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Laguna Beach

Top of the World Elementary School named 2018 California Green Ribbon School 

Top of the World Elementary School is a California Green Ribbon School and the recipient of a Green Achiever certificate from the California Department of Education, the highest achievement given to schools who have been nominated to compete on a national level for the US Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition award.

More than 30 public schools and school districts selected as California Green Ribbon Schools were recognized as part of the California School Recognition Program by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson at an event hosted at Top of the World Elementary School on Monday. 

The event included an awards ceremony and presentations from Laguna Beach Unified School District staff showcasing the gardens, Waste Management recycling programs, energy efficient facilities, and more. 

“Top of the World Elementary has been providing robust and innovative education for students since its inception 50 years ago,” said LBUSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria. “This recognition speaks to our commitment to developing environmentally and socially conscious students by providing opportunities for them to make positive impacts on the local and global community,” he continued. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Top of the World Elementary

Over the last few years, Top of the World Elementary has been working to integrate sustainability practices with campus-wide campaigns including a coin drive that raised over $2,000 for a school in Kenya to purchase three dairy cows and a greenhouse; an ocean awareness club spreading knowledge about the dangers of littering the ocean waters that led to a fundraising of thousands of dollars to help clean up local waters and a partnership with Waste Management to improve the on-campus recycling program; a campaign to divert uneaten pre-packaged food items from the trash cans into a collection bin that is donated to the LB Friendship Shelter on a daily basis; a partnership with Schneider Electric to help implement energy conservation district-wide; and finally, one of the oldest school garden programs in all of OC with three on-site gardens totaling one-half acre, which are used as outdoor classroom spaces. 

The ED-GRS recognition award honors schools, school districts, and Institutes of Higher Education for excellence in resource efficiency, health and wellness, and environmental and sustainability education. The recognition award is part of a larger US Department of Education effort to identify and communicate practices that result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness; and reinforces federal efforts to increase energy independence and economic security.

LBHS Women’s Shortboard Surf Team wins High School State Team Championships

By Coaches Alisa Cairns and Scott Finn

On Saturday, Laguna Beach High School Surf Team had a record day with the women’s shortboard team crowned team champion at the Scholastic Surf Series High School State Championships. The event was held at Oceanside South Jetty, and it was a nice day. The surf was a little tricky, but decent in the three to four foot surf range with light winds. Laguna Beach High School surfed in the team competition of the contest as all 14 High Schools were competing in the various divisions. Everyone worked really hard, with some doing double duty in two divisions.

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(L-R) Coach Alisa Cairns, Kalohe Danbara, Tess Booth, and Kelly Smith

Our women’s team, as a whole, has been so strong the last couple of years in the various events with plenty of depth and consistency. Saturday’s team of Tess Booth, Kalohe Danbara and Kelly Smith worked really well together, each doing her part to take the team all the way to the end with the major win and really solid performances along the way. 

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Tess Booth

In the first round, the team was up against Half Moon Bay and they won 13-7. Next they surfed against Carlsbad with a 12-9 win. The semi-finals were a breakthrough performance for all three, and they easily defeated Edison 15-6. The women were on a roll and went into the final against Santa Barbara beaming with confidence and took another decisive win 14-7. 

MVP would have to go to Freshman Tess Booth, who was the iron woman, winning most of her five heats of the day. She not only competed well in the shortboard, but also put in a solid performance in longboard. Tess and her teammates, Maya Takayabashi and Destiny Thompson, competed well against La Costa Canyon, but did not advance, missing out 8-13.

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(L-R) Joseph Schenk, Sam Nelson and Liam McCue

The men’s shortboard started the day first up against Coronado High School. Our guys surfed really hard and competed well with some outstanding performances and top finishes put in by the likes of Travis Booth, Sam Nelsen, Kiko Nelsen and Liam McCue. Meanwhile Joseph Schenk, Luke Hagopian, Ryan McGee, Luca Elghanaya and Lucas Jablon also gave their all. Unfortunately, the team narrowly missed out from advancement, losing by a meager one point at 32-33 points. 

