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Laguna Beach

LBUSD board gets preliminary peek at possible plans for $11M new district office project


Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education (LBUSD) got a preliminary peek at what a new district office facility might include at an informational meeting last week.

The board held a study session Thursday, Sept. 23 to hear a feasibility report on a facilities project for a proposed new district office. The project, which could cost an estimated $10.95 million, proposes demolishing one building and remodeling another in the next few years. Staff emphasized that the plans presented were just possible options and that no decision has been made for the site.

Overall, board members were supportive of moving forward with studying the potential project.

“The collaboration to create this draft plan is amazing, with all the different thoughts that you brought forward to us,” said Board President Carol Normandin. “I’m excited to see what you bring back.”

With the development of the facilities master plan in 2014, LBUSD staff looked at all district-owned facilities and developed the 10-year plan that looked at major modernization and renovation projects, explained Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Jeff Dixon.

In 2015, a feasibility study for the district office was done that identified the needs for the district and how that would look in terms of a new and/or remodeled building. Based on the needs identified, it was determined that a new building may be the best option. 

The scope of the project included keeping one building, demolishing the other, and building a new two-story building on the east side of the parking lot adjacent to the slope. Due to logistical and budgeting challenges, the project was not pursued at the time.

In 2019, a $1.5 million project at the district office was added to the facilities master plan to begin identifying ways to improve the boardroom, public restrooms, and modernize interior spaces for operations and efficiency. The project addresses a few identified needs but falls short of addressing the many needs of the staff, students and community at the district office facility. 

Earlier this year, the board approved a contract with Ruhnau Clarke Architects to provide a district office feasibility study. 

On Thursday, staff and an RCA official presented updated plans to the board that included demolishing the front building (on the corner of Blumont Street and Virginia Park Drive) and replacing it with a new two-story structure on the same footprint, and remodeling/modernizing the second building in the back.

LBUSD build site plan

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Rendering courtesy of LBUSD/Ruhnau Clarke Architects

A possible site plan for the new district offices

Estimated costs are using broad numbers, noted Ruhnau Clarke Architects President Roger Clarke.

“Costs are a little crazy right now,” he said. “There’s supply chain issues, there’s things that we don’t know. We don’t know what we’re going to run into with governing agencies yet.”

The projected costs shared at the board meeting are based on previous experience, Clarke said. Costs include the new building, the remodel, site work that needs to be done, some grading and interim housing.

Total hard construction costs total an estimated $8.25 million and soft costs (furniture, equipment, architect and engineering fees, or inspection fees, etc.) are estimated at $2.69 million, for a total project cost estimated at $10.95 million.

It was challenging looking at how the existing building was configured and the issues with complying to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on the site, Clarke said. 

“All those kinds of things just felt like it was really going to be extremely difficult, and, actually, almost as expensive to fix that facility and make it halfway workable, as it would be to rebuild the facility on that site,” Clarke said, “and so that was kind of the logical conclusion.”

Clarke provided potential options for the layout of the facility, including possible locations of the boardroom, superintendent’s office, communications, human resources, support services, elevators, restrooms, common facilities (e.g., lounge), business services, special education and common breakout areas.

There are also a few different options to remodel the existing building, he noted, which will house technology, instructional services, more support services, restrooms, a lobby and a common meeting room for a number of different community groups, including the SchoolPower, LBUSD’s education foundation. 

“This is just showing, based on the deficiencies that have been identified, the potential new building could actually fit on the existing site,” Dixon said. “But, again, there are other options that may not involve this site that we haven’t explored at this point.”

LBUSD build admin

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The LBUSD administration buildings may be replaced and remodeled in the coming years 

Board members directed staff to consider other potential properties for the project. Although there’s not a lot of district-owned land in the city, as staff pointed out, there are some possibilities. 

“The current building is a challenge; and a big challenge for the people who work therein, something that needs to be done,” said Board Member Jim Kelly. “I’m just wondering if there’s other possibilities.”

He suggested considering other properties, like the St. Catherine of Siena Parish School at 30516 S. Coast Hwy., which the archdiocese of Orange County is reportedly interested in selling, Kelly said.

The bus yard in the canyon was also mentioned as a possibility.

Other board members agreed that considering other locations would be worthwhile.

