A MAGAZINE FOR THE
WHAT’S INSIDE 24 LAGUNA IS
04 LAGUNA IS 64 LAGUNA IS
14 LAGUNA IS
36 LAGUNA IS 46 LAGUNA IS
FORWARD THINKING A CELEBRATION
2 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
DEAR LAGUNA FAMILIES, ALUMNI AND FRIENDS, LAGUNA
If there is one thing I have learned in my two years here at Laguna, it is that the
Laguna experience is an incredibly personal one. Part of that experience has been MAGAZINE | FALL 2016
steadfast since the school’s very beginning: the commitment our faculty members
share for the well-being of their students. It’s that sense, as described by grad CO-EDITORS
Pierce O’Donnell ’16, that his Laguna teachers wanted him to succeed even more Tara Broucqsault
than he did; that every student will be met exactly where they are, and given exactly Lindsey Davis
what they need to thrive and succeed in the next chapter. In many ways, personal
connection is a cornerstone of the Laguna experience. And yet, it is not the only one. COPY EDITORS
A large part of the Laguna experience is ever evolving. It is that unshakeable desire Lindsey Davis
to revisit our curriculum in order to provide our students with the best possible tools to Marcy Jacobs
succeed later in life. In many ways, the school is undergoing an exciting transition. We Cynthia McClintock
have a renewed promise to ensure that there is no disconnect between the classroom
and the real world into which our students will enter when they leave Laguna for WRITERS
college and beyond. Tara Broucqsault
Our faculty’s enthusiasm in embracing this transition has been inspiring on many Lindsey Davis
levels. It has meant changing not just their class schedules, but the way they teach and Blake Dorfman ’02
use time in or out of the classroom. They are constantly looking for new, relevant ways Marcy Jacobs
to present information, and reaching out into the community to build bridges of real- Jessica Stonefield
world learning for our children.
Whether it is through the Library Dances program (p. 10), our new robotics Will Adler
curriculum (p. 20), the Swooper Citizens character education program (p. 6), or an Heidi Bergseteren
urban analysis and adventure in New Orleans (p. 16), our students are learning more Tara Broucqsault
deeply and more meaningfully due in large part to our faculty’s willingness to learn Paul Chiment
and grow alongside them. On that note, we are equally grateful to the many members Lindsey Davis
of our community who have invested in our school to make these programs a reality. Brad Elliott
We could not do it without you. Oscar Gomez
In truth, the Laguna experience is unique to every student and family here
at our school. That’s because everyone in our community—our students, teachers, GRAPHIC DESIGN
parents and alumni—has a unique place within it. We are a great school on the cusp Brittany Ragan
of something even more amazing, and I look forward to seeing the collective outcome
of our shared vision. PRINTING
Laguna Blanca Magazine is
Rob Hereford, Head of School published by Laguna Blanca School.
Every effort is made to avoid errors,
misspellings, and omissions. If,
however, an error comes to your
attention, please accept our
apologies and notify us at
Middle and Upper Schools
4125 Paloma Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93110
260 San Ysidro Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108
4 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
Our faculty use novel
teaching methods to
help students grasp
core concepts at an
even deeper level. From
character development to
literary analysis, Laguna
focuses on instilling a
strong foundation of
learning while giving
students an experience
they will never forget.
NTAL LAGUNABLANCA.ORG 5
A new character development program brings big values to our youngest students.
6 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
Last school year, Kindergarten Teacher Mieke Delwiche Knowing
and First Grade Teacher Elyse Atkinson hatched a new 2+2=4 is
program to bring character education to the forefront of important.
Laguna Blanca’s Lower School curriculum. Named Swooper So is being
Citizens—a cross between Laguna’s owl mascot, Swoop, kind. These
and the “super” character traits the program aims to build— are the traits
the weekly class allows the school’s youngest students to our students
explore big topics like honesty, fairness, and compassion first- will live by their
hand through hands-on learning, self-expression, and fun. entire lives.
“Swooper Citizens allows us to bring Laguna values front and LAGUNABLANCA.ORG 7
center in a tangible way,” Mieke says. “At Open Houses I often
find myself spending half the time talking about academics, and
the other half talking about real life—community, citizenship,
and caring. It felt like it was time to make character education an
official part of our curriculum here at the Lower School.”
The class complements weekly student discussions led by
Head of Lower School Andy Surber, offering kindergartners and
first graders the chance to discuss and practice a certain trait in
further depth every week. Before launching the program, Mieke
and Elyse reviewed a list of 80 different character traits before
selecting the ones they felt to be most important for a Laguna
student. Each month, they review four or five traits that relate to
an overarching theme. In a month focused on responsibility, for
instance, students review traits like determination, diligence, and
“This is the perfect age to start a character development
project,” Elyse says. “These are the traits that make a good citizen.
And good citizens are who we want as students here at Laguna.”
According to Mieke, humor, problem-solving, and hands-on
learning play a large role in helping students grasp the values for
the long haul. During a focus on patience, for instance, students
were each given one marshmallow at the start of class and
informed that they would receive a second marshmallow only if
they could exercise the patience to wait to eat the marshmallow
on their desks. Students were allowed to make the decision—and
learn the consequences. Some students walked away with just one
marshmallow at the end of the lesson.
In addition to classroom activities, students also undertook
service learning projects that aligned with their monthly themes.
Projects included participating in the all-school beach clean-up,
visiting Harbor Patrol, partnering with Angels Bearing Gifts,
and visiting a retirement community to further instill the values
learned in class.
Mieke and Elyse say the program has offered a great foundation
for having ongoing conversations with students regarding the best
ways to be kind, thoughtful, and caring when making decisions in
everyday life.The teachers track the class’progress in a blog so parents
can follow and reinforce the teachings at home. It allows parents
and teachers alike to plant the seed early that people are different,
and that even though you are little, you can—and should—be the
best person you can be. Ultimately, Mieke and Elyse believe it will
result in closer friendships and more compassionate kids—not just
in kindergarten and first grade, but far beyond.
