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LBUSD Board of Education approves Course of Study for LBHS

At the March 26 LBUSD Board of Education meeting, the Board took action to approve the 2019-2020 Course of Study for Laguna Beach High School. The California Education Code requires the Governing Board of each school district to approve annually the curriculum for secondary schools under its jurisdiction.

The Course of Study contains a listing of course titles along with identification of new, University of California (UC) approved, and weighted courses. The LBUSD’s Curriculum Council reviews and makes recommendations regarding any new secondary level courses. The Curriculum Council process provides for teacher involvement along with parents and other members of the community through department groups and School Site Councils.

Pending enrollment and staffing, the approved course of study includes four new courses: Authentic Exploratory Research, Application Development, Creative Writing, and Yoga Core Fitness.

LBUSD Board bushes

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The 2019-2020 Course of Study for LBHS was approved at the March 26 Board meeting

Also at the meeting, staff presented several textbooks to the Board for approval for implementation commencing with the 2019-2020 school year. In accordance with District Board Policy 6161.1, the textbooks were on display for public inspection in the Laguna Beach Unified School District Office from Tuesday, March 12 through Tuesday, March 26.

At the meeting, the Board took action to approve “Studies Weekly” (K-5), “National Geographic” (6-8), and “Teacher’s Curriculum Institute” (9-12) for History/Social Science; “Applied Calculus: For the Managerial, Life, and Social Sciences” from Cengage for Calculus; and, CodeHS Online Curriculum for the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science “A” course at LBHS. 

Since November 2016, the School Board has met annually to review agreed-upon governance norms and protocols. The Board asked staff to provide several options for a facilitated workshop focused on three identified components vital to effective school governance: (1) The attributes of an effective individual trustee, (2) the attributes of an effective governing board, and (3) the specific jobs the board performs in its governance role. At the March 26 meeting, the Board gave direction to staff to arrange a contract with The Aspen Group for a one-day workshop. The Aspen Group designed “Coherence Governance,” which establishes standards for districts and helps identify and define values for outcomes for operational standards. 

Laguna Beach High School was among seventeen Orange County schools recognized for efforts to engage students in civic learning. The school received a Civic Learning Award of Merit from the California Courts system. 

On May 1, at 6 p.m., Dr. Denise Pope, Senior Lecturer at Stanford University, will be in the LBHS Artists Theatre for a presentation focused on strategies for reducing academic stress, living a well-balanced life, and finding individual paths to success. Light refreshments will be served. Students in grades 8 to 12 may attend with a parent or guardian. 

RSVP at www.lbusd.org/lbusdpresentsto ensure an accurate headcount for food and seating. 


El Morro 5th Graders participate in annual State Fair

El Morro 1

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El Morro 5th graders sing “God Bless the U.S.A.” and “Fifty Nifty United States,” among other songs, to kick off State Fair festivities

El Morro 2

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Cody Peasley (left) and Logan Barreth, who chose Oregon as his state

El Morro 3

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So many places to visit! The culmination of many weeks of hard work…


Middle School boys’ project pays it forward

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Two Thurston Middle School eighth grade students have taken it upon themselves to collect sweaters and jackets for the homeless.

The City Council learned about the project at the March 19 meeting when the boys asked the council to step in and allow them to place collection boxes at various city properties. 

“Our Pay it Forward Project is called ‘Warm for the Winter,’“ said student Cole Curtis, who has partnered with Ashton Azadian to make life a little easier for the less fortunate residents of Laguna. 

“This winter has been very rainy and made it clear that this was something that was needed. The response has been great, but we have met challenges in getting the word out to the community. 

“We have collected many coats and have already made one delivery to the homeless shelter.

Middle School boys

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Cole Curtis and Ashton Azadian “Pay it Forward”

“The Police Department, the Fire Department and the Community Center all stated that they wanted to help but could not unless the council approved it.”

The boys asked the council to intervene.

Mayor Bob Whalen asked City Manager Pietig how the students could place their collection boxes in certain City buildings. City Manager John Pietig said the City’s typical policy does not allow solicitations on government property because the City would need to allow all solicitations in order to be fair. Pietig said that on an occasional basis it would be possible, if the City Council would like to make an exception, for the local students to place their collection box or flyers in certain City facilities. However, he said he would look into the matter.

Councilmember Toni Iseman said there might be room at the Woman’s Club or on the [covered walkway] at Gelson’s Market for the Thurston students to place their collection box. 

Middle School box

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Ashton Azadian with collection box

Azadian said that he and Curtis want to partner with their city to pay forward and show kindness to those who need it. 