“I support looking at some other options as well, at least exploring them so we know that we have covered some of the other district-owned properties as well as other possible properties for acquisition,” said Board Clerk Kelly Osborne. “I think that’s a fair request to make when we’re looking at a $10 to $11 million dollar project so I’m in full support of that.”

A few board members wanted to look into the idea of demolishing both buildings, although that wasn’t a unanimous opinion on the dais. 

“I can understand demolishing the house, (but) I can’t see putting any money into the old administration building,” Kelly said. “Something needs to be done, but I wouldn’t put another penny into remodeling the existing building.”

“Investing money into those old houses doesn’t make much sense,” Normandin agreed. “It doesn’t seem to be a good use of tax dollars.”

However not everyone was keen to the idea of tearing both structures down.

Since the experts presented the idea of keeping the building and remodeling it, that’s the plan they should stick to, said Board Member Jan Vickers. The board shouldn’t stray too far from what the experts brought forth, she said. 

“I’m just concerned we start putting our own things too much into it,” Vickers said. “This is their career, their job, what they’re experts at. We could design a ‘camel.’ I don’t want to do that.”

Demolishing both buildings could come at a major additional cost, she added. 

They can explore other options, Vickers said, but the bottom line is they need to be cognizant of overall costs and utilize the experts they hired to do the job.

LBUSD board building 2 option 1

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Rendering courtesy of LBUSD/Ruhnau Clarke Architects

One option for remodel plans of the LBUSD district office

Plans for the project, wherever it may end up and however it may be developed, include some modern ideas for an administration facility, including shared community spaces and utilizing outdoor areas. 

These spaces are aimed at bringing people together and unifying the employees that work in the district office, Clarke said.

At a visioning workshop, staff heard several desired outcomes for the project: A comfortable and convenient space for community engagement, areas for focused work, uniting all departments, spaces for collaboration, clearly defined areas that support workflow, and a design that goes beyond what’s standard, the way things work is shifting.

A number of common themes were highlighted at the workshop, including creating indoor-outdoor connections, incorporating sustainability to reduce energy consumption, and creating visual transparency while still providing needed privacy.

The idea of visual transparency stemmed from the overall vision, he added, the idea of people that can collaborate and see each other, but yet they can still have a focused work area, Clarke explained.

Outdoor areas that connect from the inside allow people to spill outside, and for staff to hold meetings and functions outside. 

“(These ideas are about) taking advantage of every inch of this site to make sure that you create as many opportunities as possible for either work areas, for that connection to the outdoors and for your community to be a part of,” Clarke said. 

There was support from the board for the community room idea, flexible spaces, and a focus on the needs of the district employees. 

All staff who need the workspace and areas for collaboration are the priority, Vickers said. As LBUSD Board of Education, they have about 18 meetings a year and some special meetings, so they don’t need a grand facility to do that, she said.

“I want the major use to be for the people doing the work every day, all day long,” Vickers said. “The needs of the day-to-day operation of the district is the priority.”

LBUSD build building 1 new

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Rendering courtesy of LBUSD/Ruhnau Clarke Architects

Possible plans for the proposed new two-story LBUSD district office

Board members had questions and comments about parking, added square footage, usage of the community room, a possible library, the flexible spaces and more.

Parking, and whether or not this project would create more or reduce the number, would be part of the exploration option when they move forward with the project, Dixon said.

“The issue of needing more parking is well-known and documented,” Dixon said. “So, if we were to (study) a project of any sort and we could provide more parking, I think that would be an obvious choice for us, in the planning of it.”

There was also some discussion about the project going through the city’s design review process. 

Vickers pointed out that when the district remodeled another building, they went through the DRB process as a courtesy. There was some controversy over it at the time, but the project ended going well, she noted. It might be something to consider with this project, she added, since it’s on a neighborhood street. 

A two-story building might worry neighbors in relation to views, Kelly added, and going through design review might help neighbors get on board and envision what the district is trying to do.

The sightlines should remain the same, noted Normandin, who wasn’t sure if they really need to go through the design review process. With any project, they want to be good neighbors and maintain the working relationship with the city, she added. 

On Thursday, district staff was looking for consensus on whether or not the board wants to pursue a project of this scope and, if so, they would then look to add it to the facilities master plan (likely reviewed by the board in February).

