Briefly In Education

Thurston Middle School named a 'school to watch'

Thurston Middle School was named one of 12 "Schools to Watch" in the state, the state schools chief said Thursday.

State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Thurston as a newly designated model middle school in the Schools to Watch — Taking Center Stage program. Only two middle schools in Orange County received the recognition.

"My congratulations and admiration go out to these schools for continually striving to improve student performance," Torlakson said in a prepared statement. "Their success is the result of effective and innovative practices that motivate their students to learn and excel."

Only high-performing schools that demonstrate "academic excellence, developmental responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, social equity, and organizational support" are chosen, according to a state press release.

As a model school, Thurston will host local and international school officials looking to improve their own schools by replicating its model.


Tutors needed for TLC program

Help Laguna Beach students with after-school tutoring for an hour or two a week.

The Laguna Beach branch of the American Assn. of University Women is seeking volunteers for The Learning Club, or TLC, an after-school tutoring program for children in second through fifth grade at El Morro Elementary School.

TLC serves children whose teachers recommended they need additional help with homework and basic educational concepts. The program runs on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons through May.

Tutoring positions are open to adults and teens who have an hour or two to give a week and like to work with children. No experience is necessary.

Training will be provided.

To volunteer or for more information, contact Peggie Thomas at (949) 499-1817 or, or Barbara Antonacci at (949) 241-5139 or


Support the high school's journalism program

Help support local high school students pursue and enhance their writing, artistic and journalistic skills.

The Laguna Beach High School newspaper, the Brush and Palette, is hosting its second annual benefit concert at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 at the Artists Theatre.

"The students in the journalism class are dedicated, focused and talented writers," said Principal Joanne Culverhouse in a press release. "They investigate and report on important issues and trends related to LBHS. The paper is a significant part of our tradition and school culture and the concert will serve the dual purpose of supporting the efforts of our journalists as well as providing an evening of outstanding music and fun."

The concert will feature both solo and group student acts performing a jazz showcase, hard rock/metal, pop/rock covers by a ukulele soloist, a funk band and hip hop. Your Ugly Sister will also perform.

Laguna High alumni, including Rapper Zacky T (Zack Toma) and Macarena Rivera, of the Budrows, will also perform.

The money raised from the benefit concert will go toward purchasing new equipment and covering newspaper production costs.

Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults.

Student tickets are $10 and adult tickets are $15.


Safety to be discussed at next meeting

Local school officials will present school safety information on Tuesday in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

The Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education will hear School Safety Preparedness information at its regular meeting on Jan. 8. The district also posted safety, security and emergency preparedness information on its website,

The district conducted a security audit in October, received recommendations by the security team that conducted another audit in December and shared the information with all site principals, according to a press release. The district also reviewed emergency response procedures with district officials in the wake of the school shooting.

There is also a District Safety Committee in place that suggests, implements and refines procedures on a regular basis.

Some of the district's procedures include:

• Monitored lock-down drills conducted in every school.

District officials, working in collaboration with the Laguna Beach Police and Fire departments, constantly evaluate emergency response plans. Whenever an event takes place that may influence the district's response to an emergency, these plans are updated and modified to stay current with best practices in school safety and security.

The Laguna Beach Police Department works collaboratively with the district on school and student safety. As evidence of the police department's commitment, it assigns a detective specifically to juvenile safety. The district is committed to early identification and intervention of any student who exhibits at-risk behavior, including violent conduct.

For the full list of the district's safety procedures, go to the district's website.

—Britney Barnes

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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