Class Notes


LBHS Student’s Eagle Scout Project Receives Top OC Honor

Laguna Beach High School sophomore Joseph Hovanesian was honored on Wednesday, April 24, with the Eagle Scout Project of the Year award at the Eagle Scout recognition dinner of the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts. His project involved creating a sewing program for a nonprofit youth shelter in the developing country of Armenia.

Hovanesian, whose video describing his projectwas played for the audience of 500 at the recognition, has been a Scout since he joined Tiger Cubs in first grade. He dreamed up the project in the spring of 2017, when his family was planning a two-week summer vacation to their ancestral homeland. “I’ve always enjoyed creating things, and I had learned to sew the year before. I wanted my Eagle project to benefit young people in Armenia,” he said.

LBHS sophomore Joseph Hovanesian teaches a group of girls how to sew at a shelter in Armenia. Photo courtesy of John Hovanesian.

Hovanesian learned about Orran, a shelter in Armenia’s capital city that takes children who were found begging on the street and gives them educational and enriching after-school activities. Sewing was notably missing from their offerings, so Joseph set out to raise $1,500 in the U.S. to buy Orran two sewing machines and supply them with enough fabric and supplies for a year’s worth of teaching.

To raise the money, Hovanesian created a website, made an appearance on KX radio’s Caroline’s Cause Corner with Caroline Rustigian, and made presentations at his church. An outpouring of support ensued. He raised over $5,000—more than twice his goal—and received five large duffel bags of donated fabric, much of it from a local seamstress, Laguna Presbyterian, and from Pacific Coast Drapery Manufacturing, owned by Sam Eidt, the dad of a fellow Scout. With the added funds, Hovanesian’s project was able to buy four sewing machines and support the salary of a teacher in Armenia for the sewing program’s first year.

TOW’s Elise Chen won the annual Laguna Beach Unified School District Fifth Grade Spelling Bee Championship at El Morro Elementary School on April 25.


With his family and his donated supplies, Joseph traveled to Armenia and taught the first two lessons to about 20 local children. “Before the trip, we did a dry run sewing lesson with my guy friends in Laguna to get me ready, but I actually found it easier to teach a bunch of girls whose language I didn’t speak in Armenia because they paid much closer attention,” Hovanesian said.

Scouts BSA is a program of the Boy Scouts of America for both boys and girls from kindergarten through high school. To learn more about Laguna Beach Pack and Troop 35, visit


Elise Chen wins LBUSD Elementary Spelling Bee Championship

PTA hosted the annual Laguna Beach Unified School District Fifth Grade Spelling Bee Championship Finals at El Morro Elementary School on Thursday evening, April 25, with 10 competitors from El Morro and 10 from Top of the World Elementary School vying for the top spot. Elimination rounds were held earlier in the month at each school to determine the finalists. The winner was TOW’s Elise Chen, who engaged runner-up Zoe Tran, representing El Morro, in a rapid-fire challenge, alternating turns to spell words that advanced to the sixth- and then seventh-grade spelling word lists.

At the conclusion of this heated contest, PTA program chairmen Lisa Jensen and Melissa Vermilya treated competitors and spectators to an ice cream social. Tom Fay once again served as emcee for the championship and presented each word to the students to spell, while Kathleen Fay returned as the spelling bee judge; both are PTA volunteers. The event was overseen by elementary school principals Chris Duddy of El Morro and Michael Conlon of TOW.

This year’s finalists were:

TOW: Elise Chen, Genevieve Dechary, Sarah Dunning, Teddy Hackett, Anna Heyward, Adeline Hlava, Estella Newton, Allie Nottage, Cici Paul, Alexander Radabaugh, Tane Rice, Anjali Sahni, and Taylor Smith

El Morro: Kelsey Dearing, Dorian DeQuillien, Oscar Ferguson-Garrood, Clark Kimball, Zach Menter, Parker Moore, Elise Schultz, Alani Sciacca, Marlee Sinay, Elise Tabor, Zoe Tran


 Laguna Branch of AAUW Sending 7th Grade Girls to Science Camp

For the 21st year in a row, the Laguna Beach Branch of the AAUW (American Association of University Women) is sending local middle school girls to Tech Trek residential summer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) camps.

Thurston Middle School Tech Trek scholarship recipients. Photo courtesy of AAUW.

Tech Trek is a program of the AAUW, and girls may only attend on scholarships provided by local AAUW branches. This year, 45 girls were nominated by their seventh-grade science and math teachers to apply for one of 10 scholarships provided by the Laguna Beach Branch. After a challenging, multi-stage process, the following applicants were selected to attend Tech Trek camps at UC Irvine and UC San Diego: Sydney Alderson, Ayu Burchman, Keira Hundhausen, Hannah Kaiser, Maesen Silva, Marlena Steinbach, and Yekaterina Sterligova from Thurston Middle School in Laguna Beach, and Raksheta Kulkarni and Prakruthi Praveen from Venado Middle School in Irvine.

At Tech Trek, the girls experience college life by living in dormitories and taking core classes taught by credentialed teachers and women currently employed in STEM careers. They participate in workshops, field trips and laboratory experiences, while expanding their awareness of the wide range of STEM fields open to them. For hundreds of girls across the country every year, Tech Trek is eye-opening and life-changing.

Venado Middle School Tech Trek scholarship recipients. Photo courtesy of AAUW.

AAUW’s mission is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research. Tech Trek is only one of many educational programs that the AAUW of Laguna Beach supports. To learn more about AAUW-LB, visit

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