Moving forward, Mieke and Elyse say they would like to develop
a seamless two-year program to ensure maximum impact for the
students and build even greater camaraderie between the two grade
“We’re grateful to work in a school where we have the freedom
to build a curriculum around what students need,” Mieke says. “It's
nice to be supported in the same way we’re teaching our students to
support one another.”
As their final Swooper Citizens project of the year,
Kindergarten students performed the musical play, “The Rainbow Fish”
about a very vain fish who learns a valuable lesson on sharing.
8 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
CHARACTER TRAITS FOCUS
JANUARY *Respect the Beach clean-up
*Field Trip to Harbor Patrol
* Visit to Valle Verde
and sock collecting
* Visit to Union Bank in Carp
Dance is not usually a requirement in high school English classes, but it is at Laguna Blanca,
where a collaboration with State Street Ballet puts students on stage with professionals in a show
that’s based on a great work of literature.
The Library Dances project first came to Laguna Blanca three years ago when English Teacher
Charles Donelan, Ph.D. and Drama Teacher Kate Bergstrom invited State Street Ballet dancer and
choreographer Cecily Stewart to bring the program to the school. During the summer, Charles and
Cecily select a classic work of literature from the eleventh and twelfth grade English curriculum,
dividing up the action into dances and dramatic scenes. Together they create a hybrid of dance and
theater that students then learn as part of the Library Dances performance.
“Students gain a greater depth and understanding of the characters through acting and dance,”
Charles says. “It allows for a much more personal engagement with the book, and a greater sense of
trust and camaraderie for every student who participates.”
When students arrive at school in September, they are greeted by the participating teachers—a
group that this year will include Charles, Jillian Honorof, Dana Caldwell, and a team of four
professional ballet dancers from State Street’s roster, including Cecily. In less than a month, the
students learn their lines and their dance moves, and perform the literature live for family and
State Street Ballet has long made dance education a part of its mission, hoping to inspire a
lifelong participation in the arts from a young age. Library Dances is one of its public outreach
programs, and Laguna is the only high school in Santa Barbara currently offering this experience.
Past performances have included such classics as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Scarlet Letter.
Throughout the Library Dances unit, Donelan pushes the limits of traditional literary analysis
(CONTINUED ON P. 12)
10 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
every child in the
in a live theater
- Charles Donelan, Ph.D.
This year’s Library Dances
performance will take place on
October 13, 2016 in Spaulding Auditorium at
7pm. Family and friends are welcome!
to script for his students. During last year’s performance Library Dances lessons are
of The Scarlet Letter, for instance, he asked his students 50 percent classroom,
to conduct research in a variety of secondary literature 50 percent art.
about public shaming to make the topic—and the
emotions surrounding it—more real to them. This fall,
students are tackling high school favorite The Great
Gatsby from Daisy’s perspective. Through this approach,
Charles hopes his students will be able to uncover new
layers of complexity in the novel’s treatment of love and
During the three-week Library Dances unit, students
spend approximately 50 percent of their time on stage
rehearsing for the performance. In that sense, the class is
more than just a new way to teach classic literature—it
also guarantees that every student in the Upper School
participates in live theater at least once before they
graduate. More than 100 Laguna students have already
gone through the program successfully.
The dance styles that students perform are influenced
by the type of dance State Street Ballet is studying at
any given time. The four professional dancers who are
present throughout the rehearsals then join students
onstage for the final performance.
Charles, who is also the Executive Arts Editor of the
Santa Barbara Independent, feels passionately that this
collaboration between Laguna students and professional
artists in the Santa Barbara community represents
an important and distinctive feature of the school’s
experiential education program.
“Having access to these professional artists is
priceless,” Charles says. “When the dancers compliment
students on their work, it’s a kind of praise and
recognition that I can’t give them.”
Library Dances at Laguna has already gained
significant recognition. The audience for last season’s
production of The Scarlet Letter included nationally
known choreographer William Soleau, as well as the
directors of the State Street Ballet, Rodney Gustafson
and Leila Drake Fossek.
“This is a real opportunity for our school—for our
students—to be noticed,” Charles says. “It gives a whole
new meaning to the term ‘literary arts.’”
12 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
LIBRARY DANCES: HOW IT WORKS
Charles Donelan, Ph.D. adapts the chosen piece of literature into
scripts for his students to perform.
State Street Ballet choreographer Cecily Stewart brings the script to
life by interspersing a variety of dances throughout the piece.
Each section of Charles’ classes performs a different scene or
scenes from the book they are studying.
Because different portions of the book are performed by different
sections of his classes, numerous students have the chance to play
the main characters over the course of the evening.
Sections rehearse separately as part of regularly scheduled class
meetings. This means that the whole piece only comes together in
dress rehearsal on the night before the public performance.
14 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
At Laguna, we do more than
talk the talk. Our teachers
provide students with real-world
experiences that relate to their
learning. Whether it’s building
and programming a robot, or
exploring the streets of New
Orleans, Laguna students
graduate with the ability to face
life in the only way that truly
IS LAGUNABLANCA.ORG 15
“Human to human,
not human to book,
or human to website.”
