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LB Little League 10 YOs try for first All-Star Championship this weekend

The community is invited to come out this weekend and watch the Laguna Beach Little League 10 YOs compete in the All-Star Championship to try to win their first ever All-Star title.

Coach Sean Murray says, “We got through an entire season unscathed and are now in the midst of All-Stars. I am coaching the 10 YOs, who are off to a two and zero start in the tournament after one blowout and one amazing game last night, which we won in extra innings.”

Coach Murray’s recap of the game vs Northwood:

“Wow, just wow…these kids have no quit and a ton of heart which I think we all witnessed on the field…There were so many highlights it’s hard to recall all of them, but tip of the hat first and foremost to the pitching staff…83 pitches in 8 innings, 7 Ks, and maybe 2 earned runs…Cole, Braden, and Silas pitched out of their minds knowing they had the defense behind them to make plays.” 

LB Little on ground

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Pep talk

“And plays they did…Weston Lewis with I think 4 put outs in CF, Kadin did not drop a ball at first and even ignored his coach in the 7th to get the lead runner at two which may have saved our bacon in this one, corner OF’ers cut off more than a few extra base hits and held their guys to singles which kept runs off the board.” 

Coach Murray gives a huge “Thank You” to special guest coach Anthony Norelli who worked some magic with their OF on Sunday to make plays and get the ball in quick. 

“And I will still contest that we turned two between Braden/Silas/Kadin in the second…but since these umpires liked me for a change I wasn’t going to argue the call…which came into play in the 8th when these guys did not know the tiebreaker rule and had to call Williamsport to verify we start with a guy on second…and thank god we lost the coin toss again and got first crack at that and did not have to defend it.”

LB Little fence

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Team talking 

“Overall, the defense was virtually perfect last night, which all of these kids should be super proud of, because they have put in the work on defense at every single practice and its really starting to shine through,” says Coach Murray.

On offense the game balls went to Wes Van Meter and Kadin for the sacrifice RBI to score the game-tying run in the 4th, which got them to extra innings. 

“As well as Julian Norelli/Weston Lewis for the game-winning RBI and run in the 8th…and as you saw after that the floodgates finally opened up not just at the plate but in hitting guys in,” notes Coach Murray. “And another one for Silas who went 4-for-4 with a walk…driving in three against Laguna Niguel. We only played four innings, ending in a mercy.” 

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Taking a break

Multiple players had huge games hitting: Keegan Hackett, Braden Hansen,

Weston Lewis, Ryder Bright, Cole Steincke, and Braden Hansen combined for the win pitching vs Laguna Niguel.

The team’s roster includes Keegan Hackett, Owen McCormick, Julian Norelli, Ryder Bright, Cole Steincke, Cannon Lyles, Maro Bright, Adrian Plesha, Hudson Baldwin, Kadin Chestelson, Braden Hansen, Silas Murray, Wes Van Meter, and Weston Lewis.

Against Northwood, Silas Murray led off the game with a single to left and was then driven in with an RBI single by Braden Hansen. 

--Braden scored as well, stealing home in the first inning.

--Cole Steincke started on the mound and went three and a third innings allowing only two earned runs.

--LB scored again in the top of the second with hits by Braden Hansen and Silas Murray and Braden stealing home again.

The score was 4-3 Northwood until the top half of the 5th when Wes Van Meter drove in Kadin Chestelson to tie the game at 4, which held through regulation in the 6th. Braden Hansen came on in relief and pitched a gem, going five innings and allowing no runs on 50 pitches with 6 strikeouts.

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On the field, battling it out

Laguna had chances in the 5th and 6th with runners on and in scoring position but solid defense by Northwood kept them off the board. 

Laguna had chances in the 7th as well after Cannon Lyles walked and Silas Murray singled to start the inning but could not get them home. 

--Braden Hansen got three quick outs on two strikeouts and a putout by Kadin Chestelson and Silas Murray to get the lead runner at second.

--With the score tied at 4, they moved on to the 8th when the tiebreaker rule comes into play. Each team starts with their last batter to hit in the last inning on second.

--With Weston Lewis on second, he was driven in by Owen McCormick. Owen was knocked in by Julian Norelli, who was knocked in by Cole Steincke.

--Cannon Lyles walked, then he and Cole were scored with a double to center by Silas Murray.

--Laguna took a 5-run lead to the bottom half of the 8th.

--Northwood started the bottom half with a runner on second. With the first batter showing bunt, the runner advanced to third on a passed ball. 

