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Superintendent's Newsletter

January 20, 2023

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

Today’s issue highlights STEM at MBMS, MBUSD launching a new mobile app for the community, and the life-saving medication Narcan now available at all school sites.

Spotlight on MBMS (Special thanks to Mrs. Farah Kamal and Principal Jennifer Huynh)

Inspired by Caine’s Cardboard Arcade, where a 9-year-old built an arcade for himself in his father’s auto shop garage, kids across the country are inspired to create their own arcade games using everyday materials in the #CardboardChallenge. This movement sparked a big interest in MBMS classes to participate in this project-based learning assignment utilizing Math, Science, and Engineering. 

Students in Mrs. Farah Kamal’s STEM class created arcade games using cardboard and recycled materials. They practiced scientific methods and experimentation with trial and error as they built their games. Students had to consider the laws of physics to ensure components fell into place properly such as in the Angry Birds Remastered and Scooby-Doo Skee-Ball games. 

Students used their math skills with the Cray-Z Claw by measuring the height and width of the claw, balls, and hole for it to fall into. Students were excited to expand their imagination and put their engineering skills to work! Activities like these are what tap into the natural creativity of student learning and empower them to be the next innovators and leaders of our world.

Staff Spotlight: Holly Compton


Holly Compton is MBUSD’s Math Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). She began her career here in 2013 educating 2nd and then 4th graders at Pacific Elementary before she transitioned to being a Math TOSA.

Holly says she loves the culture of the District and the focus of the whole child. “Within our staff, emphasis is put on professional development and teamwork, so I knew this was the right place to make my home.” Holly’s favorite part of her job is being in the classroom working with teachers alongside their students. “It is the greatest feeling in the world when a student and teacher have a big “aha” moment together that I get to witness!”

She enjoys working with many different teachers. Holly has been able to help them see how creative math can be and for some because of her now love teaching math as much as other subjects! 

“MBUSD is a standout District because of the care that is put into the programs that support our children. From science lab, music, PE, and team of specialists who work with our teachers. Our students remain at the center of everything we do, which is magical.” Holly has been featured in math books such as Reimagining the Mathematics Classroom and Limitless Mind. An avid dog lover, Holly has two rescue dogs.

Welcome to the MBUSD Family!

The Mira Costa Cheer team welcomed a new member to its coaching staff! Coach Tim has been involved in the cheer industry for the past 15 years. Welcome to our community! 

MBUSD District App Now Live!

We are excited to announce the addition of one more communication platform to MBUSD! We have officially launched the MBUSD app to assist our students, staff, families, and community to stay connected with the latest news and information. It has been customized to our District and school site needs.

You can access information instantly, and users will be able to receive push notifications from the District and school sites' news/announcements section on the app. Once you receive the alert notification, a red dot will appear next to the District and/or school pages to remind you that there have been updates under the “news” section.

The app provides a mobile-friendly version of the information most frequently accessed on the District’s website and each school site. The app is free to download and you can find it in the Apple or Google Play store by searching for “Manhattan Beach Unified” or “MBUSD.” Here are the next steps after the download:

  • You will be asked to personalize your app by setting up the schools you would like to follow!

  • At the top of the app you can toggle between the District and each school site screen.

To have the best user experience, please make sure your phone settings, such as font size, are not altered. Another exciting feature is that it offers 42 languages for our community to choose from. Buttons and content within the app will be expanded and updated. The release of the app also supports our Board Goal #5 to communicate clearly and in a timely manner. 

We will continue to have our website and social media as important places to share information. 

Watch a video on how to install the app!

Latest Parent Handbook Rights and Responsibilities 

Thank you for your many efforts to support our students! For our students to be successful, it is important that everyone in our community is informed of policies and practices that affect students. 

Please see here the updated MBUSD 2022-23 Parent Guide Annual Notification of Rights and Responsibilities. We hope the information will be a resource to answer any questions you may have as a parent/guardian of an MBUSD student. 

While parents/guardians are notified at the beginning of each school year about their rights and responsibilities, there are several important updates in this January 2023 edition being shared with you (see next article on shoes).

