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Superintendent's Newsletter

October 28, 2022

Dear Parents and Community, 

I hope this newsletter finds you well. Today’s issue highlights academics at Mira Costa High School, the Board of Trustees passing a resolution condemning antisemitism, and MBUSD students test scores ranking as some of the highest in the region.

Spotlight on Mira Costa (Special thanks to Ms. Annie Choi and Principal Dr. Karina Gerger)

Students in Ms. Choi’s freshman Model United Nations (MUN) class wrote position papers on the Ethiopian Crisis. Students worked in pairs and were assigned a country (Ethiopia, Canada, USA, Mexico, Somalia, Yemen) to research the issue. In the assignment, students researched the topic, how the United Nations addressed it, and how their assigned country responded. Students also shared their own country’s policy and created solutions based on that policy. 

In class, student pairs presented their country’s perspective and solutions and other delegate pairs responded from the perspective of the country they represented sharing differing points of view. The freshman MUN students are preparing for a partner debate where they will be paired with a upper classman to compete in an advanced MUN conference at UCLA. Students also were evaluated on their business attire. Mona Cho and Christian Bricker represented Ethiopia brilliantly.

MBUSD Staff Spotlight: Samantha Pena

This week we are excited to recognize Special Education Department Administrative Assistant, Samantha Pena! She works at the District Office and has served MBUSD for more than one year.

Pena says she chose to work for MBUSD because of the prestigious reputation the District has in the community. “It’s so great to be part of a team who works hard and strives for the same goals of helping our students and families,” says Pena. 

Her favorite part of the job is being part of her team and having two great supervisors

(Dr. Irene Gonzalez-Castillo and Dr. Kris Vegas). She says she works alongside a reliable and fun office team with her colleagues Elvia, Kate, and MJ. She also enjoys interacting with other departments and school site staff. She says MBUSD has a lot of “gem” employees who work hard. She takes pride in implementing new systems within the Special Education department that have enabled everyone to operate successfully as a team.

“I think Manhattan Beach Unified School District is great because of the hard working employees who show up every day. From the teachers to the maintenance staff to the aides to the office staff to the service providers and everyone in between. Regardless of how hard the day might be or the job task is, they show up with a positive attitude and willingness to pour into our students and families,” says Pena. 

Pena is a passionate and outgoing individual and looks forward to continuing this journey at MBUSD. 

Board of Trustees Adopt

Two Resolutions this Week

At the recent Board of Trustees meeting, the Trustees passed a Resolution Condemning Antisemitism and adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism. 

It was adopted following recent incidents of hate and antisemitism in our community to stand up against these despicable acts. During the meeting, the Board of Trustees mentioned the most recent antisemitic incident to take place. This week antisemitic graffiti was written at Polliwog Park outside one of the women’s restrooms with a quote attributed to Adolph Hitler.

The Resolution affirms MBUSD’s focus on our ongoing commitment to cultivating an inclusive culture that values the diversity of our community, celebrating both our individuality and our commonality.

The Resolution also reaffirms our commitment to fostering an inclusive, diverse, and safe learning environment for all students, staff, and families, free from discrimination, bullying, harassment, or fear. 

Trustees also adopted a second Resolution that evening supporting Proposition 31 and a ban on candy flavored, scented, or infused tobacco products. The proposition will make it illegal to sell flavored tobacco products in the state of California. 

Mira Costa Staff Launch Video Series to Stand Up Against Hate 

The video is a resource educating our students on hate speech and acts. It features staff coming together to unite and share a message. After the video was shown in the classroom, students participated in a discussion. 

Costa staff is also partnering with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to bring the nationally known program, No Place for Hate, to campus.  

In partnership with the City of Manhattan Beach, leaders from local faith-based organizations, Los Angeles County representatives, MB Chamber of Commerce, MBEF, and other local partners, we have formed the South Bay Community Coalition Against Hate. 