There are lots of opportunities between now and when they return with the master plan, and beyond that, for discussion, Dixon noted, but they need to start planning the cash flow.

“The sooner the better, because construction costs don’t go down,” Dixon said. “So, we would like to get it addressed sooner rather than later.”

In doing that, Dixon explained, they would develop a cash flow model that would build this project within the existing capacity of the district’s capital improvement program. But in order to do so, because of the significance of this project, this would need to be pushed out a few years, so they can save up and balance other projects around it.

“We don’t want to start messing with the facilities master plan unless there’s interest and direction from the board to pursue something like this, so we can make it work within the confines of our fiscal constraints,” Dixon said. 

Although there was disagreement on what the project should entail, board members agreed it should move forward in the process and return for more detailed discussion.

“We don’t want it to die in committee,” Normandin said.

LBHS welcomed the 2021-2022 Authentic Exploratory Research Program mentors

On Monday, Sept. 13, the second Authentic Exploratory Research (AER) program cohort gathered in the Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) Senior Patio for a welcome breakfast. Handpicked mentors connected individually with their mentees over breakfast as they began to learn more about one another and engage in preliminary discussions around the mentee’s year-long project. 

The AER independent research course provides the opportunity for students to propose their own driving questions in order to explore their passions and career pathways in a variety of fields. Students are purposefully matched with adult mentors to aid in their research and analysis. From fashion designers to gaming industry founders, mentors include industry experts and leaders and university-level academics. 

LBHS welcomed mentor

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Courtesy of LBUSD

An AER program mentor meets with her mentee on the LBHS campus

Their program was inspired by Palo Alto Unified School District’s highly successful Advanced Authentic Research program and brought to the LBUSD by Superintendent Viloria in 2019. With the intent to expand and differentiate college and career opportunities for high school students, the executive team worked diligently to tailor this program to meet the needs of LBHS students. 

Mentees will conduct their projects through various approaches including internships, action projects and academic research, all of which culminate in an end-of-the-year publication and symposium. Students are expected to spend about 90 hours per semester on coursework, roughly half of which are on the project itself and the other half on instruction, reflection, organization and other weekly tasks. 

Throughout their experience in the AER program, students will learn essential academic skills in preparation for post-secondary education, such as research, argumentation and critical thinking; as well as life and career skills, such as time management, communication, professionalism and organization.

This incredible endeavor would not have been possible without the initial financial support of SchoolPower, their volunteer-based, non-profit education foundation, through the “Fund-A-Need Campaign.”

“The incorporation of industry experts to serve as mentors to our students is a critical component of AER,” explained Career Counseling Coordinator Kellee Shearer. “The mentors provide industry knowledge, experience and work-based learning opportunities for our students, which is so important for their learning and the success of the project. We would not be able to offer AER without the dedication and commitment of our industry professionals.” 

LBHS AER teacher Jun Shen is excited about this year’s program, “We hope that AER will empower students to unleash their passions and create real-world solutions. We want students to surprise themselves with how much they can achieve and grow in this new type of learning experience.”

LBUSD launches second year of partnership with Education Elements

Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) has announced the second year of their partnership with Education Elements, a K-12 company that consults with schools, districts, and learning organizations on diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”) matters. In March 2021, LBUSD partnered with Education Elements to work to ensure every student has a voice in their school and classroom including communities of color, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students, and multilingual learners. 

The purpose of the district’s DEI work is to make safe spaces for all students, and to support them in becoming citizens and leaders in every context. Ultimately, this work is for all students to ensure that they have the support to be successful in their classrooms and beyond. 

As year two of implementation begins, the district is guided by the work of the first year’s steering committee comprised of parents, staff, students, and board members. That committee engaged in a variety of workshops to help LBUSD evolve and align its definition of equity, identify equity gaps, and examine policies and practices to ensure high outcomes for all students. 

“LBUSD is leveraging the ability of Education Elements to create safe spaces for listening and collecting input, synthesizing data, and acting as a process guide and expert facilitator,” according to Education Elements. “As to what we choose to do for the Laguna Beach community, and the extent to which we prioritize equity and inclusion, these decisions are for Laguna’s educators, leaders, and board – all of whom are entrusted with this primary responsibility.” 

