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Superintendent's Newsletter

February 10, 2023

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

This week marked 100 days of school and I am proud of the achievements and learning that has taken place by our students! Across our District schools celebrated the milestone in many ways emphasizing 100 days of learning! 

I looking forward to the rest of the school year and what is yet to come!

Today’s issue highlights Pacific Elementary, MBMS students visiting the Museum of Tolerance, and our upcoming International Day!

Spotlight on Pacific (Special thanks to Emily Brunick, Megan Vlietstra, and Principal Rhonda Steinberg)

Pacific 4th graders have been scientists hard at work as they immerse themselves in learning about Earth Science. Recently they studied Plate Tectonics and their effects on volcano formation and earthquakes.

In the photos below, students are participating in a variety of Learning Stations that touch upon different learning modalities. Scientists read and highlighted important concepts on the Theory of Plate Tectonics. They watched videos and took notes on how these plates affect our planet. Finally, in their favorite activity, scientists used marshmallows and graham crackers to show how tectonic plates interact with each other on the mantle. 

Staff Spotlight: Luci Cabrera

This week our staff spotlight features Luci Cabrera who is the Administrative Assistant Office Manager at MBMS. She was hired at MBUSD last year and this week marks her 6 month work anniversary! Before beginning her career at our District, Luci worked at a charter school and she was interested in expanding her knowledge and experience in public education, which led her to MBUSD.


Her favorite part about working at MBMS is the fast-paced positive environment where she supports students, parents, and staff. “I love helping people and enjoy problem solving. Every day offers different challenges to solve.”

She says every day is an achievement with the MBMS office team and is especially grateful for the support of Denise Zapata, Sasha Vazquez, and Karla Spencer. She also attributes her growth to principal Jennifer Huynh. She says she is part of a school that is dedicated to the well-being of its employees and students. 

When she isn’t working, Luci enjoys decorating and designing floor plans and learning new software programs. She enjoys getting to know everyone she works with and looks forward to new learning opportunities. 

Staff WorkWell to LiveWell Program Launches 

In partnership with Beach Cities Health District (BCHD), certificated and classified staff came together for the 2023 WorkWell to LiveWell: My Wellness Journey program kick-off! I attended the event at Mira Costa’s Student Union and it was great to see staff attending to learn more about how they can participate. 

Staff had the opportunity to take part in a yoga session and indulge in coffee from Pure Bean and Ike’s sandwiches. Tiana Rideout-Rosales from Beach Cities Health District was there to answer questions about the program. WorkWell to LiveWell is designed to create a healthier work environment and empower employees to be happier, healthier, and more productive. 

Throughout the year, staff will participate in various wellness challenges and activities to earn points towards prizes including completing a Pre-Program Survey, Health Risk Assessment, and two wellness challenges, which are about 4 weeks long. It focuses on topics of nutrition, exercise, community, social, financial, purpose, and mental well-being. The first challenge will take place in March!

This opportunity is a great way for us to work towards a non-work-related goal with our colleagues. 

The surveys and assessments are confidential and the District does not have any individual employee results. To access the Wellness Portal, visit the site here.

Celebrating Our School Counselors!

We are proud to recognize National School Counseling Week (February 6-10). Each of our fantastic counselors at MBMS and Mira Costa plays an important role in our students’ lives and is committed to encouraging our students’ academic and social-emotional growth, and ensuring they receive the support they need to succeed. At Mira Costa we are proud to have three College and Career Center counselors.

We want to appreciate our counselors for being so instrumental and for their hard work!

Our MBMS Counselors are: Jeff Amaral, Lauren Galbraith,

Allie McLaughlin, Candice Munro, Christina Robertson, Jen Grant-Rucker

Our Mira Costa Counselors are: David Beck, Sina Evans, Brittney Oystrick, Chloe Pines, Caryn Ramirez, Ruthie Robles, Eliza Santarosa, Keshia Simmons, Emily Sommer, Nicole Torres, Steve Walker, Teby Yoder Wammack, Jennifer Wildenberg

Pennekamp Literacy Bowl is a Huge Success!

The Pennekamp community brought back an annual tradition to campus to increase student literacy and reading comprehension. 95 Dragons in grades 3-5 participated in the 5th Annual Super Literacy Quiz Bowl. The event is the culmination of reading that begins by students in September on a wide range of topics. 

Students are tested on their knowledge of the books through detailed questions. It promotes developing team spirit and a deeper appreciation for literature. 

While participation is voluntary, the Literacy Bowl is fun for everyone. Families attend to cheer on the teams, and students who don’t participate encourage their fellow students during the competition. 

The game was created by Pennekamp parent Jiyeon Im and former school librarian Barbara Siegemund-Broka. It’s been a passion project for them as over the years the bowl has only grown with more student and parent participation!

Jiyeon says they now have plans to bring the Super Literacy Quiz Bowl to 4th and 5th graders at Pacific Elementary in May.

MBMS Trip to Museum of Tolerance 

All MBMS 8th graders visited the Museum of Tolerance this week with staff and parent chaperones. The trip was aligned with in-classroom lessons as students are currently reading the Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel Maus as part of the English curriculum.

Students explored the powerful exhibits and walked through the history of the Holocaust, and also learned about the complex current and historical social dilemmas. They experienced a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, remembered the Holocaust through individual experiences and stories, and had an opportunity to self-reflect and discover.

This trip is reflective of our District’s Board Goal #2 to develop a climate of care, equity, diversity, social justice, and inclusion in all MBUSD schools. Maus was adopted by the Board of Trustees as an 8th grade core novel in June 2022 to add more Holocaust literature and awareness to the curriculum. 

