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Laguna Beach

UPS team wins AAA Little League Tournament of Champions at Riddle Field

Laguna’s Riddle Field was the host of Little League’s 2019 Minor division Tournament of Champions. The end of season tournament is represented by the seven little league organizations of South Orange County and culminated in an epic battle last Thursday between Laguna’s Team UPS and the Aliso Viejo Dodgers. 

Riddle Field was the perfect backdrop for a historic run by Laguna’s Team UPS. The 9 to 11-year-olds earned the opportunity as Laguna’s representative by finishing with the league’s best regular season record and winning the local playoff tournament. In front of a packed house of Laguna baseball fanatics, UPS squeezed out a gritty win in a very tight 5-3 game that was closed out in the bottom of the 6th with tying runs on base. 

AAA Little team

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Laguna’s Team UPS – Minor League California District 55 TOC Champions

The team’s roster included: Wyatt Bogdan, Brooks Carter, Logan Guerrero, Ace Halpern, Cam Hennessy, Jack Hurst, Noah Kimball, Jake Martin, Colter Steris, Bear Ward, and Ryder Weatherley. 

The team’s manager was Steve Hurst, with coaches Jeff Bogdan, Derek Halpern, and Mike Carter.

After the win, the coaches said, “The game was very well played on both sides, the final inning was incredible, and the energy was everything you could want from a little league game.

“You could not help but get caught up in the emotion, it was really special.

“This is a big win for Laguna Baseball, it speaks volumes to the quality of players in this town and how great the support is from the parents and volunteers in the community.” 

The win gives Laguna its second Minor league TOC Championship, which will be acknowledged by the district with a permanent banner on display at Riddle Field.

LBHS student places 6th at U.S. Rowing Youth Nationals in Sarasota, Fla.

Laguna Beach resident Amar Bhatia, a junior at LBHS, and his teammate Noah Cours, who attends Los Alamitos High School, were finalists and placed 6th overall at the U.S. Rowing Youth Nationals held at Sarasota, Fla., June 6-9. 

Laguna Beach rowing

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Courtesy of Newport Sea Base Rowing Facebook

6th overall team – Amar Bhatia in back, Noah Cours in front

The team represented Newport Sea Base Rowing in the Lightweight Men’s Youth Doubles and eliminated top teams from across the nation in timed trials and semi-finals over the course of the week. The #6 National ranking is the highest ever from Newport Sea Base in this division.

Newport Men’s Varsity Coach James Long-Lerno said, “I’m very proud of the boys and can’t wait to see them bring this experience back with them to lead the program forward.”

School Board to consider establishing Confidential Matters Subcommittee


The Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education is expected to consider a resolution at tonight’s meeting to create a Subcommittee on Confidential Matters.

If approved, the resolution would delegate to the subcommittee the authority of the board pertaining to matters that may be placed on an agenda as a closed session. The authority delegated to the subcommittee includes actions related to litigation, pending or anticipated, and personnel actions that are authorized to be taken in closed session.

According to the resolution brought about by Board President Jan Vickers and Board Clerk Carol Normandin, the subcommittee sunsets in one year, unless extended or terminated by a majority vote of the board and would be subject to the Brown Act. The act guarantees the public the right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies, including phone calls and emails.

Under the proposed terms of the resolution, board member Dee Perry would be prohibited from serving on the subcommittee for reasons alleged in the resolution: making confidential information available to someone not authorized to receive it. 

Formation of the subcommittee was advised by the school district’s attorney. 

Resolution 19-01 that would create the subcommittee reads:

WHEREAS, in recent months the District has received numerous requests under the California Public Records Act (CPRA); and 

WHEREAS, some of these requests have necessitated searches of the District’s email archives, in an effort to meet the legal obligations to conduct reasonably diligent searches for records responsive to requests and to disclose records not subject to an exemption from public disclosure; and 

WHEREAS, one of these searches revealed that Board Member Dee Perry forwarded an attorney-client privileged email, which conveyed legal advice and also included a reiteration of confidential information disclosed in closed session, to an individual who is not authorized to receive privileged and confidential information; and 

WHEREAS, the email described above was forwarded from Member Perry’s District email account to her personal email account, prior to it being forwarded from her District email account to the individual not authorized to receive it, and the CPRA searches revealed numerous other instances of Member Perry forwarding emails from her District email account to a personal email account, thus raising concerns about other potential confidentiality breaches; and 

WHEREAS, the Board, with input and advice from counsel, wishes to implement a means of protecting information that is confidential under the law when it has a good faith belief that confidentiality, and therefore the interests of the District, may be compromised by consideration by the full Board. 

