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Superintendent's Newsletter

March 17, 2023

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

Today’s issue highlights Mira Costa, Holocaust Survivor Nat Rocker visiting MBMS, and the Teacher of the Year nominations.

Spotlight on Mira Costa (Special thanks to Jonathan Westerberg, Cary Jordahl, Michael Aldapa, Vice Principal Daniel Pestle, and Principal Dr. Karina Gerger)

Mira Costa High School Drama and Theatre Tech presented their annual Dessert Theatre on Thursday night at the Small Theater on campus. It was sure a delight as students, staff, and parents came out to see the performance students will put on at the Fullerton Theatre Festival this weekend. 

The event was in two acts presented in a competition format of minimal set, costume, and lighting. Dessert treats were available before and during the intermission. All proceeds of the theatre event will support the members of the Drama/Tech Department.

Staff Spotlight: Michelle Krzmarzick

This week our staff spotlight is on Meadows Principal Michelle Krzmarzick. She started her career at MBUSD in 2011 as a fifth grade teacher at Pacific Elementary and worked there for six years before becoming an MBUSD Literacy Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). After serving in this role, she then became a principal and has been a Meadows Mustang for the past six years. 

Michelle says she always wanted to be part of MBUSD because of the academic rigor, high level of professionalism, and most of all, our community. “Our families are excellent partners in education who work hard to balance academics, social and emotional learning, and fun - just like we do at school every day. The best part of being a principal is that I get to be around my favorite people all day long – children!...they steal my heart.”

Michelle says she has reached many milestones and achievements during her time at MBUSD, but her biggest achievement is how proud she is of her school campus and what it is today!

“My goal is to make every person feel welcome and included at school and to take pride in what we have worked to create together. She hopes visitors feel inspired as they walk on campus and see the newly painted murals and inspirational quotes everywhere they look. 

I am excited to come to school every day because I see each new day as a new opportunity to change a child’s life. Not many people can say that about their job!” 

When she isn’t on campus, Michelle enjoys crafting on her Cricut (a machine that cuts materials), playing pickleball with her husband, and cooking delicious meals! She loves cooking so much that she hopes to be the next contestant on Chopped.

Read more about our other Staff Spotlights here!

Dr. Karina Gerger Named Secondary Administrator of the Year by ACSA

We are proud to share that Mira Costa Principal Dr. Karina Gerger has earned the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region 14 nomination for Secondary Principal Administrator of the Year. She will now move on to State and represent the region! ACSA is the largest umbrella organization for school leaders in the United States.

2023 Teacher of the Year Nominations!

Congratulations to all of our recent nominees for the 2023 Teacher of the Year! Every year, each school site administrator selects one teacher from a pool of teachers nominated by their peers. Those eight Teachers of the Year are then interviewed and observed by a team of District administrators who will select one outstanding educator to participate in the Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year competition and represent our District. 

It is the largest of its kind in the state and is part of the oldest and most prestigious honors contest in the U.S. for public school teachers.

The following are this year’s selected teachers! Thank you for your dedication to our students and families. You each make our District very proud.

Los Angeles Office of Education Features Robinson Teacher

4th grade teacher Kelsey Reaper at Robinson Elementary was recognized during LACOE’s “Teacher Tuesday” social media series.

Kelsey shared her favorite teacher hack!

Watch the reel here

COVID-19 Update: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Aligns with State

This week, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) updated its protocols related to the treatment of COVID-19 cases and close contacts to align with those of the California Department of Public Health. With the rescission of Health Officer Orders related to isolation and quarantine, COVID-19 protocols are no longer legal requirements and have become guidelines designed to help keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.

The general guidelines for positive cases (strongly recommended but not required) are:

  • Isolate for 5 days after the onset of symptoms or first positive test (with the symptom onset date or positive test date counted as Day 0)

  • A person with a positive case may return on day 6 as long as symptoms have improved and the person has been fever-free without fever-reducing medication for 24 hours (a negative test is no longer required but is still strongly recommended)

  • Wear a mask through day 10, unless the individual has received 2 negative test results taken at least 24 hours apart

Please know that, per our Annual Notification of Rights and Responsibilities, students with an oral temperature over 100.4 degrees will continue to be excluded from school until the temperature is normal for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. 

Close contacts will continue to be notified, and recommendations to mask for 10 days and to test between days 3 and 5 remain in place. 

