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LBHS junior Nick Reardon enlists Pastor Don Sciortino to educate students on homeless issue

By DIANNE RUSSELL

There is a serious side to Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) junior Nick Reardon. Those who witnessed his comedic talents in plays like Spamalot at No Square Theatre, and Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at LBHS, might find that difficult to believe. However, in an attempt to address the effects and potential solutions regarding the homeless issue in our town, Reardon has taken a determined approach to this highly discussed subject.

Spearheaded by Reardon and a group of students – Kidd Stablein, James Ryan Davison, Marc Eftimie, and Sophia Seidensticker – together, they organized a forum with the objective of creating a better understanding of the local homeless situation and how students can help. 

Pastor Sciortino meets with students

Last week, Reardon brought in Pastor Don Sciortino of Net-Works Laguna Beach to speak to a group of 20-30 students on this subject. Net-Works Laguna is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization helping the community of Laguna Beach. Pastor Sciortino then facilitated a conversation on how, working together, they can make a difference. 

Pastor Sciortino says, “Nicholas has a heart for the homeless and will be catalytic to mobilize students to serve the homeless in LB. I told them to create some events and I would help them. Some already said they would be helping us on our Helping Hands From the Homeless projects and LB Street Art jewelry making as well as our weekly Sunday morning community breakfast where 60-80 homeless come every week.”

LBHS junior group

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Submitted photo

(L-R) Kidd Stablein, James Ryan Davison, Don Sciortino, Marc Eftimie, Heather Hanson, Nicholas Reardon, and Sophia Seidensticker

Reardon says, “I wanted to break down the barriers between students and the homeless. My dad is a psychiatrist and worked with homeless rehabilitation in Los Angeles. It was very inspiring.” 

The motivation for disseminating information and prompting discussion about the homeless started with a school assignment. This assembly was the end result of a project – a service goal concerning poverty – given by Reardon’s history teacher Heather Hanson. He decided to find a way to address the effects of homelessness and possible solutions on a local level. But why this particular subject?

“I wanted to engage with other people and their stories. I knew of Pastor Sciortino’s work and his primary goal of alleviating the effects of homelessness. This was an opportunity to get an education on the people living among us and become personally involved,” says Reardon.

Long-lasting benefits 

Pastor Sciortino says, “I see this as a beginning of volunteerism helping the students do what’s in their hearts to serve. They are sophomores and juniors at LBHS and will be around for a bit for us to mobilize the youth to do something good, to get to know and help some of the homeless of our city. I love working with the young people and helping them to get a heart for the poor and needy, learning how to serve them and make friends with them.”

This assembly wasn’t a singular event. Reardon has plans to broaden the outreach. “I would like to expand it to other classes and student-led projects that will take initiative with Don. He is making a difference, and I’ve been inspired by him. I’m looking for additional involvement this summer with Don’s work, maybe even a job working for his nonprofit. I’m excited to continue to work with him in the future. And I want to give a big shout-out to my group – Marcus, Kidd, James, and Sophie – and my teacher, Heather Hanson.”

The following was outlined in Pastor Sciortino’s handout to LBHS students: 

About helping the homeless

People are people

--every person has value and deserves help

--easy to judge or conclude an opinion of the homeless

--many kinds of homeless

--some want to be homeless (to be free from ___)

--some are under the influence of addictions or mental illness

--some want to have a “re-start” – to get a new start 

Pathways to being homeless

--not just one way, many ways

--search for freedom

--loss of job and housing

--sickness and all the medical expenses

--divorce and family problems

--addiction

--mental illness

--all of the above

“People help the people” – Caring for the homeless

--“not from afar, but through relationship”

--the homeless are our neighbors whether we like it or not

--the combination of government agencies and caring people works well

--not everyone wants help, but everyone deserves respect and friendship

--inviting people into “communities that care” is essential

--“people don’t make major changes outside of community” (people that care)

Helping the poor and needy helps us 

--our response to what we have been given is to be grateful and share it

--we have a responsibility to help others that are needing and wanting help

--we can be love and bring love or not 

--helping the homeless helps us understand what love is

--“life is a classroom to teach us what real love is all about”

--to challenge us to love others who are different than us

--“to love is to serve and to serve is to love”

Let’s do something together

--let’s begin to help the homeless of Laguna Beach together

--volunteering opportunities are available

--I will help you do what’s in your heart to help the homeless

Pastor Sciortino says, “This is a good beginning of influencing our youth to see the homeless as neighbors, people who need a friend and the appropriate help we can give. I’m excited for this opportunity to work with our youth in our city. What they do now will stay with them and grow into a beautiful offering of love that will help many and bring great fulfillment to their own lives.”

