Posted inEducation

Coast Union High School Athletic Updates

     Girls Volleyball.  Last Thursday the Junior Varsity (JV) and Varsity (V) teams hosted Shandon. JV won their game 2-0, while Varsity had a tough loss of 3-1.  The JV record now stands at 8-0, while the V record is 9-3 overall and 5-2 in league. The team is second in the league behind undefeated Coastal Christian.  On Friday, September 30, the varsity team will host Cuyama at 5:00 p.m.

     Cross Country.  Cross Country hosted Mission Prep on Wednesday, September 21.  Mission was unable to field a girls team, but our girls runners Ava Glennon and Alexa Bonilla ran their own race. Though they said it was not one of the best runs, it did provide additional practice time for them to run the course. The boys team was able to run a full team against Mission Prep and came out victorious. Mission Prep had the top runner, while Coast Union’s Diego Gomez, Adrianne Aviña, and Luke Smith continued to dominate coming in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Other notable runners that played a part in the victory were Oliver Fabela (8th) and Martin Lopez (10th).  League meets begin in October with the first meet at Coast Union on Thursday, October 6, at 3:30 p.m.

     Football.  The team’s victory of 36-14 over Santa Clarita Christian on Saturday, September 17, improved their record to 2-1. The team had 190 yards rushing and 140 yards passing. Caiden Kennedy had two passing touchdowns, one to Alex De Alba (20 yards receiving) and the other to Jonathan Ramirez (88 yards receiving). Caiden also ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns. Another notable contribution on offense was Diego Fernandez with 67 yards rushing and 32 yards receiving. 

     Their defense was the key to success in the game shutting down Santa Clarita’s powerful pass offense. The team combined for 6 tackles for loss, and Adair Ponce and Manny Mercado each had a sack. The team picked off four interceptions with Caiden Kennedy responsible for three. Jonathan Ramirez got the fourth interception of the game in the endzone late in the 4th quarter as Santa Clarita was trying to make one last drive.  Another notable contributor on defense was Alex De Alba with 9 solo tackles and a forced fumble.

     This Saturday, October 1, the football team will travel to Pismo Beach for their first league game against Coastal Christian at the Soto Sports Complex.

     Upcoming Sporting Events:

Friday-September 30

     5 p.m. Girls V Volleyball vs. Cayuma Valley

Saturday-October 1

     7 p.m.  CUHS Football vs. Coastal Christian (Pismo Beach)

Tuesday-October 4

     4 p.m. Girls JV Volleyball vs. Valley Christian (Santa Maria)

     5 p.m. Girls V Volleyball vs. Valley Christian (Santa Maria)

Posted inEducation

Welcome to Leffingwell High School

All of the new and returning students at Leffingwell High School are prepared to begin their coursework, ready to engage in community building events both inside and outside of school, and excited to practice the skills that it takes to be independent in life.  This year a new teacher Amy Armstrong has arrived at Leffingwell.  Her lively and charismatic nature is a great addition to the campus.

     Leffingwell is a continuation high school that prepares students for academic success by providing a positive and healthy school environment.  Students who come to campus are entering an environment that is full of loving and caring people.  The school is a place filled with many opportunities, all which assist students to build academic, technological, social, and physical skills.  Leffingwell runs a bit differently than a standard high school because there a many more hands-on experiences.

     While Leffingwell does offer traditional pen and paper teaching, students also learn through visual and physical representation.  Students are allowed to have a real job outside of school in which they can receive school credits for by working a certain number of hours.  In addition, students are encouraged to participate in community service activities by providing assistance to nonprofit organizations.  Their efforts not only make this community a better place, but also teach the importance of good deeds, common courtesies, and working with others for a good cause.

     With the 2022-2023 enrollment of 11 students this year, everyone is receiving the help that they need to achieve their goals.  With much enthusiasm flowing through everyone, the teachers and students are all ready to make this a memorable year for everyone.

Posted inEducation

Connect, Explore, and Grow: Outdoor Education at Camp Ocean Pines

Beginning September 28 and running into November, school groups will be visiting Camp Ocean Pines for an Outdoor Education experience.  Students will be visiting from as far away as Pasadena and as close as San Luis Obispo and staying at the Camp for anywhere between a single night to a full week.

     For some kids, this is their first overnight stay away from home and, for far too many students, this is their first trip to the ocean.  Outdoor Education at Camp Ocean Pines has three basic goals:  connect, explore, and grow.  Natural history and ecology lessons are an avenue to develop stronger skills in inquiry, critical thinking, and leadership.  Students hear about the dynamic culture of the Chumash and Salinan peoples, increasing their empathy and understanding of history.