Stricter requirements may be put in place by LACDPH in the event of a cluster of cases (defined as 3 or more epidemiologically linked cases within a 14-day period).

Please see this link for the updated County guidance on isolation and quarantine.

MBEF Support Our Schools Week (March 20-24)

The week-long annual MBEF Support Our Schools Week is taking place from March 20-24! Every day during this time local businesses are giving back a portion of their sales to MBEF to support our schools.

Click here to check out give-back promotion details and click the image below to enlarge.

PTA Reflections Program Congratulates Artist Winners


At the Wednesday Board meeting, Trustees recognized the 2022-23 Manhattan Beach Council PTA Reflections Program Award of Excellence recipients! Congratulations to our fifteen students from Grand View, Meadows, Pacific, MBMS, and Mira Costa who received recognition for showing their creativity through different mediums.

With the student-selected theme of “Show Your Voice!”, the entries from each category continued to the next level of judging at the 33rd District. From that group, Mira Costa student Shihua Huang was honored with an Award of Excellence for High School Visual Arts. Shihua's artwork will be moving on to the California State PTA level!

Each year, students in Pre-K through 12 grades are invited to create and submit original works of art in the areas of Dance Choreography, Film Production, Visual Arts, Literature, Music Composition, and Photography through the Reflections Program. In total, this year sixty-four submissions were received.

Let’s congratulate the following students: 

Visual Arts Category: 

Sebastian Kim - Pacific 

Urielle Roth - Grand View

Rylan Kim - MBMS 

Shihua Claire Huang - Mira Costa 

Literature Category:

Lila Mokhtari - Mira Costa 

Photography Category:

Julia Murphy - Pacific

Blaire Allan - Grand View

Catherine Curry - Mira Costa 

Music Composition:

Tasha Yang - Meadows

Daniel Derbyshire - Pacific 

Christian Camacho - Mira Costa

Film Production:

Ben Friesl - Pacific

Katherine Mueller - Mira Costa 

Special Artist:

Andre Araujo - Mira Costa


Kensington Hicks - Grand View

Check out the video below featuring all of the student winners!

Holocaust Survivor Mr. Nat Rocker Shares Life Story at MBMS

Nat Rocker visited MBMS this week and shared his story with more than 400 eighth graders. A survivor of the Holocaust, he spoke to students about his first interaction with a Nazi and how the horrific experiences of the Holocaust have impacted his life today. He walked students through the story of his life and how he survived this tragic time in history.

Students were able to ask him questions, and had many questions, about how he survived such horrific conditions. Mr. Nat Rocker’s visit was aligned with the curriculum in the classroom - students recently finished reading Maus and also visited the Holocaust Museum in advance of his presentation - one they will never forget.

We are honored that Mr. Rocker visited us! Thank you! You can watch his presentation here.

MCHS Marching Band and Colorguard Take Honolulu, Hawaii

Our MCHS Parade Team recently returned from a trip to Hawaii. The students were invited to perform during the 27th Annual Honolulu Festival Grand Parade. They were one of two performers invited from the state of California to participate.

I was honored to join the trip as a chaperone and was blown away by their grand routine during the event. The Honolulu Festival is considered Hawaii’s premier cultural event and attracts thousands of new and returning attendees. It showcases the diverse Asia, Pacific, and Hawaiian cultures to the world. 

MCHS Bands Director Joel Carlson says students had the opportunity to experience and learn more about some of the most wonderful elements of O’ahu, as well as Hawaiian and greater Polynesian culture. Students also visited the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Thank you to our staff and parents who worked tirelessly to make this trip possible.

Pictures by Lana Imbagliazzo

Watch their grand parade performance:

MBUSD Students Win Big at Odyssey of the Mind 2023 LA Basin Regional

Five MBUSD talented teams proved that dedication and commitment pay off! They have been prepping all year to present their solutions at the Odyssey of the Mind 2023 LA Basin Regional Tournament that recently took place.

Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving competition. Teams work together to create solutions for long-term problems within general rules and guidelines in five categories (called “problems”): vehicle, technical, classical art and literature, structure, and performance. It also emphasizes teamwork, budgeting, time management, and public speaking.

Despite the tough competition, students collaborated and impressed the judges. Here were the results: 

  • Pennekamp took first place in the “Pirates and the Treasure Division I”

  • Pacific took first place in the “Classics…The Walls of Troy Division I” and “The Most Dramatic Problem Ever!!! Division I”

  • Mira Costa teams took the top spots for the “Where’s the Structure? Division III.”