NOW, THEREFORE, the Governing Board of the Laguna Beach Unified School District hereby finds, determines, declares and resolves as follows: 

--The Board hereby creates the Board Subcommittee on Confidential Matters (“Subcommittee”). 

--The Subcommittee shall exist for a period of one (1) year from the date of this Resolution, unless extended or terminated by a majority vote of the Board. 

--The Subcommittee consists of all members of the Board except Member Dee Perry. 

--The Subcommittee, because it consists of a majority of members of the Board and because it is created by formal action adopting this Resolution, is subject to and shall comply with the Brown Act. P254 

--The Board delegates to the Subcommittee all authority of the Board with respect to matters which may be placed on an agenda pursuant to Government Code § 54956.9 or 54957 where, in the sole discretion and opinion of the of the Board, confidentiality concerns necessitate a delegation of the matter to the Subcommittee. This delegation of authority includes but is not limited to the authority to take actions related to litigation, pending or anticipated, and personnel actions that are authorized to be taken in closed session. 

--The adoption of this Resolution does not require that any particular matter be delegated to the Subcommittee, but rather authorizes such delegation when the Board has a good faith belief that confidentiality, and therefore the interests of the District, may be compromised by consideration by the full Board. 

According to Board President Vickers, the proposed resolution is an action item for tonight’s meeting, not a policy, and thus does not require a first or second reading. 

According to the meeting agenda released by the district, Normandin will not be present in person but will be teleconferencing in.

Tonight’s regular meeting will be held at the district offices at 550 Blumont St starting at 6 p.m.

SchoolPower Endowment’s Teacher Grant Program gives $111,450 to inspired teachers

Every year, the SchoolPower Endowment Fund awards inspired teachers like Penny Herrick-Dressler grant money so they can put their ideas into action. 

At the LBUSD School Board meeting on May 28, SchoolPower awarded $111,450 to fund 18 diverse teacher grants with requests ranging from equipment such as Swift coding robots, learning garden structures, and kindergarten playground equipment to curriculum programs such as the Homework, Organization and Planning Skills (HOPS) Intervention Program, DNA analysis tools, and art museum field trips. 

“Teacher Grants are a favorite program of SchoolPower Endowment because the requests come directly from our educators at all four schools in the district,” explains SchoolPower Endowment president Chris Clark. “The Endowment’s goals for Teacher Grants are to inspire excellence in teaching by funding educators’ ideas for innovative teaching methods and tools that might not otherwise be possible.” 

SchoolPower Endowment check

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Photo by Anakaren Ureno

SchoolPower members present a check for $111,450.14 to fund 18 teacher grants for the 2019-20 school year

One such innovative teacher is El Morro science teacher Kathleen Margaretich, whose grants for an expansion of the El Morro STEAM lab materials and the creation of an outdoor classroom will enable students to explore authentic science activities at stations anytime. “Much of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is about habitats and how animals use their external parts to survive in their habitats,” she says, adding, “Instead of doing some labs in the classroom, it is better to do them out in nature.” 

Great teachers inspire their students, but many times, teachers find themselves inspired by their students. Thurston Middle School Health and PE teacher and Ecology Club mentor Penny Herrick-Dressler is one teacher who recognized a need amongst her students and was inspired to act upon it. 

“The Healthy Kids Survey shows us that our student body is experiencing stress,” she explains. “That stress is negatively impacting other areas of their lives.” Through a discussion with her Ecology Club students, Herrick-Dressler developed the idea to create the “Away Place,” an outdoor space on the Thurston campus where students can sit by themselves or gather with a few others to have a bit of quiet time, and she explains, “to use the healing properties of nature to address student stress.” She decided the best way to make this idea a reality was to apply for a SchoolPower Endowment Teacher Grant. 

The benefits of the teacher grant program frequently extend beyond a single teacher’s classroom. The Thurston PE department has taken this approach with its use of Garmin technology to inspire personal fitness in the entire middle school student body.

“Last year’s grant of Garmin watches has allowed our PE students to use real-time tracking of their pace, distance, and progress towards personal goals,” says PE teacher Steve Lalim. “We use them for our weekly two-mile cardio workout and to ensure accountability and accuracy in games like soccer and capture the flag.” The Garmin tools have been so successful that the middle school PE department applied for a 2019 grant of 50 additional watches to allow each teacher a class set. “The Garmin watches are the best investment we’ve ever made as a department, “ says Lalim. “They inspire students to be more active, engaged, and aware of their activity level.”

