CONNECTING EXPERIENCE & EDUCATION
A MAGAZINE FOR THE
WHO WE ARE CONNECTING WITH
THE WORLD AROUND US
CONNECTING WITH 41
49 OUR COMMUNITY
ONE ANOTHER 61
CONNECTING WITH AS A TEAM
Rob and John Hereford on third grade class camping trip.
2 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
DEAR LAGUNA FAMILIES, ALUMNI AND FRIENDS, LAGUNA
We hear a lot these days that the world is becoming more “connected.” That can mean
lots of different things in 2017—connected to our phones, our WiFi, our social media MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2017
accounts. But at Laguna, we believe it’s our job to ensure that the connections we make
every day are meaningful ones—lasting relationships among our students, teachers, alumni, EDITOR
and our parent body, both inside our classrooms and beyond. In fact, I would venture to say Tara Broucqsault
connections are the most important part of our Laguna community.
It would be easy to list all the ways our students connect with one another on a daily Tara Broucqsault
basis. Our EK-12 Field Day, our Grade 3/Grade 9 writing project, and our Kindergarten/ Marcy Jacobs
Grade 8 Engineering partnership are just a few examples. Making connections across Blaire Ridge
grades and beyond campuses creates incredibly special memories for our younger students.
It also instills a sense of responsibility and leadership for our older students. And yet, those WRITERS
student-to-student connections are just the beginning. Tara Broucqsault
Here at Laguna, our students, teachers, and parent community are constantly stretching Blake Dorfman ’02
themselves to connect in new and different ways. As you will see in this issue of Laguna Marcy Jacobs
Blanca Magazine, they’re connecting with the world around them in our new F.A.R.M. Jessica Stonefield
program (p. 20). They’re connecting with wildlife through our chicken coop and emu
projects (p. 24). They’re connecting with outstanding former Laguna students through our PHOTOGRAPHY
new alumni panel (p. 70) and mentoring opportunities. But most importantly of all, they Hayley Bankhead ’19
are connecting to their own sense of self. At Laguna, they’re discovering who they really are. Tara Broucqsault
In our Science Research Program (p. 6), for instance, students are finding their passions Brad Elliott
and defining the legacy they want to leave in this world through rich hands-on, student- Oscar Gomez
guided research, field trips, and mentoring. They are working with Laguna alumni and Camila Lemere
members of the local community to see science differently—to discuss their role in making Carina Tedesco ’18
the world a better place—to determine how their strengths can be applied to the world’s Stephen Zeigler
Laguna’s intricate support system of teachers, parents, and mentors plays an important Brittany Ragan
role in the process of self-discovery. The newest member of that support system, Director
of College Counseling Matt Struckmeyer, discusses in this issue how important it is for PRINTING
students to connect with that sense of self when choosing the right university (p. 12) to V3
ensure that they are successful in finding happiness, health, and balance in their entire lives.
Laguna Blanca Magazine is
As you read through this issue of Laguna Blanca Magazine, please know that we published by Laguna Blanca School.
are grateful for the role you and your family play in keeping our students inspired. The Every effort is made to avoid errors,
connections we have built here are not just social ties. They are the reason our students will misspellings, and omissions. If,
be able to change the world. however, an error comes to your
attention, please accept our
Warm Regards, apologies and notify us at
Rob Hereford, Head of School Thank you.
Middle and Upper Schools
4125 Paloma Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93110
260 San Ysidro Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108
4 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
WHO WE ARE
Walt Whitman once wrote, “I am larger, better than I
thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.”
At Laguna, our goal is show our students how big,
strong, amazing, and good they are through the
beauty of hands-on experience. The greatest thing
Laguna students learn is who they are and what
they are capable of. We honor their unique gifts and
interests as a force for changing the world.
OF IT ALL
Nine students find answers—and themselves—in Laguna’s
New Science Research Program
6 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
you ask Laguna Science Teacher Staci Richard
what makes the school’s new Science Research
Program (SRP) so special, she will tell you it’s
the students. Over the past year, the nine-student
cohort has fearlessly tackled everything from gene
therapy to climate change, and they’ve done it with
a passion most don’t experience until later in their
IF In a foundational sense, Richard says, the SRP
is a community of scholars. In a more structured
sense, it’s a two-year course that empowers students
to delve into chemistry, physics, and engineering
through their own research in a field of their choosing.
“No single aspect of science exists in a bubble,” Richard explains. “In that sense, focusing on robotics
or marine biology alone doesn’t give students a real idea of the type of problems science can solve. The
Science Research Program helps them understand what science actually is. It helps them to expand their
idea of what a career in science can be.”
In their first year, students immerse themselves in the scientific “
community, participating in excursions, listening to speakers, and
determining what their research focus will be. In their second year, They’re so much
they are thoughtfully paired with a personal mentor and begin their more than a smart,
research journey. creative sounding
For her part, Richard is working hard to build relationships board for one
with UC Santa Barbara, the Laguna alumni network, and the another. These
greater Santa Barbara community, to build a connected database of kids are going to
mentors who can support the SRP students in their independent change the world.
research. Laguna alumni, including African elephant behavior
expert Melissa Schmitt ’08, have already worked with the class,
offering a wider view of the career possibilities in today’s world.
One alum, public health specialist Zadok Sacks ’98, had such a Staci Richard
strong impact on student Hayley Bankhead ’19, that she decided
to change her focus from marine biology to public health after hearing him speak. Sacks has agreed
to mentor her on her research next year. “Their interests are extremely diverse, ranging from solar cell
technology and engineering to veterinary studies and the brain. They are so much more than a smart,
creative sounding board for one another. These kids are going to change the world,” says Ms. Richard.
