Briefly In Education

El Morro students warm up holidays

El Morro Elementary School's second annual One Warm Coat Drive recently collected more than 700 coats for the Laguna Relief and Resource Center.

The monthlong coat drive was part of the school's "Character Counts" program, which focuses on teaching students about six pillars of good character: responsibility, trustworthiness, citizenship, caring, fairness and respect. December's pillar is caring, and El Morro students demonstrated this virtue by delivering a record number of coats.

"I'm very, very proud of our students. The 700 coats they collected will certainly make a difference to many people this winter," said Principal Chris Duddy. "I hope the community will continue to embrace our efforts in years to come."


Feeding the needy this holiday season

The Holiday Care Package program recently took place at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, where the Rotary Club handed out 26 holiday care packages to low-income families from the club's TLC preschool program.

A long-time supporter of both the Boys & Girls Club and the TLC program, the Rotary Club partnered with its district leadership and, through a matching grant program, was able to fund the holiday program, which supplied families with all of the staples for a holiday meal.

Fifteen Rotarians were involved in the coordination of the Holiday Care Package Program and were directed by the club's Laguna Beach President, Linda Saville, and supported by the club's Board of Directors.


Dance your way to fitness

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach will offer Zumba classes for adults.

Experience "exercise in disguise" with the new Zumba program, which fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms and easy-to-follow moves. Participants can burn in excess of 500 calories while dancing to Latin sounds including merengue, salsa, cumbia and reggaeton.

Instructor Mia Alicea, also owner and artistic director of the Coast Dance Center in Laguna Niguel, draws on her own roots to bring authenticity and Latin flavor to her routines. Designed for all fitness levels, Zumba for Adults is a great way to keep that New Year's resolution to start 2011 healthy and fit.

Classes begin Jan. 5 and meet every Wednesday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Cost is $36 a month or $12 a class for drop-ins.

For more information, call (949) 494-2535.


SchoolPower program takes honors

SchoolPower recently won the Apple Award for Programs and Outreach at the California Consortium of Education Foundations conference, an annual conference for education foundations from all over the state designed to bring local educational foundations together to share ideas and learn ways to make their organizations more successful.

Honored for its growing outreach program that included the valuable SchoolPower Student Directory, the comprehensive newsletter mailed to all district families and the popular SchoolPower Dodgeball Tournament, the program marks SchoolPower's most concentrated effort to date to get its message out.

"We realized that even though SchoolPower has been around for a long time, people don't always understand exactly what the organization does for Laguna's schools. The more active we are in getting that message out, the more people will be willing to support us," said SchoolPower Vice President Marcus Skendarian. "A lot of volunteers put in a lot of hard work to make these programs successful, so it's especially gratifying for them to be acknowledged as standouts in our great state."


Troops help with homeless breakfast

Service organizations, churches and individual volunteers recently joined the Laguna Relief and Resource Center at the Neighborhood Congregational Church to provide a hot meal as well as hygiene kits, sleeping bags, backpacks, hats, scarf's and socks for the homeless.

Laguna Beach Boy Scout Troops 35 and 38 assisted in setup and the cleanup and also served as waiters, delivering the food to the tables and interact with guests.

Many locals contributed financially to help with the event, while others offered their time in the kitchen, including Laguna Presbyterian church members Erika Waidley and Brian Back.

Donna Valenti, executive director of the Laguna Relief and Resource Center, handled the duties as emcee.

Girl Scout Troop 2136 sang Christmas carols, while Troops 753 and 575 distributed hygiene kits stocked with donated toothpaste, combs, razors, toothbrushes and Chapstick.

Rick Shoemaker coordinated event severs from Laguna Presbyterian's Mission Outreach Committee, while Ann Richardson from the LDS Mormon church handed out the gifts.

Suzy Campbell, of Laguna Presbyterian Church, sang Christmas music, assisted on the piano by Donna Valenti.

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