Three area schools recognized for excellence

Laguna Beach High School and El Morro and Top of the World elementary schools have been named to the California Business for Education Excellence/Just for the Kids-California Honor Roll for 2008. This recognition by the California business community was awarded for exceptional success in elevating student academic achievement.

The Honor Roll is made up of two different awards: the Star Schools Award, which went to 214 schools and Scholar Schools Award, which went to 697 schools. Laguna’s schools received the Scholar Schools Award. Given that there are about 10,000 public schools in California, this is a high honor, school officials said.

The California Business for Education Excellence/Just for the Kids-California program recognizes public schools’ academic performance by utilizing hard data, individual school and student subgroup performance data that is based on the California Standards Tests and the California High School Exit Exam.


Supt. Robert Fraisse was delighted with the honor. “This is another clear example of the high achieving culture which permeates our school system," he said.

Assistant Supt. Nancy Hubbell said the district has worked broadly to improve learning. “Our principals, teachers, and support staff work diligently to help all students achieve high standards of learning. Through our Professional Learning Communities, teachers collaborate to improve student outcomes," she said.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by the California Business for Education Excellence/Just for the Kids-California Honor Roll. It validates all of the hard work by our staff and students, and informs us that we are doing the right things," said Chris Duddy, El Morro Elementary principal.

Top of the World Elementary School Principal Ron La Motte agreed. “It is encouraging to receive this award specifically from the business community. As a school we are responsible to foster good citizenship and responsibility that will transfer to the world of work and business someday. It is exciting to see that the business community recognizes the excellence of our staff, students, and programs as we work toward this lofty goal."


“The California Business for Education Excellence award is another indicator of the strong academic program offered in the Laguna Beach Unified School District," said Don Austin, Laguna Beach High School principal. “Our students continue to excel in every comparison to their peers around California. We are proud of our progress and recognition for this achievement."

Fine arts club exhibit is Thursday

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is holding its Annual Local Fine Arts Exhibit from 3:45 to 7 p.m. Thursday upstairs in the Community Room at the Main Branch, 1085 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach.

Fine Arts Club is a year-round class where members explore a wide variety of art mediums and techniques. The art classes are based on the process as opposed to the product, providing an opportunity to develop technique and creative exploration. The activities encourage creative interpretation, creative problem solving, and character development through personal expression. The Art Room is a fun place for kids to express themselves, learn, and grow.

The Fine Arts Exhibit was judged by painter Tom Swimm, sculptor Sherri McEuen, painter James Verbicky and creative director Zac Smith.

New club officers, challenge grant

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach has announced its slate of new officers for 2009 and a $60,000 Challenge Grant.

Bob Whalen begins a two-year term as president, and he will be joined on the executive committee by Bill Fischer, past president; Walt Lindberg, secretary; Brent Farhang, treasurer; and by board members Dorene Butler, Kelly Mazzo, Carrie Reynolds and Keith Swayne. Also joining the board as new members are Keith Gallo, Teddie Ray and Piero Wemyss. James Bermingham, Don Crevier, Mike Hefty, David Howard, Susan Jacob, Tom Kennedy, Al Pavoni, John Reese and Bill Wood are continuing their terms as board members.


“We have fantastic board members, and I am proud to be working with all of them," Whalen said. “Serving on the club’s board furthers my longtime interest in youth programs. My 10 years of service on the [Laguna Beach] school board opened my eyes as to how important after school programs like we have at the club are to making kids responsible, successful and happy."

Executive Director Pamela Estes also announced that members of the Board have put together a $60,000 Challenge Grant where donations made between Jan. 1 and April 30 will be matched dollar for dollar.

Estes explained that the club strives to keep its program affordable to all of the 1,000-plus members.

“We receive only 25% of our cost of operations from members dues and fees and we rely upon the goodness of the community to donate the rest each year. With a budget of about $1.5 million annually, that means we need to raise over $1.1 million each year from our generous donors," Estes said.

Donations may be made by mailing checks to the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach at 1085 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 or by donating online at Those wishing to make a credit card donation directly may call Bali Thorn at (949) 494-2535, ext. 102.

Students help make wishes come true for sick kids

Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Kids for Wish Kids (K4WK) program is strong at Laguna Beach High School. This year alone, a total of 21 wishes were granted by local high school students to children facing life-threatening medical conditions.

Students in Laguna Beach organized a group of volunteers to plan and carry out fundraisers ranging from toy drives to car washes to bake sales in order to benefit the foundation with the ultimate goal of raising enough money to sponsor a wish. Along with learning the importance of philanthropy at an early age, participation in the program provides a unique experience for students to build leadership skills and develop a strong connection to their communities.


During the 2007-08 school year, the high school K4WK Club raised enough money to grant the wish of a very special child, and they have big plans to exceed their previous goal moving forward.

Boys Chorus seeks boys ages 8 to 10 to try out

The All-American Boys Chorus invites parents of boys ages 8 to 10 years old to learn about the organization’s vocal music and leadership training program.

“The All American Boys Chorus wants to reach out to as many Orange County families as possible and welcomes boys from every community," Anthony Manrique, executive director of the AABC, said.

“Boys accepted into the AABC will learn how to sing, establish lifelong friendships, acquire leadership qualities, and enjoy unique opportunities to travel the world."

Manrique and music director Wesley Martin are happy to chat and answer questions and provide information about this unique organization. There will also be opportunities for parents to schedule a five-minute “ear test" audition for their son, where he will be asked to match pitches to notes on a piano and sing “Happy Birthday."

“The five-minute audition can be the beginning of a wonderful journey that sees boys walk away from the organization as fine young men, inspired with vision and determination and leadership instilled through a program of musical excellence," Martin said.

To date, the chorus has released five albums and has performed to standing ovations in concerts worldwide.

This nonprofit organization has been providing boys with music and leadership training for more than 30 years.

Currently, the chorus is preparing for a busy spring and summer season.

Last year the chorus toured the U.S. southern states and visited Washington, D.C. and in the summer they undertook a concert tour of Asia that included performances in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and mainland China.

And on Labor Day weekend the chorus performed before millions nationwide on the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.

The All-American Boys Chorus, founded in 1970, instills and fosters leadership skills and characteristics in its current membership of 110 boys and nearly 1,000 alumni.

The chorus has performed for more than 50,000 school children in Southern California and on its concert tours.

The All-American Boys Chorus is headquartered at the Orange County Fairgrounds, 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa, California. For more information about the All-American Boys Chorus, call (714) 708-1670 or visit