     To learn about animal adaptations and to challenge themselves, they carefully hold nonvenomous snakes.  They compose poems and art pieces inspired by listening to the ocean waves and barking sea lions and watching swooping hawks and buzzing hummingbirds.  They learn patience and perseverance in mastering the calm it takes to accurately shoot a bow and arrow.  Sometimes the students go kayaking among the otters in Morro Bay with the kids working on their collaborative paddling while learning about estuaries.

     Students also go on hikes.  Within walking distance of Camp Ocean Pines are some great places to explore.  Lampton Cliffs has rich tide pools with anemone and crabs–a magical place to visit for a first trip to the ocean.  The pine canopy of Strawberry Canyon and the windy bluffs of Fiscalini Ranch Preserve afford chances to differentiate between poison oak and blackberry, to dodge fence lizards, and identify birds by their calls.  The partnership with Greenspace, Friends of Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, Cambria Community Services District, and County Parks ensures that students experience a diversity of outdoor learning environments.

     All of these activities are led by trained naturalists.  Camp Ocean Pines trains its program staff in natural history knowledge, youth development and teaching principles, and risk management.  The lessons are “hands-on” but always attentive to safety–for both the kids and the natural environment.  Naturalists might catch a crab in a plastic bucket so the students can examine it more closely, and that crab will be returned to the same tide pool when the lesson is over.  And a log may be flipped to see the roly-polies and other invertebrates underneath, but gently returned after all the exclamations of “Ooh!” and “Yuck!” and “Cool!” are done.

     Camp Ocean Pines groups hike through local neighborhoods, as well.  Be sure to wave and say hi!  Everyone likes a friendly smile.  For questions, please email Andrew Boyd-Goodrich, Executive Director (andrew@campoceanpines.org).  

Posted inEducation

CUHS Broncos-New School Year and New Faces on Campus

The Coast Union school year is in full swing.  The year started with a “Week of Welcome” hosted by the Academic Student Body (ASB) students who greeted students each morning as they arrived and arranged lunch activities during the week. The enrollment this year is around 155 students. Coast Union High School (CUHS) has a larger than normal sophomore class due to new enrollments from students moving to the area, students returning to CUHS from Morro Bay High School, and students from Cayucos selecting CUHS for high school. Several new staff members have been added starting either last year or this year.

     Ogo Agbo is a new teacher in the English department teaching sophomores and seniors. She grew up in the County and attended school in San Luis Obispo.  Agbo comes from a family of educators and that inspired her to become a teacher. She chose to work at CUHS after hearing about the position from a Cal Poly student completing student teaching in Cambria. When asked about teaching at CUHS she states, “I have been enjoying myself so much at Coast Union!  Every day I am excited to go to work, and every day I reflect on all the funny, inspiring, and interesting moments I shared with the students that day.  I really feel that I hit the jackpot in getting hired at Coast Union.  I love teaching here!”

     Taylor Henderson is a second-year teacher in the social studies department teaching freshmen and seniors. He also works part of his day at Santa Lucia Middle School.  He was inspired to teach by his eighth-grade history teacher, and he wants to pass on his love of history to the next generation. Henderson is a third-generation teacher in his family. He was drawn to the County to be close to his oldest brother who lives in Atascadero.  He loves the small size and dynamics of working at CUHS.  In addition to teaching, he is also an advisor for the California Scholastic Federation Chapter Advisor, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Assistant Cross Country Coach.

     Scott Love is a second-year teacher in Coast Unified. He teaches at Leffingwell High School in the morning and teaches Biology and Advanced Placement Biology at CUHS in the afternoon. He is a CUHS graduate and County native.  Love was excited to have the opportunity to return to his alma mater after teaching in Santa Barbara.  He was inspired to teach by his father who was also a teacher and by a CUHS teacher Pam Kenyon. He enjoyed her style of teaching and loved her anatomy class which inspired him to become a science teacher. In addition to teaching, he is the assistant coach for girls’ soccer. In his free time, he enjoys surfing, hiking, and lifting weights.

     Jamie Stapf is in her first year of teaching in the agriculture department teaching chemistry, agricultural mechanics, ornamental horticulture, and floral.  She became an “Ag” teacher after completing the FFA program as a student at San Luis Obispo (SLO) High School. Stapf hopes to inspire CUHS students in the same way that her teachers inspired her.  She is local to Cambria and lived here for nine years as a child before relocating to SLO.  She is a graduate of Cal Poly for both her bachelor and master’s degrees.  Last school year she taught in the “Ag” department in Greenfield and was excited at the opportunity to work in the County and at CUHS.