“People have asked how we came up with our idea,” said Azadian. “It was actually pretty easy because we just looked around us this winter and saw the homeless caught in the cold and the rain.” 

Azadian said their project has inspired others at their school to ‘Pay it Forward.’

“I can’t begin to count the number of friends at my school who have told us how much our video inspired them to get involved and do their part for our community,” said Azadian.

Azadian thanked his father and Curtis’ father for their help in making their project possible. 

“I also want to thank my great friend, Cole, for being a true community leader and a great partner in this project, ‘Warm for the Winter.’” 


Tonight’s School Board meeting includes first reading of more possible bylaw changes 

The agenda for tonight’s (Tuesday, March 26) 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.

The agenda includes information items on the LCAP process, Strong Workforce grant, and a Board governance/protocols workshop. Action items for Board consideration include the high school course of study for 2019-20, curriculum and textbook adoptions, and a first reading for several Board policies and bylaws, including Bylaws 9322 and 9323.3.

Tonights School Board high schoolb

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Action items on tonight’s agenda include the high school course of study for 2019-20, curriculum and textbook adoptions, and a first reading for several Board policies and bylaws

Bylaw 9322 currently states that “members of the public shall be provided the opportunity to address the Board on any agenda item before or during the board’s consideration of the item.”

The following italicized information was suggested to be added to the bylaw as an amendment at the Board’s special meeting held on Monday, March 18:

The agenda need not provide an opportunity for public comment when the agenda item has previously been considered at an open meeting of a committee comprised exclusively of board members, provided that members of the public were afforded an opportunity to comment on the item at that meeting and that the item has not been substantially changed since the committee considered it.”

Bylaw 9323.3 is described in the Board agenda as the “Censure of Individual Board Members For Improper Conduct.”

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.


Laguna Beach Girls U14 AYSO team overcomes El Monte team to become Western State Champions

The Laguna Beach Girls U14 AYSO team scored a big win by becoming the Western State Champions. The Championship brings together the top AYSO teams from California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington states. In the final game, Laguna came from behind with a final of 2-1 against a gritty El Monte Team. 

Laguna Beach team

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Front row: (L-R) Sophia Boultinghouse, Rosabella Murphy, Lila Golden, Mara Williams,Chloe Cismoski, Ellie Marshall

Back row: (L-R) Coach Trevor Murphy, Talia Stewart, Rylee Goode, Alice Mitsuka, Julie Van der Baan, Lucy Sutula, Cate McMackin, Cadence Peery

Not pictured: Sienna Mason

With the win, this Laguna team remains undefeated with a record of  27-0 and was named champion of the Section 11 All Star tournament earlier this year. The next step for this winning team will be to represent Laguna Beach in the National Games this July in Hawaii. 

Laguna Beach, Cadence, Rylee, Julie

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(L-R) Cadence Peery, Rylee Goode, and Julie Van der Baan

Coach Trevor Murphy explained, “For such a small beach town, our girls soccer has been incredible this year. The opportunity to play in the National Games is a once in a lifetime experience.” 

Laguna Beach All stars

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All Star Tournament Champions

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the team with the cost of airfare. Player Talia Stewart said, “We are hoping our community will help give us a chance to represent them on the national level, we’ve worked very hard this year to get to this point.” 

Laguna Beach Sophie and Chloe

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(L-R) Sophia Boultinghouse and Chloe Cismoski

The Championships will be held from June 30 - July 7 in Oahu, Hawaii.

For a short video message from the team, click here.

To help this team on their “Road to Nationals,” visitwww.gofundme.com/AYSO-Nationals.


Anneliese Schools’ Destination Imagination teams score big wins at competition at Thurston 

All the hard work paid off for Anneliese Schools’ Flossaraptors and Mindstorms student teams, who scored second and third place wins at the local Destination Imagination Challenge at Thurston Middle School on March 9. This is the first year the teams have participated.

Anneliese Schools winners

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The Mindstorms won medals: (L-R) Daytona J., Elan D., Cooper Ch., Klara H.

Since the start of school in September, Flossaraptors and Mindstorms have looked forward to the Destination Imagination Challenge. The Destination Imagination Challenge they chose was to design and build a structure that weighs only 175 grams but holds the most amount of weight. 

Anneliese Schools Mindstorms

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Mindstorms: (L-R) Cooper Ch., Daytona J., Klara H., Elan D.

 In conjunction with the structure, a play was required to be performed in which a monster suddenly appears. For a month, the students brainstormed, problem solved, built, rebuilt, rethought, and improved their projects. 

To see the project to completion, they put in a lot of extra time on weekends and worked on it in their free time and during vacation. But it was worth it when they won. 