“We look forward to engaging students, staff, parents, and community partners in the discussion around equity in our schools this fall as we set up listening and learning tours,” said Dr. Jason Viloria, superintendent of schools. “I appreciate the school board’s focus on ensuring our schools are inclusive and meet the needs of all learners.” 

“Equity, fairness, and inclusiveness are important priorities for the district,” said Board President Carol Normandin. “Students, parents, employees and community members of both the Open Letter to the Board and the steering committee, affirmed the importance of this decision by sharing powerful stories on the issues of inclusiveness and marginalization, as well as the importance of community allies in supporting equity, fairness, and inclusiveness. We look forward to supporting all of our students in being leaders on these issues in their communities, the nation, and the world. We also ask that all be on the lookout for opportunities to participate.” 

For more information, visit

Former LBUSD superintendent Sherine Smith announces run for OC Board of Education

Dr. Sherine Smith announced the launch of her campaign for the Orange County Board of Education District 5 seat, representing most of South Orange County. 

“I’m excited to kick off my campaign for the Orange County Board of Education and I am humbled by the early support I have received from friends and colleagues across the county. I am running to represent my neighbors in District 5 because we need a leader who will put kids first, ensure fiscal accountability, support local schools and districts, and make Orange County a gold standard for public education.” 

Former LBUSD Sherine Smith

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Sherine Smith is running for Orange County Board of Education

Smith served as superintendent of Laguna Beach Unified School District for six years and was recognized as Orange County Superintendent of the Year in 2016. She previously had served as the Deputy Superintendent of Education in Capistrano Unified School District, as well as principal of Capistrano Valley High School and Aliso Viejo Middle School. 

A resident of Orange County for 35 years, Smith earned a doctorate in educational leadership at USC and a masters at Pepperdine University. She earned her history degree and teaching credential at California State University, Chico. 

Smith opens her campaign with key endorsements from highly regarded education and community leaders from across South Orange County, including Orange County Board of Education member Beckie Gomez; Capistrano Unified Board Vice President Krista Castellanos and board members Pamela Braunstein and Amy Hanacek; Laguna Beach Unified Board President Carol Normandin; and Saddleback Valley Unified Board President Suzie Swartz. She is also endorsed by former superintendents Dr. Joe Farley, Dr. George Giokaris, Beverly Hempstead, Dr. Chuck Hinman, Kathy Kessler, Dr. Suzette Lovely, and Dr. Fred Navarro.

In addition, former Aliso Niguel High School Principal Deni Christensen, San Juan Hills High School Principal Tom Ressler, and Tesoro High School Principal Dan Burch have added their enthusiastic support to Smith’s campaign. 

“As a member of the Orange County Board of Education, I will be a champion for kids and will work to make Orange County public schools shining examples of high-quality education. As a former teacher, principal, and superintendent, I have a successful track record of working collaboratively with teachers, parents, and community members to find solutions that best serve our schools. I pledge to carry on this work on the Orange County Board of Education.” 

For more information, visit

LBHS boys cross country

LBHS boys cross country team

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Photo by Jason Loomis 

(L-R) Luke Anderton, William Coffey, Sean Laird, Mael Metis, Connor Joyce, Chris Drews, Theo Drews, Alex Boyd, and William Goodwin. The LBHS boys cross country team toed the starting line for their first race of the fall season this past Friday. Racing against many of the best programs in the state at the Cool Breeze Invitational in Pasadena, the Breakers were led by senior standout Mael Metis (15:47) over the three-mile course. Metis ran a controlled and comfortable race, saving his best efforts for more important future races. Strong performances were also shown from the junior class trio of Chris Drews, Alex Boyd, and Will Goodwin. The next race will be on Friday, September 17th at the famed Woodbridge Invitational. Athletes and coaches are excited to go all out on this flat and fast course.

LBUSD considers COVID testing for students, wants more information before making decision


During a discussion last week, a majority of the Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education favored gathering more information on baseline COVID-19 testing, which would then provide better insight into making a decision regarding possibly testing students more regularly. 

Most LBUSD board members agreed during the special meeting on Friday (September 3) that gathering baseline testing information would be helpful.

A baseline would provide a starting point at where the district is at currently, in terms of the number of positive COVID cases, explained LBUSD Superintendent Jason Viloria. The data is definitely a “point in time” because it can change so quickly, he added.

