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Briefly In Education

Coastline Pilot

District selects superintendent

The Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education announced this week that, pending negotiations, it has selected Sherine Smith as the next superintendent of schools.

The new superintendent’s base salary will be $225,000, to be included in the 2010-11 budget, which will be approved by the board later this month.

Supt. Robert Fraisse will retire June 30.

Drama program wins awards

The Laguna Beach High School drama program received a record 31 MACY Childress Awards in an awards celebration at the La Mirada Theatre of the Performing Arts. The awards were for musical performances of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “Anything Goes.”


The highlight of the evening was an individual award that went to Nicolai Doreng-Stearns for best comic performance as the stuffy British gentleman Sir Evelyn Oakleigh in “Anything Goes.”

“This is quite a nice way to end it,” Stearns said as he reflected on his career as a Park Avenue Player. The Berkeley-bound senior has played many roles throughout his career.

“Nicolai has been my student since he was in the sixth grade,” said Mark Dressler, director of the drama program. “He’s the kind of actor who can play all kinds of characters.”

Other award recipients were Elias Cerdas and Makenna Zur Schmiede who won the Bright Spot Award. Special Recognition nods were captured by EJ Kramer, Nia Evans and Sam Hilburn. Achievement Awards went to Luke Dressler, Morea Arthur, Sawyer Pierce, Kate Stewart, Sarah Busic, Austin Giangeruso and Sophia Tupy.


For “Putnam County,” a Bright Spot award went to Emily Van Hanswyk. Special Recognitions were won by Luke Dressler, Nicolai Doreng-Stearns, Austin Giangeruso and Lily Rogers. Daniella Crivello, Dylan DelPizzo-Howell, EJ Kramer, Sarah Busic, Wyatt Fair, Brad Barnes, Claire LaRose, Chandler Davis, Brooks Freeman, Sophia Tupy, and Makenna Zur Schmiede received Spotlight Achievement Awards.

Greek play closing this weekend

The Park Avenue Players close their season with Charles Mee’s retelling of a Euripides Greek tragedy, “Iphigenia 2.0.” Directed by Amanda Saunders, the gripping play is recommended for advance theater-goers who enjoy thought-provoking drama. The play will run at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 and can be purchase at the door of the Artists Theater, 625 Park Ave., Laguna Beach.

Athletes honored by Rotary Club

The Laguna Beach Rotary Club recently honored two outstanding students for their performances in athletics.

Soccer player Kelsey Peterson and track-and-fielder Blake Hofmeister were rewarded with framed certificates of recognition as students of the month and checks for $250.

Champions in the classroom as well as the sports field, Peterson is headed for the University of Chicago and Hofmeister is bound for Yale.

Dressler comedy performed

Thurston Middle School’s drama students will sprint to their dramatic finish line with the opening of Mark Dressler’s comedy, “Silver Linings,” promised to offer entertainment for the whole family.

“We have a full show with a first act of scenes and musical theater pieces,” Dressler said. “Popular songs from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s provide the centerpiece of the first act, with musical direction from Roxanna Ward and choreography from Andy Pearson.

“Our second act is a presentation of a comedy I wrote back in the 1980s, when I began my drama teaching career. The play features the story of a first-broken heart in a very funny and entertaining way.”


The show will run at 4 and 7 p.m. today and Saturday. Tickets are $15 for reserved; $10 for students and adult general seating; and $5 for limited floor seating, and can be purchased at the door or by calling (949) 497-7769.

Club Gala raises $180,000

More than 360 attendees recently supported the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach at its 10th annual “Art of Giving Gala” at the Montage Laguna Beach.

This year’s theme was “A Night for Our Stars,” where everyone came together to support the community’s youth, the “Stars” of the Club.

The event netted the Boys & Girls Club $180,000, which will go toward maintaining the quality youth enrichment programs that have been built up over the last half century.

The evening was a perfect balance of supporting the Boys & Girls Club mission and having a great time. Guests were greeted on the red carpet by “Paparazzi” Club members who snapped pictures of them, and kicked off the event with a special “Drinks with Donnie” VIP reception for table sponsors.

The evening also included a silent auction, inspirational stories from Club staff and members, and a sing and dance performance to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which brought down the house.

James Bermingham, vice president of Montage Laguna Beach, played host for the evening and emphasized that everyone had a chance to be a star.

“Without your support, there would be over 150 kids in our community who would be out on the street with no place to go after school,” Bermingham said.


The Auctioneer for the evening was Jim Nye, who set the tone for the event by auctioning off a $50 bill for $300 and helped garner more than $50,000 during the live auction portion of the event.

Another highlight of the evening was the support for the “Shining Star” program. Two hundred and thirty stars were purchased during dinner, raising more than $57,000, which will support after school programs, educational assistance, sports leagues, summer camps and leadership opportunities for youths from 3 to 18 years old.

“I am overwhelmed by the compassion our community showed tonight,” said club Executive Director Pamela Estes. “Their sincere support, even in light of a challenging economic environment, demonstrates an understanding that by investing in young people today, all of our futures will be brighter tomorrow.

“This event is so important to our club — it helps bridge the large gap between what we charge families and what it actually costs to provide services. The need for our club is increasing as funding becomes more and more challenging to attain. We profoundly rely on and are grateful for our community’s commitment to supporting over 1,500 kids each year. We are all connected to each other through our sense of community. Every child whose life is enriched through the Boys & Girls Club makes the world a better place for us all.”

For more information, call (949) 494-2535 ext. 103 or visit