SchoolPower Endowment Kinder

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Photo by Anakaren Ureno

TOW Elementary Kindergarten team accepts a teacher grant award in the amount of $4,700 for Osmo Sets for the kindergarten classrooms

Because of the Teacher Grant program, teachers know their ideas can be realized. “The grants have allowed me to dream beyond the curriculum and think beyond the standards,” says Margaretich. “The El Morro STEAM lab has become a state-of-the-art science room and program due to El Morro, PTA, and SchoolPower contributions.” 

Herrick-Dressler echoes Margaretich’s sentiments, stating, “Over the many years I have taught at Thurston, I have been fortunate to have the help of SchoolPower Endowment funding. SchoolPower has supported the grants I wrote for our PE department’s climbing wall and Project Adventure equipment and training. I am thrilled SchoolPower has chosen to fund this Ecology Club project, as the Away Place will be a space for all students!”

SchoolPower’s mission is to enhance the educational experience of the whole student as they grow from TK through 12th grade. In 2017-18, SchoolPower and the Endowment Fund contributed over $760,000 to the Laguna Beach school district to help support a wide range of programs, including small class sizes, academics, athletics, visual and performing arts, music, STEM programs, and wellness and student support. To see a full list of teacher grants, visit

LB Seniors presents “Ask the Doc: Enhance Your Health Care with Integrative Medicine” on June 27

On Thursday, June 27 from 1:30 - 2:30 p.m., Laguna Beach Seniors will host a free “Ask the Doc: Enhance Your Health Care with Integrative Medicine” class at the Susi Q Center.

Susi Q JillJoin Hoag Medical Group physician Jill Panitch, MD as she shares tips for incorporating preventative and integrative medicine into your health care. She will elaborate on the mind-body connection and address complementary approaches to integrative medicine such as yoga, mindfulness, and exercise. 

To register, visit or call the front desk at (949) 464-6645 or register online.   

Laguna Beach Seniors works together to enhance the lives of seniors through programs, services, and advocacy that promote independence, wellness, and community.

The nonprofit organization is an essential resource in making the hometown we love the best possible place to age gracefully and meet the challenges of time. 

For more information, visit

The Susi Q Center is located at 380 Third St. 

LBHS Senior Cutter Clawson drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 2019 MLB Draft

On June 5th, Cutter Clawson, a senior at Laguna Beach High School, was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 2019 MLB Draft in the 33rd round. Leading up to the draft, Cutter achieved an impressive athletic career at LBHS and also reached the rank of Eagle Scout at the age of 15. 

His father Travis, says, “My wife and I are elated to see all his hard work and sacrifice pay off. Baseball is a great game that teaches you to overcome failure so when something good happens, it needs to be celebrated! He has been blessed with great teammates and coaches that have made him enjoy the sport even more. Whatever his future holds, we know he’ll be able to succeed through his faith in Christ and life’s lessons learned on the diamond.”

LBHS senior baby

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The beginning of Cutter’s athletic career

As a four-year letterman at LBHS, Cutter’s baseball achievements started in 2016 as a freshman. He played a major role in helping the Breakers win a CIF Championship, including hitting a base hit in the semi-finals with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th inning, which set up the game-winning hit that pushed the Breakers to the CIF finals.

Cutter committed to furthering his studies and baseball career at Brigham Young University in 2016 after his freshman year. He was recruited to play at BYU as a two-way player, both as a first baseman and a left-handed pitcher.

While a sophomore at LBHS, he was named to the Cal-Hi All-State Sophomore 1st Team and Cal-Hi Underclass All-State 2nd Team. He was also awarded 1st team All-League honors and batted .417/.463/.616 (BA/OBP/Slugging) with 12 doubles, and had a fielding percentage of .991 at first base.

LBHS senior football

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Cutter loves football too

Cutter tried out and made the USA Baseball NTIS SoCal Team in 2017 in Cary, N.C. From that event, he was 1 of only 80 players in the nation selected to play in the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars and competed in the week-long event in Cary.

Cutter was also voted to the Orange County All-County Team as a pitcher.

