Around Town: Annual Sandcastle contest is Sunday at Corona del Mar State Beach

The Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual Sandcastle Contest on Sunday.
The Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce will host its 59th Annual Sandcastle Contest “Explore the World!” on Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Corona del Mar State Beach.
(Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce)

The 59th annual Newport Beach Sandcastle Contest returns this Sunday at Corona del Mar State Beach, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m. Last year’s contest was canceled due to COVID-19.

This year’s theme is “Explore the World.”

Organizers are still accepting applications for teams to participate, with entry fees that range from $30 to $60, but members of the public who are not entered in the contest can view the works at no charge. A limited number of on-site registrations will be available starting at 9 a.m. the morning of the event. More information can be found at

Two local schools receive prestigious Blue Ribbon distinction

Davis Magnet School in Costa Mesa and Isojiro Oka Elementary School in Huntington Beach on Tuesday were named 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools, a designation granted by the U.S. Department of Education to recognize academic excellence.

The two local campuses were among 325 in the nation to receive the honor and among only 28 schools in California.

Davis Magnet, a Newport-Mesa Unified School, was recognized for its whole school performance and school subgroup improvement from the past four years.

“We are constantly striving to make a difference in the lives of students each and every day and I am incredibly proud of our Davis team for this well-deserved recognition,” Principal Christy Flores said in a statement Thursday.

Oka Elementary, a K-5 campus operated by Fountain Valley School District, won in a category that seeks to celebrate campuses that have shown exemplary progress in closing achievement gaps.


“[This] is a testament to the brilliant work of our students, teachers, support staff, leaders, and families,” FVSD Supt. Mark Johnson said Friday. “It is with great pride that we celebrate the commitment to excellence and tremendous effort of our entire Oka Wolfpack which made this recognition possible.”

The schools will be officially recognized, along with all 2021 Blue Ribbon schools, at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., in early November.

Nonprofit Project Independence names new chief executive

The board of directors for the Costa Mesa nonprofit Project Independence, which helps people with developmental disabilities find jobs, develop friendships, and live independently, announced this week Associate Director Robert Watson will serve as chief executive beginning Oct. 29.

A resident of Laguna Niguel, Watson replaces Debra Marstellar, who is retiring after leading the organization for nearly 40 years. The two worked together in 2007 to conduct a successful merger between Project Indepenence and the Vantage Foundation, creating a program focused on promoting independence and choice. Watson said in a statement he was honored to receive the board’s vote of confidence.

“I look forward to continuing, along with our committed and passionate employees, the mission and vision of Project Independence during this transformational time in our industry,” he said.

U.S. Bank Foundation grants $25K to prepare O.C. girls for college

Girls Inc. of Orange County officials are celebrating the recent award of a $25,000 grant from the U.S. Bank Foundation to support its “Girls Meet the Workforce” externship program in support of high school girls.

The free, four-month job readiness program is designed for girls who may not otherwise get exposure to professional workplaces to learn about career paths before college. Participants learn to identify their potential career interests and prepare for a modern workforce.

The grant will support program attendees as they explore various careers, receive guided mentorship, and take part in seasonal programs to help with readiness to apply to college.

Working Wardrobes taps replacement for departing founder Jerri Rosen

Board members for Working Wardrobes, a Santa Ana nonprofit that helps connect residents with job coaching and sets them up with appropriate work attire, announced Wednesday a new chief executive has been found to replace founder Jerri Rosen, who plans to retire.

Bonni Pomush, executive director of the Samueli Center for Progressive Judiaism, was selected after a monthslong search. Pomush brings 25 years of nonprofit experience to the position and has a track record of securing millions of dollars in funding.

She will begin with Working Wardrobes on Nov. 8 and will assume full chief executive responsibilities beginning Jan. 1, the day after Rosen’s departure.

“I am truly thrilled by our choice,” Rosen said in a statement. “After 31 years at the helm of this organization, I’m ready to retire and add new experiences to my life and I can do so knowing that we have found the right successor.”

Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women & Justice raises $200K to fight human trafficking

A Sept. 18 annual Priceless Luncheon fundraiser attended by 250 guests helped raise more than $200,000 to aid Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice in its fight to bring dignity, justice and freedom to women and children across the globe.

Held on the campus’ new, state-of-the-art Waugh Student Center, the luncheon featured a performance by the Voices of Hope children’s choir, silent and live auctions, and an impact report that highlighted the center’s work to prevent human trafficking.

The luncheon also included a keynote address from Vanguard alumna and Board Trustee Nicole Suydam, president and chief executive of Goodwill of Orange County. Proceeds raised will go toward developing resources and education for advocates to study and make a difference in the fight to end human trafficking.

Blue Bell Foundation: Cat’s Meow Champagne Brunch

The seventh annual Cat’s Meow Champagne Brunch, put on by the Blue Bell Foundation for Cats, will be held on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Seven7Seven, 777 Laguna Canyon Road, in Laguna Beach.

Attendees are encouraged to get in the feline spirit, as there will be a prize for the best cat-themed outfit. There will also be a silent auction.

The event is geared toward raising money for the Community Cat Fund, which helps the Blue Bell Foundation take care of older cats that often struggle to find a permanent home through adoption. Blue Bell receives cats from local shelters, such as Laguna Beach Animal Shelter.

The Blue Bell Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Laguna Beach, makes its mission to provide a retirement home for senior cats who have either not been adopted or whose owners can no longer take care of them. The group estimates that costs approach $50,000 for cat food and $5,000 for cat litter a year to take care of its furry friends.

Tickets to the event are $70 for adults and $20 for children who are age 12 and under. Admission tickets will not be sold at the door. To purchase tickets, visit

Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade back on

The Patriots Day Parade Assn. received authorization from the Laguna Beach City Council on Tuesday night to return to the streets of the town on March 5, 2022.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the previously scheduled running of the parade was canceled.

Laguna Beach Classic Car Show

The Laguna Beach Rotary Club’s Classic Car Show is set to take place on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Village Entrance in town.

It costs $45 to enter the show, which includes two gate passes and a gift pack. Up to 200 cars will be on display and compete for awards in a total of 27 categories.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Laguna Beach charities.

Coast Highway Sidewalk Improvement Project

The Coast Highway sidewalk improvement project in Laguna Beach is scheduled to have work begin on the northbound side of the street on Monday.

Work is slated to take place between Ledroit Street and San Joaquin Street from Sept. 27 to Oct. 11.

While work is in progress, traffic will be down to a single northbound lane from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and one southbound lane from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For updates on the project, text LBTRAFFIC to 888-777.

Tickets are on sale now for a performance by the Paris-based Modigliani Quartet presented by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12 at Irvine Barclay Theatre.

The quartet has been recording for the Mirare label since 2008 and has released nine CDs.

Irvine Barclay Theatre is located at 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. Ticket prices start at $38 and are available at the Philharmonic Society box office at (949) 553-2422 and online at

OCMA welcomes eight new trustees

The addition of eight new trustees to the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) was announced Tuesday. This brings the total number of the museum’s board members to 32.

Joining the board are Barbara Bluhm-Kaul, Phillip J. Bond, Idit Ferder, Sean Green, Linda P. Maggard, Cheryl Kiddoo, Robert Olson and Lucy Sun, representing a range of philanthropic and professional expertise, according to museum officials.

They have joined under the leadership of Heidi Zuckerman, chief executive and director of the museum, who took the helm in February.

In October 2022, the museum will open in its new home: a building at Segerstrom Center for the Arts designed by Morphosis under the direction of architect Thom Mayne and Partner-in-Charge Brandon Welling.

Daily Pilot Staff

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