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Superintendent's Newsletter

October 14, 2022

Dear Parents and Community,

I hope this newsletter finds you well. Today’s issue highlights academics at Robinson, the return of the “Be Our Guest” program for older adults, and Walk & Roll to School Day!

Spotlight on Robinson (Special Thanks to the Third Grade Team and Principal Jackie O'Sullivan)

At Robinson, students are preparing to be leaders and innovators. One of the ways this is accomplished is through the Scholar's Speak program in third grade. Third grade students have multiple opportunities throughout the year to hone their presentation skills in a variety of curricular areas during a five-week structured system. 

Students are given “Voice and Choice," one of the MBUSD’s Personalized Learning Framework Elements to choose their topic and decide the best way to present it to their audience. This month, students were challenged to find something in everyday life that isn’t working efficiently and design a prototype to fix it.    

Students choose what they want to become an expert in and then research and develop their presentations with support and guidance from their classroom teacher. Robinson students are comfortable speaking in front of an audience and carry this skill with them into the upper grades.

MBUSD Staff Spotlight:

Jose Campos

This week we are excited to highlight Jose Campos! Jose was hired in 1984 as a custodian and then became a grounds staff member at Mira Costa for our Maintenance and Operations Department. His favorite part of his job is having the opportunity to work at MBUSD and becoming part of the family here. He has enjoyed all of the memories made on the job and says that everyone has been great to work with.

He says his biggest achievement was seeing his children attend MBUSD schools and graduate from Mira Costa. His colleague, Rigo Becerra says, “Jose is the type of person who goes out of his way to help others. If it rains, he is the first person to clean up for the students.” Becerra says he has never met anyone like Jose and he was lucky to work alongside him for 25 years. 

In just a few weeks, Jose will be retiring from MBUSD! He says he will miss working at the school sites but is looking forward to enjoying retirement with his wife. In November he plans to travel with her thanks to his daughter who gifted them a celebratory trip!

Thank you for your service, Jose, and we wish you the best of luck on the new chapter in your life. 

Thank you to our School Administrators!

It’s the Week of the School Administrator! At our Board meeting this week, we acknowledged and celebrated our principals and vice principals who lead our students and site staff in our mission to maximize the academic success of all students. 

Our principals work tirelessly to create a positive learning environment and make our school district a great place to work and learn. We are extremely grateful for this group of passionate and skillful school administrators.


MBUSD Enrollment Increase 

Also at the Board meeting, we provided an update on enrollment. We shared good news that we saw an increase of 50 students between last year and today. Preliminary numbers show MBUSD currently serves 5,897 students. While enrollment continues to be lower than pre-pandemic levels, we are one of the few districts in the region that is showing an increase in enrollment this year. 

Dr. Dawnalyn Murakawa-Leopard shared that we have seen significant growth in Transitional Kindergarten, and we now have a TK class at every school site. There was also growth in Kindergarten as well. She highlighted that almost every grade level cohort saw an increase from last year to this year (e.g., our class of 341 1st graders last year grew to a class of 358 2nd graders this year). We also have higher student enrollment at each entry point (Transitional Kindergarten, Kindergarten, 6th grade, and 9th grade).

You can see the full enrollment presentation from the Board meeting here

Be Our Guest Program Returns

We are excited to announce that we are re-launching our “Be Our Guest” program in partnership with the City of Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation Department’s Older Adults Program. It offers older adult residents in Manhattan Beach who are at least 55 years old an opportunity to enjoy our amazing student productions for free! We are offering twelve shows this year.

Eligible older adults need to visit the Older Adults Program Office located at the Joslyn Community Center to pick up a special pass to attend the shows. These passes will be available at the office starting next Wednesday, October 19.

Below is the list of upcoming shows:

MBMS Strings and Band Recitals 

The MBMS auditorium was filled with beautiful tunes as students performed during their Strings Fall Recital. Our young musicians had the chance to practice for a small audience and it was a culmination of what they have learned in the classroom. Twenty-five students had solo performances.

The next evening band students were able to perform as well for their families! Many students in the programs have been performing together since elementary school, showcasing their progress over the years. This wouldn’t be possible without the support and amazing guidance of Mrs. Denise Haslop. 

