Briefly In Education

SchoolPower sets fundraiser

SchoolPower will host its 26th annual Dinner Dance at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Montage Laguna Beach.

This year's theme, "Diamonds in the Sand," selected by event chairs Kim Ressler, Melissa Cavanaugh and Kristin Bunn, is meant to embody all that is elegant and sophisticated about Laguna Beach, while also Laguna's public schools.

The evening will include delicious food and wine, a live performance by local band The F-Jams and a live auction, featuring items such as a private suite for the upcoming U2 concert at Angels Stadium, a Pelican Hill weekend getaway for four; and a private 90-foot yacht for the day to Catalina hosted by HOM Real Estate Group.

The event raised $180,000 for Laguna's schools last year, which helps support important programs like teacher innovations, foreign language, music and the arts and class size reduction.

Raffle tickets are $100, and includes a pouch with a pair of cubic zirconium earrings in white sand, and a chance to win the grand prize of a diamond necklace and matching earrings from Rubels Jewelers, valued at $3000. RSVP by Jan. 8. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.lbschoolpower.org or call (949) 494-6811.

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Students meet WWII humanitarian heroes

More than 400 students, staff and parents at Laguna Beach High School and Thurston Middle School were given the opportunity to learn about post-WWII Germany from two heroes of the era, retired Col. Gail S. Halvorsen and retired Sgt. Maj. Earl Albers.

Col. Halvorsen became known as "The Berlin Candy Bomber" and "Uncle Wiggly Wings" during the Berlin Airlift because of the tiny handkerchief parachutes filled with candy, which he dropped to the children of Berlin. As a way of identifying himself to the children, the Colonel would wiggle the wings of his plane during his flights.

Sgt. Maj. Albers taught German children how to play baseball and became known as the "Baseball Sergeant." He went on to help establish the German Youth Activities Program where post-war German children had a comfortable place to study academics, play sports, and learn about democracy.

One of the attendees, parent Dr. Amy Bazuin-Yoder, spoke about the power of human presence versus the digital age in which we're in.

"Col. Halvorsen and Sgt. Maj. Albers did what no texting or textbook could do for my son today who knows only freedom and peace," she said. "They taught him how to honor these privileges by putting service before oneself; questioning authority with dignity, humor, and for human kindness only; know that enemies can become friends; always remember the power of one in the quest for peace and human understanding; and realize that sometimes it only takes sharing a piece of chocolate to make friends and have hope."

"Col. Halvorsen and Sgt. Maj. Albers each 'saw a need, filled a need,' not worrying about the risk to their careers or well-being. It was truly an inspirational event for all of us," Board of Education President Ketta Brown said.

The speakers took questions from the audience after their presentation and Board of Education Member Betsy Jenkins said she appreciated both the educational experience and the response from students.

"The program was an incredible opportunity for our students to have an eye-witness, firsthand account of the history they normally only read about in books. The speakers were wonderful, and I was so proud of our attentive, respectful students," Jenkins said.

The program was put together by LBHS history teacher Kristin Parker and Thurston Middle School Counselor Kay Ostensen, who attended a ceremony at Chapman University where the two heroes spoke.

"It was a great privilege for me to meet these legendary heroes from post WWII. Even at 90 years old, their qualities of character, exuberance and humility were visible in every encounter," Ostensen said.

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Ray nominated for Teacher of the Year

English teacher Sarah Ray was recently named the Laguna Beach High nominee for the California League of High Schools' Educator of the Year award, given annually to 11 teachers who illustrate educational excellence and have made noteworthy endeavors to implement elements of academic improvements in high schools.

"I am pleasantly surprised and honored to receive this distinction when I know the remarkable quality of my fellow teachers at LBHS," Ray said. "Teaching has always been my passion, and to be able to do so in this district, with these students, and with this faculty, is a blessing."

In addition to teaching English and Honors English, Ray is also the high school cheerleading coach. She earned her bachelor's degree in literature and single-subject credential in English at Point Loma Nazarene University, and has also earned her master's in curriculum and instruction at Concordia University.

Principal Don Austin commended Ray's ongoing commitment to the students and staff, and the significant impact she has had on the school over the past six years.

"She is a dedicated leader in our English department, global leader as a WASC focus group facilitator, and leader of young adults as our cheer coach. In all areas, she has made our high school a better place," he said. "She is masterful, innovative and powerful in the classroom.

"Ms. Ray has the daunting task of maneuvering through the California State Frameworks, while also striving to prepare students for some of the most competitive colleges and universities in the nation," Austin continued. "She is especially skilled at pushing students to accomplish great things in a relatively relaxed environment. It's difficult for our students to feel a tremendous amount of stress when they are greeted with Sarah's predictable smile and positive attitude."

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