In bodyboard, Travis Booth and Ryan McGee stepped up big time doing double duty, while ripping and having a good time along the way. They won their first round against Oceanside and narrowly lost to Dana Hills. Longboard also saw double duty and a solid effort put in by Sam Nelsen, who took a second place. Joseph Schenk and Luke Hagopian also surfed well, but unfortunately, were edged out by La Costa Canyon 9-12.

Boys & Girls Club hosted 10th Annual Community Partner’s Breakfast and gave out awards

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach proudly hosted its 10th annual Community Partner Breakfast on Tuesday, April 10 at [seven-degrees] in the Canyon. Board of Directors President Phyllis Phillips expressed the importance of partnership and collaborations and their vital role in helping the Club accomplish the organization’s mission to enable all young people to realize their full potential as healthy, caring and responsible adults. 

Pam Estes, Chief Executive Officer, delivered a poignant State of the Club speech where she addressed several Club initiatives the organization will be focusing on in the upcoming year. 

“We have some big goals that we see as meaningful ways to help more of the youth who need us in the community,” stated Pam.  

These projects include plans for a potential off-site teen center, additional inclusionary programming for the special needs population, gender equity for young females and Lake Forest expansion opportunities.

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BGCLB CEO, Pam Estes with Aliso Viejo Mayor, David Harrington

The mayor of Aliso Viejo, David Harrington, received the Program Partner Award for AV’s investment of more than $300,000 since 2006 to ensure the city’s children have access to quality after school and summer programming at the Club. Massen Greene Foundation received the Agency Partner Award, as their organization has invested $95,000 over the last four years in support of the Club’s Eco-Smart program that teaches young people to be great stewards of the earth. 

Restaurant owner Gretchen Andrews of Starfish Laguna Beach received the Corporate Partner Award as she has contributed nine straight years of support towards the Club’s events including catering at Girls Night Out, toy drives and onsite fundraisers.

Former Board President, now Emeritus member, Bob Whalen, received the Community Partner Award, as his family has championed the Club in numerous ways over the years, including being a strong advocate for all youth in the great city of Laguna Beach. 

Beau Bianchi took home this year’s Crevier Legacy Award, an honor given to a former Club member who has brought long-term impact on the organization as an outstanding role model for the community and embodies the philanthropic spirit the Club hopes all its members will someday achieve. Beau, along with his wife Brandee, have been a catalyst for bringing additional inclusionary and social skills programming for children with special needs at the Club. Their goal is to ensure that all kids can have a positive and safe place to go when they are not in school, while having additional support systems in place to achieve greater social agility with peers.

 The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach’s Community Partners Breakfast began ten years ago by Emeritus BOD President Bob Whalen to recognize the partnerships built between the Club and the community leaders that help benefit the 2,000 youths the Club serves on an annual basis.

For more information on the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach including after school and summer camp programming, or about the annual breakfast, contact guest services at (949) 494-2535 or visit

Boys & Girls Club hosts “racy” 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala May 12, offering awesome auction items 

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is proud to present its 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala – “And We’re Off!” – on Saturday, May 12 at Montage Laguna Beach. The event will be Kentucky Derby-style themed soiree. 

Invitees are encouraged to dress to impress and pull out all of the stops when selecting a suit or dress for the big night. It is a chance for every female to express her inner Southern Belle, and every guy to get just as decked out as the ladies. 

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The Boys & Girls Club’s 18th Annual Art of Giving Gala on May 12 will be a night of “racy” fun

Guests will start the evening on the Montage lawn with tasty morsels and signature Southern cocktails. The evening will continue with an elegant dinner and rousing live auction followed by dancing to some live music that will make guests feel like they are partying it up at the Downs. 

Wonderful live auction items include an Angels “Baseball Once” offering four front-row seats plus an opportunity for your child to act as an honorary bat boy/girl, an adult to throw the ceremonial first pitch, and so much more. 

Also available: dinner for twelve guests at Montage Resort; exotic vacations of various lengths in Mexico, Massachusetts, and Arizona; a year-long lease of a 2018 Jeep Cherokee Overland; as well as one-of-a-kind art.