“Be true to yourself. Don't shy away from your interests or passions for any reason-instead pursue
them. Too many people change their life path because of what others say/think. I am happy I didn't!”
Melissa Schmitt on her advice to Laguna students
SULLY BENNETT CAITLIN
GETTING TO KNOW
HAYLEY MADDY JACK
ANDREW STELLA IZZY
The nine founding members of Laguna’s Science Research Program
have discovered a diverse range of interests and passions.
Below they share their stories, in their own words.
CAITLIN: STEM makes science feel current; it enables STELLA: I sit here on a rock while my feet are grabbed
a student to step out of his or her scholastic bubble and delve at by the ripples in a tide pool. I try not to think about this,
into cutting edge research around the community in fields as and instead of what I’m supposed to be writing. But I keep
abstract as laser propulsion space travel or a more tangible staring at the rocks. They’re not particularly interesting, but
field such as urban ecology. The most amazing thing about they’re pleasant to look at. Mum is a gemologist. Can’t wrap
STEM? The wealth and diversity of interests that each of my my brain around why. But there’s a fascinating topic, one
peers brings to class. While one may be focusing on modern I think I could study forever: the brain. That’s what I was
and historical cartography, another is relentlessly tracking supposed to be writing about. My interest in the brain. But I
down the cure for and prevention of Schistosomiasis; and yet like watching tide-pools too much. I like the rough surfaced
through the entropic, crazy chaos that is our class, we learn water and its unformed bubbles as it gurgles through the
an unfathomable amount. I, myself, am among the indecisive narrows of the rock. I especially like the isolated pools.
characters of the group, holding a multitude of fields under They resemble our thoughts. Some are chaotic, and some
my umbrella of interest: nanoscience, theoretical physics, are desolate, and some have new life. Some tide pools even
environmental science, neurology, toxicology, mathematics, have questions it seems. I could imagine our STEM class
astrophysics, and so forth. But this is okay because getting as this beach. Yes, that’s it, when you boil it down we’re just
a taste of each realm is what makes our class so unique. We a sandy conglomeration of thoughts and questions. With
may be undecided about our future direction, but we all have fish swimming about inside of us! On second thought—this
a genuine passion for science. analogy needs work…
JACK: Before I entered the world of the Science Research “
Program, I tended to stay as far away from the sciences The infectious joy
as I could. I was an English man, through and through, of the class comes
engrossing myself in writing, reading, and really doing from watching my
anything I could to avoid the scientific corner of the Laguna friends discover what
campus. Now, I’m not saying that I have turned my back they want to do with
on English and the arts: quite the contrary. If anything, I’ve
embraced that aspect of academia even further. But this class their lives.
has opened new doors to different disciplines that I never
could’ve imagined. I’ve found new friends, of course, but I’ve Izzy Sabino '19
also found a new side of myself. I’ve been a certain way as
long as I can remember, so it was pretty rad to discover—that
wasn’t the way it had to be. I love music, I love writing, I love
drawing, I love journalism, and now I love science. Maybe it’s
just learning about something in an environment that feels
like real life, instead of a classroom.
HAYLEY: Before this year, STEM to me was nothing BENNETT: If our class has done anything, it has helped
more than another acronym. It was definitely not a class that I me to advance my interests from the inquisitive to the explorative.
would find myself looking forward to each day. Who knew that I have wanted to be a mechanical engineer for years now, but I
going into tenth grade, I would be in the new Science Research hadn’t really known how to proceed. Before I even explored my
Program with an interest in oceanography? Up until that point, options, I thought I knew how the next 10 years of my life would
I had never even had a particular interest in science, but after play out. I would go to college, get my master’s degree, get a job,
learning about the program and future opportunities it could and all would be great. But this class has really helped me to find
bring, I figured, why not? Although marine science is what drew my starting point. Our class of amazing people has gone to so
me in, the program’s great opportunities actually changed my life many places, so many labs, and has explored so many different
path altogether. Thanks to a visit from one of our alumni, Zadock types of people and careers. Without it, I wouldn’t have discovered
Sacks '98, I now have a newfound interest in public health and my love for material science, alternative energy, and solar energy.
the social sciences. This class thrust me into a world of potential and possibility that
I could have never envisioned before we began.
MADDIE: It is extremely fulfilling to find a passion that you
SULLIVAN: Personally, I have always told people that I
would want to devote the rest of your life to. Of course, I am
not stating that I, at the age of 16, know what I want to pursue want to be a structural engineer. I have read about the subject
as a career. However, I am learning new topics everyday that I and have had a constant interest from the age of three. While
am incredibly interested in and could see myself delving into this still may be true, I have gained an experience that most other
in the future. Throughout this Science Research Program, I am structural engineers will never have—being exposed to fields not
not only surrounded by people who share the same passion for even remotely related to engineering. Who knew that I would
science as I do, but I am also engulfed in new science topics and ever be interested in the work of a man who studied snails in
speakers in every class. Throughout this year, I have had to dig Africa? Who knew that I would get to see a live brain scan first-
deep into gene therapy, climate change, solar cells, medical robots, hand? A robot doctor? A cancer researcher? What’s amazing is
and I am beginning to zero in on genetics, diseases (Cancer), and that although I may still become an engineer, I have seen, heard,
medicine. I am looking forward to finding a research project for and touched more sciences than I could count. In that way, the
next year and participating in a summer program for medicine Science Research Program has made me a more well-rounded
and healthcare at Northwestern! person.