– Josh Baron ’19
16 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
For the past three years, Laguna’s ninth and tenth grade students Laguna Stage band members join Charmaine Neville
have gone on urban adventures as part of a schoolwide effort to on stage at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro.
augment the traditional curriculum with hands-on learning. Using
both classic and modern texts as a springboard for discovery, the Throughout the weeklong stay in New Orleans, students had
students conduct research that takes them to exciting, historically the chance to live the complexities of the city first-hand, with
important locations where they meet and learn from experts and experiences ranging from mainstream (visiting the French Quarter
local residents. After inspiring trips to New York City and London, and taking a tour of local swamplands) to more intense, visiting the
English Teacher Ashley Tidey, Ph.D., says that students on the Whitney Plantation to learn about the city’s history with slavery
2016 trip to New Orleans achieved a higher level of involvement and volunteering with the Jericho Road housing project. They had
with the communities they visited than ever before. the chance to visit Laguna alums at Tulane University, where they
also met co-author Snedeker, who wrote one of the books they
“This year has really marked a shift in the class,” Ashley says. “I studied throughout the year.
started thinking less about literary analysis and more about urban
analysis—allowing the kids to understand the truly complex culture “The challenge was to help them appreciate the culture without
and people of the places we are studying.” judgment and to see where our cultures might be more alike than we
realize,” Ashley says. “Through their personal interviews, meeting
The spring trip to New Orleans was inspired by the tenth and talking to real people, and performing research, they dedicated
anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and fifth anniversary of the BP themselves to thinking through the city’s problems as if they were
oil spill. As part of the curriculum, students read The Moviegoer their own.”
by Walker Percy and Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas by
Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker. Both were used as the According to Ashley, the kids seized the nuances of the city and
launching point for a year-long urban immersion into the cultural used their critical thinking skills to understand how communities
and social issues impacting the city of New Orleans. can come together to solve problems—including the man-made
problems that we as humans often bring upon ourselves.
While literary analysis remained a focus in the early part of
the academic year, Ashley says students quickly moved beyond the “The truth is that most of our students won’t go on to become
literary realm, tackling tough topics like the New Orleans prison English majors,” Ashley says. “But we're showing them that English
system, racism, and failures of the Hurricane Katrina evacuation as can mean more than literary analysis. It means understanding our
part of the year’s studies. They undertook in-depth essays on these world.”
self-chosen issues, and were required to perform interviews with
someone who had first-hand experience in their topic field in order Learn more: Visit http://lbsnola.weebly.com to view student
to gain a more personal understanding of it. According to Ashley, it essays, as well as a video about the trip created by Laguna student
was an empowering experience on many levels. Camila Lemere ’18.
For instance, student Margaux Murphy ’19 had chosen to LAGUNABLANCA.ORG 17
study the Katrina evacuation as part of her essay. In doing so, she
interviewed the director of an organization called Evacuteers,
which has partnered with the city of New Orleans to prevent future
evacuation disasters. Since Katrina, the organization has created
16 official “evacu-posts” throughout the city, largely in low-income
areas, to ensure faster, safer emergency response for the city’s
underserved populations. Margaux’s connection proved so fruitful
that Evacuteers offered to arrange for Laguna students to visit City
Hall and learn more about the city’s new efforts toward emergency
“My students literally guided me to that component of the
experience,” Ashley says. “It’s a whole new, empowering model
of trip planning—taking input from the students on what is
meaningful for them to learn about.”
“Instead of reading a book, they are
learning how to read a city.”
– Upper School English Teacher Ashley Tidey, Ph.D.
Volunteering with Jericho Road Housing Initiative.
“[I learned that] ‘things’ really don’t matter, the
important stuff in our lives are the people and
experiences that we love.”
– Sam Stegall ’19
18 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
DAY ONE Whitney Plantation Tour Guide shares the
names of the children who died during slavery.
Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro where students joined Charmaine
Neville on stage. LAGUNABLANCA.ORG 19
Tour of French Quarter; Streetcar ride to Tulane University
and lunch with Laguna alums Jack Kinsler ’15 and
Courtney O’Donnell ’13; Tulane University course on
Design Thinking; meeting with Rebecca Snedeker (co-
author of Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas);
dinner with Judge Desiree Charbonnet.
Tour of the Whitney Plantation, the first slave museum in
America; swamp tour; visit to Brandan Odums’ Studio BE
Mural Project in the Bywater neighborhood.
Volunteer at Jericho Road Housing Initiative; Tennessee
Williams Literary Festival class; city walk; Jazz band
performance at Preservation Hall.
Visit to Emergency Operations Center at New Orleans City
Hall, accompanied by Executive Director of Evacuteers
Kali Rapp; Tour of Treme (New Orleans’ oldest African
MIDDLE AND UPPER SCHOOL ROBOTICS
Vinh Tran joined Laguna Blanca
in the 2015-16 school year to
help build the school’s growing
robotics curriculum. In this
issue, he shares how he got into
teaching and how he hopes to
inspire students from grades
seven to 12 to get more involved
in STEM (Science, Technology,
Engineering, Math) education.
Robotics is a semester-long elective class
open to all Laguna students starting in
seventh grade. Middle school students
start with VEX IQ kits and program with
Modkit (similar to building from scratch).
Upper School students start with VEX
EDR kits and begin using a text-based
programming language called RobotC. To
learn more, visit vexrobotics.com.
20 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
YOU EARNED YOUR DEGREE IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING. the robots have feedback and move precise distances. Another
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO START TEACHING? example is building and programming robots to pick up blocks
of a certain color and stack them. Students are allowed to repeat
Before I started college, I was a cadet in a youth program the class and continue working on building robots for competition
run by the Air Force called Civil Air Patrol, which I am while learning more advanced programming and mechanics.
still involved in today. There, I learned aerospace, leadership,
ethics, and military discipline. Since it was a hierarchical WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH IN HELPING THE STUDENTS GRASP THE
structure, I spent my share of time teaching the junior cadets. ROBOTICS CONCEPTS?
