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Superintendent's Newsletter

September 15, 2023

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

I hope this newsletter finds you well. Today’s issue highlights Grand View Elementary, MCHS students named the 2024 National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists, and a student musician earning a youth fellowship for the American Youth Symphony.

Spotlight on Grand View (Special Thanks to TK Teachers Ms. Jennifer Putich and Mrs. Erin Karas, and Principal Tara Grings)

The beginning of the school year is always exciting, but even more so for TK students entering “big kid school” for the first time! Over the first three and a half weeks of school, Grand View’s youngest Gators have been busy learning routines that will help them gain confidence, build independence, and have fun in the classroom. 


The day begins with singing songs, reviewing the schedule, and reading the calendar. A daily routine in the afternoon is sharing time, where students have an opportunity to tell their classmates more about themselves. During this exercise, students practice essential public speaking skills, as well as respectful listening skills, while sitting in the audience. Many afternoons in TK include small group academic work with the teacher, engaging in fine motor activities, and intentional play that promotes social skills. 

As students become more familiar with the structure of the day by participating in daily routines, they learn how to navigate the classroom and playground with increasing independence, and they thrive as active members of our school community. The TK year is full of joyful learning and tremendous social-emotional and academic growth!

Staff Spotlight: Annie Munson - 1st Grade Teacher 

Annie is one of our newest educators to join MBUSD and is a 1st grade teacher at Meadows Elementary! Her connection to MBUSD is special as she went through MBUSD schools and is a proud Mustang! She says that as an alumni, it was always her goal to be part of what she says is the best district. “I could not believe it when I received the call for the 1st grade teacher position at my own elementary school.”

That's right - Annie teaches at the same elementary school she once attended as a student! When asked about her passion, she shared that it’s educating the youngest learners. “I learn so much from their creative little minds, too! Children bring me so much joy, and I feel so lucky to be able to work with them every day!”

Teaching has long been Annie's dream, and she looks forward to taking on more leadership roles and responsibilities at Meadows as she continues her career journey. In addition to her teaching role at MBUSD, she says her significant achievement has been getting accepted into CSULB for her master’s program in Early Childhood Education. 

Annie says she has never left Manhattan Beach and is proud to be a Manhattan Beach native! She enjoys visiting the beach, trying new restaurants, practicing or teaching hot yoga, and hiking in Palos Verdes. 

Congratulations to our 2024 National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalists!

Left to right: Adam Manasfi, Mia Roman-Wilson, Veronica Fish, Charles Hiatt, Kina Desai, William Kiely, Naomi Kim.

This week, seven Mira Costa students were named National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists. Congratulations to the following students:

Kina Desai

Veronica Fish

Charles Hiatt

William Kiely

Naomi Kim

Adam Manasfi

Mia Roman-Wilson

The semi-finalists are part of the less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors who scored the highest on the 2022 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as the initial screen to be considered for the program. National Merit Scholarship Corporation officials announced the names of more than 16,000 semi-finalists nationwide this week chosen from a pool of more than 1.3 million juniors from 21,000 high schools who entered the competition.

The semi-finalists will now move on to the next stage, where they will undergo a selection process to earn the finalist title in hopes of earning National Merit Scholarships. Our students must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. They plan to submit a detailed scholarship application, including academic records, participation in school and community activities, demonstration of leadership abilities, employment, honors, and awards. 

Read the MB News story for more information! 

Mira Costa Musician Earns Fellowship with American Youth Symphony

Joylynn Lee, a senior harpist, violinist, and Mira Costa music program member, recently auditioned on the harp for the American Youth Symphony (AYS) and was accepted to join the group! AYS is usually comprised of college or graduate music performance majors, averaging 23 years of age. Director of Mira Costa High School Orchestras, Peter Park, says auditions are very competitive, so earning a spot as a high school student is an especially exceptional feat.  

AYS performs major orchestral literature in multiple concerts per season at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Alumni from this group include professional musicians and educators in major symphony orchestras and music schools from across the country and around the world.  

Congratulations to Joylynn for this distinguished achievement! She will be performing at UCLA this Saturday, and we wish her the best of luck! 

Celebrating Hope and Unity!

This week, all MBUSD schools received Peace Poles. The Peace Pole is a symbol that signifies a community’s hope for peace on earth. Mira Costa High School and Pennekamp Elementary were the first schools to receive Peace Poles, and thanks to the donation by the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF), all of our schools now have them. In honor of the Peace Pole Project, we hosted an unveiling at Pennekamp Elementary with Principal Sharon Witzansky, MBEF Executive Director Hilary Mahan, and STAND 4 PEACE Co-Founders Donna Nicholson (Pennekamp teacher) & Karen Wooldridge. 

The poles display the phrases “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” “May Peace be in our Homes,” “May Peace be in our Schools,” and “May Peace be in your Communities.” Our Peace Poles will join the estimated 250,000 Peace Poles that are located around the world, including the one on the green belt in the City of Manhattan Beach.

Next week, across the District, our schools will participate in Teach Peace Week and commemorate the United Nations’ International Day of Peace on Thursday, September 21. Schools will host various assemblies and campus activities celebrating the Peace Poles. MCHS Model UN students will visit schools to share information about the program. The initiatives during this time will contribute to the No Place for Hate® program designation. 

On International Day of Peace, the Stand4Peace organization is hosting a community event. Please click on the image below for the full flyer. We hope to see you there!

Mira Costa College Knowledge Night 

Throughout the school year, the College and Career Center at Mira Costa hosts events for students and families. This week, staff hosted “College Knowledge Night.” There were 45-minute sessions across campus covering topics related to college readiness. 

The sessions hosted by expert presenters included Financial Aid, Essay & Personal Statement Workshop, El Camino College & The Transfer Pathway, Find Your College Fit, Gap Year Options, and SAT/ACT & Testing Requirements.

Visit the CCC’s webpage for weekly updates

Remembering 9/11

On Monday, September 11, MBMS students and staff attended an on-campus ceremony to remember the lives lost on the tragic day of 9/11. There was a moment of silence, and Principal Jennifer Huynh shared the importance of remembering the bravery of first responders and honoring those victims and their families whose lives changed forever on that fateful day. 

MCHS Baseball Team Members

Mira Costa Baseball Team Participates in Beach Community Event

For the past three years, our MCHS baseball team has participated in the P.S. I Love You Foundation’s Annual Day at the Beach Community event.

In its 22nd year, the day brings together more than 300 underserved youth from schools, shelters, and foster care programs across Los Angeles County. The youth (ages 5-12) are partnered with mentors and are “adopted” for the day.  

The MCHS baseball team and coaches create relay races for all attendees. Check out some of the pictures from that day!

Photos by P.S. I Love You Foundation

First Home Football Game Highlights!

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!

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!

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!

South Bay Families Connected Youth Wellness Resources for MBUSD

South Bay Families Connected is one of MBUSD’s community partners, and its Families Connected project provides us with its unique webpage that connects our parent community with the social-emotional wellness resources for students and broader youth wellness resources for families. 

Click here for the MBUSD Families Connected page

Upcoming Events

Purchase Tickets Here
Purchase Tickets 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 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 September 22. 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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