ANDREW: From a young age I have been interested in IZZY: I’m the girl who never grew out of her pony phase, and
science and engineering. It started with building structures with now I’m trying to make a life out of it. I am interested in equine
LEGO as a kid, all the way up to taking this science program veterinary medicine, and I have been since I was 10 years old. I
this year. With a father who is an engineer, I have come to love have never had a class in school that allowed me to pursue this
technology and building anything I can get my hands on. This in such detail. For example, Ms. Richard asked us to do some
class has a completely diverse set of passions and people, enabling research on a potential fourth-quarter project. I looked at all the
all of us to pursue our individual interests, learning more about top clinical trials being conducted across the United States at the
our topics and each other. It seems like every week we have a new top vet schools of the nation, and it was my homework! Of course,
fascinating speaker and/or field trip and I have already learned the Science Research Program is about learning science, but what
so much about things I never thought I would: brain scans, solar makes it different from a typical science class is the discovery and
cells, and even medical robots. The possibilities seem endless in pure elation of going through the process. The infectious joy of
this class, no matter what one's science interests are. Although I the class comes from watching my friends discover what they
have a very general range of interests, this class has helped me to want to do with their lives.
discover what in science truly fits my interests and where I might
go in the future.
10 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
SCIENCE RESEARCH PROGRAM
AT A GLANCE
Program Length: 2 years
Number of Students Accepted: Up to 20 for 2017-18
Curriculum: Hands-on, interdisciplinary
Final Project: Student-led science research project
"This class thrust me into a world of potential and possibility
that I could have never envisioned before we began."
Bennett Coy '19
RIGHT COUNSELOR, RIGHT COLLEGE
12 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
Matt Struckmeyer is A FEW MYTHS STRUCKMEYER HOPES TO DISPEL
on a mission—finding the
right university for every MYTH NO. 1
Laguna student. You should choose your college based on rank and prestige.
“My advice to students is actually the opposite. Your success in
If there is one thing Matt Struckmeyer wants you to know, it is life has everything to do with the qualities you bring to college and
this: Every student has a perfect-fit university—and chances are very little to do with the college you choose. This goes for parents,
high that you have never heard of it. too: Be open to considering schools you have never heard of.
Sometimes those schools are the ones where your children will
Since arriving on campus last summer, Laguna’s new Director really be able to shine.”
of College Counseling has made it his mission to help students
leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding a school where MYTH NO. 2
they can flourish. He is also working to dispel some common Overloading your schedule is always worth it.
myths about the college application process. “The idea that kids can overload themselves and still appear
impressive to admission teams is completely misleading.
Struckmeyer grew up on the opposite side of the country, Admission officers can sense overload and burnout—it can
near Philadelphia, attending Quaker schools before heading actually force students to appear as worse candidates in the end.
to Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. Though he The mission of Laguna’s Challenge Success program dovetails so
focused on English, Struckmeyer says he didn’t have much of a well with my job in that we both want students to start thinking
plan for what to do with his life until he found himself teaching ‘big picture.’ We want them to think about success as balance,
English at an independent school in Washington, D.C. It seemed fulfillment, and happiness for the duration of one’s life.”
like a good fit—until he was asked to step in as the school’s
interim college counselor, and his passion for connecting with MYTH NO. 3
kids really took form. Scores are the most important factor in college admissions.
“College admission teams have their own secret blend of the
Since then, Struckmeyer has taken a raw and ambitious different ‘roles’ they want to fill to create the vibe they want on
approach to getting to know the country’s best universities hands- their campuses. When they choose whom they accept, they are
on. Every day, he says, he finds himself pairing students with ideal rounding out an ideal community of diverse and interesting people.
universities in his head—motivated by the challenge of knowing Taking the SATs one more time to increase your score by 10 points
students well enough to get the pick right. Still, many kids are is not going to get you in. Being one of those passionate, diverse,
skeptical, he says. There is a big focus on “brand” over value, and interesting people is what will give you a true edge.”
a huge pressure for kids to choose the popular choice, rather than
one that is right for them on a personal level. About Director of College Counseling
“At the end of the day, knowing the students is important,” he
says. “But what is even more important is that they truly know Matt joined the Laguna faculty in summer 2016, after
themselves.” serving as both English teacher and college counselor at
Dunn School in Los Olivos. He brings nearly 10 years of
For Struckmeyer, the most rewarding part of his job is not just experience in the college counseling field. Matt has a B.A.
seeing students receive acceptance letters—he knows those will from Franklin and Marshall College, an M.A. from George
come. The best part is when he sees a student who has grown Mason University, and an Ed.M. from Harvard University. We
enough through the entire college search process that they feel are so pleased to welcome him to our school.
confident and secure that they have found a school that truly
meshes with their values and dreams.
THE TOP TEN TIPS FOR A
BY MATT STUCKMEYER COLLEGE SEARCH
DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE COUNSELING
01 Visit Stanford last, not first! Going to the most 06 Remember that there’s no formula to elite college
famous (and ultra-selective) colleges at the outset admission—i.e. having the “right” grades, scores,
can warp expectations and make other choices and extracurriculars will get you in. It doesn’t
(the likelier ones) seem like lesser choices. work that way.
02 Think of standardized testing as a necessary 07 Don’t fall in love with any one school—especially
evil, and don’t overdo it! A program of long-term if it’s in the “Most Selective” category. Luck plays
skill development can help, but avoid testing a huge role in acceptance to these places, so
too often or thinking of small improvements as it’s better to play it safe and feel good about a
overly meaningful. range of places.
03 Be sure to visit a range of college styles at the 08 Help your child to find a volunteer activity for the
beginning: small vs. large, public vs. private, long term rather than to “check a box” on the
conservative vs. liberal, intense vs. laid back. application. The colleges care far more about
Allow your child to ask him or herself, “Where do the student’s devotion to the activity than the
I feel most at home?” activity itself.