The home to school connection is key to helping us provide a safe and positive learning environment to maximize student success. Thank you again for your continued partnership. 

Board Regulation on Shoes Updated Across K-8 

We would like to inform you that at the recent Board meeting, Board Administrative Regulation 5132 for Dress and Grooming was approved and updated regarding shoes. 

It now states that students in K-8 must “wear close-toed shoes that cover the entirety of the foot from toe to heel and that are securely fitted to the student’s foot at all times.” This means that shoes such as Crocs, flip-flops, slides, and any type of sandals are not allowed for students. 

This shoe policy is now effective at all K-8 school sites.

Opioid Overdose Reversal Medication Available 

All of our MBUSD school sites now have the life-saving rescue medication Naloxone available that is used to reverse an opioid overdose. Our District obtained free Naloxone also known as Narcan, to distribute to our school sites through the California Department of Health Care Services Naloxone Distribution Project. This is in response to the increasing number of drug overdoses in California among youth.

Staff is in the process of being trained to administer Narcan nasal spray during a suspected opioid-related emergency. It is safe and easy to use, works almost immediately, and is not addictive.

We urge everyone in our community to learn about the signs of opioid overdose and have an open conversation with your family about the dangers. 

Kindergarten Information Day is Tomorrow!

Join us tomorrow at Pacific Elementary! Learn more about MBUSD programs and transitioning into elementary school. Q&A by Manhattan Beach Unified elementary principals, teachers, parents, and Superintendent Dr. John Bowes. 

Current students will also speak at the event and share their journey at MBUSD. The event is open to all incoming Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and Kindergarten families. 

  • All children who will be five years old as of September 1, 2023, are eligible to enroll in Kindergarten.

  • You will also be able to learn about Transitional Kindergarten (TK). Students who turn five on or between September 2, 2023 - April 2, 2024, will be eligible to enroll in our TK program for the 2023 - 24 school year.

Enrollment will open on January 23, 2023. For more enrollment information visit here:

We will make sure to get all of your questions answered!

Join us! I am excited to announce that MBUSD will be partnering with the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF) to host a first of its kind event! Please join the MBEF Board of Directors and myself on Tuesday, January 31st at 5:30pm in the MCHS Small Theater for a look at MBEF's impact on the Manhattan Beach Unified School District. 

Learn about District initiatives, how MBEF and MBUSD partner, the criteria for MBEF grants, how stakeholder priorities impact programs, and the role of MBEF in sustaining high-quality schools. Plus, get a look at MBEF grants in action and share your priorities for future grants. 

Manhattan Beach Education Foundation has been a vital long-term partner to MBUSD and integral to keeping our one-of-kind programs going strong.

MBEF’s Annual Appeal is underway! If you haven’t donated or pledged just yet, you can do so here

MBEF has funded and supported our schools for the past 40 years and it wouldn’t have been possible without your support. MBEF’s contributions have greatly enriched the educational experience for our amazing students. Now, more than ever, I hope you can continue to support MBEF by donating to its Annual Appeal campaign before it comes to an end on February 3.

Elementary Parent Conferences 

Elementary conferences will be held next week January 23-27, 2023. During the conference, your teacher will discuss the winter report card and answer questions with regard to grade-level academic and social, and emotional expectations. The conference is an excellent opportunity to set goals for your child and ask any questions you may have. If you have not scheduled your conference, please contact your child’s teacher.

Elementary Report Cards 

Elementary report cards were sent home today Friday, January 20, 2023, and are available for viewing through our Aeries portal so that you may review your child’s report card prior to the conference. Please visit the Grade Reporting page on the Educational Services website to view a sample report card for your child’s grade level and for additional parent resources.

High School Report Cards

The Mira Costa High School first semester grading window closed on Friday, January 13, 2023, and first semester grades are now visible to students and families through the Aeries Parent Portal.