After listening to Reardon, there’s no doubt this education will provide long-lasting benefits for our homeless and the community as well. 

For more information on Net-Works LB and their many programs and services, go to www.net-workslb.organd www.fromthehomeless.org (the work program).


Meet the athletes at Laguna Beach High School on Saturday brought fun and fans

Photos by Scott Brashier

Meet the food

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Above all, athletes need to eat, coaches serve up grub

Meet the lacrosse

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Lacrosse players 

Meet the Ashton

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Officer Cornelius Ashton, School Resource Officer, demonstrates gear to youngsters

Meet the cheerleaders

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LBHS cheerleaders show their athletic ability

Meet the musicians

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Musicians accompany the festivities


Village Laguna awards LBHS senior Charles Dickerson scholarship

Annually, since 1978, Village Laguna has awarded a scholarship to a Laguna Beach High School graduating senior who demonstrates leadership and involvement in activities protecting the environment and promoting humanitarian goals.

Village Laguna is proud to award this year’s scholarship to Charles Dickerson. Charles is an avid photographer, as well as a member of the cross country and track teams at the high school, two of his favorite hobbies.

Village Laguna grad

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Courtesy of LBHSSF

Congrats to LBHS senior Charles Dickerson for being awarded the 2019 Village Laguna scholarship, seen here with Judy Teverbaugh

During a course in Environmental Studies at Saddleback College, Charles became acutely aware of climate change, water and air pollution. That course inspired him to start an Environmental Awareness Club at LBHS. One accomplishment of his enthusiasm was to guide his club to Upper Newport Bay, to work on ecological restoration in the saltwater marsh.

Charles’ studies at LBHS in Advanced Chemical Research shaped his desire to promote a positive effect on our environment.

Charles plans to major in Chemical Engineering and Environmental Studies at Irvine Valley College. Congratulations to Charles! 


LBHS and TOW Elementary recognized for high achievement and student success

Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) and Top of the World Elementary (TOW) have been named to the 2018-2019 Educational Results Partnership Honor Roll for high achievement and student success. 

The program, sponsored by the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE), is part of a national effort to identify higher-performing schools and districts that are improving student outcomes. LBHS and TOW are two of 1,831 schools in California to be recognized. 

The 2018-2019 Honor Roll is developed by the Educational Results Partnership (ERP), a nonprofit organization that applies data science to help improve student outcomes and career readiness. ERP maintains the nation’s largest database on student achievement and utilizes this data to identify higher-performing schools and districts.

LBHS and view

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

TOW Elementary along with LBHS are recognized for high achievement and student success

Schools that receive the ERP Honor Roll distinction have demonstrated consistent high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in achievement levels over time, and a reduction in achievement gaps among student populations. 

“The entire TOW team works collaboratively to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of all of our students,” said TOW Elementary School Principal Mike Conlon. “We intervene early to bring our struggling students up to grade-level and differentiate instruction to helps all students reach for the stars,” he concluded. 

“The Honor Roll is the only school recognition program in California based solely on objective achievement data,” said Marilyn Reznick, ERP’s board chair. “Schools don’t even know they’ve earned the honor until we tell them. Our goal is to guide other educators to data-informed best practices for raising student achievement.” 

“Our students come to us with a wide variety of skills and experiences. The LBHS team has worked hard on focusing on relevancy and real-life application of learning for students,” said LBHS Principal Dr. Jason Allemann. He continued, “This focus and drive to support every student, every day lends to an environment that fosters continuous improvement among our young adults regardless of their background.”