04 Allow your child to control the process. Think 09 Consider skipping the ACT and SAT all together.
of him/her as the driver and yourself as the If your child has good grades but doesn't test
passenger of a car. You can offer advice and well, the large and growing list of test-optional
suggestions, but the wheel is in his/her hands. colleges might be a perfect fit.
05 Don’t meddle with your child’s essay—it must 10 Try not to succumb to brand-name thinking.
sound like her voice. Parents often assume A college education is far more valuable than a
that the essay must showcase a child’s jacket or a phone. Ask tough questions about the
achievements, but the best ones showcase quality of the product and move past the allure
his/her voice and personality. of the brand.
14 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
WHERE SCHOOL IS MORE
THAN AN AFTERTHOUGHT
For many, the issue of how to keep kids engaged after school is a
challenging one. We don’t want our children to only watch TV or play
video games. But shuttling them to outside clubs and sports activities
can be exhausting—for parent and child alike. That is why next year,
Laguna is making its after-school program a priority, revamping the
offering to make it more thoughtful, engaging, and meaningful for
students. “We are creating a stronger structure, and more consistent
options to keep students engaged,” says Head of Lower School
According to Surber, a wide range of academic and active
programs are being investigated, ranging from golf to chess, and
from hiking to music. The idea is to give students a chance to pursue
activities that will help them learn more about themselves and their
interests—but also to give them a chance to relax and find balance
after a busy school day.
“Offering these activities on campus will be a huge bonus for busy
families,” Surber says. “Now instead of driving around the city, parents
can relax knowing their kids are in a safe place learning something
new and exciting.”
The school is currently working with both teachers and outside
groups to bring an even greater range of options to the students,
including some managed by third-parties. A full range of options will
be sent home at the start of the 2017-18 school year. Stay tuned!
16 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
CHOOSE YOUR OWN
Each year, Lower School students take a journey to new and unknown
lands through the school’s new Explorations program—a five-week adventure
though non-traditional curricula the students get to choose themselves.
“One of the most exciting parts of Explorations is that it gives students
the power of choice,” says Head of Lower School Andy Surber. “This is
an age where students can take risks to get to know themselves better—to
find out what types of activities they love. It’s an empowering concept and
one that truly differentiates us from other
As part of the program, all Lower
One of the most
exciting parts of School faculty have the chance to submit a
Explorations is that syllabus for a passion project not currently
it gives students the covered in Laguna's curriculum. Projects
power of choice. need to be hands-on, and appropriate for
multiple ages. Past Exploration classes
have involved ceramics, international
dance, and building, where students
constructed their own Eiffel Tower out
of spaghetti and marshmallows. Other options include chess, advanced
Spanish, and even archery.
“What I love about Laguna is that we can make curriculum choices
based on real feedback from our students and parents,” Surber says. “What
we’ve discovered is that students love learning new things through hands-on
activities in small multi-age groups.”
Each year, a new list of Exploration courses is sent home, and students
have a chance to rank their preferences—
kind of like choosing college electives. CLASS OFFERINGS
Every effort is made to get students into Archery
their first-choice class. Band
“One of the biggest advantages of Crafty Creations
having a small campus is that we can Dances from Around the World
mix it up—bring students together from Inspired Engineering
multiple grades, including siblings—to Jewelry Making
find new passions and interests,” Surber Junior Yogis
says. “Another great benefit is that it Sewing School
gives our assistant teachers a chance to Sculpture
take the reigns and lead.” Theater Games
18 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
We all need something bigger than ourselves to
wake up for. At Laguna, we encourage students to
find their “something bigger,” be it the environment,
wildlife, or the greater community. Our curriculum is
built on the idea that we all play an important role
in the bigger picture. All we need to do is find our
place in it.
Students and teachers alike are encouraged UP ON THE
to harvest and enjoy vegetables from the
campus gardens. F.A.R.M.
20 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE FUNDING AGRICULTURE
Laguna has always had a
beautiful campus. Now it also has
a productive one, thanks to the
Funding Agriculture Resource
Management (F.A.R.M.) Club,
which was launched at the Hope
Ranch campus during the 2016-17
school year. The F.A.R.M. includes
both Middle and Upper School
gardens, both of which started
producing a variety of fresh, organic
vegetables this past January.
The club itself was launched
by Matt Struckmeyer, Laguna’s
director of college counseling, in
partnership with parent Kendra
Sabino, Middle School Science
Teacher Landon Neustadt, and
Science Department Chair Staci
Richard. While Sabino had
initially envisioned the project
years ago, Struckmeyer—who ran
similar student farms at previous
schools—helped to bring it to life.
“Laguna Blanca has so much beautiful run Community Support Agriculture can now make agriculture and farming a
land—it only made sense to get a farm (CSA) program. But for now, the regular part of student exploration.
project started,” Struckmeyer says. “From teachers are glad to have an on-campus
a college counseling perspective, I know outlet where students can develop a love “Because this is a joint Middle and Upper
that many selective universities have of agriculture and healthy eating at a School project, students will experience eight
similar programs on their own campuses, young age. years of organic farming by the time they
and having these skills in organic farming graduate from Laguna,” Neustadt adds. “The
can only help our students with the college “One of the simplest but most powerful concept of sustainability and reducing our
admission process. But from a more benefits for our Middle School students is footprint is so important in today’s world. At
personal perspective, we want to teach the that they get to learn where food comes Laguna, we’re educating kids who are able
students to connect with the earth in a from,” Neustadt says. “Yes, students are and committed to doing it.”
more meaningful way.” spending time in the garden every day,
checking PH levels of the tower gardens HOME FOR THE SUMMER?
