. 

LBHS Artists Theatre is located at 625 Park Ave.

Tonight’s School Board meeting includes grade weighting and censure items

The agenda for tonight’s (Tuesday, April 23) regular LBUSD Board of Education meeting has been posted online here. Open session will begin at 6 p.m. at the District office, at 550 Blumont St, with closed session occurring beforehand at 5 p.m.

The agenda includes a recognition of Thurston Middle School’s designation as a California Distinguished School. The Board will consider taking action on the student board member selection process, and several Board policies and bylaws. The Board will also receive an information item on the District’s current grade weighting practices.

Item number 13 on the agenda is listed as “Clarification and review of the policy and practices for weighting grades at LBHS.” The item is a request from a community member and has been made to provide clarification of the policy and practices for weighting grades at LBHS, including current information on all academic weighting differences between the classes – 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 – as well as a justification of Honors Chemistry not being taught with honors curriculum.

Tonights School Board high school

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

An information item on grade weighting at LBHS is on tonight’s LBUSD Board of Education meeting agenda

In February 2016, the LBUSD Board of Education approved the removal of grade weighting of honors courses by a vote of 3-2, to take effect starting with the Class of 2020. The decision was made when former Superintendent Sherine Smith was at the helm of the District. Board members Jan Vickers, Carol Normandin, and Ketta Brown voted in favor of the change, while Board member Dee Perry and then Board President William Landsiedel opposed the decision.

Also on the agenda this evening, the 25th item to be considered, is the first read of a proposed bylaw (9323.3) to allow for the “censuring” or formal and public disapproval of an individual board member’s conduct if deemed improper by the board.

Persons wishing to address the Board at tonight’s meeting are asked to complete and submit a public comment card.

Tonight’s meeting will also be streamed live on the District’s website here.

Student winners of Congressional Art Competition announced, LBHS student earns second place


On Monday evening, April 22, student winners of the 2019 Artistic Discovery Congressional Art Competition were celebrated during a private reception and awards ceremony held at Laguna Art Museum.

Spearheaded by Congressman Harley Rouda, representing CA District 48, this is the first time our district is participating in the nationwide contest that takes place each spring. Open to students in grades 9-12, the competition recognizes and encourages artistic talent in youth throughout the nation. Artwork was submitted in the following categories: painting (oils, acrylic or watercolor); drawing (pastels, colored pencil, pencil, charcoal, ink, and marker); collage (two-dimensional); print (lithograph, silkscreen or block); mixed media (use of two or more mediums such as pencil, ink, watercolor); computer-generated art; and photography.

Student winners of three students

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Photos by Lana Johnson

(L-R) Master of Ceremonies Michele Gile, KCAL/CBS TV, with winning students Faith Riehm (third place), Charles Besso (second place), and Remi Frolichman (first place)

The winning students are:

First Place – Remi Frolichman, a student at the Orange Country School of the Arts, for her painting, Firenze. She received a prize of $750, a Certificate of Recognition, and a trip for two to the Capitol in Washington, D.C. this June, where her artwork will be on display along with all the other first place student winners, representing their congressional district from throughout the country.

Second Place – Charles Besso, a student at Laguna Beach High School, for his mixed media art (colored pencil with digital media), Slumber Party. He received a prize of $100 and a Certificate of Recognition.

Third Place – Faith Riehm, a student at Edison High School, for her computer-generated art piece, The Painter of Flowers. She received a prize of $50 and a Certificate of Recognition.

Congressman Rouda, along with his wife, Kaira, presented the awards. Master of Ceremonies was KCAL 9/CBS 2 television reporter Michele Gile.

Student winners of Roudas

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(L-R) Congressman Harley Rouda, Beth Phillips, founder and executive director of Furnishing Hope, and Kaira Rouda

The winning art was chosen from a field of 41 entries, submitted by students throughout CA-48 who attend Laguna Beach, Newport Harbor, Huntington Beach, Edison, Fountain Valley, Aliso Niguel, Westminster, La Quinta, Pacific Coast, Coast, Orange County School of the Arts, and Drakain Academy. All participating students, their art teachers, and families were invited to the Museum reception to view their art being displayed at the Museum, and find out who were the winning artists.

Judges included Malcolm Warner, executive director of the Laguna Art Museum; Jeannie Denholm, gallery owner of SCAPE in Corona del Mar; and Ed Fosmire, professor of art at Santa Ana College.

Cash prizes were sponsored by AT&T, represented by Richard Porras, assistant vice president, external affairs, and supported by Richard Stein, executive director of Arts Orange County.

Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments were coordinated by Kathleen Abel, Museum board member and donated by the MacGillivray, Robbins, and Keller families.

Congressman Rouda invited all of the participating students to come and display their art at his office.

Prior to hanging on the Museum’s walls, the artwork was showcased at the gallery in Furnishing Hope (FH) during the week of April 16. Furnishing Hope provides home furnishings and supplies for families as they transition into independent living, reaching out to our wounded service heroes and women with children. All proceeds from FH, with their flagship retail store in Westciff Plaza, Newport Beach, go to serve families in need.

For additional information on the CA-48 Congressional Art Competition, visit

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