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Superintendent's Newsletter

June 9, 2023

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

Today’s issue highlights Meadows, MBUSD fulfilling all requirements to be the first school district in the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Los Angeles region to be a No Place for Hate® school district, and Grand View’s unveiling of its newest facility to the community! 

Spotlight on Meadows (Special Thanks to Lilian Dunker Cruz, Bob Black, and Principal Michelle Krzmarzick)

Meadows is seeing the fruition of their community’s planting efforts in their garden. Parents Lilian Dunker Cruz and Bob Black showed kindergarteners that you just can’t “beet” food that is close to the source! Presently, a multitude of different vegetables, including lettuce, artichokes, peas, and more, are nearing the point of being harvested. Principal Michelle Krzmarzick says they are grateful for having a garden to learn from and enjoy the peace that it provides. They can’t wait to see what sprouts up next!

This week Meadows also unveiled a 5th grade gift to the school: a mural by local artist Dawn Whitney Hall. Students selected an “Under the Sea” theme for the mural, which can be admired on the cafeteria doors along Meadows Avenue, right at the front of the school.

Staff Spotlight: Audita Esquiaqui

This week our staff spotlight features Audita Esquiaqui. She started working in January 1997 as a Food Service Assistant at Mira Costa and soon after continued in this position at MBMS, where she still works today. In her current role, she takes on various responsibilities, including meal preparation, food packaging, and cashier. 

Audita says she is known for her specialty in making delectable salads for MBMS and Mira Costa, particularly the Chinese Chicken Salad served on Mondays. When Audita applied to work at MBUSD, she was attracted to the early morning schedule, allowing her to spend quality time with her children when they were younger. When asked what her favorite part of her job is she enthusiastically expresses, “Everything, but the most is seeing the students and talking to them. It makes me happy when they appreciate how delicious the food is.”

One of Audita’s proudest accomplishments was when she received the honor of being named the District Food and Nutrition Services Employee of the Year in 2017. “It was so great to be recognized for my hard work and dedication.”

She says MBUSD fosters an environment where staff members can grow as individuals and professionals, it's a place where employees can do great things. In her free time, she is a happy grandma of two grandchildren and enjoys swimming with them!

Grand View’s MPR/Administration Building is Officially Open! 

We celebrated the grand opening of Grand View’s newest building with a ribbon-cutting and a community open house that was well attended by a few hundred people throughout the evening. Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, guests entered the building for the first time and were able to see our very own Gator musicians from elementary strings and band perform in the new Performing Arts Center. 

The new three-story building spans 19,590 square feet and serves as the new entrance to the campus. The first floor houses a welcome center, administration offices, a health office, a conference room, and various storage and support spaces. 

The second floor is home to the new Performing Arts Center, including a multipurpose room and a large outdoor plaza providing a gathering area. The third floor boasts a staff lounge with some of the best views in the area, a staff workroom, and a kitchen that opens to a covered lunch area. 

Throughout the building, visitors will find large windows that offer expansive views from various vantage points. We are very proud of this project and look forward to seeing our students and staff use the state-of-the-art facilities they deserve. None of this would have been possible without the support of our amazing community, who passed Measure C to fund our facility projects. Investment in buildings like this has a profound impact and return on our community.

The Grand View project included multiple phases and modernization projects including renovations to all classroom buildings, a new two-story classroom building, two playfields, a playground, grass spaces at the northwest and southeast corners of the campus, the establishment of a new fire lane connecting the entire campus, and the construction of a parking lot.  

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this momentous occasion, including current and former Trustees, former administrators, Bond Oversight Committee members, as well as representatives from Balfour Beatty, DLR Group, Silver Creek, and Sandy Pringle Associates. For more pictures, click here.

Click Here to Read the MB News Story on the Ribbon-Cutting

All MBUSD Schools Officially Designated as No Place for Hate®

We are proud to announce that MBUSD is officially the first No Place for Hate® school district in the Anti-Defamation League Los Angeles region that encompasses Riverside, San Bernardino, and Kern Counties. This means that each of our schools has committed and completed the requirements for the No Place for Hate® program that provides a student-led framework to combat bias, bullying, and hatred. Activities throughout the program are designed to address school-based issues and create long-term solutions to help build a more inclusive and positive school culture. 

Robinson Elementary was the first of our schools to earn the designation in 2021 and for the past three years has earned this designation. Meadows, Pacific, and Grand View Elementary have received designations for the past two years. This is the first year Pennekamp, MBMS, and Mira Costa have received the honor. 

As part of the program, schools establish a committee, sign a school-wide pledge against all forms of hate, and host a series of activities throughout the year that promote and remind everyone to respect one another. 

The ADL says they hope MBUSD’s commitment will be a model for other school districts in Southern California. ADL is the leading anti-hate organization in the world. 