In 2018 during his junior year, Cutter made 1st Team All-League, batted .338/.436/.487 (BA/OBP/Slugging), and had a fielding percentage of .974. As a pitcher he was 2-0 with 38 K’s and a 2.30 ERA. He was also selected to and participated in the Brewers Area Code Team. 

LBHS senior pitching

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Cutter on the mound as a junior 

Additionally in 2018, Cutter was selected by USA Baseball to represent California with 30 of the top California players in the MLB Sponsored “States play” series and played against the top high school talent from Texas at Arlington Texas Rangers Stadium in a three-game series. He started game 3 and threw 3 scoreless innings, striking out five batters. He was one of only two California pitchers (out of 15) not to give up a run to a very talented Texas squad. 

Currently, Cutter is ranked the #2 LHP in California, the 6th LHP in the nation and the 80th player overall by Perfect Game. This season, Cutter’s senior year, he batted .346 with 8 homeruns and 8 doubles, with a .705 slugging percentage and a 1.200 on-base percentage.

LBHS senior grandpa

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Cutter with his grandpa 

Cutter led the Breakers this year with six wins on the mound, 61 strikeouts in 45 innings, and an ERA of 2.30, while committing just one error all season. He was voted by his teammates as MVP Pitcher. For the third year in a row, he made 1st Team All-Conference. 

On June 20, Cutter will join his classmates and proudly graduate from Laguna Beach High School. His father says, “Cutter has enjoyed his high school baseball playing days as a Laguna Beach Breaker and is very grateful to his coaches, teammates, parents, and friends and looks forward to the future of playing baseball and studying business at Brigham Young University.

“He is very grateful to the Washington Nationals for drafting him, but after careful consideration and prayer he has decided to honor his commitment to BYU. He will enroll in the fall and begin his collegiate playing career as a Cougar with the goal of contributing to the team in any way he can to help attain the team goals of a WCC Championship and qualify for the College World Series in Omaha. He’ll be eligibly for the MLB draft once again at age 21.”

Laguna Beach Little League celebrates “Fiesta Night” at Riddle Field with awards and Chili Cook-Off

On Friday, there was lots of fun, festivities, and tasty chili during “Fiesta Night” at Riddle Field put on by Laguna Beach Little League. Paul Porter reports, “We had a great turnout, and everyone had a great time!” 

Laguna Beach chili winners

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Chili Cook-Off Winners: (L-R) Megan Drews, Kathie Steris, and Malena Lyles

The big winner of the annual Chili Cook-Off contest was Megan Drews for her “Big Red Chili.” Second place was awarded to Kathie Steris for her “Grand slam Chicken Chili” and third place went to Malena Lyles for her “Nana’s Homerun Veggie Chili.”

Laguna Beach Parker Gapp

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Coach Reimer and Parker Gapp, winner of “Stu Saffer For the Love of the Game Award”

Hunter Harrington won the Home Run Derby, and Parker Gapp was awarded the “Stu Saffer For the Love of the Game Award.”

Laguna Beach Coach Stu

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Coach Stuart Jones passes out chili

In addition to the Chili Cook-Off, there was a T-ball exhibition game, face painting, balloon twister, and snack bar specials. A fun time was had by all!

LBUSD Board of Education presents awards, recognizes retiring staff at Tuesday’s meeting

At the May 28 School Board meeting, the LBUSD Board of Education recognized several students for their academic excellence for the Elementary Spelling Bee and Destination Imagination. 

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Public Communications Leisa Winston, together with the Board, recognized the 2018-2019 Employees of the Year at the meeting as well. Steve Sogo, an LBHS science teacher, was selected as the district’s Teacher of the Year. Nikki Romano, library media specialist at Top of the World Elementary, was named Classified Employee of the Year. 

LBUSD Board students

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Students Zoe Chan and Elise Chen were recognized for placing first and second in this year’s Spelling Bee

The school board also honored Classified Employee of the Year winners in specific categories, including Linda Butler-Stoll, child nutrition; Kelli Merda, office and technical support; and Heidi Winegard, support services and security.

During the May 28 meeting, the LBUSD Board of Education also honored the 2018-2019 employees that will be retiring this year. 