--Hansen struck out the first batter on three fastballs. 

--Silas Murray came in to pitch; the first pitch resulted in a grounder back to Murray who got an out at first to Chestelson. The runner stayed at third.

--The next pitch resulted in a long fly ball right to center field, which was caught by Weston Lewis to end the game. 

The team beat Laguna Niguel, 22-2, last Saturday and Northwood this past Tuesday, 9-4.

The next game is tonight (Friday, June 25) at 6:30 p.m. vs Aliso Viejo at the Laguna Hills Community Center.

Come out and cheer the team in tonight’s All-Star Championship game!


LBUSD Board approves $200K agreement for equity work

By SARA HALL

Laguna Beach Unified School District officials unanimously approved a contract this week that focuses on equity work.

Members of LBUSD Board of Education voted 5-0 Thursday (June 24) to approve a $199,500 agreement with Education Elements for Equity Strategy Design and Capacity Building for the 2021-22 school year.

In response to racially fueled events across the country last year, the board approved a resolution in Support of Anti-racist Education in October. To support the effort of design and implementation, LBUSD engaged in a partnership with Education Elements, a K12 company that consults with schools, districts, and learning organizations. The resolution states that the district will purchase, develop, and offer training resources that support critical dialogue and effective implementation of anti-racist practices across all of LBUSD. 

Following a study session on March 25, a steering committee has been collaborating with the EE team to determine scope, understand LBUSD priorities, set goals and commitments around racial inequalities, and planned actionable next steps.

On Thursday, most board members were impressed with the work so far and on board to continue the program.

Board member Jan Vickers said she’s worked with a number of groups over the years, and they don’t always measure up, so she went into the steering committee meetings a little cautious.

“I have found, a lot of times, groups to be, basically, fluff and no substance,” Vickers said. “But I was really, really pleasantly surprised with their knowledge base, their background basis in education, (and) their ability to quickly let us see, here, that marginalized students go far beyond a racial issue.”

There are many issues that cause students to feel marginalized, Vickers said, and this gives them a great opportunity to learn and change, by identifying these issues by actually getting out there and interviewing people in the community, which is during part two of the Listening and Learning phase (September through November).

Although not everyone was as confident in the process. Board member Dee Perry raised several concerns about the program and the cost of the contract.

“I’m proud and grateful that we are working on this topic,” Perry said, but she’s heard both positive and negative feedback, and they need to listed to all of it. 

LBUSD protesters

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Anti-racism protestors at Main Beach last year

Her main concern centered on the lack of concrete results so far.

“People were excited that we were going to do this work, but they haven’t seen any tangible results with their kids,” Perry said. “They haven’t seen anything positive that has helped their students after nearly six months and $50,000.”

Vickers noted that it’s been emphasized multiple times that this is a long-range project.

“And that to see any immediate results would mean that we would be putting things into place that aren’t going to have the depth or the ability to make really substantial changes,” Vickers said. “Systemic changes are going to take a long time…you can’t do it overnight.”

That was accentuated during the study session, she added. 

“You need to go slow to go fast,” Vickers said. “There must have been a misperception that there would be something concrete that people would see with their students in this first bit of time.” 

They should emphasize and communicate better about the length of the process, Perry responded. But it would also be helpful for parents and students to have something tangible or take some kind of action, even just having a book to read, that could show progress to people outside the steering committee. 

“Otherwise, it looks like everybody who is in this group is sold, and thinks it’s great and gung-ho,” Perry said. But many “people on the outside, don’t see that.”

Something by the end of the year would be beneficial, she added. 

Perry also mentioned speaking to a local resident who has studied these topics and was very disheartened after listening to the board’s study session. 

“She said it was mostly rhetoric and no action, it appeared any implementation was down the road; and she felt that preparation was lacking for our particular situation,” Perry said. 

The scope of work is divided up into several parts over the next year, with outcomes attached to each section, explained LBUSD Superintendent Jason Viloria.

Over the past several months the conversation has revolved around identifying the groups that need to be involved and focusing on how to engage with them, he added. Next, they move on to the engagement plan of listening and learning, which will be shared with the broader community and the school board, likely at another study session. 

He feels confident they are headed down a path toward an optimal end result. The team has a high work ethic, high productivity, and a high satisfaction rate with the services and end results they provide, Viloria said. And, if they felt they weren’t headed in the right direction, the team could pivot and adjust the process as needed. It’s a very flexible, he added. 

