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Superintendent's Newsletter

March 3, 2023

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

Today’s issue highlights Robinson Elementary, details on MBUSD’s upcoming Social and Emotional Learning Week, and MBMS Choir students performing at the national level!

Spotlight on Robinson (Special thanks to the 5th Grade Team and Principal Jackie O'Sullivan)

The Robinson 5th-grade team is bringing math alive with some interactive activities. Dimensions (length x width x height) take on a whole new meaning when you're estimating how many squares can fill an oatmeal box, a box of rice pilaf, or a box of stuffing mix. 

Using Cognitively Guided Instruction to cover the California State Standards, Robinson's 5th graders are discovering the volume and capacity of objects using cubic squares and everyday objects. Next, students will be learning about adding fractions to the mix!

Staff Spotlight: Marilyn Smith

This week we are spotlighting the Manhattan Beach Preschool site lead and teacher Marilyn Smith! She has been working at MBUSD for the past 30 years. After earning her Bachelor's in Human Development/Early Childhood Education, Marilyn pursued a career at MBUSD after hearing how great our District was from the former director of the MBUSD Child Development Center.

Marilyn says, “The privilege of working at the preschool is not just the children and their families but also the staff and the camaraderie we share.” Her biggest achievement has been when her past students come back to visit her. “I hear all about the accomplishments they have made in their own educational journey and the excitement they have for the world.”

She says MBUSD and the preschool continue to create a welcoming sense of community and support. When Marilyn isn’t at Manhattan Beach Preschool you can find her enjoying time with her family and reading. She has three Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers!

Remembering Casey Rohrer

It is with great sadness that I share that one of our students passed away last week after his battle with a terminal illness. Casey Rohrer was a bright light and a student in our Mira Costa CHOICE program. Casey was originally a student at Hermosa schools and attended four years at Mira Costa before joining CHOICE. During his time in the program, he worked hard to make positive changes within our community to promote inclusivity and access for all. 

Staff and friends remember Casey as a joyful person who brought smiles to them with his kindness and humor. He was known to be a friend to everyone.

We want to remember Casey and the impact he made here at MBUSD. Our sincere condolences and thoughts go out to Casey’s family, friends, teachers, and classmates. We know that our community will come together to support each other during this difficult time. 

A moment of silence was shared during our Board of Trustees meeting in honor of Casey. 

MBUSD Facilities Project Update

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Dawnalyn Murakawa-Leopard provided Trustees with an update on several of our facility projects nearing completion across the District. 

The security camera project at MBMS has been completed, with 46 cameras installed and currently in use. The 81 cameras being installed at Mira Costa are anticipated to be operational by the end of next week. Camera systems will allow authorized District personnel to view live and recorded footage.  

At the Mira Costa pool, plans are underway to remove and replace damaged and decaying fiberglass and hollow metal doors. This project is tentatively scheduled to be completed during spring break next month. The Manhattan Beach Preschool Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) project is also moving forward. Plans for this project have been approved by the Division of the State Architect (DSA), with final pricing and scheduling in development. HVAC units currently have an extremely long lead time, so while we hope to have this project completed by the next school year, units may need to be installed after the school year begins. We will be sure to keep the Preschool community updated regarding construction timelines as they become clearer. 

Plans for the Stadium Way improvement project are underway. This project will provide a renovated entry point leading from Peck Avenue to the Athletic Complex. It will feature new paving, a central plaza, a new trash enclosure, and a beautiful entryway arch off Peck Avenue.

At MBMS, the new 5,500 square feet music building is near completion, with move-in scheduled to take place later this month. It will be home to various types of spaces for the music program. At our elementary schools, the Pennekamp project is also nearing completion, with final work taking place on the new student and community gardens. Grand View’s three-story multi-purpose building construction is still in progress, and the new space will have a lot to offer, including administration offices, a multi-purpose room, and a new cafeteria and lunch area. 

The camera projects were partially funded by the City of Manhattan Beach through a contribution of $250,000 from the City’s Capital Improvement Program fund. We are grateful to the City and to the residents of the community who approved Measures C and EE, as most of this work would not have been possible without their support. 

You can view the full facilities update presentation and more pictures here.

MBUSD Social and Emotional Learning Week

We are gearing up to celebrate the 2nd annual district-wide MBUSD Social and Emotional Learning Week starting next Monday, March 6. 

Each school site will have exciting SEL activities daily for our students that highlight supporting the whole student, which includes maximizing academic success, supporting their well-being, and continuing a positive climate of care on campus. The week shares with our community the importance of quality SEL programming and aligns with our Social and Emotional Learning Framework. 

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. 

You can find all school site activities here. Find out more here about our SEL Framework

South Bay Families Connected SEL Resources for Parents/Guardians

Our community partner is offering MBUSD families free and accessible resources and videos to support parents. You can find those resources below. Click image for flyer!

Congratulations to SEL Student Art Contest Winners!

We are excited to announce the winners of our Student Art Contest for Social and Emotional Learning Week! Mira Costa students Chloe Kim and Delaney Levin's incredible designs were selected for beautifully capturing the essence of SEL! Students were asked to submit artwork in any form that reflected their vision of the 2023 Social Emotional Learning Day theme “Uplifting Hearts, Connecting Minds.” Thank you to everyone who participated! These designs will be used on SEL stickers and other materials during our SEL Week. 

Celebrating National Read Across America Day

Meadows Elementary was one of our schools that celebrated the 25th anniversary of Read Across America Day on March 2, an event designed to promote literacy among students and honor Dr. Seuss’ birthday. 