After a majority of the board expressed interest in baseline testing, Viloria explained that an item would be added to the September 9 agenda that will present the process, estimated time commitments (particularly for kindergarten classes), address some of the questions and concerns raised by board members, potential cost, and what the results would look like in terms of turnaround. It will be an action item and the board will vote.

While there was no vote during last week’s meeting, staff needed a majority for general direction and three of the five board members supported the idea, while Kelly Osborne and Jan Vickers opposed bringing an item back regarding regular testing or baseline testing.

“A decision has not been made to test students, it’s simply we will bring back at (the September 9) meeting, as a topic for consideration, (and) at that point in time, it would be considered an action report for the board to vote on,” Viloria emphasized.

Depending on what the baseline data shows, that could provide better direction on what they want regarding a testing plan, whether that’s regularly (weekly or other), just around holidays, or something else, if they want it at all, said Board President Carol Normandin. 

They can also look at other options on how to distribute tests, she added, whether that’s to every student or simply making them available for pick-up as they’ve already done.

“We’re kind of blindly trying to give direction without the baseline, so we’re not understanding where that direction should be,” Normandin said. 

Based on the emails, phone calls, and other feedback from parents, community members, and staff, it seems to be split 50/50 for and against regular testing, Normandin pointed out. The board members themselves were also split on the issue.

LBUSD considers COVID students

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Students walk to school

At the August 10 meeting, the board directed the superintendent to mandate that all employees be vaccinated or apply for a medical or religious exemption waiver by October 15. All those who are unvaccinated are required to be tested for COVID-19 weekly. At the August 19 meeting, the board directed staff to test all employees in the district for COVID-19 as soon as possible, which was completed by September 1.

This item, regarding student testing, is a follow-up to that direction after some board members requested a discussion, staff explained. 

Several school districts in Southern California and elsewhere have required COVID-19 testing for all students, including Los Angeles and Santa Ana school districts.

Just over a dozen community members and parents spoke during public comment at the LBUSD meeting. A few opposed and several supported regular testing. 

“Mandating testing, especially for young children, in order to have access to public education is frankly…outrageous,” said local resident Molly Zurflueh. 

The district shouldn’t test students whose parents or guardians don’t want them to be tested, she said, and it should not be required in order for the students to attend class in-person.

They agreed to the masking, even though they’re “disgusting and dirty half the time,” Zurflueh added, and everyone is social distancing and washing their hands. So, it’s not necessary to also mandate regular testing, which she vehemently opposed.

It’s also sending the wrong message to the kids, she said.

“I think what we’re telling the kids here is, ‘You’re dirty, you’re unclean, and now you’ve got to be tested or you’re going to end up killing your teachers,’” Zurflueh said.

There was some confusion as to what the board was actually discussing, some misunderstood it to be mandating vaccinations for students or thought they were planning to use the nasal swab test (the only test they are considering is the saliva test).

In support of testing, some speakers said the “spit test” is easy, even fun for some kids, and it’s is another layer to help protect other students and community members.

Payal Avellan, local parent to an 8-year-old, said they supported the mandatory non-invasive saliva COVID testing for all unvaccinated students. 

“We do this saliva test in our house all the time,” she said. “My son actually thinks they’re fun. It’s like a science experiment for him.”

As both parents work full-time, they truly felt they didn’t have a choice but to send him to school in-person this year.

“We have vulnerable family members, and we would appreciate LBUSD going above the bare minimum as required and be a true leader in Orange County,” Avellan said.

It would help keep their kids and their vulnerable family members safe and healthy, she added.

Many public speakers agreed that if the board ultimately approves any regular testing for students, it should be for all staff and students, regardless if they’re vaccinated or not. 

“It’s the only way to reach the goal you guys are trying to achieve,” said Amber Offield.

Vaccinated students and staff can still transmit COVID-19, several speakers said, and it will unnecessarily isolate the unvaccinated kids.

LBUSD considers building

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The School Board will consider COVID baseline testing, regular testing, or no testing for students

During board member comments, Vickers noted the number of speakers who commented on the discriminatory process of testing only unvaccinated students, and “to lay that to rest quickly,” she explained that the board was only asked to consider the saliva testing procedures for all students.

She also clarified that they didn’t have anything presented to them about weekly testing, Vickers pointed out. 