The purpose of this Coalition is to address hate incidents in our community through programs that educate and raise awareness in an effort to decrease the incidents of hate and foster a sense of belonging.​

The Coalition during United Against Hate Week (November 13-19), is launching its own local campaign to denounce hate called MB vs. Hate Week.

Events of the week include:

  • CommUNITY Event & Rainbow Pathway Unveiling at Polliwog Park on November 13 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
  • “MB Stands United Against Hate” lawn sign distribution at local schools and organizations
  • Communitywide Moment of Silence
  • MBEF hosts Race to be Human movie screening at Mira Costa High School on November 15 - register here

For additional details and more events information, please visit

MBUSD Student Test Scores Rank in the Top Across Region

MBUSD continues to lead the South Bay in the percentage of students who meet or exceed standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Please see the October 12, 2022 presentation to the Board of Trustees for this year’s results. The following chart shows MBUSD continues to produce top results across the region.

Visit our Facts vs Rumors page! "Is that a rumor or a fact?" 

The purpose of this page is to answer any questions in regards to the rumors we hear and read in our own MBUSD community and sometimes beyond. It is our long-standing commitment to continue to be transparent with our community.

We will continue to update this page when new information becomes available.

2 Days Left to Register for Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk!

We currently have 1,700 walkers and still need your help to set a record for the largest number of walkers or virtual walkers from MBUSD schools. The SKECHERS Pier to Pier Friendship Walk benefits all of our students in MBUSD – and it is our students with special needs who participate in the Friendship Foundation who benefit the most.

If you are not familiar with the Friendship Foundation, they support children with special needs through donations that assist children with special needs and their families through one-on-one peer mentoring and social recreational activities. For just $30, you can register for this event to support education throughout all Manhattan Beach public schools and support the Friendship Foundation.

If you've already signed up, THANK YOU! If you have not, please take a moment to sign up by clicking on one of the MBUSD teams below. 

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

 Manhattan Beach Education Foundation Team

Be sure to designate your contribution to MBEF so your registration fee can be generously matched by SKECHERS and support the Manhattan Beach public schools AND the Friendship Foundation!!

Fentanyl Warning as Halloween Approaches

We want to remind our families about the dangers of fentanyl. The United States Drug Enforcement and the California Department of Education is urging communities to be vigilant and educate one another to keep our families safe. 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 40-50X more potent than heroin and 80-100X more potent than morphine. Further, the DEA is warns that rainbow fentanyl has been identified as a new trend. It can be found in many forms, including pills, powder, and blocks that can resemble sidewalk chalk or candy. 

Any pill (regardless of its color, shape, or size) that does not come from a health care provider or pharmacist can contain fentanyl and can be deadly. 

Anyone who encounters what they suspect to be fentanyl in any form should not handle it without proper protective gear including a mask and gloves. Once removed you can properly dispose of it at the Manhattan Beach Police Department's unwanted medication/pills drop-off center located in their lobby. You can always call MBPD’s non-emergency tip line if you have any questions at 310-802-5140. 

Click here for a recent resource shared by the California Department of Education.

Grades of Green at Grand View!

The 5th Grade Student Council Green team is making a difference on campus one lunch at a time. Every day thirty students sort lunch waste, reducing the amount of trash that goes into the landfill. They first take any food that is whole and not eaten and sort it into a special donation basket. Every week, someone picks up that food to distribute to those in need. 

Students then take any liquids and pour them into a liquid container and all other food items are dropped into the organics bin to get picked up by waste management. Students have also been encouraging other students to do their part by educating fellow students on how and why to sort their lunchtime waste.

If they aren’t busy doing this, the green team is also collecting in-class recycling! MBUSD Grades of Green Committee members hope to have this great work take place at other campuses. 

SOAR Green Leadership Application Deadline - October 31 

Speaking of Grades of Green, the organization is still accepting applications for its SOAR Green Leadership Academy. If you are a high school student you can apply for this and join the inaugural class of passionate peers to create a greener future for generations to come! SOAR is an advanced leadership academy that will empower you to lead with an environmental mindset. Students will have the opportunity to work with corporations, organizations, and other groups to develop and drive better environmental standards, impacts, and outcomes. There is no cost to participate. 