Anneliese Schools competitors

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Flossaraptors and Mindstorms teams worked long and hard for their medals

The Anneliese Schools team received special recognition for incorporating German foreign language (an integral aspect of the Anneliese Schools curriculum) into their performance. The team, led by Anneliese Schools teachers Tina Hamersley and Roberta Haines, is still beaming with pride and joy while they are getting ready for the State Tournament on April 6 in Clovis, Calif.

Anneliese Schools Flossaraptors

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Flossaraptors: (L-R) Kirra M., Alexandria C., Milo P., Kenie H.

Destination Imagination is open to all kindergarten through university level students worldwide. Students form teams of up to seven members, select their preferred Challenge and work together to develop a solution to the Challenge. Each team has at least one Team Manager (often a parent or teacher) who helps keep the team on track but does not assist or interfere with the team’s project.

Destination Imagination offers seven engaging Challenges in STEAM education: Technical, Scientific, Fine Arts, Improvisational, Engineering, Service Learning, and Early Learning.

Anneliese Schools’ Willowbrook campus is located at 20062 Laguna Canyon Rd, (949) 497-8310.

For more information about the school, visit www.annelieseschools.com.


Thurston Middle School students work mock crime scene alongside Laguna Beach Police Detectives

Photos by Anakaren Ureno

As the clouds rolled in over Alta Laguna Park on Thursday morning, eager students from Thurston Middle School’s Forensics and Mock Trial Club suited up in forensics gear to solve a crime – from 1692 in the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

Led by History and Forensics Teacher Michelle Martinez, students monitored the area, strategized with their teams, and worked to uncover the mystery of the Salem witch trial victims. 

Thurston Middle Martinez

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Teacher Michelle Martinez guides student forensic team members

As the investigative teams entered the area sectioned off with yellow crime scene tape to examine and collect evidence, they did so alongside Martinez’s daughter, forensic scientist and Thurston alumna Noelle Martinez, and members of the Laguna Beach Police Department led by police Corporal Cornelius Ashton. Cpl Ashton’s son is also an alumnus of the club and though now a busy high school student, he often returns to volunteer. 

Thurston Middle evidence

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Thurston Middle School students collect evidence from mock crime scene

Thanks to an “Innovation in Education” grant awarded to Michelle Martinez by Cox Charities, a philanthropic arm of Cox Communications that is funded through employee donations and a company match, the students have been learning about forensic science with various hands on learning exercises both out in the field and at school. 

Thurston Middle Ashton

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Cpl Cornelius Ashton instructs students (Niki Hernandez on left)

 “My forensics students had an amazing time working with the Laguna Beach Police Department in solving the mysterious deaths of four individuals from the Salem witch trials. The ability for my students to get real life experience working crime scene investigations was a great opportunity,” said Martinez. 

The program, now in its fifth year, has expanded to include an on-campus “crime house” where Martinez and her colleagues can set up crime scenes for the students to experience hands on learning in this science field more often. She joked that switching her classroom from a mock crime scene to a history class from one period to the next wasn’t practical. 

Thurston Middle group

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Forensic team 

However, at the Thursday morning mock crime scene as representatives from Cox, Laguna Beach Unified School District, and community members looked on, the students showed just how much they have taken away from the class – and just how serious they take their mock crime scene roles when students repeatedly reminded those who entered the crime scene to put on booties over their shoes and plastic gloves.

Thurston Middle testing

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Student tests evidence

One detective beamed as he recalled his time at the Los Angeles Police Academy and how practicing with the students brought back memories of his own first experiences with forensics. Other members of the force brainstormed with Martinez about ways to further expand the program and community partnership. 

For more information on Thurston Middle School’s Forensics and Mock Trial Club, contact Michelle Martinez at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For information on Cox Charities, visit www.coxcharitiesca.org.


LBHS receives Award of Merit for Civic Education Program

Laguna Beach High School was recently recognized with a Civic Learning Award of Merit from the California Courts system for its civic learning practices in Advanced Placement (AP) European History and its Model United Nations (MUN) program. 

Now in its seventh year, the program was established in 2013 to celebrate schools that deeply engage students in civic learning, and to identify at each grade span effective models that can be replicated. The award is co-sponsored by California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and the state superintendent of public instruction. 

To be selected for recognition schools must demonstrate evidence of engaging students in civic education through discussion of current issues and events, service learning, formal instruction as part of a required class, and extracurricular activities with the purpose of improving the school or community. 

