Briefly in Education

A day for kids at club

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach will sponsor a free "Day for Kids" event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Main Branch, in which families and community members are invited to participate in an array of fun-filled activities, including brand new skate ramps.

Other activities include a bounce house obstacle course, chalk art and face painting. A hamburger and hot dog lunch will be offered for $6.

For more information, call branch Director Elena Mendoza at (949) 494-2535, ext. 105.

Families urged to eat together

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-Orange County/Community Alliance Network is encouraging all families in Laguna Beach to eat dinner together Monday in an effort to prevent alcohol and substance use among youth.

More than a decade of research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has consistently found that the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs, which led it to establish Family Day: A Day to Eat Dinner with your Children.

Sponsored by Stouffers, the national movement, launched in 2001, promotes the parental engagement fostered during frequent family dinners as a simple, effective way to prevent substance abuse in kids.

Frequent family dining is associated with lower rates of underage drinking, according to the CASA report "The Importance of Family Dinners IV." Compared to teens who eat five or more family dinners per week with their families, it says, those who have fewer than three family dinners per week are almost twice as likely to have used alcohol. Consequently, the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to drink or use drugs.

NCADD-OC/CAN is providing the Orange County community with Family Day materials and additional resources around alcohol use. It's Underage Drinking Prevention Project is focused on preventing and reducing underage drinking in Anaheim, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Dana Point.

Prevention strategies include promoting the Minor Drinking – Major Problems campaign, conducting educational workshops to expose the marketing strategies employed by the alcohol industry that target youth, planning community forums on the issues of underage drinking, and providing Responsible Beverage Service trainings to off-sale liquor stores.

For more information, call Grace Tan at (949) 595-2288 ext. 315 or e-mail gtan@canoc.org.

SchoolPower holds Claes dinner

The Andersen Family Legacy continues with a Welcome Back dinner at 6 p.m. Monday at Claes Restaurant, Hotel Laguna, to celebrate Laguna's schools and raise funds for SchoolPower.

The event will feature sophisticated cuisine and fine wine for $80 per person. Tables for four to six people are available, register at http://www.lbschoolpower.org.

Scouts looking for new members

The Laguna Beach Pack 35 Cub Scouts will host a membership recruitment meeting from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Laguna Presbyterian Church, Fellowship Hall, 415 Forest Ave.

Boys in first to fifth grades are welcome, and will learn camping skills, practical knowledge of craftsman tools, first aid, nature conservation and strong character values.

Cub Scouts draw from all local elementary schools including Top of the World, El Morro, Anneliesse and St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School. The Pack welcomes students who are home-schooled or who live in the surrounding communities and attend schools outside the city.

Enrollment is year-round. For more information, call Pam Jensen at (949) 494-6177 or e-mail lbpack35@yahoo.com.

Literacy program readies youngsters for school

The Laguna Beach Unified School District School Readiness personnel will collaborate with the local library and schools for two upcoming literacy events for children from birth to 5 years old.

The School Readiness facilitator will partner with the Laguna Beach Public Library from 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday to present the Literacy Basket Event, a program to promote early literacy, which will offer education information, a free book for each attendee's family as well as a raffle, books, games and puzzles.

A later event will take place Oct. 7, when the School Readiness team will participate in and promote a national event called "Jumpstart's Read for the Record," presented in partnership with the Pearson Foundation, in which children and adults will read Ezra Jack Keats' "The Snowy Day."

Working with teachers and volunteers from area pre-schools, as well as elementary sites, Early Readiness Program Facilitator, Julie Olsen, said her goal is to read to 1,000 children younger than 5, as a way to encourage them to become avid readers.

"Reading is not learned by itself; it is related to listening, speaking and writing," she said. "By listening to stories, nursery rhymes, songs and poems, children learn language patterns they can apply to reading and writing. The more books children are exposed to, the better. The more parents involve their children in these activities at home, the more likely their children will become lifelong readers."

Established in 2000 by the Children and Families Commission of Orange County, the School Readiness initiative funds school readiness coordinators in every elementary and unified school district to work with families, school staff, community stakeholders and early-care providers.

Current brain development research indicates that early learning opportunities, particularly the time from birth to 5 years, can directly affect a child's ability to learn and succeed in school. The developmental screenings are offered to families at no charge and include information in multiple areas including nutrition, social-emotional skills, communication, problem solving, fine and gross motor skills.

For more information about the Literacy Basket Event or Jumpstart's Read for the Record, contact Olsen at jolsen@lbusd.org. Additional information about the Jumpstart's Read for the Record program can also be accessed at http://www.pearsonhighered.com/readfortherecord2010.

Eric Jetta receives Spirit Award

Eric Jetta, director of facilities, grounds and construction for the Laguna Beach Unified School District, was recently presented with the third annual Spirit of LBUSD award, which recognizes a staff member who exemplifies extraordinary service to others.

Board of Education President Ketta Brown shared the district's appreciation for Jetta's tireless efforts to the district.

"Eric is always our 'boots on the ground' guy. He answers his phone day and night and is prepared to do what it takes to ensure our schools are safe and clean. He truly gives everyone peace of mind when it comes to our physical plant," she said.

Prior to his 21-year career in K-12 education, Jetta worked for the University of Texas as a university engineer. He holds an undergraduate degree in engineering and earned an MBA in 2006.

He has served as the district's facility director for the past seven years, where he has overseen many renovations, upgrades, repairs and modernization projects.

His leadership helped initiate many of the district's earth-friendly, "going-green" programs, including the development of the photovoltaic installation at TOW and maximizing natural light and efficiency at all the school sites, according to the district.

Jetta said he felt privileged to be one of the Spirit of LBUSD honorees.

"I am extremely honored and surprised to be selected for this wonderful award, especially being in the same category with Walt Hamera and Patty Beaver," he said. "LBUSD is a special school district and the special people who work here deserve similar recognition. I am blessed."

National essay contest

High school students and teachers from across the country are invited to compete for nearly $115,000 in prize money and a trip to the nation's capital in the Bill of Rights Institute's fifth annual Being an American essay contest.

Attracting more than 50,000 essays last year and awarding 180 students and teachers with cash prizes, the contest explores the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship.

"This contest is unique in that it gives students the opportunity to think about the important civic values communicated in our Founding documents, and embodied by American civic heroes," said Jason Ross, vice president of the Bill of Rights Institute Education Programs. "This context is vital to helping students see their own acts of good citizenship as a meaningful part of the American experiment of self-government."

Students are asked to share their thoughts on American citizenship by answering the following question: "What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American?"

The top three student winners and their teachers from each of the nine geographical regions will be announced at a special Washington, D.C. awards gala in the spring, where they will be awarded cash prizes of $5,000 for first place; $1,000 for second place; and $500 for third place.

The winning students will get to explore the capital, meet contemporary American heroes and national leaders, and visit national landmarks.

Additionally, the contest will award 126 honorable mention prizes of $100 to seven students and their teachers from each region.

"The contest not only honors and awards sponsoring teachers, but also equips them with free lesson plans and other supplemental materials that meet state and national academic standards so they can easily incorporate the essay contest into their classrooms," said Essay Contest Director John Croft.

Based in Washington D.C., the Bill of Rights Institute is a nonprofit educational organization that is devoted to educating children about the Constitution and Founding principles. The sponsors include the History Channel and the Stuart Family Foundation.

The deadline for essays is Dec. 1. For more information or a complete list of contest guidelines, visit http://www.beinganamerican.org.

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