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Superintendent's Newsletter

November 9, 2023

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

I hope this newsletter finds you well. Today’s issue highlights Grand View Elementary, MBUSD recognizing United Against Hate Week, thanking those who have served in honor of Veterans Day, and celebrating twenty-four of our student-athletes on National Signing Day!

Spotlight on Grand View (Special Thanks to GV Kindergarten Team and Principal Tara Grings)

At Grand View, Kindergarten students celebrated and gave thanks to our nation’s veterans. Students read books, sang songs, and engaged in class conversations about the different branches of the military and how they keep our country and world safe. 

Principal Tara Grings says they love making home-to-school connections, and they invited families to help contribute to an honor wall where students highlighted various family members and friends who have served in our armed forces. Students gleamed with pride as they shared about their hero with their classmates. As we go off into the long weekend, students are reminded that Friday is a day of remembrance to honor and celebrate all the heroes who have helped keep our country safe.

Thank you, veterans!

Staff Spotlight: Sharon Witzansky | Pennekamp Principal

This week, we are featuring Pennekamp Elementary School Principal Sharon Witzansky, who is currently in her third year in this position. Sharon has dedicated 25 years to MBUSD, where she has held various roles. She has worked as a teacher, teacher on special assignment (TOSA), and vice principal at multiple MBUSD campuses.

During her time as an educator, she has taught students in kindergarten, 1st grade, 3rd grade, and 5th grade. Sharon shared that she spent eighteen years teaching at different grade levels and serving in different leadership capacities to pursue becoming a principal one day. Her passion for teaching and her commitment to education led her to major in Liberal Studies at Loyola Marymount University. She finds joy in seeing her students enthusiastic and happy and also cherishes the opportunity to work with kind and devoted staff. 

In her career, Sharon says her most significant achievements have been being named the District Teacher of the Year and keeping in touch with her former students. “I love hearing about their successful lives as adults. It is rewarding to know that I had some small part of their life when they were young, and it’s heartwarming to see their growth.”

You can find her on a golf course in the desert or cooking for her family when she isn't working! 

Saluting our Veterans 

All of our schools and District offices will be closed tomorrow, Friday, November 10, in honor of Veterans Day. It is a time to express our gratitude and recognize those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. On Veterans Day, we honor all veterans and thank them for their selfless service to our country.  

The City of Manhattan Beach will hold its 26th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony on Saturday, November 11, at 11:00 a.m. at Veterans Parkway. You can find all the details here.

Thank you, veterans!

MBUSD Recognizes United Against Hate Week 

MBUSD will once again participate in United Against Hate Week, which takes place November 12-18. It will be the second year we have actively participated in this national initiative. United Against Hate Week was created to empower residents to take action in their local communities, raise awareness, and alter the course of the growing intolerance to create more inclusive communities.

School sites will have scheduled events and activities on their campuses. Also, lawn signs and window signs that say, “MB Stands United Against Hate” will be available for pick up at our schools starting Monday, November 13. If you have any questions about the signs, please email [email protected]. United Against Hate Week is one of many activities that bolster the Climate of Care work at each campus.

Our commitment to providing a safe environment for all our students and staff also includes work related to our May 5, 2021, MBUSD Resolution Denouncing all Manifestations of Hate, Xenophobia, Prejudice, and Bigotry while Affirming MBUSD’s Commitment to the Safety and Well-Being of our Community and our October 26, 2022, Resolution Condemning Antisemitism.

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi Visits MCHS Unity Club

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi visited the MCHS Unity Club this week. He shared his career journey and led an engaging conversation with students about how he wanted to get involved in politics to help people and make a difference in communities.

MCHS Unity Club President Vivi Flechner asked Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi questions about his life and the initiatives he has spearheaded in office. 

The Unity Club meets bi-weekly and was founded by Vivi Flechner this year. At every meeting, they invite leaders and community members who share their stories and diverse backgrounds with students. Vivi says she created this club because she wanted people to learn about the diverse cultures and experiences of the Mustang community. The club's goal is to use individual storytelling to educate about diverse backgrounds and cultures to celebrate diversity. 

Sophomore Emmy Gorley is the vice president, and the Club Advisor is MCHS School Psychologist Janet Allen.

Signs of Suicide (SOS) Prevention Program

Each school year, MBMS and Mira Costa participate in the Signs of Suicide program (SOS Day). This week, on Tuesday, November 7, the event took place at MBMS. Staff showed videos about the warning signs of suicide, alcohol, drugs, and technology related to mental health. The goal is to educate on the signs and symptoms of depression and help students and staff know what to do when warning signs are recognized.