MBMS No Place for Hate® Celebration

At MBMS, the No Place for Hate® designation was celebrated this week with staff and students! At the designation party, students were presented with a certificate and given the opportunity to share what part of the NPFH pledge was most important to them and what they enjoyed most this year. Many shared they felt they could be themselves on the committee, they appreciated everyone’s differences, and it was a space where they belonged. 

MBMS students in January 2023 formed the NPFH committee, which is the first step toward earning the designation. To be designated, one of the requirements is for the schools to think about the work that needs to be done around diversity, combating bias and bullying, and then create school-wide activities/assemblies throughout the school year. The MBMS activities were: 

  • Administrators and counselors went into 6th, 7th, and 8th grade English Language Arts classes and delivered lessons on inclusion. The overall takeaway for students is that they were able to have a brave space to dialogue with their peers and gain a deeper sense of understanding other perspectives to build empathy, acceptance, and care for everyone around them.

  • Students watched an MBMS introduction video to No Place for Hate® to encourage them to participate in the NPFH Pledge. Students reflected on it and how it impacts our school community as a whole.

  • Students watched a video highlighting student responses to the pledge and were invited to sign the Pledge Poster in the Quad during lunch.

During the celebration, students also brainstormed their goals for next year. They hope to expand membership and provide more opportunities for student participation.

The work wouldn’t have been possible without the leadership of Principal Jennifer Huynh, Assistant Principal Katie Cavallaro, Counselor on Special Assignment for Student Success Lauren Galbraith, and NPFH Parent Volunteer Madeline Kaplan!

Six MCHS Seniors Honored with MBPTA Council Scholarship Awards!

Congratulations to the six Mira Costa seniors who received the 2023 MBPTA Council Scholarship Awards! It was an exciting luncheon as we celebrated our graduating seniors for their hard work and achievements. 

To commemorate their accomplishments, each table at the event was decorated representing the universities they plan to attend to continue their studies. 

The students were selected from among 80 applications. The MBPTA Council Scholarship Committee considered a range of criteria, including those who have made an impact on and off campus, academic excellence, community service, leadership, distinctions, and other qualities that predict future success. I was impressed by each student’s story and their ambitions for the future. 

We wish the following students the best of luck! 

Tucker Gauss - Duke University 

Heather Jensen - MIT

Karen Fu - Rice University

Dylan Iskandar - Stanford University 

Madison Wood - Cornell University 

Katie Kabealo - University of Pennsylvania 

The luncheon was attended by Trustees, District Cabinet, MBUSD principals, families, and PTA Council members. 

As recipients of the scholarship, each student received a check for $1,000. We can’t wait to see the difference you will make in the world and your future endeavors. Congratulations once again! Click here for more pictures.

Left to Right: Tucker Gauss, Dylan Iskandar, Madison Wood, Katie Kabealo, Karen Fu, and Heather Jensen

Mira Costa Students Receive College-Sponsored Merit Scholarship 

This week the National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced more than 3,000 winners of the National Merit Scholarships financed by U.S. colleges and universities. Congratulations to Mira Costa senior Dashiell Rumble for receiving the National Merit Bowdoin College Scholarship. Bowdoin College is a historic, selective liberal arts college founded in service of the common good. Dashiell will attend Bowdoin and has plans to pursue a career in the field of chemistry. 

Officials of each sponsor college selected their scholarship winners from among the finalists in the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program who plan to attend their institution. This year there were eleven Mira Costa students who were named 2023 National Merit Scholarship finalists. 

Lia DeFonce-Martini Receives the Highest Honor from the Girl Scouts

We are always impressed by our students' passion to give back to the greater community. Costa senior Lia DeFonce-Martini has been named one of the Girl Scouts Greater Los Angeles Gold Award recipients. It’s the highest and most prestigious award in Girl Scouting.

The achievement represents many months of work addressing areas of critical need throughout the Greater Los Angeles area and beyond. The award requires spending at least 80 hours of planning and implementing a challenging, large-scale project that is innovative, engages others, and has a lasting impact on its targeted community that can be measured. 

Lia established a hygiene product donation system. She worked with the Los Angeles Mission on Skid Row and American Airlines to make this possible. You can read more below!

Collectively, the 212 Girl Scouts who received this honor provided 20,496 hours of service towards projects that have a sustainable impact on communities. We are very proud of Lia and her commitment to making a difference in the lives of others. 

2023-24 School Calendar

On Friday, June 2, 2023, a 2023-24 school-year calendar was published in the Superintendent’s newsletter under the heading “New 2023-23 School Year Calendar.”  This calendar reflects the current shared proposal of both MBUSD and MBUTA. However, it has not yet been incorporated into a Tentative Agreement. Other articles remain under negotiation, and until all bargaining is concluded, the calendar, like other currently agreed-upon proposals, cannot be officially considered final.  A Tentative Agreement must be reached, which then must be ratified by the MBUTA membership and adopted by the Board of Trustees before it becomes official. 