I try to teach my classes as exploratory labs. I keep the lectures
Later on at UC Santa Barbara, where I earned my mechanical to a minimum and let the students uncover things through
engineering degree, I often became the team leader for projects in hands-on learning. It gives them the chance to play around
different classes, largely due to my industry experience. Frankly, at and make their own discoveries, which can give them a greater
institutions such as the UCs,the primary goal is often to create novel feeling of accomplishment and responsibility for their learning.
and cutting-edge research rather than producing engineers with
practical knowledge for industry. I often found myself explaining WHAT DO YOU EXPECT YOUR STUDENTS TO LEARN IN THE ROBOTICS
the different engineering processes, techniques, and materials CURRICULUM?
to my fellow teammates and giving them the opportunity to I expect all of my students to walk away with a basic
learn and progress more fully. Eventually, I became a teaching understanding of structured programming. Most of my students
assistant for one of the school’s engineering classes. I enjoyed that have already learned the basic physics behind the mechanisms
type of mentoring and teaching and it led me to teaching today. we’re building. Programming requires a lot of abstract thinking,
but it becomes easier if the students can break things down
WHY MIDDLE SCHOOL AND UPPER SCHOOL? into small steps and organize them. It’s somewhat like essay
writing: statements can be moved around but it doesn’t
At the lower end of the age spectrum, middle school students mean it’ll make sense, and punctuation mistakes will ruin
are young and full of excitement. They are starting to explore it. I’m teaching them to think like a programmer so they can
the world more and learn about themselves; it’s a critical point apply those skills to other advanced classes moving forward.
to plant the thought of pursuing a STEM career into their
minds. Also at this time, they are developing the ability WHAT MAKES LAGUNA’S ROBOTICS CURRICULUM SO SPECIAL?
to have abstract thoughts, which becomes particularly
important when learning science and math. A class like Laguna Blanca’s program is unique because students can begin
robotics is where everything starts to come together. getting involved in STEM starting with our LEGO classes in the
Lower School and continue building—literally—on those skills
At the upper end, the older students are well-versed in through the end of high school. As I learn, and as students learn, we
math and science, and generally have a good idea of what can better develop robotics classes into a comprehensive program
direction to go. I firmly believe that our students are capable that spans from elementary through high school. We’re fortunate
of working at a college level and this gives me a chance to to have seasoned faculty with industry experience who teach at the
further push them in the direction that they want to go. college level. This helps build practical classes and also allows us to
challenge our students beyond traditional learning.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW THE ROBOTICS PROGRAM WORKS?
Robotics is a semester-long elective. It starts in grade seven and
runs through grade 12, with different building sets for Middle
and Upper School classes. The goal of this class is to generate
interest in STEM as we combine these fields to create useful
machines. An example of a project we do in class is programming
a robot to navigate a maze without getting stuck anywhere along
the walls or edges. It is important to use distance sensors so that
EAST MEETS WESTMONT
Laguna Art Teacher Dug Uyesaka featured at Westmont's Ridley-Tree Museum of Art
Congratulations to Middle and anticipated pursuing a career in art—most of Santa Barbara, Individual Artist Award
Upper School Art Teacher Dug Uyesaka, specifically, art education. for Collage and Assemblage. For him, the
whose work will appear in a mid-career Westmont exhibition allows for the added
retrospective at the Westmont Ridley- “I always loved drawing and making thrill of sharing with his students the
Tree Museum of Art in Santa Barbara. things with my hands,” he says. “I’d never artwork that he created in his youth.
The installation, which will run October even been to a museum until I was in high
20, 2016 through January 14, 2017, will school. My family definitely had concerns “Art is the light, joy, and energy in our
include a variety of paintings, prints, about me pursuing something like art as everyday lives,” Dug says. “It enhances
and assemblage from Dug’s childhood a career.” everything around us, and I am so grateful
through the present day. to share my art with my kids here at
But eventually, Dug’s passion won Laguna, at Westmont, and throughout the
“Artists can be unassuming about their them over, and he went on to pursue greater Santa Barbara community.
work and Dug seems reserved when it an arts degree at UC Santa Barbara in
comes to promoting his art,” says Judy 1975. He has been a staple in the Santa An opening reception will be held at
Larson, director of the museum. “But Barbara arts community ever since, later Westmont's Ridley-Tree Museum of Art
the art itself is anything but quiet. Dug’s taking up freelance graphic design and on October 20 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. (free
assemblages and collages exude a boldness even working with a local film production and open to the public). Laguna English
company as he continued his craft. He Teacher Charles Donelan, Ph.D. will be
“Art is the light, joy, also taught afterschool art programs and writing the catalogue for the installation.
and energy in our art workshops. Still, it wasn’t until he
everyday lives.” joined Laguna’s staff in 2000 that he felt Exhibit runs October 20, 2016
comfortable wearing the hat of a teacher. to January 14, 2017.
that ‘packs a punch.’ His prints, drawings,
and paintings range from expressions of “The university art curriculum was The Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art
untapped energy to nuanced poetry. There not as career-minded then as it is now,” is one of Santa Barbara’s most esteemed
could not be a better time to feature Dug he says. “I felt I had nothing valuable to galleries. It seeks to educate students and
Uyesaka’s work. Career-wise, his work is share as an art instructor at such a young the larger community about the power
as good as it gets!” age. But now—many years later—I see the and value of the visual arts in our world
incredible value that art provides to our through physical, critical, and spiritual
Dug grew up as a third-generation children. Art allows you to imagine and engagement with the creative process and
Japanese American in Clovis, California, create, and to develop the craftsmanship its result. Visit www.westmontmuseum.org
just outside of Fresno, nestled in the San to actually execute your ideas. Most of life to learn more.
Joaquin Valley. Coming from a blue collar is problem-solving, and art allows students
agricultural background, he says he never to do that hands-on.”
In 2009, Dug received the Laguna
Blanca School Faculty Excellence Award
in addition to a William T. Colville
Grant. In 2010 he received an Arts Fund
22 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
I believe art can be
magic—just like its
original intentions so
many millenniums ago.