For the Upper School students, that and making sure the plants have enough
means creating compost from table scraps, water. But they get an intimate experience The F.A.R.M. is a year-round project
gathering coffee grounds for the soil, with how food actually grows.” and requires numerous volunteers
planting seeds, and monitoring growth to tend to the garden during the
patterns. According to Struckmeyer, Next year, the science teachers plan summer months. To get involved,
students have even partnered with local to integrate F.A.R.M. into their overall contact Matt Struckmeyer at
coffee shops to gather their grounds for science curricula, focusing on things like [email protected]
the gardens, as well. botany, pollination, the structure of plants, Students, alumni, and community
soil chemistry, microorganisms, life cycles, friends are welcome!
“The ultimate goal is to get them to and decomposition. In sixth grade, for
supervise and create their own vision of instance, students focus on human biology,
how grand it can be,” Struckmeyer says. which makes a great foundation for
“We started easy with our first harvest— healthful eating. And the Upper School’s
lettuce, kale, broccoli, and bok choy. School Science Research Program (p. 6)
But there is no limit to how we can use
“The concept of sustainability
and reducing our footprint is
so important in today’s world.
At Laguna, we’re educating
kids who are able and
committed to doing it.”
- Landon Neustadt
this space for our school and the local
Discussions for growing the garden
have included making donations to local
food pantries and even starting a student-
“We want kids to know how satisfying it is to eat fresh
produce—and to grow it on their own.”
– Matt Struckmeyer, Director College Counseling
22 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
This fall, Laguna will host a grand harvest to
celebrate the bounty grown in the May planting.
More information to come!
A group of Laguna students and faculty spend
a Saturday morning planting vegetables.
Thank you to the Sabino family for their support
of the F.A.R.M. project, including raised beds
for the plants, and drip irrigation systems in the
Upper School farm area.
Laguna’s chicken coop is a breeding
ground for eggs—and love.
24 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
It doesn’t matter what time of day you visit the Lower School
chicken coop. You will almost always find a student cuddling,
holding, or doting over one of
the coop’s five female chickens. In “
the past two years, the birds have
been far more than an interactive There are so many
part of the Lower School science benefits of having
program; they’ve become part of
the Laguna family. our students
grow along with
“There are so many benefits of
having our students grow along
with our animals on campus,” our animals on
says teacher Clara Svedlund. “I’m campus.
sometimes amazed at how in-
tune our students are to the chickens’ moods. Seeing them make
personal connections with wildlife is magical.”
Throughout the day, students have the responsibility of
checking for new eggs and delivering them to teachers and staff.
DON'T BE A CHICKEN In doing so, they are learning how to care for animals, and how to
HUG ONE have a safe and meaningful relationship with them.
According to Svedlund, the chickens have served as a learning
tool for teachers, as well. This year, for instance, they learned how
to healthfully integrate a new chicken, Zinnia, into an existing
“pecking order,” when the school took in its fifth chicken. Zinnia
is an older hen and was donated by a community friend. They
also learned how to nurse another chicken, Sunflower, back to
health after it was captured by a bobcat and dropped before being
“The adults get as much from this program as the children do,”
Svedlund explains. “We have recently been focusing on how to
make the coop more fun and engaging for the birds. We’ve added
a swing and mirrors—and we are working on adding a xylophone
so they can play music with their beaks. Is there anything more
fitting for a Lower School community?”
The chickens complement the school’s emu program, which
continues to thrive. The Lower School science program incubates
emu eggs each spring, in hopes that—with the right environment
and care—at least one will hatch each year.
“The students are learning, at a young age, the concept of caring
for something bigger than they are—in this case, wildlife,” Head
of the Lower School Andy Surber says. “In effect, they’re learning
about unconditional love.”
FOR WHAT'S IMPORTANT
MAKING IT ALL POSSIBLE
A portion of the proceeds from the Spring Benefit Paddle
Raise will be used to fund the Middle School Quad
renovation. THANK YOU to all who are helping to make
this vision a reality for our community. A full list of donors
will be included in our 2016-2017 Annual Report.
26 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
his past year, Laguna Middle School students took the lead in planning
and developing the Middle School Quad and upper sports areas. The
effort was inspired by the serendipitous development of “found space”
that emerged after the creation of the tennis and sand volleyball courts
on the Hope Ranch campus. That same idea of “placemaking” allows the
school to make better use of the community’s pre-existing assets. The goal
is to give students even more play space, with plenty of room to enjoy the
outdoors, interact with friends, and gain a greater sense of community.
The quad redevelopment project was a joint undertaking by students in
the Middle School Entrepreneurship and seventh grade science classes.
As part of the project, students surveyed other students and faculty to see
what they felt the Hope Ranch campus was missing, and how they’d like
the space to be used.
“When Head of School Rob Hereford approached me to see if the
Tkids would lead this project, it meant a lot to me,” says teacher Blake
Dorfman. “It meant Laguna is a place
where students are respected—where they NEW QUAD FEATURES:
can play a meaningful role in the future of
the school.” Level playing area
Ledged planter boxes / benches
The students’ surveys showed that 10 Drought resistant landscaping
percent of respondents had never visited New cross-quad walkways
the quad space, and some did not even Drainage
know where it was. Other results showed
students wanted new playground equipment, swings, and space to relax
with friends—something the students were set on fixing.
“We told the kids, ‘The world is your oyster,’” Dorfman says. “And they
were very passionate about the options they developed.”