     Carlo Green is a second-year teacher in the physical education department.  His love of health and fitness inspired him to become a physical education teacher. He is a County native who grew up in Morro Bay and graduated from Morro Bay High School.  He loves working at CUHS for the small school environment and the ability to know and interact with every student on campus.  In addition to teaching, Green is the boys’ basketball and girls’ basketball coach, as well as the Friday Night Live club advisor. When he is not teaching, he enjoys cooking and slow-smoking meats in his Traeger grill.

     Trevor Neer is in his first year of teaching and splits his teaching day between Santa Lucia Middle School and CUHS.  He teaches the Academic Student Body (ASB) class, English Language Development (ELD) and credit recovery classes.  He was previously the CUHS librarian before transitioning to a full-time teaching position this year.  Neer is a County native with ties to Cambria and a graduate of Morro Bay High School. In addition to teaching, he is also an assistant football and baseball coach.

     Moises Jimenez is in his second year of teaching Spanish at CUHS and Santa Lucia Middle School. His love for teaching started as a soccer coach, and he was “nudged” to become a teacher by former principal Karl Dearie.  Jimenez grew up in Cambria and attended Coast Unified schools, learning here to speak English as a child.  He worked as a bilingual instructional assistant in the District for several years before getting his first teaching position in Templeton.  He chose to teach at CUHS because of the sense of pride in teaching and coaching at his alma mater.  Outside of teaching, he is also the boys’ soccer coach and the advisor for AFS foreign exchange program.

     Samantha Brossette is in her second year as a school counselor at CUHS after several years working in international education.  She is a local Cambrian and her daughter is a graduate of CUHS.

     Yudilia Tomsen is in her first year at CUHS working as the library technician after several years working as school secretary in the southern part of the County.

     Jennifer Vialpando is in her first year as a special education instructional assistant at CUHS.  She has been working with students for over 30 years in several positions including the YMCA.  She is a local Cambrian and both of her children graduated from CUHS, and her grandchildren attend school in the District, as well.

     Anna Macias is in her first year working as a bilingual instructional assistant. She is a local Cambrian and attended school in the District.

Posted inEducation

Dinner & Libations Fundraiser for the Piedras Blancas Light Station

An intimate sunset “Dinner & Libations” is planned for Saturday, October 1, from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m. to raise funds for the Piedras Blancas Light Station.

     Guests can roam the light station grounds and ask questions of our knowledgeable docents while sipping wine or beer, then taking in the sunset view while enjoying dinner and live music by Kenny Taylor. A silent auction of exclusive art, unique experiences, and fun gift baskets donated by community members will also help in raising funds.

     The Piedras Blancas Light Station Association (PBLSA) is the nonprofit Friends group that supports the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in their efforts to maintain and restore the historic treasure that is the local light station.  BLM engineers are currently reviewing a proposal submitted by PBLSA to stabilize the tower and repair damage caused by rusting ironwork.  Once these steps are complete, work can begin to rebuild the top three floors of the tower and restore the lighthouse to its original appearance. The complete restoration of the tower will be a lengthy, multi-million-dollar project, and the support of fundraising efforts by PBLSA will be necessary to supplement the funds BLM is able to allocate.

     Tickets for Dinner & Libations for the Station are $100 per person and include a light station logo glass, dinner, dessert, and unlimited pours of wine and beer. To see the dinner menu and arrange for tickets, visit piedrasblancas.org/events/.

Posted inEducation

Santa Lucia Middle School-Off to a Fantastic Start

Santa Lucia Middle School (SLMS) welcomed 120 6th through 8th grade students to campus for the 2022-2023 school year on Tuesday, August 16, with much anticipation and excitement.  The school year started with two days of the six “color” groups (combined teams of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders) who went through multiple stations during the first two days of school to learn about the school, complete assessments, and compete in games like trivia, memory, and other cooperative learning activities.  SLMS has many new faces on our campus as we start this new year, and there is a new enthusiasm on campus.  

     Kasey Hass is one of the new teachers at SLMS this year and, she is teaching Environmental, Life, and Physical Sciences, as well as 7th and 8th English Language Development (ELD) and Advancement Via Individual Development (AVID) classes.  She earned her degree in environmental science from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) and then spent some time in Hawaii studying sea turtles.  She likes to surf and do anything outdoors like camping, running, and sailing. 