LBHS receives palm

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LBHS recognized with Civic Learning Award of Merit

“Students in Advanced Placement European History are being empowered with the knowledge and the tools they will need for informed civic action now and in the future,” said Laguna Beach High School World History and Advanced Placement European History teacher Heather Hanson. “In this course, they study the causes and effects of poverty throughout European history, and then in small groups choose one topic related to their studies that they would like to address. They must develop an action plan, perform ten hours of service, and reflect on their learning. This requires students to make deeper connections to what they’re learning and it gives them an opportunity to make a difference in their own communities,” she concluded. 

Civic Learning Awardees are selected annually by a panel of experts based on the depth and breadth of their civic learning classes, clubs, and programs. For more information about the program, or to see a complete list of the winners, visit www.courts.ca.gov/civiclearningaward.htm

Laguna Beach High School is located at 625 Park Ave.


New bylaw proposed to “censure” board members at special School Board meeting held on Monday

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Board of Education met on Monday, March 18 in a special meeting described by Board President Jan Vickers as a policy workshop.

The three-hours-plus meeting included discussion of additional bylaw changes proposed, and may have been one of the last board meetings at which the public is afforded the opportunity to speak on multiple occasions about the same issue. Among the policies discussed by the board and staff were limitations on public comment about items on or not on meeting agendas.

“I feel this would be a disservice to parents of children in the district, as well as to the board’s ability to govern effectively,” said Monica Prado, Sawdust Festival president and the parent of a child who was educated in the district.

“An approval is out of sync with the city’s aspiration to be invitational. We are a community that is very engaged with a high level of volunteerism. We want to hear our friends and neighbors’ opinions. We don’t want that stifled.”

Public participation was addressed in the lengthy agenda for Monday morning’s meeting, including Bylaw 9322, which states that “members of the public shall be provided the opportunity to address the Board on any agenda item before or during the board’s consideration of the item.” 

However, the following italicized information was suggested to be added to the bylaw as an amendment:

The agenda need not provide an opportunity for public comment when the agenda item has previously been considered at an open meeting of a committee comprised exclusively of board members, provided that members of the public were afforded an opportunity to comment on the item at that meeting and that the item has not been substantially changed since the committee considered it.”

The board also discussed at the meeting a new bylaw on censuring board members for improper conduct.

If approved, any board member shall have the right to place on the board’s Public Session Agenda a Motion to Censure the supposedly offending board member.    

“I think it is directed at me,” said Board Member Dee Perry, who has recently been at odds with some board and staff members, after being passed over as board president for a second time. Perry has stated that she feels parents are afraid to speak up at meetings out of fear of retaliation.

Board President Jan Vickers, Board Members Carol Normandin, Peggy Wolff and Dee Perry attended the meeting. Normandin has not responded to contacts from Stu News and Wolff referred questions to Assistant Superintendent Leisa Winston. Board Member James Kelly did not attend the meeting. 

“Most policies that were reviewed were due to changes in law and were in a number of areas,” wrote Board President Jan Vickers in an email response to questions from Stu News. Thirteen policies were reviewed.

“The policies that were reviewed and discussed now come forward for a first reading at the March 26th regular meeting. At that meeting, they will come forward for action and after public comment, a motion and second will put them on the floor and allow the board to discuss them. The three board bylaws that were discussed at the workshop will be introduced individually with the same process – public comment, motion and second and then board discussion. 

“After discussion on an item on the floor, a vote is taken. The policies that are passed for a second reading return usually at the next regular meeting for the second action. If these policies are voted to second reading, they will likely come at the meeting in April.”

No member of the public attended Monday’s meeting, which was noticed on the District’s website at 9:26 a.m. on Friday, March 15, according to Assistant Superintendent Leisa Winston. Physical notices were also posted on school sites on Friday, satisfying legal requirements for the noticing of special meetings.

A recording of the March 18 meeting can be reviewed at www.lbusd.org/page.cfm?p=981.


Thurston students present proposal to Council for “Warm for the Winter Coat Drive” collection boxes

Thurston students pay it

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As a “World Kindness” act, Ashton Azadian, Thurston Middle School 8th grade Student President, and Cole Curtis, Thurston Middle School 8th grade student, came up with “Warm for the Winter Coat Drive” to collect donations of jackets, coats, and sweaters for the homeless in the community. They asked City Council for their approval on Tuesday to place their collection boxes in various city locations for people to donate items.

Thurston students at meeting

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Mayor Bob Whalen asked City Manager John Pietig how the collection boxes could be placed in certain city buildings. City Manager Pietig said the city’s typical policy was that the city did not allow solicitations. He said that on an occasional basis it would be possible, if the City Council would like to make an exception for the local students to place their collection boxes or flyers in certain city facilities. Councilmember Toni Iseman said there might be room at the Woman’s Club or on the sidewalk at Gelson’s Market for the Thurston students to place their collection boxes.

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