Below is a full list of the 2018-2019 retirees:


--Mary Schoenfeld, District Office

--Kris Landrum, Top of the World Elementary School

--Angie Perez, Top of the World Elementary School


--Sean Mehegan, Laguna Beach High School

--Carrie Leventhal, Thurston Middle School

--Anna Tejchman, Thurston Middle School

--Ina Inouye Wu, Thurston Middle School

--Robert Billinger, Laguna Beach High School

--Patricia Rabun, Top of the World Elementary School

--Odile Dewar, Laguna Beach High School

--Teryl Campbell, Top of the World Elementary School

--Nance Morrissey, Thurston Middle School

Also during the meeting, Chris Clark, on behalf of the SchoolPower Endowment Board, presented the Laguna Beach Unified School District with a check to support classroom projects.

LBUSD Board group

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Chris Clark and Sarah Durand presented 16 teacher grants 

Clark and SchoolPower Executive Director Sarah Durand presented 16 teacher grants totaling $111,450 to support innovative teacher programs that will be implemented in the 2019-2020 school year. 

Projects and programs include a greenhouse and shed for the learning garden at El Morro Elementary, controlled text readers for reading intervention, and an “Away Place” at Thurston Middle School for students to de-stress.

The Board took action to approve the job description for a Career Counseling Coordinator that will be funded out of the K-12 Strong Workforce Program grant. The primary intent of the coordinator position is to provide alignment and coherence for “career education” across all LBUSD schools. 

Although this position will at times work with students, their primary work will be leading and supporting school counselors and administrators at all four schools with career education.

Later in the meeting, staff provided information to the Board of Education in response to questions presented by the Board and discussion held at the April 23 Board meeting regarding weighted grades/credit at Laguna Beach High School. 

LBHS will grant weight to Honors English 10 and Honors Algebra II, pending approval from the University of California; if approved, the grade bump would be retroactive two years. The Board did not request an action item on this topic.

The Laguna Beach Unified School District records School Board Meetings and makes them available to the public within 24 hours. Visit to watch. For more information on all action items, visit

The next regular Board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 11 at 6 p.m. 

High School Convocation, Donor Dinner set for June 7


The Laguna Beach High School graduating class of 2019 will don caps and gowns June 7 for the Honors Convocation at which scholarships and awards will be presented.

Ceremonies will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Artists Theater. The convocation is preceded by the Donor Dinner, set for 5 p.m. in the Upper Patio of the campus. Times for both events have been moved up at the request of parents.

The dinner is highlighted by former students who benefitted from scholarships, who come back to express their gratitude and share what the scholarships mean to them in terms of moral support as well as financial aid.   

A single scholarship by the Ebell Club in 1947 began the tradition of scholarships and awards. Their groundbreaking generosity is recognized by their placement on the presentation list – Number One. 

Since then, the scholarship program has grown through the efforts of volunteers who serve on the Board of Directors of the Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Foundation, founded in 1988, and the munificence of the community.

Last year, 340 awards were presented to 140 students for a total of $249,763.

U.S. News and World Report ranked Laguna Beach 1,317 out of the 17,000 schools evaluated in 2019. The school came in 201st among California schools. Ninety-eight percent of the students graduate.

Community invited to tonight’s LBLL Fiesta Night

Laguna Beach Little League invites the community to a fun family night at Riddle Field tonight, Friday, May 31, from 4 - 8 p.m. There will be a Chili Cook-off, T-Ball Exhibition Game, Face Painting, Balloon Twister, Snack Bar Specials and more. 

Community invited team

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBLL coach Stu Jones gets VFW team ready before a game at Riddle Field 

Tonight’s event schedule includes: 

-- 4 p.m. Riddle Snack Bar opens, serving those famous Riddle Burgers and much more

-- 4 - 6 p.m. Balloon Twister and Face Painting

-- 4 p.m. Chili entries arrive for set-up

-- 4:15 - 5:30 p.m. T-Ball Exhibition Game

-- 5 p.m. Trophy and yearbook pickup in Riddle Clubhouse

-- 5 p.m. 2019-2020 LBLL Board Member voting begins

-- 6 p.m. Chili judging

-- 6 p.m. Awards Ceremony for AA, AAA, and Intermediate

-- 6:30 p.m. Home Rub Derby (Eligibility: 12’s & 13’s or any over the fence home runs at Riddle)

--7:30 p.m. Mom’s at Bat 

This year’s season winners include: Happy Money (AA), UPS (AAA), and VFW (Intermediate).

Tournament winners include Lumberyard (AA), UPS (AAA), and VFW (Intermediate).

Sportsmanship awards will be presented to one player from each division, as well as the Stu Saffer Love of the Game award.

Riddle Field is located at 555 Hillcrest Dr.

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