In California, the ERP Honor Roll is supported by numerous businesses and organizations, including the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE) Macy’s, Enterprise Holding Inc., the Auto Club of Southern California and, Wells Fargo.

A full list of ERP Honor Roll schools and districts can be found at www.edresults.org.


Perry excluded from school board’s Confidential Matters Subcommittee

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Four members of the Laguna Beach School Board on Tuesday shut out Dee Perry from participating in a subcommittee created that night, specifically to deal with confidential matters.

The board voted 4-1 to exclude Perry, based on what the majority said was the advice of attorney Mark Bresee, with member Carol Normandin voting by telephone from Japan. According to Perry, the issue evolved from an email from Bresee to her that he said was confidential and attorney-client privileged – the entire board being the client. Perry was allowed to address the board and members of the public before a vote was taken. 

She pulled no punches.

“This is shameful,” said Perry. “It’s a disgrace.”

Perry flatly denied the attorney’s accusation that the letter from him contained confidential information. 

“By forming this committee, you [board members] are infringing on citizens’ rights to their representation and ‘you’ are prohibiting me from participating and voting on some of the most impactful areas of our job,” said Perry. “This is harming the citizens of Laguna Beach.”

Perry said the creation of the subcommittee is an attempt to silence her.

“Well, it won’t work,” she said. “I am a duly elected official representing my constituents and I will continue to do so.

“What you are trying to do is wrong on so many levels.” 

Bresee advised the board to consider very carefully what they delegate to the subcommittee. Wholesale delegation is not the intent of the subcommittee, he said. It should be a case-by-case decision.

“I am blown away by the behavior of this board,” said Amy Kramer. “It is the majority’s obligation to bring the minority along with you.

"You guys don’t have to go camping together. You don’t have to have to love each other. But you guys do have to get along.”

The atmosphere at the meeting grew increasingly hostile, particularly when members of the audience believed that Normandin was badgering Perry with questions that had already been answered.

Normandin asked if Perry would forward other confidential information, which Perry had explicitly denied doing. 

“This is not appropriate,” said parent Sheri Morgan, seated in the audience.

Vickers responded that the exchange was in order on an agenda item. 

“It’s an interrogation,” retorted Morgan.

In a written statement, Morgan said that formation of a subcommittee that ostracized Perry seemed overreaching and lacking transparency.

“She [Perry] seems to be challenging the administration, asking hard questions, does her own research, and is listening to her constituents and now the board wants to take away a voice of the community, ‘as warranted.’ Is that legal?” 

Jennifer Sorenson said that now that her child had graduated, she could speak freely.

In her opinion, the proposed action was a slap in the face for the 3,968 members of the community that voted for Perry.

Perry has been at odds with the other board members and Superintendent Jason Viloria for months, starting with an untaped meeting in December, at which Perry was not elevated to the presidency of the board, as many believe was recommended in the district bylaws. 

This led to the board majority’s decision to eliminate the bylaw. 

Last month, Perry disagreed with the board majority on the district’s current grade point weighting policy.

Perry stated on Wednesday in an email that she had not decided what steps would be appropriate to take in the wake of Tuesday’s meeting.

“I am considering my options,” she stated. “I hate to spend money and cost the district money legally, but I don’t think what they are doing is right or serves our community well.”

Vickers said the delegation of confidential matters to the new subcommittee would not reflect disagreements with Perry.


Local girl qualifies for track & field events at upcoming California State Games in San Diego

For a second consecutive year, Cadence Peery, 14, of Laguna Beach, returns as a representative of the City of Laguna Beach at the California State Games, being held this July 13-14 in San Diego. 

Her finish times at the Laguna Beach City Track Meet and at the SCMAF Championships this spring have qualified her for the state competition. She will be running in the 100 Meter Dash 13-14 Division. 

Local girl with coach

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Submitted photo

City Track Coach Fred Pichay and Cadence Peery

Although Peery is registering without an official team, she has the dedicated support and coaching of City Track Coach Fred Pichay. Together, they will be returning to the games in hopes of breaking her 2018 State Games results of 13.08 seconds.