It gives me a means
by which to attempt
to grapple with many
of the gray areas of
my life. Questions that
sometimes don’t have
answers are sometimes
the best questions we
can ask of ourselves and,
of the things that bring
meaning into our daily
lives both personally
and as a society. I like to
peek into the fuzzy areas
where linear thought does
not always hold rein.
- Dug Uyesaka
24 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
Year after year, our Laguna
graduates express gratitude for
their experiences not just in the
classroom, but on the athletic
fields, courts, and courses where
they play. Laguna is able to offer
its students the opportunity
to experience sportsmanship,
leadership, spirit, and confidence
through athletics—in ways
a larger school simply never
could. We are so proud of all
that our student athletes have
accomplished and contributed to
our school community.
TION LAGUNABLANCA.ORG 25
ATHLETE PIERCE O’DONNELL ’16
This past June, Pierce O’Donnell left Hope Ranch bound for Harvard
University, but not before making a tremendous impact on our athletics
program. Below, Blake Dorfman ’02 shares what made him such a
special gift to not one, but three Laguna sports teams.
Pierce O’Donnell ’16 was always easy to spot when playing to scrap as hard as I could for everything I wanted,” he said.
sports for the Owls—you just had to look for the most intense His basketball coach, Sal Rodriguez, saw that attitude right
competitor out there.
away. “I remember his first practice as a freshman, he was just
O’Donnell, a Laguna Lifer, had an Upper School athletics super aggressive,” said Rodriguez. “He was all over the place and
career that defined leadership, unmatched energy, and a strong out of control and shot almost every time he got the ball, but as
work ethic. When in a game, he could be found with a determined a ninth grader, he was just throwing himself around for rebounds
scowl on his face, dishing out high fives that left his teammates’ and beating up on seniors. I thought, ‘this kid’s gonna be okay.’”
“Okay” is an understatement. By his senior year, the “out of
Bound for Harvard, he was honored as the year’s Outstanding control” freshman had become a refined basketball player, making
Male Athlete just before graduation. He was a three-sport varsity the All CIF third team and putting up some big numbers,
athlete in each of his four years, and while he possessed athleticism, including 35 points in one half of a CIF playoff game.
the accomplishment wasn’t necessarily due to physical gifts.
After leading a deep playoff run in basketball, the senior
“As a 115-pound freshman nicknamed ‘lead-foot,’ I knew I had switched gears—and positions—for the volleyball season.
26 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
The former All CIF libero was called upon to run the team’s against Lucerne Valley, he rushed for three touchdowns and threw
offense as a setter, which is a position he had never played before. for another. After being asked to step up and play quarterback the
He adjusted quickly to the very technical position, guiding Laguna week before, he threw for over 200 yards in the game.
Blanca all the way to the CIF Championship game.
His success came as no surprise to Coach Shane Lopes, who
Volleyball coach Jon Roberts, whose decades-long playing and called him the “vocal leader of the team”and noted that O’Donnell
coaching career stretches to all levels and phases of the game, was the player that logged the most off-season hours in the weight
made quite a statement at a Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table room.
luncheon early in the season.
Athletic Director Jason Donnelly said that O’Donnell’s most
“I think I’ve had two people in my life with that kind of impressive quality as an athlete “was the effort he put forth when
intensity, and the other one is Karch Kiraly,” he said, referencing nobody else was watching … Pierce was not going to let anyone
this country's most decorated volleyball Olympian. outwork him, and that is the quality of a great leader.”
The football field was perhaps the most suitable venue for Without O’Donnell’s presence, Owls coaches will be looking
O’Donnell’s over-the-top fervor, as he led the Owls to a 7-3 record for another young athlete to step up and be the spark that lights a
and the second round of the playoffs. In the opening round win fire in their teams. It will certainly be an exuberant act to follow.
ONCE AN OWL
Congratulations to our outstanding student athletes who will be
playing volleyball at the university level in the 2016-17 school
year! Thank you for your sportsmanship in leading Laguna to
numerous CIF championships during your tenure. We wish you
lots of luck as you fly forth to your next chapter.
28 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
PHOEBE MADSEN ’16
Claremont McKenna College (Claremont, CA)
NCAA Division 3
CHRIS COSTANTINO ’16
New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark, NJ)
NCAA Division 1
DANI ABRAMS ’16
Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME)
NCAA Division 3
SPRING SPORTS ROUNDUP
Go Owls! The spring sports season capped off a record year for
boys volleyball and huge wins in sand volleyball, tennis, and lacrosse.
We’re so proud of our students who work just as hard on the field as they
do in the classroom.
30 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
It was a banner year for boys volleyball as the Owls made their first-ever trip
to the CIF Finals! Seniors Pierce O’Donnell ’16 and Philip Fauntleroy ’16
(both of whom received All CIF Division V volleyball honors), along with senior
Chris Costantino ’16, led the way for the team as they made program history
this spring. The Owls, undefeated in Merovick Gymnasium, played their best
volleyball when it mattered most. A 3-0 semifinal sweep of visiting El Rancho in
front of a boisterous home crowd set up the squad’s first-ever trip to the finals.
GIRLS SAND VOLLEYBALL
The girls sand volleyball team “killed it” this season, competing mainly against
public schools from Santa Barbara and Ventura. Partners Laurel Kujan ’18 and
Maddy Nicolson ’17 played at a high level all year long, while Kelly Bickett ’18
and Sophia Fay ’18 also played key roles for this year’s squad.
It was all aces for the boys tennis team, led by seniors Philip Hicks ’16 and
Atty Roddick ’16, who finished with a 12-4 record and were nearly perfect on
our home tennis courts. As a freelance team, the squad barely missed out on a
Division IV playoff berth, but with a number of young players, including Andrew
Tolles ’19 and Alex Furukawa ’18, the boys will be primed and ready to go
The lacrosse team played their toughest schedule to date, with home and away
games against a number of public schools. Seniors Christian Fowler ’16,
Chandler Aubery ’16, John Puzder ’16, and Robert Estrada ’16 led the way
for the Owls and established a strong foundation for this fast-growing sport.
