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Superintendent's Newsletter

March 10, 2023

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

Today’s issue highlights MB Preschool, Holi celebrations taking place across the District, and the Mira Costa Jazz Band taking the national stage at the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament!

Spotlight on MB Preschool (Special thanks to teacher Jessica Duenas and Director of Early Learning Shannon Huston)

Preschool students took a "trip" to India on March 8 to celebrate Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors! It’s a time to celebrate the arrival of spring, forgiveness, and friendships. 

It was a day of laughter, love, and color as students showered their friends with color and sampled a popular Indian flatbread known as naan. The day ended with students coloring vibrant mandalas to hang up in their classrooms. 

Celebrations such as Holi allow students and staff to learn about the world and cultures around them. They have also taken “trips” to Mexico and China, and their next stop will be Japan!

Staff Spotlight: Diana Sieker

This week we are featuring AP Literature teacher Diana Sieker. She started her career in Manhattan Beach Unified during her teaching credential program where her job was grading essays for the English Department at Mira Costa. She says this provided her with a connection to the school and when it was time to do her student teaching, she began her training at Costa in the spring of 2005. That fall she started working as a full-time English teacher! Since then she is proud to say she has taught at every grade level except juniors. 

Diana says, ”The English Department was gracious enough to let me do my training at Costa. What they did not know at the time is that they let a former Seahawk from Redondo Union High School infiltrate their campus to teach their Mustangs! I never dreamed I would grow up to teach at my rival high school!”

When asked what the favorite part of her job is, Diana reminisced back to her first day as a student teacher and how nervous and excited she was. She had so much fun that day that she literally could not sleep that night and couldn’t wait to return to the classroom to do it again. “Eighteen years later, I still love being in the classroom. I can sleep through the night now, but I still have a boatload of enthusiasm for what I do daily.”

Diana says she is always on a mission to build a sense of community in her classes and is proud of the work she has achieved through the many learning communities she has created over the years. Diana says her job provides her with the unique opportunity to cultivate meaningful relationships and make unforgettable memories, which is the beauty of teaching. She enjoys being part of MBUSD because of her students and colleagues who are the “absolute greatest.” During her time at Costa, Diana has supported student literacy in various ways including leading senior seminars (currently Literature of the 1980s and Performance Literature) and has taught Academic Support since it was created in 2007. 

Outside of the classroom, you can find her making passing period playlists, cuddling with her Russian Blue cats, and spending time with her husband!

Read more about Diana Sieker here and check out our other Staff Spotlights!

We Want Your Input!

The Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) describes the District’s vision for student learning, outlines actions and annual goals, and demonstrates how the District’s budget supports those goals.

We are asking all parents/guardians to please take a moment to participate in this LCAP Survey to support MBUSD’s vision and goals for student success!  

The opinions of our community are important to us and your input, feedback, and suggestions will help us evaluate our offerings and inform decision-making for our LCAP. 

All responses are confidential. The survey will be open until March 31st. Thank you in advance for participating in this year’s survey!

We are looking to find the next MBUSD representative for the Manhattan Beach Parks & Rec Commission seat (2023-2026). Help make a difference in the MB community and be part of shaping the future of our parks and recreational activities.

The application is available here and the deadline is Friday, March 31 at noon.

16th Annual School News Roll Call Los Angeles County Superintendents Edition

You can find the latest edition here.

Mira Costa Bands Featured During Pac-12 Basketball Tournament 

Congratulations to Mira Costa Bands! The Jazz Band took the national stage by having their special performance led by the legendary Bill Walton air during the 2023 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament! The arrangement was a slam dunk! They filmed the promotional spot with Bill Walton at Mira Costa last week, which is currently airing on Pac-12 Network during the tournament. 11th grader Miles McPhee composed the music that the Jazz Band played.

Thank you to our former parent who works at Pac-12 Network for making this possible and wanting to share the exceptional talent of our students with the nation! Special thank you to our Band Director Joel Carlson for always supporting our students during these incredible opportunities. 

Watch the video below!

Join our Math TOSA for a Special Math Info Session!

Our very own Math Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) Holly Compton is hosting exciting and informative sessions on April 13, 14, and 17 for elementary parents on how to support your child’s math learning journey. 

She will be sharing insights and tips on building mathematical concepts at home through everyday life activities. She will also help you take a look at how children may approach different types of story problems. 

Click Here to Register for the TK-1st Grade Parents Info Session

Click Here to Register for the 2nd and 3rd Grade Parents Info Session

Click Here to Register for the 4th and 5th Grade Parents Info Session

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to improve your child’s math skills while supporting them!

2nd Annual MBUSD Social and Emotional Learning Week

We celebrated our district-wide Social and Emotional (SEL) Learning Week, which was a huge success! Daily our students were immersed in activities that supported their social and emotional learning that aligned with our MBUSD Social and Emotional Learning Framework which has five areas of focus. SEL assists students in developing the skills, attitudes, and knowledge necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. View the highlighted activities here.