LBHS awards its top two musicians

Laguna Beach High School seniors Zachary Bonnin and Sydney Davison were announced as the winners of the top two instrumental music awards for 2019 at the LBHS Band Boosters’ annual picnic held June 8 at Bluebird Park. 

Zachary Bonnin received the John Philip Sousa Award recognizing superior musicianship and outstanding dedication. Since 1955, this award has represented the pinnacle of achievement in honoring the top high school band student each year. Bonnin’s name will be added to the National Sousa Registry.

LBHS awards students

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LBHS students Sydney Davison (left) and Zachary Bonnin were honored as the top jazz and band musicians for 2019

Sydney Davison was presented with the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award, which was inaugurated shortly after this great jazz artist died in 1971. This achievement represents the highest-level interscholastic award given to a high school jazz musician in recognition of outstanding musical achievement and dedication to the program. 

Both winners received personal trophies, certificates, and award pins. Their names were added to the perpetual plaques for each award showcased at Laguna Beach High School.


Barbara’s Column

LBHS 2019 Honors Convocation

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Foundation presented more than $412,000 to 132 graduating seniors at the 2019 Honors Convocation. 

Donors and award presenters were honored at a reception and dinner prior to the Convocation. 

Foundation board member Debra Steel welcomed the honorees, thanking them for their largesse and moral support of the students. 

“For some of these seniors, the awards they receive tonight determine which school they can attend for college – allowing them to attend a first choice or program specifically geared to their interest and career path,” said Steel.

“For others it is the difference between huge student loans or a much more moderate need to borrow money for college.

“But besides the financial impact of your generosity, what we hear over and over again from LBHS graduates is that these scholarship awards, that you [donors] make possible, have a lasting impact because the recipients leave with the strong belief – in their core – that they are believed in.

LBHS 2019 Skipper

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Courtesy of LBHSSF

Skipper Carrillo Scholarship: (L-R) Jake Harper with Skipper Carrillo and Lance Stewart

“They take away from tonight and carry with them the knowledge that their community believes in them. And believes they will succeed. 

“That is a huge and invaluable gift to each of these students, which we have learned often far surpasses the monetary value of the scholarship.”

Each year scholarship recipients come back to Laguna to thank donors and update them on how the awards affected their lives. This year the speakers were Hillary Frimond and Julianna Ferguson

Frimond was awarded the Linda Fortune and Jennifer Bammer Memorial Scholarships when she graduated in 2003.

“The little cushion that those scholarships provided, really took the worry out of my first year as an adult, freeing up my mental space and allowing me to create a clear and successful plan for my education,” Frimond said.

“So thank you to my donors and to all donors. Your continued generosity is truly appreciated.

LBHS 2019 Julianna

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Courtesy of LBHSSF

Juliana Ferguson, LBHS Class of 2012 (USC ‘16), spoke to donors on how the LBHSSF scholarships impacted her educational experience

The Bammer, named for the late sister of Laguna Beach Police Corporal Larry Bammer, is specifically for a student planning to continue studies at a community college.

“I am the oldest of three kids – my two  brothers are two years behind – so in addition to knowing we were going to college, we also sort of knew that financially, community college was the first step,” said Frimond.

She attended Saddleback Community College, transferred to Cal Poly in 2006 and graduated in 2009. After a six-month walking tour of Europe and Egypt, she moved to Toronto where she began her career as a producer and development executive. She has been an executive in the entertainment industry ever since.

Ferguson graduated in 2012. 

LBHS 2019 flowered

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Courtesy of LBHSSF

Presenters Karen Kanner and Laurie Dalke with the Ebell Club winners – 

(L-R) Chloe Bryan, Molly Cohn, Ryan Smithers and Benjamin Vogel

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to thank the Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Foundation and generous donors and to share the positive impacts that came from scholarship awards,” said Ferguson. 

She was the recipient of four scholarships: Dream for the Future, Village Laguna, Laguna Greenbelt Inc. and the Naude Family Clean Ocean Foundation,  all of which she said have had lasting impacts.