This promises to be one of the events of the year, and a chance to generously support the Club and its some 2,000 youth members and families. Proceeds raised at the 18th annual Art of Giving Gala go directly towards empowering children of all ages to reach their full potential, no matter their financial situation. 

For more information about the Gala includint tickets or table sponsorships, contact Michelle Ray Fortezzo at (949) 494-2535 ext. 7584 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit the Club website at

Breakers Baseball drops Godinez 12-0

The Breakers swept their season series with Godinez on Friday with a 12-0 victory.  Eric Silva, Cutter Clawson, Jack Loechner and Aidan Booth all had multiple hits to lead the Breaker attack. Grady Morgan, Sawyer Chesley and Michael Kerner also drove in runs for the Breakers, now 15-8 on the season and 10-0 in the Orange Coast League.

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Photo by Sheri Morgan

Grady Morgan slides to the plate: Breakers give it their best every game

Blake Burzell started on the mound and threw three shutout innings with five strikeouts to earn the win. Clawson and Silva each pitched a scoreless inning in relief.  

The Breakers will face Costa Mesa this week, playing an away game today at 3:30 p.m. and then playing a home game on Friday, May 4 at 3:30 p.m.

Senior Day will be Wednesday, May 9 at 3:30 p.m., the team’s last regular season game of the year. The CIF playoffs start the week of May 14.

TOW kids donate enough peanut butter to the Food Pantry to make more than 5,520 sandwiches

Anne Belyea, executive director of the Food Pantry, tells Stu News that she is overwhelmed by the support that Laguna offers the nonprofit.

“We have such a generous community,” Anne says. “Today I was able to go to TOW to thank the students for donating 460 pounds of peanut butter and jelly!  What a great job!”

To put that into perspective, a grizzly bear weighs around 500 pounds. In other words, that’s a lot of peanut butter.

It’s enough, in fact, to spread on 5,520 sandwiches.

Which is enough to scare the heck out of someone with arachibutyrophobia – a fear of peanut butter sticking to the top of one’s mouth – but also enough to bring great joy to many kids who would otherwise go hungry.

Maybe it is time to challenge the other schools to equal or beat this donation?

How about two grizzly bears’ worth of peanut butter?

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TOW kids were excited to donate 460 lbs of peanut butter to the Food Pantry

“We had a five year old in the community who just hosted a dance party with his friends and brought in $750, a bag of change and 150 lbs. of groceries.  

“When he came in to the Pantry to deliver the food, he showed me his dance moves! He break-dances! My heart is full!” Anne rejoices.

Spinners at Rhythm Ride also help fill the shelves

Members of local spin studio Rhythm Ride and owner Stephanie Chapel also got a big shout-out from Anne. 

“As part of their tenth anniversary, they donated 150 pounds of groceries,” Anne says. “Ever since previous owner Shelley Arends Cornwell opened the studio a decade ago, she has made community and health a dual focus and thus sponsored many food drives for us.”

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Spinners are exhilarated at the size of the donation they were able to put together 

“Adequate nutrition is important to good health, and the Pantry exists to make sure that no one goes hungry. Many of our area’s low-income families, elderly, and student populations rely on us to help them make ends meet. 

“We are excited and pleased that the next wave of management will carry on this compassionate effort.”

LBHS Softball team sets their eyes on the playoff prize after key victory

The Breakers softball team is taking aim at the end game after they overpowered Estancia 6-4 on Monday to complete an Orange Coast League sweep, their second win in six days against Estancia. 

Junior Emily Thomas threw a complete game with eight strikeouts. Laguna Beach ratcheted up the score with plays by Rhys Campbell, Madilyn Garwal, Mia Pitz, Maddy Melchor, and a daring steal by Cierra Wunder. 

Wunder took the opportunity and stole home in the sixth inning; it was the second time in two games that a Laguna Beach player executed this rare and bold move.

“That effort is the definition of this program, and it is unbelievable to see where this was three years ago and where we are now,” said Coach James Crawford. “It’s spectacular. It’s awesome.”