Based on survey results, Sydney Hlavaty '20 created a conceptual
design of the new space. Based on their findings, the school will work to
develop a large, grassy area, framed with receding planter boxes that will
double as benches where students can “hang out” to share and socialize.
New walkways to make the quad more easily accessible and encourage
greater use will also be created.
“The students’ survey was incredibly helpful, because it allowed us
to focus on some immediate and long-term needs,” says Marcy Jacobs,
director of development. “Although we are starting with the quad
renovation, we will also focus energy on the upper sports area, as we know
it is a key area."
“The great thing about the Middle School Entrepreneurship class is
that it allows our kids to make a difference in the real world—in this case,
right here on campus,” Dorfman says. “I can’t think of a better way to
Sketch by Sydney Hlavaty '20 teach kids the value of leadership.”
28 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
CONNECTING WITH OUR
At Laguna, we know the basis for any advancement
is in creativity—the ability to think differently, see
differently, and create new and different ideas to
help the world. We encourage this process from our
students’ very first days on campus through artful
expression, and continue through videography,
gaming design, robotics, theater, and music. We
value this creativity in all of its forms and are so
proud of our students for all of their many creations.
AN ARTIST'S Laguna parent Masha Keating (Aryeh ’13,
Nathaniel ’12, Jacob ’10) emigrated to
JOURNEY the United States from Russia when she
was just 13 years old, but that journey was
nothing compared to the one she has taken
through her own artwork. In the past 20
years, she has found—and reimagined—
herself through both oil and digital painting.
Masha has participated in more than 35
solo and group shows, and she recently
shared her talents with our Lower School
students as part of our spring benefit. She
shares her story with Laguna Blanca.
30 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
YOU GREW UP IN RUSSIA. HOW DID YOUR ART BACKGROUND CHANGE Masha's grandfather was also an artist
OR HELP YOU, ESPECIALLY AS YOU MOVED TO THE UNITED STATES IN and a strong influence on her.
YOUR TEEN YEARS?
CAN YOU SHARE YOUR PERSONAL APPROACH TO ART?
My artistic endeavors were always nurtured by my family.
According to my mother, I could hold a pencil and draw before I There is no media in existence that I would not want to explore
could hold a spoon and feed myself. My grandfather was an artist. during my lifetime. I believe that part of being a mature artist is
I would say he was my first major influence. Aside from having to think outside of your comfort zone and explore the media that
a job at the military plant in Russia, he put together a school for would best represent the ideas you are trying to communicate.
children of the plant workers. That gave him the chance to have a
creative outlet, which was not common in post-war Soviet Russia. The subjects in which I specialize are the result of many years of
Needless to say, he was a tremendous influence on me. Although careful self-observation in what I feel drawn to and what emerges
I did not see him often, I still remember his instructions in art. in the painting when I allow it take the direction it wants to take.
My subject matter is about life's journeys and the search for oneself.
My family's immigration to the United States has played a It is communicated subtly with the use of meandering lines and
huge role in how I view the role of art in my life. Although I undulating shapes which create paths or sometimes a maze for
am very grateful for this life-changing event, as a 13-year-old the viewer’s eye to travel through. The subject of self-searching is
adolescent trying to navigate the pitfalls of growing up, it was represented from a feminine perspective and is infused with images
very hard for me to transition into a completely new culture and suggesting fertility and potential. I am fascinated with the creative
language. Because I was so out of touch with myself, I did not power of femininity. All this in turn is closely tied with nature and
recognize that I was depressed. I thought it was normal to feel the its beauty, which has an unmistakable presence in my work.
way I felt. I would tell everyone, including myself, that I was fine
while my paintings kept coming out very dark and depressing.
Eventually, I acclimated to my new surroundings and became a
much happier person. I also learned to be emotionally aware and
recognize my feelings for what they were. I never forgot the “life
lesson” of how accurate art can be in illuminating our true selves.
WHEN DID YOU MOVE FROM OIL TO DIGITAL PAINTING? We are grateful to Masha for sharing her talent and time with our youngest
scholars and creating masterpieces for the silent auction. Masha
I started working with digital media quite recently for two Keating is a member of Santa Barbara Studio Artists Organization and is
reasons. First, I have always been interested in technology represented by Izen Miller Gallery in Palm Desert (www.izenmillergallery.
and digital art. And second, I finally had to face the fact that com). In January 2017, she opened her own studio at SBCAST (Santa
I could no longer be around oil paint fumes! I decided to use Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology) Studio C. It is open
this situation as a "crisitunity" to finally take a serious approach to the public on the first Thursday of every month. Learn more about
into digital art. Most people associate digital art with photo Masha’s art at mashakeating.com.
manipulation and collage as well as application of various
filters. Digital "painting" is a branch of digital art that can't
exist without the artist’s familiarity with actual painting or
drawing. Instead of a brush, you hold a stylus in your hand with
which you make brushstroke after brush stroke or line after
line. Basically, your end result depends heavily on your painting
or drawing skills. I believe that the more tools an artist has in
his or her arsenal the better.
YOU HAVE THREE SONS. HOW DO YOU BALANCE ART AND FAMILY?
Ever since I can remember, I vowed not to let my art career
interfere with my family life. But at the same time, I never
stopped being involved in the arts. When my three boys were
little, I could only allow a couple of hours a week for painting
(if I was lucky). That meant that one painting sometimes took
up to six months to complete. My motto at the time was, "I can
slow down but I will never stop." Surprisingly, I did some of my
best work at that time.
WHAT TECHNIQUES DID YOU SHARE WITH LAGUNA STUDENTS WHEN
CREATING ART FOR THE SILENT AUCTION AT THE SPRING BENEFIT?