Perry’s other concerns included why the Education Elements officials weren’t planning on being on campus at the start of the year (although the detailed proposal includes numerous workshops and sessions, both in-person and virtual, throughout the entire process), how the data would be gathered (whether or not students and parents would complete surveys or whether kids would be pulled out of class), and that some kids were still being disregarded. 

Perry suggested not delivering the full amount of funds upfront.

“I think that it would be prudent to…give them maybe half the money for five months and see how they do,” Perry said. “And it’s not just the money that I’m worried about, it’s really the needs of our students…I would just like to be a little more cautious, both with the money and the time.”

The terms of payment are already structured so the funds don’t go all out at once, Viloria explained. There’s an initial payment and then a second billing at six months, he said. So, if they are not receiving what’s expected at that time, there would be a discussion about the direction of the program. 

Questioning if they could break the contract if it wasn’t working out, Viloria said that would have to be discussed with the LBUSD legal department.

Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Jeff Dixon clarified that the terms for termination are laid out in the master agreement, which isn’t listed in the new agreement. They have all the typical terms in place, Dixon confirmed. 

It would be easier to understand and appreciate if she were in the steering committee meetings, Board President Carol Normandin told to Perry. There is a lot of emotional growth and detailed explanations of the scope of work during those meetings, she added. 

This contract is larger than the first exploratory one because through the heartfelt work by the committee, identifying more marginalized groups and expanding the work beyond just the board resolution, it’s now broader and more inclusive, Normandin said. 

As far as why they aren’t physically on campus, Normandin explained that Zoom worked so far during the pandemic, and it helps the district save money.

They don’t know what the fall holds, in terms of COVID, and virtual versus in-person programming, Viloria said. They are unsure of the spacing requirements and what that entails. But they are looking forward to spending time in Laguna Beach, Viloria said. 

LBUSD LBHS

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Education Elements’ equity strategy will be implemented across all of LBUSD

The Education Elements approach for LBUSD’s 2021-22 year starts in August with campus and leadership learning. As the team engages with campuses and leaders in the upcoming school year, it’s important to provide context for the work and opportunities for learning, the proposal from EE explains. They will provide several sessions at the campus and district level to provide an introduction to this work and give opportunities to engage in concepts related to power, privilege, and bias (topics and content TBD). 

“These sessions will provide the groundwork for fruitful discussion and collaboration and help leaders and teachers to identify and articulate a shared philosophy and vision for this work,” the proposal reads. 

Between September and November, the program will move into the stakeholder “Listening and Learning and Equity Inventories” stage. This process will help the team understand to what extent the organization prioritizes and takes action to ensure an equitable environment that prioritizes belonging.

At the end of the year, the focus will then shift to strategy and design until approximately March 2022. A plan will be created that ensures belonging, dignity, and love for all students. 

The final step is implementation capacity building during the first six months of 2022. Education Elements will help scale the plan and support the broader organization. 

According to the more detailed plan shared in the proposal, there are numerous workshops, sessions, and stakeholder listening meetings, both in-person and virtual, throughout the entire process. 

The steering committee will continue to guide and shape the work along the way. The board will still ultimately be the decision-making body. A website is also in development that will share the progress, ideas, and communication.


LBHS Athletic Director Lance Neal accepts position as head football coach at Loara HS

After serving five years as athletic director for Laguna Beach High School, Lance Neal has accepted the position of head football coach at Loara High School in Anaheim.

Mitch Olson stepped down as football coach at Loara so that the school can use a physical education teaching position to hire an on-staff coach.

Neal grew up here in Orange County. He played basketball and football at Irvine High School. He went on to play football in college and then started his career in education. Before joining LBHS as athletic director in 2016, his last job was as athletic director for Beckman High School in Irvine.

Neal is also an experienced coach. He has coached football, track, wrestling, baseball, and basketball.

“With the help of coaches and staff, we managed COVID challenges and were able to get student athletes competing again,” says Neal. “I enjoyed the opportunities and challenges of the position of athletic director at LBHS. 

“I am looking forward to working more directly with students and athletes in my new roles of head football coach and physical education teacher.”

LBUSD Public Information Officer Shelley Spessard says, “We do not have an interim in this position. The position will be posted on edjoin.”


LBHS 2021 Graduation

Photos by Scott Brashier

LBHS 2021 field

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Celebrating graduating class of 2021

LBHS 2021 archway

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Yay, I made it! 