Following their win against Estancia, the team dropped a game against Godinez on Wednesday, 1-18. They look to bounce back today (Friday, May 4) in a key league game at Costa Mesa High School. The game starts at 3:15 p.m.

The team is now 10-10-1 overall and 3-5 in league play.

Join LBHS for Breakfast with the Breakers and don’t forget about your 2018-2019 Breaker Fastpass 

On Saturday, June 2, join Laguna Beach High School for a community day to eat Breakfast with the Breakers in the Quad from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. This day will include interactive activities, live performances, and much more.

From 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. athletic physicals will be available for $40 per athlete. Proceeds will fund the LBHS Athletic Training room, and will benefit those wanting to play sports for the school, because these physicals are required. Also, there will be an optional Cardiac Screening for anyone interested, which will be $85. 

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Join LBHS for their second annual Breakfast with the Breakers and help support athletic programs 

Also from 9 a.m. - noon, there will be a pancake breakfast for everyone with a $5 donation per person. Sports information with booths and youth experiences for elementary kids will be available the whole time, along with multiple arts and school club information. For more information on this upcoming event, visit

Additionally, all families are invited to get the LBHS Breaker Fastpass for the year 2018-2019. All proceeds will benefit LBHS Athletic Boosters. Donations can range anywhere from more than $200 to a minimum of $50, and donations are rewarded with a range of items from free entry to all sports games, your family’s name on a football field banner, and Breaker pride, all depending on the donation package you choose.

 Donations support all the school’s exceptional sports programs as well as state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. 

For more information or to sign up to donate, contact the Athletic Secretary at (949) 497-7750.

LBHS Golf wins all four CIF spots at OC League Tournament – and Ben Sharp is named 2018 MVP

LBHS Golf played this week in the Orange Coast League Individual Tournament, winning places one through five and claiming all four CIF playoff spots.

This was a 36-hole event over two days at Skylinks golf course in Long Beach. The first day, there were approximately 30 players from all the different teams in the league and everyone played 18 holes of golf. The low 12 scores returned for the final day. The first day’s scores carried over and were added to the second day’s scores. 

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Kyle Sharp on the tee

Laguna entered seven players into the tournament. The following five Laguna players made the cut to compete the second day with their scores and standing after the first day: 1st: Ben Sharp – 74, 2nd: Kyle Sharp – 78, 3rd: Chase Gioffredi – 80, tied for 4th: Gus Morck and Dante Fornaro – 82.

On the second day of the Orange Coast League Tournament, the tees were all the way back at the black tees, measuring at 6,909 yards. It turned out to be a great day for the program with the five remaining Laguna players finishing 1-5, Coach Quigley said. 

All of them earned First Team All-League. In addition, all four of the CIF individual playoffs spots from the OC League went to Laguna players. 

The final standings for LBHS players were: 1st: Ben Sharp – 74/79 = 153, 2nd:Kyle Sharp – 78/77 = 155, 3rd: Chase Gioffredi – 80/79 = 159, 4th: Dante Fornaro – 82/81 = 163, 5th: Gus Morck – 82/83 = 165.

It was a big day for senior Ben Sharp. The coach says he was striking the ball really well and played two smart days of golf, which gave him scores of 74 and 79, and a two-stroke win over his twin brother Kyle Sharp.  

Ben Sharp’s first OC League Tournament, and he wins

This was the first OC league tournament for Ben, as academically he is the #2 ranked student at the high school and although he has qualified to play, he did not play in the prior two annual tournaments because playoffs conflicted with AP testing. This year, however, he decided to rearrange his schedule and play.  

“Ben is a good ball striker, has a good short game and can putt lights out,” said Coach Quigley. “When you have all these skills and you don’t tend to get into any big trouble on the course, it will move you to the top of the leaderboard. It all came together for him and it’s great to see him earn the win and Orange Coast League MVP for 2018.” 

The coach added, “It’s great to see all five of our Laguna players sweep the top spots in the tournament. This team and all these individual players really excel because they have high golfing IQ’s and are committed to improving all the time. They play golf year round and several of them compete in the junior tournament schedule in Southern California. 