     Taylor Henderson is a new teacher on campus who the school shares with Coast Union High School (CUHS) to teach two sections of U.S. History here at the end of the day.  Mr. Henderson went to Biola University for his Bachelor of Arts (BA) in history and attended California State Fullerton for his history Masters degree.  In his not frequent spare time, he likes to read historical biographies and Louis L’Amour books. 

     Moises Jimenez is a new teacher to the campus who we share with CUHS to teach one section of Spanish 1 as an elective on campus.  He graduated from Columbia College of Missouri with his degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and received his teaching credential from Cal Poly.  In his spare time, he likes to travel, play soccer, and is proud to be a Bronco alumnus who grew up in this community attending the old schoolhouse for elementary, SLMS, and CUHS. 

     David Nygren is the new principal, and he comes from Lake Arrowhead in the mountains of Southern California,  He is happy to not shovel snow anymore!  He went to Westmont College for his BA in English and to Azusa Pacific University for his Masters degree in School Administration.  In his spare time, he likes to serve in Rotary Club, snowboard, go to movies and concerts, and give his cat and girlfriend a better life. 

     Trevor Neer is the new Leadership teacher, and he also teaches Geography and World Cultures.  He graduated with his BA in Liberal Arts from California State Chico and received his credential in Special Education from University of Massachusetts Global.  In his spare time, he loves coaching, playing baseball, riding his dirt bike, and spending time with his fiancé, who is finishing her student teaching this semester. 

     SMLS just held a Back to School Night on Tuesday, September 6, on the blacktop here at school where parents heard from teachers about SLMS programs.  The Back to School Night was very well received.

Currently, the cross country and volleyball teams are practicing and readying for competitions with other middle schools beginning this month.  They will start competition during the week of September 12; a schedule can be found under “athletics” on the SLMS website at:  santalucia.coastusd.org. 

     The teachers and staff have been giving out positive behavior tickets, and we are doing a drawing each week for ice cream at lunch on Fridays.  The new Champions program is providing after school care on campus each day until 6:00 p.m., so contact the school office for more information on this program.  Finally, SLMS leadership students carried a banner in the parade at the beginning of the Pinedorado Festival this weekend; we have much to celebrate this school year.

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Cambria Grammar School Matches Program Continuation with New Initiatives

What a great start of the year we have had here at Cambria Grammar School (CGS).  Today is the 13th day of school, and we have 205 energized and hard-working students from transitional kindergarten (TK) through grade 5 for the 2022-23 school year.

     CGS has a lot of significant changes and new initiatives this year, as well as the continuation of many of our effective programs.  Notable changes to staffing include Heather Rosenblum joining us as a 4th grade teacher, Erica Lovegren joining us as a new kindergarten teacher, and Christy Heitmiller (a 4th grade long-term substitute teacher last year) is now teaching 3rd grade.  Many teachers moved to different grades.  Maya Lord (she is bilingual) now is teaching TK, Rich Mendoza (last year’s physical education teacher) now is teaching kindergarten, and Kim Gray (who taught kindergarten last year) is now teaching 1st grade.  Ginna Mueller has returned to CGS to teach physical education and Megan Ender has returned and is now an English Language Development and Reading Intervention teacher.  Lauren Conklin is now our school librarian.  We are still looking to hire a yard duty and a bilingual instructional aide.

     One of the dynamic new additions to our school is Champions, a vibrant after school program. Champions has started with an enrollment of almost 60 students.  We are planning on expanding the program in the next few weeks as we hire more staff.  We are excited to be collaborating with Champions to offer needed after school care for our community.

     Academically, we have been diving into our state test data from last spring.  The data show that we made some substantial gains last year toward reducing the learning interruptions that occurred during the pandemic.  Our state test scores are actually slightly above where they were pre-Covid.  We will be continuing our whole staff training on social and emotional needs, as well as Thinking Maps and the writing program called “Write from the Beginning”.  

     Another CGS site initiative is more authentic family involvement at school.  Our Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President Christie Cosme has been such a positive and successful influence. The first PTA meeting of the year had great parent attendance and involvement.  We already are having many parent volunteers at school.  Information about parent volunteer opportunities will be emphasized during the Back to School Night class presentations on Thursday evening.  Some of the many field trips to be taken this year include each grade level getting a chance to see a live performance at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center, and parents will have the opportunity to chaperone these experiences. 

     Thank you to the entire Cambria community.  Many families have said that the start of the year was so smooth and that their children are so happy about school this year.  The CGS staff is working with true dedication to provide the children of Cambria and San Simeon a very enriching and joyful experience.  We look forward to working with the entire community this year.

Cambria Grammar School Principal Jill Southern with Sea Otter School Mascot