“While the financial implications of the scholarships are clear, the indelible vote of confidence from respected families and leaders guide a sense of self and personal pride that will never be forgotten,” said Ferguson. 

“After completing programs of study at USC, the University of Cambridge and Duke University, I have returned to live in this beautiful town I call home and to work just off the 133 at Blizzard Entertainment Headquarters as a [Human Resources] partner. 

“I was the recipient of generosity from this community in multiple ways, and I hope to be able to give back in return,” said Ferguson.

LBHS 2019 Cheryl

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Courtesy of LBHSSF

Cheryl Post, a 27-year donor, honors her late son Brandy with the Brandon Balsinger-Post Scholarship

The foundation also honored at the reception donor Cheryl Post. She was introduced by foundation board member Betsy Jenkins.

Cheryl and the late Carl Post endowed a $4,000 scholarship in 1992 in memory of their son, Brandy Balsinger-Post, who died from a mixture of cocaine and alcohol. He was just 21. 

The scholarship is awarded to students of exemplary moral character. 

“I am always amazed at the level of maturity and incredible strength of character these applicants for this scholarship have demonstrated,” said Post.

LBHS 2019 Betsy

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Courtesy of LBHSSF

Brandon Balsinger – Post Memorial Scholarship: (L-R) Piper Warner, presenter Betsy Jenkins and Catrin Williams

“Although my son was not able to see his dreams fulfilled, I am hopeful that this annual $4,000 scholarship will help to financially support the recipient in his or her goals.”

Longtime French teacher Odile Dewar was also honored. She was unable to attend but conveyed her thanks for the recognition via a tape introduced by board and former staff school staff member Walt Lawson.

Dewar began teaching at Laguna Beach High School in 1989. 

“Odile’s outgoing personality, friendly smile and marvelous French accent were embraced immediately by colleagues, students and parents,” said Lawson. 

“For most of the 30 years that Odile has been on the faculty at LBHS, she has been a presenter for our Annual Awards Assembly just like the one being held a little later this evening. The scholarships she bestowed on her high-achieving students came from her personal resources. 

“Odile is retiring but will forever remain at the heart of our community. Our foundation decided it was long overdue to recognize Odile’s countless contributions to the students of Laguna Beach and to the scholarship program she selflessly served.” 

LBHS 2019 Pat

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Courtesy of LBHSSF

Presenters Dave Perry and Pat Kollenda with the Festival of Arts Visual Arts Scholarship recipients – (L-R) Haley Colton, Lauren Fetzer, Sofia Pfanner, Emma Russell and Sarah Smelkinson

The first scholarship was presented in 1947 by the Ebell Club. This year, The Festival of Arts alone awarded 17 scholarships, totaling $27,600. 

Scholarships are awarded to recognize academic achievements, merit, athletic prowess and community service. Seventy-nine percent of them are based on financial needs.

Community organizations, service clubs, businesses or individuals may establish a scholarship – often a memorial for a loved one. 

The Breakers Opportunity Fund accepts donations from folks who don’t want to establish an individual scholarship. The process is simple: Determine the amount – the minimum is $1,000 a year; define the targeted scholarship recipient and name the award. The foundation reviews applications, awards and selects deserving recipients of BOF awards.

Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. 

All donations go to funding scholarships. There are no administrative costs.

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and a foundation board member will make contact. 

But wait – there’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun and interesting stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading StuNewsLaguna.com. Contributions are welcomed.


School Board recognizes students of excellence, seeks community input on whether or not to live-stream its meetings

At its June 11 meeting, the LBUSD Board of Education recognized several students for their achievements during the 2018-19 school year.

The School Board recognized high school seniors that have served as after-school tutors and mentors to struggling English-learners in grades 2-5 through the district’s Juntos program.

The Board also recognized the Laguna Beach High School Girls Surf Team for their successes in the high school state championships in Oceanside. In the Women’s Shortboard Division, LBHS defended its season and 2018 Championship Title.