Manhattan Beach Coordinating Council Award Ceremony

Two of our MBUSD students from MBMS and Mira Costa were recognized for being outstanding students. 8th grader Miguel Gamboa received recognition by his Spanish teacher Mrs. Liz Laffoon. She shared that Miguel is a model student who has integrity and is a strong student. When he is in the classroom you can find him supporting and coaching his fellow students. 

(Left to right: Representative from MBCC, MBMS Principal, Jennifer Huynh, MBMS 8th Grader, Miguel Gamboa, MBMS Spanish Teacher Mrs. Liz Laffoon, and City of MB Councilmember Joe Franklin)

Mira Costa Sophomore Eva Asiddao was honored as well by Band Director Joel Carlson. Mr. Carlson shared with attendees Eva’s passion for music and art. Eva succeeds not only as a student but also outside of the classroom. On numerous occasions, she has spoken on behalf of Costa at local events to promote peace and unity in the community. 

Students from American Martyrs, MBMS, and Mira Costa were honored. Councilmember Joe Franklin also awarded the students on behalf of the City of Manhattan Beach. 

(Left to right: Representative from MBCC, MCHS Band Director, Joel Carlson, MCHS Sophomore Eva Asiddao, MCHS Principal Dr. Karina Gerger, and City of MB Councilmember Joe Franklin)

No Place for Hate at MBMS

MBMS kicked off its first No Place For Hate program meeting with student representatives recently! These students will be leading and coordinating activities across campus to eventually earn the No Place for Hate® designation.

In November of 2022, we announced that once Pennekamp, MBMS, and Mira Costa complete the requirements for the program, MBUSD will be the first District in the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of Los Angeles to receive the No Place for Hate® designation at all schools. 

Serving as a catalyst to improve the K-12 public school climate, the No Place for Hate® initiative provides a student-led framework to combat bias, bullying, and hatred in the school community. Activities through the program are designed to address school-based issues and create long-term solutions to help build a more inclusive and positive school culture. 

Makerspace Feature: Pacific Elementary

This week we are featuring Makerspace at Pacific Elementary! Kindergarten and 4th graders created marble mazes. The lesson is an introduction to basic science principles for Kindergarteners. Marble mazes teach kids about gravity, motion, friction, and spatial awareness. It is also a puzzle that requires a solution.

In Kindergarten, the students built their mazes on oval-shaped, paper plates. In fourth grade, they were allowed to build on a platform of their choosing and creation. This example shows how we can scaffold the same basic challenge to fit the skills of the makers.

The goal was to create a maze for the marble with a beginning and ending that stayed on its track. There was a lot of trial and error and improvement with some fun!

Also, this week, third graders designed and built pagodas. This architectural challenge also supports the culture and celebration of the Chinese New Year. The students are given only paper, chopsticks, pipe cleaners, and tape to get creative. From those few supplies, they were able to build amazing pagodas. Limited supply challenges force students to be good problem solvers and efficient makers. In 2018, Congress officially passed a bill designating architecture as a STEM science. So, as usual, MBUSD is on the cutting edge of STEM education!

Thank you to Pacific Elementary School Makerspace Specialist, Teri Hampton, for sharing this story. Go Panthers!

Neptunian Woman’s Club Hosts 43rd Annual Art Contest & Show

The Neptunian Woman's Club is now accepting art and photography submissions from all Manhattan Beach K-12 students as part of its 43rd Annual Art Contest and Show. 

The deadline to submit artwork is March 3 at 3 p.m. Please fill out the online entry form and then drop the artwork off at your local school office. Winners qualify for cash prizes. Check out the contest details and the online entry form here! If you have questions, you can contact Art Contest and Show Chair, Heather de Roos at

Meet our Music Community!

MCHS Drama Tech Students Prep for Upcoming Musical!

Our Mira Costa students are already preparing for the big stage and their upcoming spring musical MAMA MIA! 

This week students had their first table read. The musical's debut is scheduled for April 21, 2023, at 7:00 p.m.

Make sure you save the date!

Mira Costa Choirs Presents Pops Concert

On Thursday, January 26, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. you can enjoy the annual Pops Concert at the Mira Costa small theater!

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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, January 27. 


Dr. John Bowes
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
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