At Meadows, students read with their buddies for 30 minutes. Fifth graders were paired with kindergarteners, fourth graders were buddies with second graders, and first graders were paired with third graders. The readings were underway in the lower field and students were engaged. Staff also joined in on the reading time. 

The National Education Association’s Read Across America is celebrated year-round, but the annual day is a special one to call attention to the efforts of our educators, parents, and others who motivate and teach youth to read.

"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. 

MBMS Hosts First STEM Expo Presented by Chevron

Thanks to our community partner Chevron for presenting the MBMS STEM Expo with MBEF for an interactive experience and up-close look at the latest local innovations in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. 

Chevron debuted its newest robotic dog, named Spot 2.0, which lives at the El Segundo Refinery and assists with safety and operations on-site. Attendees also interacted with Chevron’s drones and augmented reality technology. Nearly 500 attendees came to the event throughout the evening.

The Expo also included hands-on demonstrations from Two Bit Circus, marine biology activities from the Roundhouse Aquarium, and a look at how NITROPOD liquid nitrogen ice cream is made. The STEM expo featured a variety of student projects from STEM-based classes and clubs.

We are so grateful for MBEF’s annual support to keep our STEM initiatives thriving in MBUSD. 

Robotic Dog, Spot 2.0

Mustangs Basketball Team Wins Big

Congratulations to the Mira Costa Boys’ Basketball team! They defeated Montgomery of San Diego this past week during their first Division 1 CIF state championship game. Read the MB news story here.

On Thursday, they played against Notre Dame Sherman Oaks and the final score was Notre Dame 58 and Mira Costa 39. We are proud of your hard work.

Congratulations to Morgan Medrano!

Mira Costa junior Morgan Medrano was honored this past Tuesday night at the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region XIV Every Student Succeeding Award ceremony at the Dignity Health Sports Field. She represented the South Bay region (ACSA Region 14) and was selected by the Mira Costa administration for overcoming personal adversity and for continuing to be an exemplary student. Morgan was first nominated and then selected as the finalist for the area. 

Principal Dr. Karina Gerger and School Psychologist Janet Allen attended the event with Morgan’s family. Dr. Gerger says, "Morgan is a dedicated student who has worked hard overcoming challenges to have her best semester yet! We are so proud of her drive and resilience."

Each year, ACSA recognizes nineteen Pre-K through adult students, one from each California geographic region. The purpose of the award is to honor students who have succeeded against all odds, beyond expectations, or simply have won the hearts of the administrators and educators who helped them achieve their goals. 

Morgan received a Chromebook from ACSA. We are very proud of her and celebrate her success! The award has been given to students since 1996. 

5th Annual Defying the Odds By Kinecta Credit Union 

Recently, in celebration of Black History Month, our community partner Kinecta Federal Credit Union hosted its annual Black History Month event empowering African American male students. Nine Mira Costa students participated in the annual event. 

Student attendees learned about the life skills needed to properly handle the unique challenges that young African American males face in today’s society. The objective is to connect attendees with tools, community, and contacts to help them reach their goals. 

Highlights included a featured panel of professionals from various industries who shared stories about their pathways to success. African American male students were part of a panel discussion and breakout sessions that touched upon topics such as etiquette on the job, goal setting, how to deal with law enforcement, and resiliency, all under the overarching theme of self-empowerment. We were fortunate to be one of five school districts given the opportunity to participate in this wonderful gathering. 

We appreciate this partnership with Kinecta.

State of the City 

The Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce (MBCC) and the City Of Manhattan Beach will present the annual State of the City event on Thursday, March 16. 

I will share the latest successes and updates from MBUSD at this event which will take place at Westdrift.

Choir Students Perform Nationally 

Congratulations to MBMS Choir students Reya Shah and Rosie Jappel for being selected for the competitive American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) National Honor Choir. They recently performed at the ACDA National Conference during Ski Week in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

The conference provides student choirs the opportunity to showcase their talent and dedication to the art of choral music. MBUSD Director of Choirs Kate Crellin was in attendance at the event and says that more than 5,000 students auditioned for this prestigious event and less than 20% were accepted. The ACDA National Honor Choir gathers together some of the most talented and inspiring choral singers in the country to perform. 

Our students also had the chance to learn from and be inspired by other choirs and directors from across the country. We are so proud! This shows the commitment and hard work of our students and Ms. Crellin! 

MBUSD Choir Groups Visit Elementary Schools 

Our chorale groups also impressed our community. MBMS Ocean Wave Chorale and the Mira Costa A Capella groups, under the direction of MBUSD Director of Choir Kate Crellin, visited each MBUSD elementary school this week. 

The students performed and showcased their talent while inspiring the elementary students. The visit provides a great opportunity for high schoolers to improve their musical skills and spark interest in the youth to join our Grammy-Award Winning Choirs and pursue music in the future. 

Students learned a portion of the songs performed and they had an opportunity to ask questions. Choir members also were excited to visit their alma mater!

Makerspace Feature: Pacific

Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss artist who is best known for his sculptures of human figures. Pacific second graders, inspired by his work, designed tin foil sculptures of skiers, snowboarders, and other assorted action figures recently.

The students learned how to cut and mold tin foil to create their figurines and then added details like ski poles and snowboards, mountains, clothing, and other accessories. 

This is a good example of how art in STEAM is incorporated in Makerspace. The students had a great time creating these sculptures and Makerspace Specialist Teri Hechter Hampton says perhaps someday her students will see a real Giacometti in person.

Opportunity for Families to Participate in MBUSD's International Day

On Saturday, April 29, from 2:00-4:00 pm, 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 17.

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

Upcoming Event!

Register for the MBMS Music Open House event 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, March 10. 


Dr. John Bowes
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
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