All five teams are heading to the State Championship. Best of luck! Thank you to the MB Odyssey of Mind Coaches Brian Fan (MCHS Coach), Michelle Lautanen (Pacific Coach), and Alex Otero (Pennekamp Coach). 

Mira Costa 1st place in Division 3 | Problem 4 (from left): Zachary Green (8th), Matthew Chang (9th), Charlotte Fan (8th), Sierra Wolbert (9th), Audrey Treger (9th), and Daisei Horiguchi (9th, not pictured)

Mira Costa 2nd place in Division 3 | Problem 4 (from left): Luke Green (12th), Andrew Fan (11th), Brian Chiu (12th), Ashlyn Green (11th), Abi Seo (11th), and Ella Kim (11th, not pictured)

Pacific Elementary: 1st place in Division 1 | Problem 3 (from left): Danny Derbyshire (3rd), Sydney Park (3rd), Willow Young (3rd), Savita Acharya (3rd), Jack Pincus (3rd), Simrin Shah (3rd), and Devon Boyd (3rd)

Pacific Elementary: 1st place in Division 1 | Problem 5 (from left)Noah Segil, Campbell Park, Gabe Segil, Zayaan Mehrotra, Lara Geida, and Vivienne Schneider

Pennekamp Elementary: 1st Place in Division 1 | Problem 1 (from left): Aviana Otero (4th), Lily Francisco (4th), Samantha Lee (4th), Max Rubinstein (5th), Brooklyn Chan (5th), Charlotte Fan (4th), and Asher Feldman (4th)

Read Daily Breeze Story

Manhattan Beach Coordinating Council Honors Four MBUSD Students

The Manhattan Beach Coordinating Council (MBCC) recognized students for their hard work inside and outside of the classroom at luncheon this week.

This month’s student honorees were:

Lara Geida - Pacific Elementary School

Noah Segil - Pacific Elementary School

Andrew Silguero - Manhattan Beach Middle School

Cora Uchida - Mira Costa High School

Each student was presented by their teacher, who shared why they were selected as the student of the month. Pacific teacher Morgan Henderson shared that Lara wears many hats on campus and exuberates enthusiasm and positivity. She is the school spirit chair and prioritizes community service. Noah Segil was presented by Pacific teacher Stephanie Hubbard, who emphasized Noah’s passion to serve the community and raising funds to assist individuals facing homelessness. 

Andrew Silguero from Manhattan Beach Middle School was presented by his Spanish teacher Stella Libby Auday, who shared how much Andrew has grown as a student and person. Mira Costa student Cora Uchida was honored for her impressive work ethic, excelling not only academically but also through extracurriculars such as being part of the Colorguard and Heart Club. 

Students also received awards from the City of Manhattan Beach and Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell’s Office. The mission of the MBCC is to establish a forum to promote networking, communication, and information exchange among agencies, organizations, and individuals to provide recognition to local students. The organization honors students through luncheons four times a year. 

Pi Day Celebrated Across the District!

March 14 is Pi Day and it commemorates the mathematical constant pi (π)! Students participated in various Pi Day activities, including students who tested out some pi challenges, created a skyline based on the digits of pi, students competed to see who can recite the most pi digits, and more!

The day provided a fun and engaging way for students to explore the significance of pi in mathematics and its use in everyday life!

Coffee and Tech Returns

Mira Costa students are assisting older adults in our community to navigate technology. Coffee and Tech through the City’s Older Adults Program has returned! Fourteen Mira Costa students were paired with older adults to help them with their technology-related questions. Attendees bring in their iPhones, iPads, and laptops for hands-on support. 

The intergenerational event is a great experience as students and older adults both learn from each other.

Thank you to Mira Costa teachers Shannon Vaughan and Maddie Hutchinson for supporting their students to participate! The event is scheduled to take place again two more times this year. 

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 your 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.

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

Makerspace Feature: Robinson

Students took on the Leprechaun Challenge at Robinson. Using recyclable materials, kindergarteners built a trap to try and catch a leprechaun! Students used science, math, and engineering as well as creativity to create their projects. The designs had to fit on a base and incorporate features that would attract a leprechaun.

The trap was to include an inclined plane, a pulley, or a lever made uniquely by them. 

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 24. 


Dr. John Bowes
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
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