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Laguna takes great pride not just in its outstanding athletes, but in its athletes who maintain a strong
commitment to their studies while competing in their favored sports. Laguna’s Scholar Athletes were
recognized at this year’s awards ceremonies. The following students earned at least a 3.9 GPA during
at least one season of sports in 2015-16.
FRESHMEN SOPHOMORES JUNIORS SENIORS
Tony Bai Javier Abrego Eric Chen Dani Abrams
Hayley Bankhead Kelly Bickett Joan Curran Chandler Aubery
Clare Bilek Aura Carlson Henry Farrell Chris Costantino
Sofia Fouroohi-Martin Kelvin Chen Fiona Flynn Robert Estrada
Caitlin Gainey Isabelle Davenport Matthew Goldsholl Armon Ghodoussi
Grace Giordano Julia Fay Natasha Heyer Mikey Hawker
Alex Koke Sophia Fay Sally Li Phillip Hicks
Charlie MacNeil Jack Fry Grace MacNeil Emily Lafitte
Andrew Tolles Alex Furukawa Maddy Nicolson Bjorn Lindskog
Maddie Walker Anton Homeniuk Zaira Paredes-Villegas Phoebe Madsen
Regan Williams Jackson Hurley Cindy Shan Wakelin McNeel
Sonya Kotler Luke Smillie Darwin Miguel
Kathryn Norris Travis Smillie Cameron Morello
Clare Ogle Pierce O’Donnell
Erik Qin Sage Pickering
Clay Rodgers John Puzder
Ethan Tyng Atty Roddick
Merith Velasquez-Jimenez Maddie Sokolove
Kendall White Kylan Tyng
Helen Yang Lexi Yabsley
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JOHN H. ADAMS SCHOLAR ATHLETE
Phoebe Madsen ’16
OUTSTANDING MALE ATHLETE
Pierce O’Donnell ’16
OUTSTANDING FEMALE ATHLETE
Phoebe Madsen ’16
HEAD OF SCHOOL’S AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING
SPORTSMANSHIP ON & OFF THE FIELD (MALE)
Kevin Khodabandehlou ’20
HEAD OF SCHOOL’S AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING
SPORTSMANSHIP ON & OFF THE FIELD (FEMALE)
Priscilla Abrego ’20
OUTSTANDING MALE ATHLETE
Sangay Sherpa ’20
OUTSTANDING FEMALE ATHLETE
Torri McMullin ’20
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While our tradition of personal
connection and community
remains steadfast, one of the most
beautiful parts of our campus
community is our willingness to
grow and change. Our faculty
are fully committed to trying
something new—be it an app,
excursion, or course schedule—
if it means a stronger, more
meaningful learning experience
for our students. We are honored
to have so many forward-thinking
faculty and community members
who are invested in our students’
success in life’s most important
classroom—the real world.
GETTING TO KNOW
STEVE Steve Chan joined the Laguna
CHAN faculty in 2014 as a history
teacher, but this year he will be
38 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE taking on a new role: Head of
Middle School. Laguna Blanca
Magazine recently had the
chance to talk to Steve about
his decision to join Laguna,
why he loves teaching Middle
School students, and how he
defines the Laguna experience.
YOU ARE NEW TO THE ROLE OF HEAD OF MIDDLE SCHOOL DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU WANTED TO TEACH?
HERE AT LAGUNA, BUT YOU’RE DEFINITELY NOT NEW TO
THE SCHOOL. WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO LAGUNA IN 2014? Oh, no. I actually fell into teaching completely
unexpectedly. I had been pursuing a Ph.D. program
One of the most important things for me as a in African history and decided to take a break. I was
teacher is knowing my students. If you point to a kid, offered an assignment teaching history and geography
I want to be able to know at least five things about at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. It was a
that student. I try to know every child as an individual: happy accident, you could say. Twenty years later, and
which books they like, which style of music, which I have never looked back.
video games. Knowing them at that level helps me to
be a better teacher—helps me to create the kind of YOU SERVED AS LAGUNA'S ASSISTANT HEAD OF MIDDLE
environment where I know they’ll flourish. SCHOOL IN 2015-16. HOW DID IT FEEL WHEN YOU WERE
NAMED HEAD OF MIDDLE SCHOOL FOR THE 2016-17
Before coming to Laguna, I worked at a much SCHOOL YEAR?
larger school in Los Angeles. After several years of
teaching, I looked up and realized that out of 250 Honestly, it was the happiest moment I’ve ever
students in a grade, I only knew maybe 20-30 percent had here at the school. The kids were so excited. I will
of them in that capacity. It was a tough realization for never forget their cheering my name and how good
me. It was that day that I started looking for a place it felt to stand before them in that moment. Beyond
where I could get back to that small, personal learning that, I was just filled with excitement for the future.
environment that is so important to me. It took me I have a huge amount of admiration for both Rob
a couple years to find the right fit, and I found it at Hereford, our head of school and Dr. Lolli Lucas,
Laguna. I started teaching history here in 2014, and I head of upper school. I look forward to helping guide
can tell you that not a day goes by that I don’t remind Laguna in a thoughtful way to make it an even more
myself of why I came here. wonderful place for our students.
MIDDLE SCHOOL CAN BE A CHALLENGING TIME FOR MANY THIS ISSUE OF LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE IS FOCUSED ON
CHILDREN. WHY DO YOU LOVE TEACHING MIDDLE SCHOOL “THE LAGUNA EXPERIENCE.” HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE
STUDENTS? THAT EXPERIENCE FOR OUR STUDENTS?