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Gus Morck, Kyle Sharp, Chase Gioffredi, and Ben Sharp (with assistant coach Tom Levinstein) celebrate a recent win; Dante Fornaro, who earned a CIF playoff spot in the OC League Tournament, is not pictured here

“They are committed to not only improving their golfing skills, but also their fitness and how they perform on the course with good decision-making and course management. When you put it all together, this team is one of the deepest and most talented teams we’ve had at Laguna in a long time and it’s been fun for me and the other coaches to go along for the ride with them.”

The Sharp brothers are sharp players

Senior captain Kyle Sharp won this same tournament last year and he made a good run over the first nine holes yesterday shooting even par and gaining two strokes on his brother. But he dropped some shots on the back nine and had to settle for second place this year.  

“Overall, Kyle has been the foundation of our success this year as a team,” said Coach Quigley. “He has been the low scoring player in 11 of the 17 matches we played this year.  He consistently scores well, averaging one over par 37 for nine holes. He is driven to get better all the time and he has the one quality that all high achieving athletes possess – he is a fierce competitor. Attitude and a strong desire to compete will take you a long way and those qualities should help him at the next level when he plays golf in college for the University of Redlands.”  

Junior Chase Gioffredi finished in third place and qualified for CIF playoffs again this year after making it last year as a sophomore.  

“Chase has off the charts physical skills and has the ability to score really low at any time,” said the coach. “If he has a good day in the CIF tournament, he has the potential to be in the running to not only make the cut but also place high on the leaderboard.” 

Dante Fornaro qualifies for CIF playoffs, the third year in a row

 Senior Dante Fornaro finished fourth and again qualifies for CIF playoffs for the third year in a row.  

The coach added, “Dante is a very smart player and rarely if ever makes any mistakes in his decisions.  His ball flight is consistent and straight and he also has a good short game.  If everything comes together in CIF, he can also post a low score and be in the running to make the cut.” 

In addition, one great accomplishment this year is that seniors Kyle Sharp, Ben Sharp and Dante Fornaro have all been on the varsity team since they were freshmen and they have won four straight league championships.  They have never lost a league match throughout their careers.  

“It’s been fun working with them as golfers and watching them grow up from being little freshmen boys (all of them weighed about 115 pounds as freshmen) into young men ready to go off to college,” said Coach Quigley.

CIF playoffs take place in the next couple of weeks

There are two tracks for CIF playoffs in golf, individual and team. 

“Even in the first round they are super competitive,” Quigley says. “There are no divisions; rather, all players/schools are grouped into several regional tournaments regardless of school size.

“Laguna is in the southern individual regional and our players will compete with players from most of the leagues in Orange County, Long Beach, San Gabriel Valley and the Trinity league private schools like JSerra, Mater Dei, Santa Margarita, etc. So, there are a ton of good players who will go on to play in college who won’t even make it out of the first round.  

“Laguna has not had any boys make it out of the first round in a long time. We did have a girl, Grace Komoroczy, make it to the second round a couple times about 10 years ago.” 

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LBHS golf team

The first round of CIF individual playoffs takes place on Monday, May 7. Kyle Sharp, Ben Sharp, Chase Gioffredi and Dante Fornaro will be entered for Laguna. There will be approximately 115 players in the tournament and only the top 20 move on to the next round.

CIF team playoffs, first round, kick off on Monday, May 14. Laguna will compete with approximately 24 other teams. Only the top two teams advance.

On Thursday, May 17, the CIF Southern Section Individual Championships and Team State Qualifier take place. If any individual or team advances past the first round, they will play in this tournament, held in Santa Barbara.

And those winners will advance to a SoCal Regional Final followed by the State Final.

Alumni reunion and picnic takes place tomorrow at Heisler Park

The all-class picnic and reunion for all Laguna Beach High alumni will take place tomorrow, Saturday, May 5 at Heisler Park, 375 Cliff Drive.  The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Remember this place? Then don’t forget to go to the reunion picnic tomorrow…

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