The visit was made possible thanks to the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation. Thank you to the MBMS staff and parents for ensuring this trip was a success!

Click here for more pictures

City of MB Older Adult Program’s Poetry Circle Visits Mira Costa 

Ms. Shannon Vaughan’s creative writing class had some special visitors this week. Members from the City’s Older Adults Program and students focused on the art of writing poetry together. The project was poetry sketching and was led by the older adults who shared with students how they write poetry and what inspires them. 

The exercise taught students how to craft poetry based on the book Writing Poetry from the Inside Out. Students and older adults and students first chose groups of words and then turned them into sentences. Each step of the way, older adults talked students through the process of achieving a short poem. 

The intergenerational activity has taken place a few times this year with Mira Costa students. English and Creative Writing teacher Ms. Shannon Vaughan has partnered with the Older Adults program for the past 13 years to offer these opportunities to all students.

Manhattan Beach Library Commission members also participated during this trip.

Ms. Vaughan encourages her students to participate in many other intergenerational activities such as joint public readings at local businesses and the Joslyn Center. She says these types of meetings give everyone a sense of purpose while sharing their experiences and skills.

Black History Month Celebration at Grand View 

Throughout the month of February, we will feature the many Black History Month celebrations happening across our District. This week Grand View hosted a one-of-a-kind celebration for the MBUSD community! 

Thanks to the vision of parent Lauren Accordino, families from all schools visited Grand View to enjoy African American culture and celebrate the contributions of African Americans. There were food trucks and live performances that featured traditional African dance, which Lauren says depicts the heart of the culture. 

Students and families were able to participate in crafts by making beaded bracelets and masks. There was a book display and an “I Have a Dream” tree in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. where individuals could record their dream. Various sections of the playground were dedicated to historic African American figures who made a difference in the world. 

Every detail of the event was a learning opportunity for families and students. The green and red tablecloths represented inventor Garrett Morgan and his accomplishment of creating the traditional 3-light traffic signal we see today. 

The event brought families from across our schools together and also featured our local businesses. Beastie Boxing Gym in Manhattan Beach was part of the festivities and taught students a few exercises.

MB News Story Compilation of Recent Mira Costa Band Student Honors

Read MB News Story Here

Picture by MB News

All District Orchestra Festival Returns

For the first time in three years, MBUSD Orchestras award-winning programs hosted their All District Orchestra Festival on Thursday. Nearly 400 students from our elementary, middle, and high schools participated and put on a fantastic performance! Each orchestra showcased their hard work and passion for music.

Mira Costa Orchestras were led by Director of Orchestras Peter Park, MBMS students took direction from Instrumental Music Director Denise Haslop, and Elementary students were led by Elementary Music Teacher Janet Johnson.

They performed in a standing-room audience in Mira Costa’s Auditorium. Congratulations on an outstanding performance! 

Opportunity for Families to Participate in MBUSD's International Day


On Saturday, April 29, from 2:00-4:00 p.m., MBUSD will host our annual International Day at Manhattan Beach Middle School. At last year’s event, we had more than 25 different countries represented with over 300 visitors! See pictures from our 2022 event here.

We are currently looking for families to share their cultural heritage through food, dance, clothing, art, games, and music for our family-friendly and community-building event.

If your family would like to showcase your cultural heritage at International Day, please complete this form by Friday, March 3.

If you have any questions, please contact Christine Jewett, English Learner TOSA, at [email protected].

STEM Tidbits Issue #9

This edition shares the recent MBMS Vex Robotics win and volunteers are needed for the upcoming Invention Convention, STEM Expo, and Science Fair! Thank you to our STEM Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) Tanya Sanchez for curating this!

Read More 

Makerspace Feature 

Grand View first graders were busy critically thinking about how to solve problems that arose from building their parking garages! Measuring with a ruler to cut pieces to size was an important part of the solution. They also used an important paper technique called ‘flange’ and attempted to create a helix.

One of the pictures here spotlights how well one group of students worked together to create a larger garage structure with curbs to keep cars safe.

Thank you to Makerspace Specialist Paki Wolfe for sharing this exciting story!

Complimentary Tickets to the 2023 LA Sevens Rugby Tournament

We are excited to announce that MBUSD is partnering with LA Sevens Rugby to offer all staff and students two free tickets for the 2023 LA Sevens Rugby Tournament and Championship at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The tournament takes places on Saturday, February 25th or Sunday, February 26th. The official amateur rugby tournament has teams participating from across the nation and the world to play rugby and compete in the World Series event. 

If you are a student/staff member at MBUSD, you are eligible to receive two free tickets per MBUSD email. The promo code can only be used once to redeem two complimentary tickets. In order to take advantage of this offer, students must use their account and staff members must use their email. 

To select tickets, visit here and use the promo code “MBUSD” to redeem the tickets with a $5.44 processing fee per ticket.

There is also the opportunity to upgrade or add-on tickets at a discounted cost. We hope you take advantage of this opportunity! 

Upcoming Events!

Join the MBUSD Family!

We are hiring classified and certificated staff. We’re looking for individuals with a passion for helping students discover the joys of learning and creating a safe and engaging learning environment. If you are looking for a meaningful career, with excellent benefits, flexibility, and stability, MBUSD is the place for you! 

Click the links below to learn about the variety of MBUSD job openings currently available.

Classified Job Opportunities

Certificated Job Opportunities

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The next Superintendent's Newsletter will be published on Friday, February 17. 


Dr. John Bowes
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
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