School Board recognizes awards

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Courtesy of LBUSD

Student athletes Claire Kelly and Colton Gregory 

LBHS Director of Athletics Lance Neal, together with the board, recognized students for their academic and athletic accomplishments that earned them athletic scholarships.

The June 11 meeting was the last one with Student Board Representatives Kaitlin Gunsolley and Piper Warner participating. The high school seniors were recognized by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Vilora and the board for their service to the school community. 

School Board recognizes plaques

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Courtesy of LBUSD

Student Board Reps Kaitlin Gunsolley and Piper Warner

The Board is currently seeking community input on whether or not to invest in the live-streaming of its meetings.

School Board meetings are currently recorded and posted to the district website within 24 hours. Previously (since January 2016), meetings were live-streamed, providing access to the public in real-time. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that live-streamed content be closed-captioned to provide equal opportunity access, a service that requires an added cost of approximately $16,000 annually. 

Using ThoughtExchange, an online discussion platform that allows participants to anonymously share thoughts and rate thoughts shared by others, the board would like community input on interest in live-streaming, recording and posting the next day, as well as exploring other potential options to access board meeting information.

To participate in the survey, click here.


LBHS senior Sydney Davison receives college scholarship from Cox Charities

Sydney Davison, a graduating Laguna Beach High School senior, along with fifteen other students, was named a Cox Scholar in 2019 and awarded a scholarship. On June 12 at UCI University Club, $40,000 in college scholarships was awarded to academically impressive and socially-minded students. 

“We’re super proud of Sydney and so thankful she was able to get the Cox scholarship at UW-Madison, tuition is very expensive so the scholarship really helps with that. We are so happy she is studying computer science and think she will have a great time in college!” said Chris Davison, father of Sydney Davis who attended the event with his wife on Sydney’s behalf. 

Sixteen Orange County and Palos Verdes area teens who have overcome major challenges, including serious health issues, while excelling in academics and community work, received the scholarships from Cox Charities. 

LBHS graduate close up

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Photo by Kait McKay

Sydney Davison will go to University of Wisconsin - Madison

The recipients were: Sydney Davison, Laguna Beach High School, enrolled at University of Wisconsin - Madison; Serenity Owens, San Pedro High School, enrolled at UCLA; RJ Wakefield-Carl, Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, enrolled at UC San Diego; Joy Lee, Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, enrolled at Loyola Marymount University; Madeline Wright, San Pedro High School; Joy Yen Kao, Irvine High School, enrolled at UC Santa Barbara; Justin Nguyen, San Juan High School, enrolled at UC San Diego; Aly Barriga, El Toro High School, enrolled at Point Loma Nazarene University; Christian Aguilar, Capistrano High School; Brooke Berry, Aliso Niguel High School, enrolled at Boise State University; Rachel Yu, Northwood High School, Enrolled at UCLA, Alvand Daliri, University High School, enrolled at Stanford University; Sarah Atashi, Palos Verdes High School, enrolled at USC; Peter Chelebian, Palos Verdes High School, enrolled at UCLA; Keira Small, San Clemente High School, enrolled at Arizona State University; and Giovanna Cortes, San Juan Hills High School, enrolled at UC Irvine.

LBHS graduate parents

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Photo by Kait McKay 

(L-R) Sydney’s parents Chanthu Oeur and Chris Davison and Sam Attisha, SVP and Region Manager, Cox Communications

One scholar stated in their personal statement, “I am interested in pursuing speech language pathology. I have always wanted to study this because of my brother. He inspires me to strive for this career because I want to help kids just like him who have severe speech delays.” 

Funded by employee payroll donations that are matched by the company, Cox Charities provides support to communities in Cox Communications’ service area by awarding scholarships to high school seniors, Innovation in Education grants to local schools, and grants to nonprofit organizations. A volunteer advisory board of Cox employees oversees the foundation and its giving programs. 

The Cox Charities scholarship program is open to graduating high school seniors who are residents of a Southern California Cox service area, and are able to meet various academic and community service criteria. The average amount of the award ranges from $1,000-$5,000. The applications for the 2020 Cox Scholars program will open in January 2020. 

For more information visit www.coxcharitiesca.org/.

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