For the student art projects, I decided to create a
combination of real and digital paintings. I wanted to apply
my digital techniques to photos of existing paintings made
by the children with real paint. Each child was instructed to
create a Rorschach print by painting on paper and folding it
in half. It was so exciting for them to unfold the paper and
discover what surprising image awaited inside. We also talked
about how sometimes art is about removing your control and
allowing the process itself to create the work. There was a
lot of paint splashed about. It was very messy and fun. After
collecting photos of everyone's work, I went to my computer. I
combined the images for each class into one composition, then
I did some digital manipulation and painting of my own, using
the children's art as the springboard. My hope is that art will
help the children get to know themselves, just like it did—and
continues to do—for me.
32 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
A SECOND CROWN FOR THE
For the second time in 23 years of publishing, The Fourth because the student journalists are committed to being relevant
Estate staff received a Crown Award-the highest recognition and to expressing their voices,” says teacher Trish McHale. “We
for journalistic excellence-from the Columbia Scholastic have many talented writers, artists, and photographers on staff.
Press Association. Honored for their work in the “Hybrid I am so fortunate to be able to work with such bright, talented,
Magazine” category, students are now celebrating their decision and dedicated students.”
to “#blowupthemodel.” The hashtag phrase became the student
journalists’ mantra this past year when they announced that they It’s been seven years since the publication’s first Crown Award
were “tearing down the 22-year-old house” of the former 16-page in 2010. In addition, the students continue to regularly publish
tabloid newspaper to create a 48-page vibrant student magazine. online at www.thefourthestate.net. Congratulations!
Clearly, it worked. “It’s the power of
A total of 1,100 newspapers, magazines, yearbooks, and digital journalism.”
publications were eligible for the Crown Awards program. Just
210 crowns were given to scholastic (versus college) publications. —Trish McHale
“The magazine continues to transform itself and attract readers
“A Disabled System:
Carina Tedesco ’18
was one of the spreads
featured at the Crown
34 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE WHEN
Laguna student Camila Lemere ’18 debuts her Camila with devoted classmate Mathew
first film at Santa Barbara International Film Festival Goldsholl '17 during the filming of the
It seems funny to say that at the ripe age of 16, Camila Lemere ’18 10-10-10 project. Mathew is pursuing his
is already a veteran filmmaker. But this past February, Lemere debuted film dreams at NYU Tisch School this fall.
her film When the Lights Go Out at the Santa Barbara International Film
Festival, something most of us only dream of. Lemere’s participation “Getting to work
was part of the 10-10-10 Student Screenwriting & Filmmaking with friends on a
Competition, an intense challenge where 10 teams of student writers project we were
and filmmakers work to create the best short film in just 10 days. all so passionate
about was definitely
Lemere learned about 10-10-10 in her freshman year through the best part of the
classmate Kylan Tyng ’16, who competed that same year. Tyng, who
actually won the competition and headed to NYU Tisch School process.”
of Performing Arts, encouraged Lemere to enter the community
competition. This past year, she finally did—she was accepted as one of LAGUNABLANCA.ORG 35
five high school film finalists in October and just a few months later,
began work on the film, written by another a high school student she
had never met before.
“It was really exhausting and at some points stressful,” she says. “But
nonetheless, it was the best experience of my life.”
When the Lights Go Out follows the struggle of a teenage girl, played
by Holly Tobias ’17, who rebels against her single mom when the lights
in their increasingly rundown home get turned off because they can no
longer afford electricity. Lemere beautifully and brilliantly captures the
pain, frustration, and anger of the teen and her siblings, and the love
that eventually brings her home.
It’s hard to believe that for Lemere, the light went on regarding her
love of filmmaking just two years ago during a trip to London with
other Laguna students. Ever since, she’s been sharing her talent with
the campus community, creating beautiful and emotive films for the
school's Spring Benefit and class excursions to New Orleans and NYC,
“Without Laguna, a good majority of the films I have created today
would not exist,” Lemere says. “I'm honestly not sure if I would have
discovered my passion for film had it not been for this incredible school.
I'm completely set on becoming a filmmaker and can't imagine my life
To view When the Lights Go Out, visit Camila's YouTube page.
36 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
Students explore life’s challenges in coming-of-age play.
This year, Upper School students took on William
Inge's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Picnic—a play
bursting with poignant themes of growing up, family,
friendship, loss, regrets, and coming of age.
“This play provided such rich and pertinent material for
us to explore as an ensemble, and it particularly resonated
with me working with our Upper School students as they
themselves are coming into their own and getting ready
to make their mark on the world,” says Laguna Theatre
Director Dana Caldwell.
The play focuses on the lives of two sisters: Millie
(played by the ever-talented Joan Curran ’17) and Madge,
the center of this story (with an exceptionally beautiful
portrayal by Fiona Flynn ’17). Madge, the eldest sister,
struggles with only being seen as the "pretty one," and
Millie struggles in her own way with only ever being
known as the "smart one." Both girls are envious of the
other, wanting the world to see them for the full-fledged
human beings they are and to find their own voice within.
“Exploring issues of self-image, self-confidence, and
self-advocacy with these student actresses struck a deep
chord with me. These are issues that are as relevant—if
not more so—today than they were 1953 when the play
was written,” Caldwell explains.
The women in Picnic are the glue that holds the world
together and provide the perfect environment for Millie
and Madge to explore these difficult issues: Flo, the
widowed mother (portrayed with unrivaled command
and grace by Zelime Lewis ’17); Rosemary, the school
teacher desperate to marry (with a stand out performance given by
Camila Lemere ’18); Mrs. Potts, the older yet vivacious neighbor
caring for her own aging mother (wonderfully and authentically
played by Annabelle Finefrock ’18).