In the agenda, part of the discussion staff wanted direction on was regarding the frequency of testing, if the board opted for any kind of regular testing plan. Speakers made the assumption that the board was considering weekly testing, likely because that’s how often Los Angeles and Santa Ana school districts conduct testing.

At this point, if they were considering it weekly, Vickers said she would not support it. Her main concern is that it’s still a very fluid situation, and things change within a few days, she said. 

“That’s just cumbersome for the school to take on,” she said. 

She’s not even sure about doing baseline testing, Vickers added.

When it comes back as an action item, she’ll have more time to consider it.

Although she’s also not in favor of weekly testing at this point, they could consider testing around the holidays when students come back on campus after traveling and being around larger groups, Osborne suggested.

They could also ramp up communications or emphasize the importance of baseline testing in an optional fashion, she said. The school district has given out more than 2,000 saliva tests for students and staff.

“In my opinion, that was an attempt at a baseline,” Osborne said. “There could be other ways, without mandating it, to increase participation.” 

Although families who had someone test positive were likely picking up multiple test kits and continued to test until they were negative, Normandin pointed out about the 2,000 test kits the district already handed out.

Osborne also asked to hear more about the effectiveness of the layered mitigation measures the district has already taken.

Normandin countered that this was just another layer.

“In the Swiss cheese approach to respiratory infections, especially ones that create pandemics, you put all these mitigation factors in because not one is going to solve it or keep people safe,” Normandin said. “So, you have to layer all of them together, and this is just one of those layers and we’re testing it out.”

The situation is dynamic as COVID can quickly change, board member Jim Kelly pointed out. The decisions they make one week may not apply the following week, he said.

“My biggest concern is for the health and safety of the children, and that there be no interruption of on-site learning,” Kelly said. “(I) believe that we should be testing and testing regularly. And we should be testing everyone.”

The Vic held last weekend at Aliso Beach, John Weber and Sophia Nguyen take pro titles


Photos by Greg Viviani

Victoria Skimboards, headquartered in Laguna Beach, is one of the world’s premier skimboard companies, so it makes perfect sense that their Vic Skimboard Tournament at Aliso Creek is the longest running and most prestigious skimboarding competition in the world. The company’s 2021 annual event (and 44th thus far) was held last weekend at Aliso Creek. 

It’s been said that skimboarding is like surfing, while at the same time, nothing like surfing. It uses a smaller shaped board with no fins and allows the rider to glide across the shore break of a crashing wave. These waves are un-surfable by traditional surfers, but not to the skimmer. It’s said that the sport was invented by Laguna Beach lifeguards in the 1920s using planks of wood to travel down the shore between coves. 

The Vic crowd

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The Vic Skimboard Tournament last weekend

Typically, people travel from all over the world to Aliso Beach in Laguna to participate in this competition. This past weekend, spectators got the chance to watch the world’s best skimboarders catch waves and pull tricks as they competed for the world championship title. 

According to Greg Viviani, local professional photographer and videographer, “The conditions this year were less than desirable and brought out the creative side of the competitors.” 

The Vic wave

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Pro Men: 1. John Weber, 2. Blair Conklin, 3. Gerardo Valencia, 4. Dane Cameran, 5. Bill Bryan, 6. Jake Stinnett, 7. Teddy Valasis, 8. Zac Henderson 

Pro Women: 1. Sophia Nguyen, 2. Amber Torrealba, 3. Diana Cordova, 4. Alexandria Badie, 5. Ashley Poshnard, 6. Jazmine Hamilton, 7. Silvia Garavito 

40+ Division: 1. Morgan Ohlund, 2. Cam Boyd, 3. Steve Glade, 4. Ben Peoples 

30-39 Division: 1. Sebass Paniagua, 2. Ka’eo Milles, 3. Ryan Campos, 4. Randol Stancil 

25-29 Division: 1. Randon Moore, 2. Kyle Wilcox, 3. Alejandro Barros, 4. Andy Kemp 

22-24 Division:1. Chance Gaul, 2. Jakob Herbert, 3. Ethan Vinograd, 4. Evan Mclaughlin 

18-24 Division: 1. Beau Johnston, 2. Chance Boyer, 3. Eduardo Matiasevich, 4. Luke Hagopian 

