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Superintendent's Newsletter

September 1, 2023

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

Today’s issue highlights MBUSD’s first staff spotlight of the year, a Mira Costa student featured in Forbes Magazine, and Mira Costa ranked among the nation’s best high schools by U.S. News & World Report once again.

Spotlight on Mira Costa (Special Thanks to MCHS Staff, Administrators, and Students)

Mira Costa students and staff hosted the annual beginning of the school year assemblies across campus this week, with four groups of 650 students rotating throughout all four assemblies. The day set the stage for a fantastic year ahead! The sessions were inspired by the school year theme “Stronger Together.” Mustangs attended a powerful presentation by Mr. John Halligan, a father who shared his story about losing his son Ryan to suicide. Ryan was a victim of bullying and cyberbullying. The story moved our staff and students and encouraged everyone to be upstanders and to be kind to one another. 

There was an assembly also hosted by SafeBAE, a national survivor-founded, youth-led organization working to prevent sexual violence among middle and high school students. Student Eva Asiddao and her fellow peers led another assembly with group activities, discussions, and video testimonials. The goal was to create a greater sense of unity and inclusivity on campus.

The 4th assembly was MCHS Field Day! Students had the opportunity to connect with one another at Waller Stadium, learn about current clubs, and find out how to get more involved on campus. It was a fun time for the Mustang community to participate in activities together. 

Staff Spotlight: Scott Hughes - VAPA TOSA

Our first staff spotlight of the school year highlights one of the newest staff members at MBUSD. Scott Hughes joins MBUSD as the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA), a newly created role. He has nearly two decades of diverse experience in teaching music in the South Bay and lives in Redondo Beach. Scott says he is fortunate to have been surrounded by lifelong professional artists in every discipline and has had a wide range of real-life arts experiences. 

“It has shown me the importance of robust arts education and the breadth of possibilities in terms of student pathways to success,” says Scott Hughes. He shared that he applied for the VAPA TOSA position because he sees it as his duty to help empower talented and passionate art teachers. When asked about his passion, he says it’s watching children and students learn. Scott applied to MBUSD because the District is taking the lead in supporting arts education for each student and hopes other school districts will see the work being accomplished and follow suit. 

In his new role, he hopes to educate the larger community about the “why” of arts education while helping elevate and strengthen the programs at MBUSD. 

“The arts are core to our experience and history. We must protect and celebrate traditions even as we adapt to a changing world.” When asked what has been his most significant achievement, Scott says that nearly each of his former students “graduated” from his program loving music more than when they started. If he had to pick a favorite pastime, it would be walking and experiencing his surroundings! Scott believes each day is a new start. He enjoys learning new things and being creative in his approach to life.

Welcome to MBUSD!

Mira Costa Ranks in the Top 2% of Best High Schools by U.S. News & World Report 

Congratulations to Mira Costa! We are overjoyed to share the fantastic news that, once again, Mira Costa has secured its place in the top 2% of the nation’s best high schools according to the 2023 U.S. News and World Report rankings. Mira Costa climbed up 35 spots from its previous year’s ranking!

U.S. News & World Report includes data on nearly 25,000 public high schools, and nearly 18,000 schools were ranked on six factors based on outstanding performance in state assessments for math, reading, and science and how well students are prepared for college.

This accomplishment is a testament to the unwavering dedication and commitment of our administrators, educators, and students and the incredible support from our community partners and members. Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to this outstanding achievement! Together, we consistently raise the bar for excellence in education at MBUSD.

Sophomore Lila Mokhtari Featured in Forbes 

Mira Costa student Lila Mokhtari’s name may sound familiar. She was recently named “America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneur” by winning first place in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy’s (YEA!) 15th Annual Saunders Scholars National competition for her eco-friendly soap business Maji. On August 23, she added another milestone to her accomplishment list: She was featured in a Forbes article entitled "Back to School Tips for Future Business Majors." The spotlight featured Lila’s story and encouraged other aspiring entrepreneurs to participate in competitions and programs like the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. 

Through the competition, Lila was awarded a $30,000 scholarship to the Rochester Institute of Technology, a full academic scholarship to the Golisano Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship in Rochester, New York, and a $5,000 cash prize to invest in her business. Her business sells organic motivational soap that empowers children to care for their hygiene. Proceeds from her sales benefit the Thirst Project. 

Maji is now in Beach & Beverly in Hermosa Beach and FLX Studio in New York City! Lila has also recently released a new Eras Tour collection, which will be at local pop-ups in early September. We are very proud!