After the videos were shown, students were given adolescent depression screening forms, providing an opportunity for them to share how they felt privately. The pillars of ACT (Acknowledge, Care, Tell) were shared with students and staff to utilize as lifelong skills.  

Once this form was submitted and reviewed by staff, students who were in need of support and mental health checks were provided with resources that day. Forty-four students were seen by mental health professionals available for SOS Day from MBMS and MCHS.

Additionally, in an effort to be proactive, our local Psychiatric Emergency Team (PET) Team was on hand for any emergency situations. Students and staff were given the choice to opt out of participation if requested. This program is used throughout the country to raise awareness about depression and suicide. 

Twenty-four MCHS Student-Athletes Celebrated on Signing Day

Wednesday, November 8, marked National Signing Day across the nation, and it was the first-day student-athletes can sign an early letter of intent! We want to congratulate our remarkable students on this milestone. There was a lot of excitement at the Costa Athletic Complex as families, fellow students, and friends cheered on as students officially committed to take their athletic and academic journey to the next level! 

Congratulations to the following students: 

Jett Bathurst - Loyola Chicago - Volleyball

Sydney Bushman - UC Davis - Soccer

Zach Chapin - Pepperdine University - Volleyball

McKenna Collins - Bryant University - Volleyball

Mia Crisera - Stanford University - Soccer

Johnny Dykstra - University of Southern California (USC) - Indoor Volleyball

Charlie Fuerbringer - University of Wisconsin - Volleyball

Chloe Hynes - New York University - Volleyball

Matthew Krause - UC Irvine - Baseball

Savanna Lau - UC Berkeley - Beach Volleyball

Giselle Lau - UC Berkeley - Beach Volleyball

Hayden Lin - Claremont McKenna College - Volleyball

Victor Loiola - Cal State University Long Beach (CSULB) - Indoor Volleyball

Maximo Martinez - University of Southern California (USC) - Baseball

Trixie McMillian - University of Michigan - Volleyball

Jillian Rodrigues - Colorado Mesa University - Lacrosse

Bryn Shankle - Texas Christian University - Indoor Volleyball

Kendal Steller - UC Davis - Beach Volleyball

Emmersyn Stoddard - Arizona State University - (ASU) - Ice Hockey

Ace Tendale - UC Riverside - Soccer

Reese Thai-Sandoval - UC Davis - Beach Volleyball

Wilson Tunila - Georgetown University - Swim

Nora Williams - UC Riverside - Volleyball

Avana Zenner - Boston College - Track & Field 

The Signing Day event included athletes in all sports except football, which has its early signing day in December. For more Signing Day photos, visit our Facebook page here.

Read More About our Athletes Here! 
Daily Breeze News Story on Signing Day 

Importance of Attendance

As we prepare to take time off from school for the upcoming holidays, we would like to remind all families about the importance of regular school attendance. 

Please keep in mind that MBUSD is actively following guidelines for chronic absenteeism, as required by the State of California. Chronic absence — missing 10 percent or more of school days due to absence for any reason—excused, unexcused absences, and suspensions—can translate into students having difficulty learning to read by the third-grade, achieving success in middle school, and graduating from high school. Additionally, our schools are required to notify families and hold meetings to address chronic absenteeism. Please understand that these meetings are meant to be proactive and often lead to positive experiences for students and families. 

  • If your family or your student needs support, please reach out to your site administrators or counselors for assistance.

  • If your student will be missing school for 3-14 days, please contact the front office two weeks in advance to discuss Short-Term Independent Study (STIS). Work completion during STIS ensures positive attendance and is a proactive way to avoid chronic absenteeism. 

  • In addition to being critical to supporting student learning, attendance is also important because MBUSD only receives funding for students who are actually in attendance. For each day that a student misses school, the district loses approximately $63. While we understand that sometimes absences are unavoidable, we appreciate families considering making a donation to help the District recover funds lost due to non-attendance. Please drop off a check payable to "MBUSD" or log into your MySchoolBucks account and pay through the Absence Donation portal in the School Store.

Daily routines are essential for reducing stress and creating a sense of security and belonging for students and adults, aligning with our Climate of Care. Please take steps to keep your child healthy and send them to school unless they are truly sick. Every day of school is an important opportunity for students to learn as well as connect to peers and their teachers.