15-17 Division: 1. Andre Nunn, 2. Alex Sheckells, 3. Jacob Crouse, 4. Nick Rogers 

Womens Amateur: 1. Kate Caffarelli, 2. Anya Blumenfield, 3. Paige Struder
4. Bianca Duvall 

12-14 Division: 1. Erik Sheckells, 2. Indy Bryan, 3. Matthew Swan, 4. Leo Bushman 

9-11 Division: 1. Colton Etwein, 2. Paul Carey, 3. Dia Prietto, 4. Kaleo Prietto 

8 & Under Division: 1. Mason Chaldu, 2. Miles Prietto, 3. Nico Perrin 

Special Mentions

Best wave - Sophia Nguyen 

Best style - Paul Carey 

Youngest Rider - Nico Perrin 

Brave Little Toaster - Elizabeth Amador 

Sportsmanship Award - Tex Haines

The Vic men's winners

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Pro Men: Johnny Weber placed 1st, Blair Conklin placed 2nd, and Gerardo Valencia (from Mexico) placed 3rd 


Things have changed drastically since the first Vic tournament. In 1975, Tex Haines and his partner Peter Prietto set out to create durable, functional skimboards. The following year, the first skim contest was held at Aliso Creek Beach and competitors glided on wooden boards. 

The Haines family would vacation at a house on Victoria Beach, which is where Tex began his skimboarding career, and after many years, he went on to make skimboards for all of his friends. In 1976, he and Peter Prietto started Victoria Skimboards and the company got its name from the beach Haines grew up on. 

The Vic women's winners

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Pro Women: Sophia Nguyen placed 1st, Amber Torrealba placed 2nd, and Diana Cordova placed 3rd


Viviani, the photographer, is a third-generation Laguna Beach Local born in South Laguna (hence the Instagram name @SoLagLocal). 

“I’ve always been by the ocean my whole life,” he says. “I’m super lucky to have grown up in such an amazing community. I love the ocean and everything it has to offer. I have always had a camera in my hand because my dad Chuck Viviani was always filming and doing his photography back when you used to have to develop film. 

“I was the marketing manager for Rockstar Energy Drink for 13 years and had a few other career opportunities. But when that chapter in my life ended, I wanted to get back to my roots in Laguna Beach and follow my passion of photography and videography.”

Check out more photos of The Vic by Greg Viviani below

LBUSD announces new District Athletic Administrator

After an extensive search, LBUSD is pleased to introduce Denise Selbe, Ed.D., as its new District Athletic Administrator. 

Dr. Selbe is a dedicated and well-rounded educator bringing 34 years of experience in a variety of areas including teaching, coaching, counseling, administration, and human resources. Dr. Selbe began her career in the Centralia School District as an elementary school teacher. She then transitioned to serve as a middle school teacher, assistant principal, and principal at the middle and high school levels. Dr. Selbe then served as the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, and most recently as a school counselor.

Dr. Selbe has a wealth of experience teaching physical education, coaching, and organizing both intramural and high school sports programs including serving as the district administrator for the Anaheim Union High School Intramural Athletics Program. She has been the recipient of the AUHSD Scholar-Athlete Awards, the 1997-2005 Women in Sports Award, and was selected to serve as Head Coach for North-South OC All-Star Basketball Game in 1992. These are just a few of her many athletic coaching accolades. 

LBUSD announces Dr. Selbe

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Submitted photo

Dr. Denise Selbe has been announced as LBUSD’s new District Athletic Administrator

“As we transition from the previous AD model into the new District Athletic Administrator role, I am excited to have Dr. Selbe’s experience and knowledge on our leadership team to help us develop this position,” shared Mike Conlon, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. “She brings a balance of athletic and administrative expertise that will serve her well.” 

“We are looking forward to having Dr. Selbe as part of the LBHS and LBUSD team as our new athletic administrator,” shared Jason Allemann, Ed.D., LBHS principal. “Denise brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in her work as an educator, most importantly in her work with people across a variety of roles and responsibilities in education. I can’t wait to team up with her on the important work ahead in the district and high school athletics!” 

