The year 2010 in education

Another year has rolled in and out, and with it a wave of many new achievements and proud moments for Laguna's schools. In 2010, the district welcomed a new superintendent, honored some of its top faculty and staff and took fundraising to a whole new level. Here are some of the most memorable moments:

The Laguna Beach Unified School District welcomed a new superintendent in July. Sherine Smith, who formerly served as assistant supt. of Fullerton Joint Union High School District, succeeded Robert Fraisse, who retired after three years of service. Smith, who said her career goal was always to become a district superintendent, said she was especially eager to work in a district with such strong community support and work with the community to bring positive changes to Laguna's schools for the next four years.

Anneliese's Willowbrook campus on Laguna Canyon Road had a reported $900,000 in damages after a Dec. 22 flood destroyed nine classrooms, a computer lab, school kitchen, the sports field, learning garden and landscaping.

Supt. Smith officially swore in Board of Education members Ketta Brown, Theresa O'Hare and Betsy Jenkins on Dec. 14, after they ran unopposed in the November election. LBUSD board members elected O'Hare to serve as president and Jenkins as clerk for 2011.

Controversy broke out in November regarding the safety of the Laguna Beach High athletic teams after mother and football booster, Denise DeLaTorre, filed complaints with the school district after her son contracted a staph infection, which she said resulted from improper maintenance of the athletic grounds and lack of training and conditioning for the players. Football parents were divided: Some claimed that the current procedures were up to par, while others, most of whom asked for anonymity, expressed concerns for their children's health and safety and pushed for safety measures to be taken.

SchoolPower celebrated another successful year of campaigning and fundraising. With more than $340,000 collected through the Community Campaign, the organization also raised funds for Laguna's schools through the annual dodgeball and golf tournaments, dinner dance auctions and Chef's Challenge. This past year, the endowment fund exceeded $2 million.

Laguna Beach High English teacher and cheerleading coach Sarah Ray was nominated 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.

LBHS students Hannah Glass and Austin Giageraso were Junior Citizens of the Year in the 2010 Patriots Day Parade in March. The pair was selected by the faculty and staff at the high school based on their service to the community, and achievements as leaders, scholars and athletes.

Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High drama teacher Mark Dressler was named Teacher of the Year for 2010-11 in September, after 20 years of directed aspiring young theater students at Laguna's schools. He and his team have won numerous awards for their dynamic performances of musicals such as "West Side Story," "Damn Yankees" and "Bye Bye Birdie."

Eric Jetta, director of facilities, grounds and construction for the Laguna Beach Unified School District, received the third annual Spirit of LBUSD award in September, which recognizes a staff member who exemplifies extraordinary service to others. Having served as the district's facility director for the past seven years — where he has overseen many renovations, upgrades, repairs and modernization projects — Jetta's leadership helped initiate many of the district's earth-friendly, "going-green" programs. This includes the development of the photovoltaic installation at TOW and maximizing natural light and efficiency at all the school sites.

Thurston Middle School Principal Joanne Culverhouse took the crown at SchoolPower's annual Lumberyard Chef Challenge for the second year in a row, where her "surf"-inspired menu defeated Laguna Beach High Principal Don Austin's "turf" menu by eight votes.

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