Thank you to the Mira Costa Vocal Ensemble for their Performance at the Board Meeting!

This was the first student performance of the school year at our Board meeting!

Thank you to Mira Costa and MBMS Choir Director Kate Crellin and her students for helping us start the meeting with some cheer. They sang the National Anthem and a small arrangement of “With a Little Help from My Friends” by The Beatles.

Watch a part of the performance here.

MCHS Staff Visits Culver City High School 

Mira Costa Principal, Dr. Karina Gerger, and School Psychologist Janet Allen hand-delivered more than 200 gift-wrapped letters to Culver City High School’s Cheer team this week.

The letters were handwritten by Mira Costa students and staff apologizing and supporting the Culver City High students who were disrespected during their recent visit to Costa at a football game. 

Thank you to our school site leaders and students for apologizing in this way.

Grand View 5th Graders Visit Museum of Tolerance

Grand View students participated in a 2.5-hour anti-bullying field trip called “Steps to Tolerance” at the Museum of Tolerance this week. The educational experience shared the history of the Holocaust and students learned the meaning behind important vocabulary including a bystander, perpetrator, target/victim, and ally. They were able to use the vocabulary in hands-on learning by looking at Holocaust artifacts at the museum and identifying which artifacts represent which words. Students acted as “explorers” as they connected historical events to modern day issues of respect and responsibility at school and in the community. 

Besides interactive learning and activities, students experienced a one of a kind experience thanks to the Museum. They were able to hear firsthand from a Holocaust survivor who shared with them her story. Eva Brettler emphasized to students the importance of sharing life experiences.

Thank you to our Grand View 5th grade teachers for supporting our students during this trip and sharing this experience with us. The program hosted by the Museum of Tolerance aligns with California’s Common Core State Standards for English Arts and History-Social Science for 5th and 6th grade levels.

Thousands of MBUSD Community Members Participate in Walk & Roll to School Day 

The streets of Manhattan Beach were busier than usual this past Wednesday! Students from all of our elementary school sites and MBMS walked or rolled to school with their families and our staff in celebration of National Walk & Roll to School Day! Our community partner Beach Cities Health District led this in the South Bay and joined us at Meadows Elementary, which was our host site for the event. Manhattan Beach Police Department’s Police Chief Rachel Johnson, our School Resources Officers Michael Hamilton and Donovan Torres, and other members from MBPD also joined us during this route.

Each school site had a designated path and despite the rain, everyone was all smiles to participate in the event that encourages physical activity, a strong sense of community, and teaches pedestrian safety skills. At Pacific Elementary, Councilmember Hildy Stern also joined in on the fun! 

If you participated and would like us to share your pictures on social media, post your pictures using the #MBUSDWalktoSchoolDay. Check out our pictures from that day here.

Thank you to everyone who made a difference with us.

E-Bike Safety Campaign Assembly

Robinson Elementary students learned firsthand the importance of e-bike safety through their first Bike Safety Assembly this week. The assembly was part of the “Ride Safe, Ride Ready” Manhattan Beach’s Safety and Awareness campaign. The event was hosted in collaboration between the PTA, District, MBPD, City Council, and Mira Costa students Justin Newman, Alex Chun, Lara Meyer, and Luca & Kai O’Neill. 

During the assembly, School Resource Officer Donovan Torres shared the importance of bike safety. There was also a show and tell lesson that explained the essential rules of the road by South Bay Cycle’s Zach Canning and a live watermelon demo by Mira Costa student Justin Newman. Thank you to Councilman Joe Franklin who hosted a “Family Feud” style game to test students’ bike safety knowledge. 

MBUSD PTAs hope to bring this assembly to other elementary schools and provide other bike safety programming. 

Thank you to parents Monica Chun and Gita O’Neill for sharing this information. We appreciate our parents! Check out more photos here.

MBEF Hosting New Family Welcome Reception

Our Manhattan Beach Education Foundation is hosting an event for new families to learn more about the District. MBEF representatives, District Advisory Council PTA President Erin Levin, other parents, school leadership and I will be at the receptions. Save the dates! 

You can register to attend either on Monday, October 24, or Thursday, November 23 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Tin Roof Bistro.