We regret if this has caused any confusion or concern. 

Please click the image below for PDF.

MBUSD Schools in the News

Check out stories in the news featuring our schools! 

Mira Costa Biotech Program Honors Graduates

Pennekamp Parents Persist and Prevail at Softball Tourney

Grand View Gator Run Serves Up Speedy Times, Family Fun

Manhattan Beach Teams Earn Top Marks at Odyssey of the Mind World Championships

MCHS Student Union End-of-the-Year Celebration 

The Student Union has been a sacred space for our students for the past two years. This week along with Trustees, administration, staff, students, and community partners we celebrated the profound impact it has made on our Costa campus. Thanks to District Counselor Eliza Santarosa, Intern Counselor Steve Walker, and the Costa administration for nurturing the growth of the Student Union into what it is today. 

The Union provided an array of essential services, including individual counseling, check-ins, attendance intervention, student support, crisis intervention, teacher support, and class presentations. The most powerful part of the celebration was hearing our students share the impact the Student Union and its dedicated staff have had on them. They said that it has become an extension of their own family, offering a welcoming safe space, a place to recharge and vent about any problems they may be having, and find solutions. We want to give special thanks to Counselor Intern Steve Walker for guiding our students during this past year and as well as his contributions to MBUSD. We wish him the best of luck in the next chapter of his career. 

Excitingly, MBMS also has plans to create a Student Union in the near future. 

MBMS End-of-the-Year Drama Showcase

I had the pleasure of attending the MBMS Drama students’ end-of-the-school-year showcase. The annual tradition highlights the amazing work students have been doing all year long! I was blown away by the 30 individual performances that included monologues and scenes. Each one was filled with passion, powerful messages, and some reflected personal experiences of life as a middle school student. 

All of the scenes were written and directed by students, celebrating student voices. Next year’s drama students were also encouraged to come and see the presentation! MBMS Drama Director David Levy shares that the showcase started fifteen years ago as a way to give students a voice while also providing a final assessment of what they learned during the school year. 

“It's the hardest production we put together all year and there are a lot of moving parts. It's a testament to middle school students that they're able to work together on something so complex and not only pull it off but also surprise audiences. I never get tired of hearing parents tell me 'That's way better than I was expecting it to be!'," said David Levy.

Thank you to David Levy for guiding our students to reach their full potential. 

"Rejoice & Sing" Spring Choir Concert

The MCHS Choir hosted their spring concert with an eclectic array of vocal music that explored classical, pop, and jazz styles. They performed selections spanning from the 1500s to 2023 from South Africa, Canada, Sweden, France, and more. It was just a glimpse of the wide range of music they’ve learned this semester. Choir students from Costa’s three choirs and two Acappella groups together have prepared and performed 40 pieces of music. 

The choir groups Coterie A Cappella, Muscle A Cappella, Mira Costa Voices, Choral Union, Vocal Jazz Octet, and Europe Tour Ensemble all performed during the show. There was also a special highlight of a piece with the Mira Costa Jazz Band directed by Joel Carlson and Vocal Jazz Octet. The night was also a celebration in honor of the eight Costa Choir Seniors who are graduating next week. 

Our students devoted hours of work to prepare for their shows under the leadership of Director of Choirs Kate Crellin. I want to congratulate them on a wonderful year of performances. This year they traveled to Vienna, Prague, and Salzburg. They performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, center, Sunrise Senior Center, Neptunian Woman’s Club, and much more!

We are Enrolling! 

Join our District! MBUSD is a destination district that offers award-winning programs, personalized learning, excellence in teaching, and opportunities for college and career success. Some of the highlights of our programming include music and STEAM, starting in elementary.

For the 2023-2024 school year, children who turn five years old between September 2, 2023, and April 2, 2024, will be eligible to enroll in Transitional Kindergarten. MBUSD is following the State of California’s Transitional Kindergarten expansion program recommendations for the 2023–24 school year. Students are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2, 2023, and April 2, 2024.

MBUSD will work with families to determine the best grade-level placement for students matriculating from a five-year-old preschool or Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program (students entering MBUSD at age five or six who have not yet completed a Kindergarten program). Kindergarten placement will be allowed for these students. Any student, regardless of age, who has completed Kindergarten will be enrolled in Grade 1 unless an appropriately documented Kindergarten Continuation Meeting has resulted in a recommendation for another year of kindergarten. This practice will be updated to align with any State of California attendance regulation changes. 

Learn more about enrollment here!

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, June 16.


Dr. John Bowes
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
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