LBHS 2021 Allemann

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Principal Jason Allemann addresses graduating class

LBHS 2021 hats

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Here comes the future! Congratulations Class of 2021!

For more photos by Scott Brashier, see slideshow below


LBHS Athletic Director Lance Neal accepts position as head football coach at Loara HS

After serving five years as athletic director for Laguna Beach High School, Lance Neal has accepted the position of head football coach at Loara High School in Anaheim.

Mitch Olson stepped down as football coach at Loara so that the school can use a physical education teaching position to hire an on-staff coach.

Neal grew up here in Orange County. He played basketball and football at Irvine High School. He went on to play football in college and then started his career in education. Before joining LBHS as athletic director in 2016, his last job was as athletic director for Beckman High School in Irvine.

Neal is also an experienced coach. He has coached football, track, wrestling, baseball, and basketball.

“With the help of coaches and staff, we managed COVID challenges and were able to get student athletes competing again,” says Neal. “I enjoyed the opportunities and challenges of the position of athletic director at LBHS. 

“I am looking forward to working more directly with students and athletes in my new roles of head football coach and physical education teacher.”


Thurston Middle School Graduation

Photos by Scott Brashier

Thurston Middle pictures

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Parents wait for big moment 

Thurston Middle elbow bump

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Congratulations from Principal Joseph Vidal 

Thurston Middle field

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Next stop – high school


Port High School Student Union welcomes teens for community service

On Wednesday, June 16, all Laguna Beach teens entering 9th through 12th grades are invited to the Port Student Union for a group community service event to paint or sand well-shells for Lido Paddle Project (LPP). 

LPP’s mission is to support mental wellness for our first responders and veterans (www.lidopaddleproject.org). Teens can choose to register at www.theportlb.com or show up by 3 p.m. to engage in three hours of community service. There will be social distancing, snacks, beverages, a raffle for all participants, and community fun for those who attend.

The Port is a new student-led teen space located at Lang Park. It serves as a haven for recreation, community, learning, social interaction, service projects, and relaxation. 

Port High inside

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A look inside The Port – a new student-led teen space located at Lang Park

Until now, Laguna Beach teens have not had a supervised recreation center to serve as a home away from home. With the pandemic, previous challenges (including substance abuse, family trauma, sachool pressures, and a lack of positive role models) became further exaggerated due to isolation and distance learning.

The Port serves teens with a safe space to enhance the protective factors in their lives. Many students are often left alone and under peer pressure to engage in risky behaviors. With participation from mentors, the Port family helps to build self-esteem, accountability, confidence, resiliency, and self-efficacy. 

For community service hours, the Port is working with the Laguna Beach Nonprofit Council and Laguna Beach’s Housing and Human Services Council. Service hours can be earned on site this summer during Wednesday afternoons. To supplement their offerings, the Port partners with college and career counselors at LBHS. Community leaders and entities including LBHS, SchoolPower, the PTA, and the City are part of this collaborative effort.

Some screen-free activities include painting, yoga, meditation, board games, crafts, cooking, sports, and reading. 

Social events will include a mixture of weekday and weekend evening opportunities including movies in the park, Aliso Beach bonfires, magic shows, teen-led special events, music, poetry, film festivals, art shows, and more. The team is currently working with community partners to provide incentives and sponsorships to ensure all services remain free. Businesses are encouraged to participate in a variety of formats.

Interested parties may contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information, visit www.theportlb.com.


LBHS Class of 2021 Beach Walk

Photos by Scott Brashier

lbhs class walking

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Beach walk – crossing PCH to Main Beach

lbhs class boys

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Remembering the good times 

lbhs class throwing hats

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The act of throwing caps in the air is now widely known as a symbolic act to end a chapter of the graduate’s life. Congratulations Class of 2021!

For more photos by Scott Brashier, see slideshow below


LBHS 2021 graduates celebrate

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

lbhs 2021 paddles

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Paddle out and BBQ party at Aliso Beach

lbhs 2021 circle

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Grads circle around for a celebration 

lbhs 2021 group at park

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Signing yearbooks at Bluebird Park on June 8

lbhs 2021 signing

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Saying goodbye to LBHS friends

For more photos by Mary Hurlbut, see slideshow below


LBUSD COVID-19 Dashboard

LBUSD COVID 19 Dashboard 6 11 21

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Courtesy of LBUSD

For more information and to access the dashboard, visit www.lbusd.org/resources/covid19/covid-19-reporting

 

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