 Apply Here!

Red Ribbon Week Celebrations

MBUSD schools celebrated the 2022 National Red Ribbon Week with the theme, “Celebrate Life. Live Drug-Free.” At MBMS, students participated in a door decorating contest where they created door designs across campus to commit to being drug-free.

Each day of the week, students and staff celebrated with different themes related to Red Ribbon Week. They also presented at our recent Board meeting.

At MBMS and MCHS this year, the Tobacco-Use Prevention Education (TUPE) program will take place on campus to help youth make healthy decisions to reduce tobacco use and educate them about the dangers of tobacco. Next week, there will be a TUPE assembly at MBMS.

This is Costa

8th graders and their families received a warm welcome at Mira Costa this week during the “This is Costa” event!

The bleachers at Waller Stadium were filled with families who had the unique opportunity to learn about life on campus from Principal Gerger and seven current students. Mustangs shared their journey as a high school student and provided 8th graders with advice. 

Attendees saw performances from our band, cheer, and dance teams. The track was lined up with the student and staff representatives from sports teams and campus clubs giving incoming 9th graders a chance to get their questions answered! 

Thank you to Costa’s PTSA and MBX for making this event possible. Go Mustangs!

MBEF Hosts New Family Welcome Reception 

Also this week our Manhattan Beach Education Foundation hosted an event for new families to learn more about the District. Attending the reception with me were school principals, MBEF representatives, District Advisory Council PTA President Erin Levin, and other parents. It was wonderful meeting our new families and learning more about them!

If you missed this one, MBEF plans to have another one next week on Thursday, November 3 from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. at Tin Roof Bistro.

For more information, and to RSVP click here.

City of MB Hosting Rainbow Gazebo Mural Painting at Polliwog Park

The City is inviting you to be part of a colorful event. Local artist Kate Tatsumi is painting a rainbow mural around the Central Gazebo in Polliwog Park this Saturday, October 29 at 10:00 a.m. 

The event will start with a small ceremony and guided painting of this mural. If you would like to attend, RSVP here.

Join Us! New Pickleball Courts Ribbon Cutting at MBMS

The City is also hosting a ribbon cutting at MBMS to unveil the new pickleball courts! Everyone is invited to join in on the celebration on Friday, November 4 at 4:30 p.m. at MBMS. 

The City of Manhattan Beach initiated the project to convert our paddle tennis courts to pickleball courts due to the increase in demand for more spaces for the sport. In partnership with the District and with the support of our PE teachers, the City has resurfaced the courts and is in the process of installing fencing between the courts to prevent balls from going into other courts. The City has provided this project at no cost to the District.

Once they are officially open, the courts will be used by our students during the school day and the City will manage the use of the courts outside of school hours. 

The MBMS Pickleball Courts will be open to the public on weekends from 8 a.m. to dusk. Four courts are designated by skill level for open play and two courts are first come, first served with a one-hour limit per group. All MBMS pickleball courts are free during a pilot program in place until the end of the year.

Peak Flu Season 

The peak of cold and flu season is upon us. It is expected that California will have higher than average levels of flu activity this season.

The best prevention against the flu is still the seasonal flu vaccine. We want you to protect yourself and your family against the flu. There are simple steps to prevent the illness and take care of your family:

  • Know the signs and symptoms of the flu
  • Do not send children to school if they are sick
  • Teach your children to wash their hands
  • Teach your children to not share personal items
  • Flu vaccine is available from private physicians and pharmacies

Please click here for the flu letter sent to families

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. We look forward to having you support our students!

Below is the list of upcoming shows in November:

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!


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.

MBMS Turkey Trot on Sunday, November 6

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The next Superintendent Newsletter will be published on Friday, November 4. 

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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