I think the short answer is: I get them. And they The Laguna experience is about teaching our
know I get them. And that goes a long way in creating students how they fit into the world. I taught
the trust that is so important at the 11-14 age. Middle geography when I first came to Laguna, and for me,
Schoolers are so complex and funny and emotional it was about teaching our kids that geography is more
and crazy. That is the magic of this age group. It’s a than memorizing a list of countries and rivers. It’s
roller coaster of life every single day. They’re stuck about the connections we all have to one another.
between the Lower School, which was so nurturing, So many teachers here seek to make those kinds of
and the Upper School, which is full of independence connections for our kids, and that’s why Laguna is
and freedom. They’re right in the middle, which can such an amazing place.
be tough. But it can also be the best of both worlds
here at Laguna. That’s what I want it to be for them. Beyond that, I believe Laguna is about the joy of
learning. Our kids are genuinely happy to be here.
I worked in a school once where the kids would come
to class and ask, “are we going to do anything fun
today?” I can honestly say my students at Laguna have
never asked me that question. The Laguna experience
is fun. Our children smile and laugh and love coming
to school every day. That’s what it’s all about.
Welcoming Dr. Lolli Lucas as
Head of Upper School
40 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
When Lolli Lucas, Ed.D. walked onto the Laguna campus at I want Laguna
the start of the 2015-16 school year, she thought it would be a students to have
temporary assignment. Lolli was hired as the Interim Head of a higher sense of
Upper School while Laguna leadership undertook a national where they fit into
search for the ideal candidate. Yet just six weeks into the job,
Laguna knew they’d already found their top candidate. the world.
“It was a mutual love affair,” Lolli says. “I loved how much the And just like the faculty, Lolli wants Laguna students to know
faculty embraced the school’s students, and the fact that students they have a voice as well—not just on campus, but in finding
remained central to every educational decision. I was proud to their place in the rest of the world. The school’s public speaking
be the leader they needed to provide a solid structure for that seminar and senior project program go a long way in teaching
student-centered ideal.” those qualities.
Indeed, in her first year at Laguna, Lolli focused on building “I want Laguna students to have a higher sense of where they fit
a strong foundation of support for the school’s faculty, helping to into the world,” Lolli says. “Our seniors will have an opportunity
put policies in place to empower their creativity and development. to vote in the November presidential election. I don’t care who
Moving forward, she hopes to continue building bridges of they vote for—but I do care that they have an understanding for
collaboration and shared vision throughout the school. why this is a historical election."
“We have the right people in place,” Lolli says. “We’re Before joining Laguna Blanca, Lolli served as Upper School
tightening up the entire school’s relationship with itself, from Director at Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, California.
the Lower School upward. I want our entire community to know In addition to her work in administration and college
that the changes we’re making are good ones. I couldn’t be more counseling at the secondary level, Lolli has held positions
excited about where we’re going.” in the admission offices of The College of William and Mary
and Pomona College. She holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology
Lolli comes to Laguna with an extensive history in educational from Vassar College, and a Doctorate of Education from
administration, including a Doctorate of Education from UCLA. UCLA. She is the proud mother of son, Beckett Clark ’26,
But she also brings a unique perspective on college admissions who is a third grader at Laguna Blanca.
to our Upper School students. Earlier in her career, Lolli served
as director of college counseling at Brentwood School in Los LAGUNABLANCA.ORG 41
Angeles and says her goal is always to prepare students for the
next level. And for her, that means university.
“Will they be ready? Will they be able?” she asks. “It’s our
job to ensure that they are. And we are grateful that Laguna
understands that education, character-building, and co-curricular
opportunities all play an essential role in ensuring success in our
students’ next chapter.To me, that truly is the Laguna experience.”
In the future, Lolli says Upper School faculty will continue
to pursue project-based learning, with a continued emphasis on
reaching students in new and different ways. This includes not
just making learning fun and interesting, but finding new ways to
assess how well kids are actually learning.
“One of the most exciting things about our faculty is that they
are not afraid of change,” Lolli says. “It doesn’t matter if we’re
amping up the school’s writing and college counseling programs,
or looking at new ways to bridge our Middle and Upper School
curricula—our teachers are on board and excited by the challenge.
They know they have a voice, and I am so proud to support them
in using it.”
HONORING FACULTY EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNER
“I wish that I could keep
Mrs. Green as my teacher
through the twelfth grade.”
– Cyanne Blabey ’25
42 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
When it comes to forward-thinking faculty, no one does it better “As an educator, Brooke invites new ideas and learning through
than Third Grade Teacher and Laguna alumna Brooke Green ’97. honest exploration and stimulating the mind. With her enthusiasm
In June, Brooke was honored with the 2016 Faculty Excellence and leadership, she inspires greatness in us all,” says Lower School
Award, the most distinguished award given to a member of the Science Teacher Clara Svedlund.
Laguna faculty. In unison, her peers nominated Brooke for both
her innovation in teaching, as well as her grace and wisdom as a "This award is
trusted member of the school community. meaningful to me
because I am receiving
“The methods that Brooke uses to lead her classroom can be it from the colleagues
labeled as progressive and innovative,” Head of Lower School whom I respect and
Andy Surber shared. “She seeks to support students so they feel admire so greatly."
comfortable in taking risks,stretching themselves both academically
and socially, resulting in amazing growth.” Thanks to an endowment from alumni parents Marilyn and
Steven Gutsche, Brooke received a cash award and a $3,000 stipend
Project-based learning is an integral part of Brooke’s classroom for travel, workshops, equipment, and teaching materials.
with activities including joint story writing between grades three
and nine; a city simulation that immerses students in business Thank you, Brooke, for all you have done for our students and
creation and public service; a family campout; and a writing the greater school community!
workshop at Disneyland.
