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Laguna Beach

LBHS student seeks clothing donations to support Kausakusun women’s shelter in Cusco, Peru

Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) sophomore Katelyn Kolberg was touched by volunteering at the Kausakusun women’s shelter in Cusco, Peru last summer and has organized a fundraiser to support the women and children at the shelter.

The shelter helps women who have suffered domestic violence, offering them a refuge to escape the violence and a safe place to re-group and plan for a better life. Most of the women who seek shelter and form part of the program have children. 

Volunteers spend their time caring for the women and children, offering them companionship, skill learning, education, and attention. The women have made the first step by leaving the abusive situation, however, they now need support to make a better life for themselves. 

LBHS student Katelyn

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Katelyn Kolberg with children at Kausakusun women’s shelter

Katelyn is seeking gently used clothing that will be sold at a pop-up event in May to raise money to pay for a sewing teacher at the shelter. Any clothing that is not sold will be donated to Laura’s House, a women’s shelter in Orange County.

While volunteering at the shelter, Katelyn was able to get the director to agree to open an abandoned sewing room. Katelyn used her proficient Spanish and sewing skills to teach the women how to sew bags that could be sold for profit. The women at the shelter are fleeing abusive relationships and need the skills to become financially independent. 

“I was so touched by the Peruvian children and want to help their mothers continue to sew,” said Katelyn. “Through teaching them how to sew, they can support their families. Your used clothing donations will help change lives.”

Drop off your clothing at Sourced at 950 Glenneyre St. The deadline for drop off is April 5.

LBUSD holds events to prevent students from substance abuse

By Carly Rohrer, LBHS students

In partnership with Brush & Palette newspaper

As the rates of teenage drug and alcohol usage skyrocket, each of LBUSD’s schools executes its own way to deal with the severe problem. The elementary schools, middle school, and high school have all put on unique events in an attempt to convince students to remain sober. 

At Top of the World Elementary School, music teacher Beth Sand teaches her students the song, “I Won’t Smoke – No Siree.” Mrs. Sand has taught many generations the catchy song. The purpose of teaching all of those students the song is to try to embed that smoking is bad in the flourishing minds of the students. 

On February 8, the Top of the World honors choir took a quick trip to the high school at lunch. They stood in the quad and belted out the song to all of the high school students. Eventually, some high schoolers were brave enough to join the children on stage and sing the song they once used to know. The whole goal of this activity was to remind the high schoolers of the pledge they made so many years ago. It was also to show the elementary students that there are cool high school students who don’t smoke. 

“The intention is really that our high school kids will remember that when they were in elementary school, most kids do pledge and plan not to ever smoke. Studies have shown that peer-to-peer teaching is 300 percent more effective than adults delivering the message, so having the elementary and high school kids making this pledge together will hopefully have a strong, positive impact,” said teacher Mindy Hawkins. 

Along with having a visit from the elementary students, the high school encouraged students to sign a big poster and pledge to remain nicotine free. By signing the pledge, they received a shirt with creative anti-smoking slogans such as, “I don’t dig your cig.” All of these events at the high school aim to deter students from drugs and alcohol. 

At the middle school, Student Resource Officer Corporal Cornelius “Corn” Ashton and Assistant Principal Lisa Brackez gave a lecture on the reasons not to get into drugs and alcohol. They gave their 45-minute presentation to all grade levels during the students’ physical education class. The main focus of the presentation was about how vaping can cause harmful long-term effects to the body. Ashton and Brackez also touched on the topic of bullying and choosing the right friends early on. 

“It was an important presentation because drugs and alcohol, specifically vaping, is an epidemic within teens, and most are not educated with the effects on the body,” said 7th-grader Hayden Rohrer, who attended the presentation. 

LBUSD holds t shirts

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On February 6, the High on Life Club and ASB coordinated a pledge-signing in which students declared their intention to remain nicotine-free. After signing the pledge, students received a shirt with a creative anti-smoking slogan on it. This event was one of the many attempts to keep students out of drugs and alcohol in our school district.

At the elementary schools, the staff works diligently to keep the children out of trouble. Instead of having the elementary school students get stuck in the dangers of drugs and alcohol, the school tries to make the kids focus on healthy activities such as the arts, music, and sports. For the 4th and 5th graders, a program called “Botvin’s Curriculum” is used to educate students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. The program teaches students about the devastating effects to the body that come with making the bad decisions. This program has been proven to reduce substance abuse by up to 80 percent. Along with Botvin’s Curriculum, school counselors provide additional presentations to the students to help ensure they remain sober. 

We are constantly evaluating our curriculum to ensure students are taught all the necessary skills they need to make them successful in the future. Our teachers work with the counselor to supplement the instruction as needed,” said Top of the World Elementary School Principal Michael Conlon. 

Curriculum, when it comes to drugs and alcohol, is always changing. Elementary schools are constantly reevaluating what should, and should not, be taught to the innocent minds. But when is there too much or too little education? 

“I don’t believe there is a need for more education at the elementary level,” said El Morro Elementary School Principal Chris Duddy. “Elementary school has a wide range of developmental levels. Unless there is new research indicating that there is an effective program for the elementary level. I know that past programs such as ‘Just Say No’ were proven as ineffective.”

If presented with information that is not age appropriate, younger students could end up exploring their curiosities about drugs and alcohol early.

All in all, the school district is uniting to make sure that none of their students fall down the deep hole of substance abuse. The only way there will be a change is if teens wake up and actually learn from all of the amazing programs and events that the district supports.

“All the money in the world isn’t going to make a difference towards these programs if the kids don’t buy into it,” said Hawkins.

Stu News Laguna is proud to feature LBHS students’ writing in partnership with the high school’s journalism class and the Brush & Palette student newspaper.

LBUSD Board of Education approves Course of Study for LBHS

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

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

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

LBUSD Board bushes

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

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

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

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

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

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

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

RSVP at ensure an accurate headcount for food and seating. 

El Morro 5th Graders participate in annual State Fair

El Morro 1

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

El Morro 2

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

El Morro 3

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

Middle School boys’ project pays it forward


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

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

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

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

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

Middle School boys

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Cole Curtis and Ashton Azadian “Pay it Forward”

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

The boys asked the council to intervene.

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

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

Middle School box

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Ashton Azadian with collection box

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The agenda for tonight’s (Tuesday, March 26) regular LBUSD Board of Education meeting has been posted online here. Open session will begin at 6 p.m. at the District office, at 550 Blumont St.

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

Tonights School Board high schoolb

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

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

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

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

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

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

Persons wishing to address the Board at tonight’s meeting are asked to complete and submit a public comment card.

Tonight’s meeting will also be streamed live on the District’s website here.

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

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

Laguna Beach team

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

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

Not pictured: Sienna Mason

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

Laguna Beach, Cadence, Rylee, Julie

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

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

Laguna Beach All stars

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All Star Tournament Champions

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

Laguna Beach Sophie and Chloe

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(L-R) Sophia Boultinghouse and Chloe Cismoski

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

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

To help this team on their “Road to Nationals,”

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

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

Anneliese Schools winners

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

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

Anneliese Schools Mindstorms

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

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

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

Anneliese Schools competitors

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Flossaraptors and Mindstorms teams worked long and hard for their medals

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

Anneliese Schools Flossaraptors

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

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

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

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

For more information about the school, visit

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

Photos by Anakaren Ureno

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

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

Thurston Middle Martinez

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Teacher Michelle Martinez guides student forensic team members

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

Thurston Middle evidence

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Thurston Middle School students collect evidence from mock crime scene

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

Thurston Middle Ashton

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Cpl Cornelius Ashton instructs students (Niki Hernandez on left)

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

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

Thurston Middle group

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Forensic team 

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

Thurston Middle testing

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Student tests evidence

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

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

For information on Cox Charities, visit

LBHS receives Award of Merit for Civic Education Program

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

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

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

LBHS receives palm

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LBHS recognized with Civic Learning Award of Merit

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

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

Laguna Beach High School is located at 625 Park Ave.

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