Young Entrepreneurs Academy is Now Accepting Applications! 

The Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce sponsors the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!), a program that allows middle and high school students to become real entrepreneurs.

During the year-long program, students generate business ideas, conduct market research, write business plans, pitch to a panel of investors, and eventually launch their own companies. Participants meet for 24 weeks every Wednesday at Mira Costa High School. Click image for full flyer!

Click Here to Learn More!

Share Stories with Us! 

Do you have a good news story idea? Share it with us! There are great stories to be told across the District, from stories of accomplishment, perseverance, and noteworthy events to academic excellence unfolding in our classrooms. Please share a story with us so we can share it with our community!

Stories submitted are often shared in our publications, on social media, and with our local media partners. 

Submit your story here!

MBMS Teachers Begin Wave Lessons 

This week, MBMS students attended Advisory, Intervention, Review, and Enrichment (AIRE) time and learned the first lesson about MBMS Values. For the next six weeks, students will be immersed in Wave lessons that include topics about MBMS expectations, digital citizenship, and more.

In the coming weeks, MBMS teachers will work closely in their Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to strategically plan sessions directly related to student data and needs. They hope to then participate in these department-focused sessions.

Through extensive research and feedback from the MBMS community, it was determined that students and teachers benefit from having dedicated time where students can meet with their teachers for AIRE activities outside the traditional class period. 

David Levy's Classroom

Megan Mackey's Classroom

Meadows Parent Continues to Beautify Campus

Last year, we shared news about the new murals painted at Meadows by parent Bob Black. Once again, Bob has been busy transforming plain columns into art pieces! Most recently, he accomplished this work outside the school’s library and Makerspace classroom, turning the space into colorful and whimsical murals depicting popular children’s reading books. Currently, he has completed four paintings and has three remaining. His upcoming projects honor classics Charlotte’s Web and Frog and Toad

Bob shares that each mural is a labor of love, taking approximately 15 hours on average. He starts by drawing on the wall using a colored pencil and then paints over it with a thin brush. Bob Black shares, “Next, I block in the basic colors. I add details and shading. I try to match the style of the illustrators as best as I can in color and method. It’s essentially an homage to these illustrators who were/are truly remarkable.” 

He says the project has been a community effort. The original idea was proposed by parent Lilian Dunker, who suggested it to Principal Michelle Krzmarzick and former Librarian Chris Primm to do these paintings. Staff, along with the PTA, brainstormed potential books to be featured while Bob brought these literary images to life through sketches and studying the books. 

Thank you for your time and dedication to transforming the school’s environment!

Pacific Opens New Lower Playground!

Back to school for Pacific Panthers was extra exciting this week as they enjoyed the newest playground on campus! The Pacific PTA donated a brand-new play structure, including purchasing and installing the equipment. This new play space replaced a more than 20 years old structure. The playground highlights are the rope climbing wall and two slides.

The cost of the project was more than $200,000. We are so grateful to the Pacific PTA for making this contribution possible. This ensures that our future generations will also be able to enjoy and benefit from this beautiful space for years to come. This is one of the many ways our PTAs continue to give back to our schools. Thank you!

Back to School Night

One of my favorite events to attend is Back to School Night. It brought me great joy to visit classrooms across our District and meet with teachers and families. 

I learned more about the excellent instruction already taking place and previewed what’s to come for the rest of the school year. 

Check out some of the highlights! View more pictures here.

MCHS Back to School Night: MCHS Principal Dr. Karina Gerger, Vice Principal Raeann Marti, Vice Principal Kimberly Price, Vice Principal Jessica Lubs, and Vice Principal Deborah Park.

Stronger Schools. Stronger Community. Stronger Together. 

Check out the video below produced by MBEF featuring the excellence at MBUSD schools. Hear from staff, students, alumni, administrators, MBEF, and our PTAs. 

Mira Costa Drama Tech Shows

The Mira Costa Drama/Tech students and staff have announced their fall and spring shows! From November 3-11, they will be performing Peter and the Starcatcher, and the Department will present Footloose: The Musical on April 26 & 27 and May 1-4!

Click here for more information!

Upcoming Events

Purchase tickets here

Manhattan Beach 10K Run

Registration is underway for the 46th Annual MB 10K taking place on October 10.

You can register here

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 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

Reminder: Labor Day Holiday

The District office and school sites will be closed on Monday, September 4. 

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Have a wonderful holiday weekend! The next Superintendent's Newsletter will be published on Friday, September 8.


Dr. John Bowes
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
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