Although the play focused largely on women, there were many
men who also played important roles in the women’s lives. Jackson
Hurley ’17 (our swaggering Hal Carter), Travis Smillie ’17 (the
reluctantly betrothed, immensely engaging Howard Bevans),
and Mathew Goldsholl ’17 (as the stand-up Alan Benson) also
did outstanding work portraying the male principles, such vastly
different characters but each who had a major part to play in
shaking up the lives of these women.
The stunning set (built by Dave Childers and Armando
Guiterrez, and painted by Jon Ortner) transported the audience
into 1950’s Kansas. Charlie Jacobs ’20 stepped up to the plate
in an incredible way, running lights and sound flawlessly for the
production, with Zaira Paredes-Villages ’17 keeping everything
together behind the scenes.
“Each and every one of the students in this production shined
in their role, bringing this story to life in the most profound way,”
Caldwell says. “I could not be prouder of this cast and crew and
their unbounded commitment, dedication, creativity, and talent.
They left me and our audiences in awe.”
Each and every
one of the students
in this production
shined in their role,
bringing this story
to life in the most
38 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
STUDENTS STRETCH THEIR CRAFT IN
DARING SPRING MUSICAL
This spring, Laguna’s Theatre Arts department also presented CAST
Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a cutting edge
musical that tells the story of ousted barber Benjamin Barker, Sweeney Todd: Travis Smillie
a.k.a. Sweeney Todd, and his revenge on the man who exiled him Mrs. Lovett: Joan Curran
for 15 years. When the bloodthirsty Sweeney returns to London Tobias Ragg: Juliana Slater
to find his family, he joins forces with the failing pie shop owner Anthony Hope: Mathew Goldsholl
Mrs. Lovett, and the two introduce a new, carnal ingredient to Johanna: Sophie Bakaev
Lovett’s meat pies that sends the people of London straight to Judge Turpin: Jackson Hurley
the shop—and new victims to Sweeney’s barber chair. The Beadle: Katherine Perez
Beggar Woman: Zuley Lewis
This dark 1979 Tony Award-Winning musical thriller, set in Adolfo Pirelli: Camila Lemere
19th Century London, gave students the chance to explore a Jonas Fogg: Holly Tobias
sinister plot far removed from the reality of Laguna's campus.
Merith Velazquez Jimenez
Owls in Wonderland 2016
40 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
CONNECTING WITH OUR
No school is an island. At Laguna, we work to
be true partners with our community, and we
encourage our students to do the same, whether
working for Owls in Wonderland or volunteering as
part of our summer program.
WE'RE ALL A BIT
42 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
OWLS IN One of the best parts about Owls in Wonderland is seeing the Laguna
community dressed up in the spirit of “Alice.” Another great part: seeing
WONDERLAND “learning” dressed up as FUN.
LOVE AND Owls in Wonderland is imagination in motion—a live mix of activities that
LEARNING— allows children to explore science, art, and critical and creative thinking in the
IN DISGUISE way they should be explored—hands-on. This year’s carnival attracted 850
community guests and included colorful workshops like the Mad Hatter’s
studio, mad science, multilingual croquet, tea parties, and live white rabbits
designed to make our kids “curiouser and curiouser” about the world around
them. Many Lower and Middle School music students also performed at the
This is the seventh year Laguna has welcomed the community to our Lower
School campus as part of the Owls in Wonderland extravaganza. We are so
grateful to event co-chairs Tracey Inman and Christina Waag and all of the
parents and teachers who helped to make this dream a reality. We could not
have done it without you.
SAVE THE DATE: OWLS IN WONDERLAND
NOVEMBER 12, 2017 | 11AM TO 2PM
44 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY FOR
* One pin per university. Laguna is one of the only schools in the Santa Barbara
community that offers summer enrichment programs for children
as young as four years of age. That means it’s never too early for
Summer @ Laguna!
For two weeks each summer, the Lower School campus is
transformed into a hub of color, creativity—and lots of laughter—
as part of the school’s summer program, now in its third year.
Unlike some camps, which focus on one theme like engineering
or art, Summer @ Laguna offers a well-rounded mix of activities,
ranging from computer science to LEGO engineering, storytelling,
and music. And the best part: all activities are taught by Laguna
faculty or Laguna student volunteers.
“Summer @ Laguna is a great transition tool for students who
are newly accepted to Laguna and want to form connections with
other students and teachers before the school year begins,” says
Head of Lower School Andy Surber. “It’s also a powerful way to
enhance relationships between our current students and teachers.
They love seeing their teachers over the summer, even just for two
SUMMER @ LAGUNA
Week of July 31-August 4
8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Week of August 7-11
8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
All programs taught by Laguna
faculty and students.
46 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE
The last hour of each day is reserved for all-camp
activities so students can enjoy other interests like
juggling, water sports, or musical performances with
children of every age. On Fridays, parents are invited
to join the end-of-day celebrations to see what their
kids have been up to for the past week.
Although it is open to students ages 4-10, half of
the participants fall into the 4-6 range. According to
Surber, the relationships he’s seen grow between the
Middle and Upper School volunteers and the young
campers is priceless, especially when they return to
campus in the fall.
Parents will be pleased to know that lunch and
snacks are included in the program fee, and after care
is available for working parents.
“This is just one more way for those in our local
community to experience what makes Laguna great,”
Surber says. “We want to make it as easy as possible
for new families to enjoy our school.”
48 LAGUNA BLANCA MAGAZINE