And yet, it’s not just students who have benefited from Brooke’s
creativity and compassion in the classroom. Her fellow teachers
agree that they have learned much from her, as well, often seeking
her out for advice and guidance in seeing the “big picture” in any
Originally from the East Coast, Harry Atterbury is a graduate of Lake Forest
College. He and his wife, Wendy, have lived in Hope Ranch since 2005, when they
relocated from Santa Fe, NM. They have two adult sons, James and Tucker ’12. Tucker
is on the varsity sailing team at Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI.
For over 25 years, Harry has traveled far and wide providing custom travel services
for discriminating clients. He is a past vice-commodore of the Santa Barbara Sea
Shell Association and has served on the board of the Santa Barbara Youth Sailing
Foundation. Currently semi-retired, he is also the director of a charitable foundation
named The Whimsie Fund.
Kevin Brine is a graduate of University of Wisconsin, Madison with a B.A. in
South Asian Studies, New York University’s Stern School of Business with an MBA,
Finance; and The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences with a Master’s degree in
English and American Literature. In 1999, he was honored with New York University’s
Alumni Meritorious Service Award. He has taught as an adjunct Professor at NYU
in the Freshman Honors Program, co-taught in the Graduate School of English, and
currently is Chair of the Dean’s Council for the Division of Libraries at NYU.
Devoted to institutions of higher education, culture and the arts, Kevin has served
on the boards of New York University, Cornell University’s Weill Medical College, The
Whitney Museum of American Art, The Spence School, and The World Monuments
Fund. As an independent scholar and artist, Kevin has co-edited several scholarly
volumes, published a catalogue of his paintings and sculptures, and co-authored Finance
in America: An Unfinished Story, University of Chicago Press, 2017, forthcoming.
Currently, Kevin is chairman of the board of Coyuchi, an organic home textile
company and board member of Agilyx, which recycles waste plastics. Formerly, Kevin
served on the boards of Sanford C. Bernstein, an investment research and management
company and Delphi Financial, an insurance company.
Kevin and his wife, Jessica Smith, have three sons who attend Laguna's Lower
School-Emmanuel ’28, Sebastian ’26, and Tennyson ’30.
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Currently serving as vice president and chief operating officer at Mission Health
Care Pharmacy Corporation, Bob Fuladi is a healthcare professional with more than
20 years of experience as a clinician, educator, pharmacist, healthcare consultant,
entrepreneur, and business executive.
In addition to his work at Mission, Bob is a board member for both the Council
on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (CADA) and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy
and Health Sciences (MCPHS), where he earned his undergraduate degree. He also
serves as an advisory member to Keck Institute in Claremont, as well as P&T advisory
member for Gold Coast Health Plan.
Bob earned his Doctorate of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and
Administration from the University of Kansas, where he was also an MBA candidate.
A transplant from Massachusetts, Bob currently resides in Montecito where he
has been a resident since 1995 with his wife Nissy Mahmoud—also a pharmacist—
who serves on the Parents’ Auxiliary as the VP of Lower School. Their son
Brandon ’26 is a third grader at Laguna Blanca.
Tom Tolles grew up in Southern California (San Marino) and moved to Santa
Barbara in 2009 with his wife Kristen and their three children—Andrew ’19, Kiki ’20,
and Claire ’22—all of whom attend Laguna Blanca.
Tom attended Stanford University where he received a B.S. and M.S. in mechanical
engineering. He also attended UCLA, earning an MBA from the Anderson School of
During the 80s, he got involved with 3D computer graphics and was a co-founder
of a technology company (FTI West) that specialized in 3D animation for use in high
profile legal cases. In the 90s, Tom founded another technology company, House of
Moves, which provided motion capture services and software to the game, film, and
commercial broadcast industry. Eventually, he sold House of Moves and co-founded
another startup that provides online 3D animated guitar lessons.
Tom and his family live in Montecito in the house that he and his wife built upon
relocating to Santa Barbara. In addition to the LBS Board of Trustees, Tom currently
serves on the board of Knowlwood Tennis Club and chairs the Buildings and Grounds
LAGUNA IS A
46 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
Though we closed the 2015-16
school year in style with an annual
dose of ceremonies and parties,
Laguna’s celebration of learning is
actually a yearlong tradition. Our goal
is for students—as well as faculty
and family members—to enjoy
coming to school every single day
so that they can carry that learning
forward for the rest of their lives. As
such, the following photos represent
much more than our closing
celebrations. They represent the full
Laguna journey and all of the joy that
is felt within it.
MIDDLE SCHOOL OR BUST!
CONGRATULATIONS TO A GLOBAL GRADUATION
THE CLASS OF 2024!
Laguna’s fourth grade class heads to Hope Ranch
Lucas Acosta Seventeen extraordinary fourth graders took their final bow at the Laguna Lower School on June 9
Magdalena Amezaga in the school’s annual closing ceremony. This year’s celebration was even more special, with students in
Tracy Cao this year’s class hailing from Brazil, China, and Denmark, not to mention the United States!
Jake Gidney Head of Laguna Blanca School Rob Hereford, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mason Farrell,
Spencer Hlavaty Head of the Lower School Andy Surber, and Fourth Grade Teacher Donna Brown were on-hand for
Ally Jacobs the festivities, in which they shared their love for this year’s students and the leadership, hard work, and
Ulrikke Holm Jensen intelligence they shared with one another throughout their five years on campus.
Ann Koornwinder-Gott During the celebration, fourth grade students performed the song “The Circle Game” by Joni
Lily Koornwinder-Gott Mitchell and “Waka Waka” by Shakira while doing the parachute dance. In true Laguna tradition,
Nicole Levine each student received an owl necklace, a diploma, and flowers for their proud parents before leaving the
Keanu Nakamura campus for one last time.
Elyse Weaver The Lower School will miss you, class of 2024! But we’re so excited for all that lies ahead.
48 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE