Around Town


Fostering volunteerism

Laguna's Gary Bittner has been honored with a Spirit of Volunteerism award for his work with the Foster Care Auxiliary of Orange County.

Bittner is an auxiliary board member who recently initiated relationships with hotels to donate their lost-and-found items to the group, which provides services to foster parents, according to the group's Facebook page.

He also works to get the group named as beneficiary for fundraising activities, such as golf tournaments and donation boxes.

Bittner will be recognized during the Spirit of Volunteerism Award Luncheon on April 9 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.


New faces at United Methodist

Brian Pearcy and Phil Theodorou recently joined the staff of Laguna Beach United Methodist Church. Pearcy, a resident of Dana Point, is director of children and youth ministries. Theodorou, who lives in San Clemente, is director of music.

Theodorou assumes the role of music director following Jeff Foster, who along with his wife and accompanist, Pennie, served the Laguna Beach church for 47 years. Theodorou has a long list of musical accomplishments, including graduate degrees in conducting and music education from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Oklahoma.

He was visiting associate professor of music and director of choral activities at Boise State University, where he also received one of his two doctorates. The California native taught choir, advanced placement music theory and music appreciation at Capistrano Unified School District for 10 years. He now teaches similar classes at Redondo Union High School.

Theodorou has led choir tours throughout the U.S. and Europe and has directed state, local and regional high school and middle school honor choirs.

Pearcy has been active in youth activities since he was a youth himself. Before moving to California 12 years ago, he completed a year in Americorp. He has been employed by the YMCA of Orange County for almost six years and serves as child care director at Wood Canyon Elementary School in Aliso Viejo.



Getting a high-tech boost

Parent-based nonprofit SchoolPower netted more than $225,000 for Laguna Beach schools at its 29th annual dinner dance March 1.

More than 300 guests attended the event at Montage Laguna Beach. A portion of the money raised will go to Xtremely iNteractive, a program selected by the Laguna Beach Unified School District. The group requested iPads, Apple TV boxes and Google Chromebooks with the goal of creating high-tech interactive classrooms, according to a news release.

More than $140,000 was raised for Xtremely iNteractive with a boost from Holly and David Wilson, who in addition to other contributions to the event gave $37,880 to buy the Apple TV boxes and large-screen monitors, according to the release.

A video shown during the event explained some of the benefits of the interactive technology.

"When we are able to use technology, it is some of the highest engagement we have with our students," El Morro teacher Greg Togawa said. "They're focused. They're motivated. They want to learn."

Also during the event, Top of the World Elementary School's Principal Ron LaMotte, who will retire at the end of the school year, was honored with a video and a standing ovation, according to the release.


Collecting for the hungry

The Laguna Beach Girl Scouts are seeking food drive donations. Supporters can donate non-perishable food items through April 4.

Collection boxes are outside the Girl Scout House at 190 High Drive and inside the Susi Q Senior Center, 380 Third Street.

Donations of canned meats or vegetables, boxed food, bags of rice or noodles and plastic jars of peanut butter are appreciated. Glass containers are not allowed.

AROUND TOWN is a column about people and events Laguna Beach compiled by city editor Alicia Lopez. Please submit information about your fundraiser, charity event or a person deserving attention to or

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