Laguna Beach High School ninth graders illuminate the 1993 fire’s legacy through innovative FLOW Program

Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) on Monday (Feb. 26) hosted the culmination of an extraordinary project by its ninth grade students, as part of the innovative FLOW program. This year, with a focus on the “fire” component of FLOW, which stands for fire, land, ocean and water, the students embarked on a journey to explore the profound impact of the 1993 Laguna Beach fire through a deeply engaging and educational approach.

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Courtesy of LBUSD

Laguna Beach High School ninth grade student Kyle Kaiser stands next to his cover story which featured an interview from Laguna Beach Fire Department Captain Kuzmic

The FLOW program is meticulously designed to foster powerful connections between students, academic content and the community. By focusing on critical environmental issues particularly relevant to Laguna Beach, the program aims to cultivate a sense of stewardship for the natural environment among students. Through the FLOW program, students across grades 9-12 delve into topics related to fire, land, ocean and water, integrating these themes into their curriculum, participating in a common read and engaging with community partners at various events.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Savannah Farris showing her work to LBHS Principal Jason Allemann

This year’s ninth graders took a significant step in their educational journey by researching the 1993 Laguna Beach fire. Through first-person interviews with residents who experienced the event firsthand, students gained a unique and personal understanding of the fire’s impact on the community. These interviews served as the foundation for a comprehensive presentation, where students shared their insights and reflections on the historical event.

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Courtesy of LBUSD

Tom Johnson, publisher of “Stu News,” speaks to the students

“We are deeply grateful to our district leadership and the Board of Education for fostering an environment where real-world learning experiences are not just encouraged, but are a fundamental part of our curriculum,” said LBHS Principal Jason Allemann, Ed.D. “This commitment to innovative education has empowered our teachers and students to engage deeply with their work, blending academic excellence with meaningful, hands-on experiences that prepare our students for a brighter future.”

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Courtesy of LBUSD

Laguna Beach High School teacher Jun Shen presents LBFD Captain Kuzmic with an award of recognition for his support of students during the project

Each student designed their own cover page for the presentation, highlighting the most significant impact experienced by their interview subject. The diversity of perspectives was profound – from stories of the items grabbed in the face of evacuation orders to memories of being at school on that fateful day. This project not only enriched the students’ understanding of a pivotal event in their community’s history but also emphasized the importance of personal narratives in comprehending the broader implications of natural disasters.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Lana Wilkinson shares her project

This project is not just an academic exercise; it is a bridge connecting students with the community and the environment. It is a step towards fulfilling the vision for all students to experience meaningful engagement with the world around them, fostering a generation of mindful citizens who value and protect the natural surroundings. To view the anthology of articles online: The 1993 Laguna Beach Fire: A Look Back, click here.


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