Eight MCHS Students Selected for SOAR Program

We also want to congratulate MCHS students for their passion to be environmental leaders. Luisa Cervantes, Alex Wood, Sienna Agens, Willow Edwards, Lila Murphy, Dash Brown, Carter Clay, and Penn Clay were selected to be part of the Grades of Green SOAR Eco-Innovation Academy. Program participants are high school students from the Los Angeles area who are mentored and led by Grades of Green staff and corporate partners.

The goal is for students to emerge from the program with a broad view of global environmental issues through a corporate lens and will prepare to enter college or the workforce with diverse, sustainable, and innovative perspectives. They gain practical skills and experiences, develop an understanding to facilitate industry-wide systematic change, and partner with organizations in different industries to solve real-world issues. 

This year’s program started on September 26 with an orientation and tour of AltaSea in San Pedro.

Project-Based Learning - Build and Learn Toy Co.

In Julia Reyes’ 8th grade science class, students had the chance to create a product for a fictional toy company, Build and Learn Toy Co. The project-based learning assignment had them build a balloon-powered toy car kit to “sell” in stores. To assess their creations, parent volunteers played the role of toy company representatives and listened to the students' presentations. They determined which products were the best designs the toy company would consider selling.

The two toy winners were “Shark Car” and “Cash Cruiser.” Within the project team, students took on various roles, including project manager, mechanical engineer, automotive designer, and system operator. 

Julia says she invited volunteers to participate in the presentation to give parents and staff an opportunity to be engaged in the project while giving students a chance to present their toys in a real-world setting. 

Thank you for sharing this story with us!

Mona Cho Shares Her Story at the White House

GIRLS LEADING CHANGE: MCHS Student Mona Cho recognized at White House

Mira Costa High School sophomore Mona Cho is now part of a historic moment at the White House. On October 11, in celebration of International Day of the Girl, Cho was one of fifteen...

Read More

Don't Miss MCHS Drama/Tech Production Peter and the Starcatcher!

If you haven’t purchased your tickets to the MCHS Drama/Tech Fall production, don’t forget to do so! Only a few more shows remain!

Based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Peter and the Starcatcher explores how a young orphan ultimately became Peter Pan. From marauding pirates and jungle tyrants to unwilling comrades and unlikely heroes, Peter and the Starcatcher playfully explore the depths of greed and despair and the bonds of friendship, duty, and love.

You can purchase your tickets here. Student & senior tickets are $11/presale and $13 at the door. General admission is $13 Presale/$16 at the door.

The following are the dates/times for the shows: 

November 10 | 7:30 p.m.

November 11 | 2:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

“Be Our Guest” Program 

In partnership with the City of Manhattan Beach Parks & Rec’s Older Adults program, the “Be Our Guest” program schedule is live! The program invites older adult residents in Manhattan Beach who are 55 years of age or older to attend performances for free at Manhattan Beach Unified schools. 

If you are interested, you will need to sign up and get a special pass at the Joslyn Community Center at the Older Adults Program office.

For the schedule, please visit This year, there are thirteen shows that “Be Our Guest” members can attend, including MCHS drama/tech, choir, band, and orchestra programming. Click image below for flyer.

Give Today to the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation

What is the MBEF Annual Appeal?

Every year the MBEF Annual Appeal supports academic enrichment programs that instill Excellence in Education. From funding smaller class sizes, strong core academics, social-emotional learning with additional counselors, and specialized programs in STEAM and visual and performing arts, MBUSD families contribute to our excellent school system with annual donations. 

Please support the 2023-24 Annual Appeal by donating today!

We are grateful for MBEF and all that the Foundation has done for the past 40 years to make what MBUSD it is today! Please read MBEF’s Annual Report & Honor Roll to learn more about the impact, MBEF’s vision, and the people who supported MBEF to make a difference in our schools. 

Give Today!

Check out our Social Media Directory

Following our eight schools on social media and our District accounts make it convenient for you to get real-time updates, news, and information!

Here is our directory!

Stay Updated! Download MBUSD App!

If you haven’t downloaded the MBUSD app, please do so!

You can go to an Apple or Google Play store to download the app by searching Manhattan Beach Unified or MBUSD. Once you download it, you will see a home page asking you to set up the schools you would like access to and announcements from, including the District.

You can toggle between the District and each school site screen from the top of the app. All elementary school sites have the same buttons, while MBMS and Mira Costa’s features cater to our families and students there. The app offers 42 languages from which to choose. You can update your app settings, and you can learn what is happening at the District and school site level every morning by push notifications! 

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 educational 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 November 17. Have a wonderful weekend!


Dr. John Bowes
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
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