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to serve the Laguna Beach Unified School District as District Athletics Administrator,” shared Dr. Selbe. “I look forward to working with coaches and student-athletes to provide them with the best opportunities to compete at a high level and enjoy all the positive experiences that are possible through athletics. Working with Thurston Middle School staff to develop an intramural sports program for students is an exciting aspect of this position. I am grateful to Dr. Viloria and the LBUSD Board of Education for the opportunity to be part of a very special community. I can’t wait to get to work!” 

Under the direction of the High School Principal, the District Athletics Administrator is responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of the policies, regulations, guidelines, and procedures pertaining to a high school interscholastic sports program; and will serve as an administrator of record for the interscholastic sports personnel concerning sports and recreation activities.

Premier Tour girls beach volleyball tournaments held at Main Beach, Laguna scores big wins

On July 29, 30, and August 2, the City of Laguna Beach in partnership with the California Beach Volleyball Association and the Association of Volleyball Professionals held three girls junior beach volleyball tournaments at Main Beach. At stake was an invitation to the state Premier Tour “Cal Cup” championships. 

Premier Tour championship

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Photo by Matthew Wolff Photography

Girls 18 and under: The third-place teams are on the far left and far right. The winners Sterling Fischer and Ella Tyus are third and fourth from the left, second place Ella Duffner is fifth from left, and second place Jacquelyn Strawn is sixth from left.

The Premier Tour is designed to bring together the best of our junior players from across the state so that they may play for the Cal Cup Championship Title. It consists of 12 tournaments throughout the summer at locations from San Diego to Laguna to Santa Cruz. Tour stops award premier prizes and the winners are invited to Cal Cup – the Premier Tour Invitational Championships in Ocean Park, Santa Monica on August 21 and 22, 2021. 

Premier Tour whole field 18 and under

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Photo by Matthew Wolff Photography

Entire field, Girls 18 and under

Teams from all over including L.A., Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, Louisville, Kentucky, and Palm Beach, Fla., competed for the coveted bid ticket. Under hot and windy conditions, age groups of 14 and Under, 16 and Under, and 18 and Under battled it out. 

Premier Tour ball in air

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Photo by Joel Goldstein

Girls battle it out 

Here are the results: 

Girls 14 and Under, August 2

Second place – Kyra Zaengle and Elena Fisher

Seventh place – Maddie Rootlieb

Girls 16 and Under, July 29

First place – Tawny Ensign and Skylar Ensign

Fifth place – Coco Black and Hannah Tyus

Premier Tour Fisher and Tyus

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Photo by Matthew Wolff Photography

Sterling Fischer (on left) and Ella Tyus

Girls 18 and Under, July 30

First place – Ella Tyus

Second place – Jacquelyn Strawn

Third place – Kyra Zaengle

Laguna Beach Schools Performing Arts Boosters – Band receives Festival of the Arts Foundation grant

The Laguna Beach Schools Performing Arts Boosters – Band was awarded a grant of $2,500 from the Festival of Arts (FOA) Foundation to continue their support of the Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) and Thurston Middle School (TMS) instrumental music programs. 

In 1989, the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts Foundation was established to financially support the arts in Laguna Beach in the form of scholarships to graduates of Laguna Beach High School and as grants to nonprofit art organizations and educational institutions in and about the City of Laguna Beach. The Foundation operates independently from the Festival of Arts. To date, the Festival of Arts along with the Foundation cumulatively have awarded nearly $2.6 million in grants to the art community in Laguna Beach and over $3 million in scholarships. 

The Laguna Beach Schools Performing Arts Boosters will use the grant to provide students with professional coach instruction at summer band camp at LBHS and guest clinicians throughout the year at both LBHS and TMS. 

“The LBHS music program thanks the Festival of Arts Foundation for their continued support of music education in our schools. This year was especially challenging, and we couldn’t be more grateful for their generosity,” says Mr. Jeremy Chung, director of LBHS instrumental music program. 

Mr. Steven Wade, director of TMS instrumental music program and LBHS jazz program, states, “We are truly grateful for the kind generosity of the Festival of the Arts Foundation. The grant is extremely important to our program this year to provide coaching and support for student music projects.” He adds, “Thank you for continuing to provide essential encouragement and resources to help our program develop.” 

The FOA Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the instrumental music program at Laguna Beach Unified School District and will be recognized at the next instrumental music concert. For more information about the Festival of Arts Foundation, including its grants and scholarships, visit

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