15 DAYS AWAY! Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk 

Register NOW for the 14th Annual Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk!

You can register for your child’s school site team here. The walk supports both children with special needs through the Friendship Foundation and our local students through MBEF.

Be sure to designate MBEF as your charity so proceeds from your registration will directly support MBEF and your school PTA! This year we are urging everyone to participate and show their support for our schools whether it’s registering as a walker or a virtual walker.

We want to show everyone our District is the best in the South Bay! Click on your school’s official team page below to register:  

Grand View Elementary School Team

Manhattan Beach Middle School Team 

Meadows Elementary School Team

Mira Costa High School Team 

Pacific Elementary School Team

Pennekamp Elementary School Team 

Robinson Elementary School Team

Costa Marching Band and Color Guard Competitions

The MCHS Marching Band and Colorguard have started their competitive season! They recently performed at the Ayala Music in Motion Tournament, which took place in Chino Hills. They received 4th place in Region 4A during the competition. Congratulations! 

Next, they are scheduled to perform at the Western Band Association’s SoCal Super Show coming up on Saturday, October 29. To show support you are invited to attend the competition at El Camino College. They plan to perform their 2022 season show “Let Them Eat Cake.” You can purchase tickets here. We can't wait to see them perform tonight at the Homecoming game! 

Homecoming Pep Rally

There was a lot of energy and excitement in the air as students and staff cheered one another during the Homecoming pep rally today. It’s the first pep rally hosted in the new athletics complex since it was built!

Visit our Health & Wellness Resources Page

Los Angeles Kings Complimentary Tickets

We are so excited to announce that MBUSD is the first local school district to partner with the L.A. Kings on a special complimentary ticket distribution program. Please check your inbox for an email that shares a unique code for your student(s) that can be used only once to book your seats. $5.44 in fees will apply per ticket to each student and each staff member for upcoming games in November and December at the Arena! 

These games include: 

  • Tuesday, November 8 | vs Minnesota Wild
  • Saturday, November 12 | vs Detroit Red Wings
  • Sunday, November 27 | vs Ottawa Senators
  • Tuesday, November 29 | vs Seattle Kraken
  • Thursday, December 1 | vs Arizona Coyotes
  • Saturday, December 3 | vs Carolina Hurricanes
  • Thursday, December 22 | vs Calgary Flames

Go, Kings, Go! 

United Against Hate Week Coming Up 

To stop hate in our community, MBUSD will participate in LA vs Hate’s United Against Hate Week on November 13 - 19. LA vs. Hate is a program of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations and other partners. The recognition of this week was created in direct response to the rise in hate crimes and incidents that have posed a threat to the safety and civility of neighborhoods across Los Angeles. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the community-driven approach to empower one another to build inclusive healthy communities. 

During the week of action, communities raise awareness about the dangers of hate, the need for respect, and civil discourse among all county residents and students. We will keep you updated on the events that happen across our District during this time.

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. 

We have a MBUSD Personnel Commissioner position opening. Click here for more information and to apply.

A Personnel Commission is a nonpartisan public body responsible for the administration of a “merit system” for the selection, retention, and promotion of classified (non-certificated) employees in a public school district. 

Click the links below to learn about the variety of MBUSD job openings currently available.

Classified Job Opportunities

Certificated Job Opportunities

Upcoming Events

Mira Costa Drama/Tech students are excited to present LOVE/SICK!

Tickets are now on sale!

The Pinkerton Legend - A Haunted Experience

Friday, October 21 - Sunday, October 23

6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Buy tickets here!

Donations support MCHS Drama Department!

Manhattan Beach Police Department Halloween Trunk or Treat 


Tickets are on sale now!

Saturday, November 5 | 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. | Mira Costa Auditorium

In its 12th annual year, this event will have an interactive expo, sample delicious food & beverages, and enjoy new experiences shared with our community. 

Tickets are on sale now. Student discounts are available.

Raci Levine, a junior at Mira Costa High School and President of the Jewish Cultural Club at MCHS is a speaker this year.

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The next Superintendent Newsletter will be published on Friday, October 21. 

Thank you as always for your continued support and partnership. 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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