SEL supports the whole student, which includes maximizing academic success, supporting their well-being, and continuing a positive climate of care on campus. It reflects the important role of positive relationships and emotional connections in the learning process and helps students develop a range of skills for school and life. 

Thank you to our SEL Committees at each school site that was made up of parents and staff, who worked collaboratively to create another successful SEL Week. If you have pictures you would like to share, please use the hashtag #MBUSDSELWEEK in your posts and tag us! 

Watch our MBUSD SEL Week highlight video below!

You can learn more about the school site activities that took place here. For parent/guardian SEL resources click here.

Mira Costa Students Take the No Place for Hate Pledge

As part of SEL Week, Mira Costa students took the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) No Place for Hate® (NPFH) program pledge and committed to a more inclusive environment! This year students, staff, and community members began the implementation of the No Place for Hate® program that focuses on eliminating bias and bullying. It’s part of the larger District goal of all school sites becoming NPFH campuses by the end of the year. Once all schools complete program requirements MBUSD will be the first school district in the ADL region to have all schools be NPFH campuses. 

Click here to read more about this designation.

Community Holi Celebration on March 28

Meadows and Pacific elementary schools are joining forces to celebrate the Holi Festival, also known as a festival of color with the community! A vibrant celebration to mark the beginning of spring and is one of the main festivals in India related to the religion of Hinduism. On March 28, they will host the tradition of Holi and play with non-toxic color powder and have a dance performance with attendees from Bollypop dance school. 

The event is open to the community. RSVP here.

MBMS Drama Presents Romeo vs. Juliet 

We are excited to share that MBMS, directed by Electives Department Chair David Levy, is producing a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic tale, "Romeo vs. Juliet!"

David Levy shares that the play is about reaching out and connecting before it’s too late. “We all know the story of Romeo and Juliet but what if, instead of falling in love, those star-crossed kids were destined to dislike one another? Could their choices still affect change in the lives of the people around them?” 

Don’t miss out on this performance and join MBMS Drama Ghostlight players for this heartfelt story!

Tickets are on sale now! You can purchase them here

Visit to MBMS

Every week, I visit one of our schools to see in person the great work being done on campus. This week I visited MBMS. Principal Jennifer Huynh and I stopped by Science, Social Science, and Music classes! It was wonderful and I’m always so impressed by our staff and students. 

MBMS STEM Expo in the News

The recent STEM Expo we featured in last week’s Superintendent’s Newsletter has been covered by local media! Check out the stories:

KABC 7 News

The MB News

Daily Breeze

Costa Varsity Swim Hosts Annual South Bay Invitational Swim Meet

The Mira Costa swim team hosted the big Varsity event on March 6 and 7. They competed and had an outstanding performance as it was their first meet of the season as a team! Costa continues an undefeated streak from last season and finished the meet with a clean sweep of the 12 schools in attendance. Costa Boys Varsity won huge with a 167.5 point margin and Girls Varsity won by 43 points! Check out the highlights below.

Graphic by Mira Costa Swim

"Auschwitz not long ago. Not far away.” Exhibit Coming to Los Angeles 

The Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, CA will be the first stop in North America for the exhibition dedicated to the history of Auschwitz and the Holocaust. The museum is opening this touring exhibit on March 24, 2023, and it will have more than 700 original objects from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and more than 20 institutions and museums from all around the world. 

The museum’s website states, “The Auschwitz exhibition portrays the complex reality of the notorious camp, universal symbol of the Nazi horror, and the world of victims and perpetrators with a clear goal – to elucidate how such a place could come into being and dig into how its existence has determined our present worldview.”

The items have never been showcased to an audience on the West Coast before. The German World War II freight car, which has been a symbol of the exhibition, was recently installed at the Reagan Presidential Library. 

You can purchase and schedule your visit now. It is recommended for individuals 12+. We hope you take advantage of visiting this exhibit with your family. 

Makerspace Feature: Pennekamp

We all know the folktale of the Gingerbread Man. Pennekamp's Kindergarteners in Ms. Smith's class were challenged to help their Gingerbread man cross a river by building a bridge.

The Kinders learned that bridges are for people, vehicles, and even animals. A bridge helps to cross over an open space like water, a road, or a railway.

By pairing up in teams of two, kindergarteners strengthened their collaboration, teamwork, and kindness skills.

The E in STEAM is Engineering and these Kinders sure showed they have what it takes to be our future bridge-building engineers. Thank you to Pennekamp Makerspace Specialist Sharon Shambaugh for sharing this story. Pennekamp also hosted a science fair this week.

Check out the highlights here.

Upcoming Events!

Click images for PDF

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, March 17. 


Dr. John Bowes
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
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