• The City of Malibu was deemed in good shape financially — its budget is balanced and it earned a bond rating of AA+ from Standard & Poor. According to city officials, the city has $18.6 million in reserves, which they believe will be up to $25.4 million by the end of the fiscal year.
• The Adamson House — the original beach house of the Adamson family, now owned by the California State Parks — partially reopened after a six-week shutdown. A cluster of problems, including beachfront erosion and an ongoing battle between State Parks, which control the structure, and the unpaid docent volunteers who run the facility day-to-day, who walked off the job in protest, is still unsolved. The dispute relates, in part, to the required repairs of the structure, although that solution appears to now be in the works. The Adamson House is one of the most popular and highest-grossing State Parks venues in the district.
• The County of Los Angeles tried to count the homeless population, and volunteers swept through Malibu to attempt to establish a census of the homeless living here. According to the count, numbers are up in both Malibu and the greater Los Angeles area. In the greater Malibu area, which includes Malibu, Topanga and parts of the San Fernando Valley, there are 8,688 homeless — about 21 percent of the county total — which is an increase from the previous year.
• Fundraising for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District 2014-15 school year fell short of the goal and led to much finger pointing at Malibu parents, whose giving has dropped off since the district stopped allowing money to be directly contributed to neighborhood schools. Currently, distribution of the dollars raised from whatever source are spread throughout the district in an attempt to make it more equitable. However, many Malibu parents also charge the district has wasted dollars on legal fees in avoiding a PCBs fix in the Malibu schools and one member of the community said they are voting with their pocketbooks.
• Annually, The Malibu Times gives Citizen of the Year Awards to Malibu area students who have distinguished themselves in elementary, middle and high school with their commitment to their school and their community. This year’s winners are:
• Malibu High School Claire Thomsen
• Point Dume Marine Science School Bridget Kennedy-Bailey
• Webster Elementary School Annika Bolander
• Webster Elementary School Stefan Colburn
• Juan Cabrillo Elementary School Yadany Alavez
• Juan Cabrillo Elementary School Tess O’Neill
• Our Lady of Malibu School Jillian Neuner
• Our Lady of Malibu School Teresa Contino
• MUSE School Sequoia Beaver
• Viewpoint School Brianna Honkawa d’Estries
Juan Cabrillo Elementary School student Yadany Alavez has been described as an “exemplary citizen.” Alavez helps around the classroom and school, as well as with her family and the community beyond Juan Cabrillo. Throughout her time at the school, Alavez has stayed after school almost every day to assist her teacher, including cleaning, correcting work and organizing. Alavez has helped set up and organize Juan Cabrillo events, including Fiesta Malibu, ELAC meetings and the yearly Kindergarten Round-Up. Alavez is also a member of a basketball team near her home.
While at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School, Tess O’Neill has spent many hours helping the school. On a day to day basis, O’Neill often helps cleaning up after art classes and setting up for events. For the bigger events, including the Disco Dance and the St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser, O’Neill showed her community spirit by helping with the decorations. Last year, O’Neill spent time over weekends to help paint colorful booths for Fiesta Malibu, Juan Cabrillo’s annual community-wide fundraiser, which will be used for years to come. O’Neill also participates in the school’s reading buddy program and shared that she loves “being a part of such a supportive community of teachers and students.”
Point Dume Marine Science School student Bridget Kennedy-Bailey has been described as “well-liked, admirable and outgoing.” As president of the PDMSS Student Council, Kennedy-Bailey led the student body in many projects and endeavors, including helping former Juan Cabrillo principal Pat Cairns raise money for the Botswana School Project. Kennedy-Bailey and other PDMSS students participated in a See’s Candies fundraiser which helped provide orphans in Botswana with basic school supplies. Kennedy-Bailey is also leading the Student Council with a project to see how to best give funds toward helping aide sick and dying sea lions. Through these projects and others, Kennedy-Bailey has shown she has “an unwavering concern for the rights and needs of others.”
Our Lady of Malibu School’s Jillian Neuner has shown her dedication to the school community in part through her role as vice president of Student Council. Neuner headed a campaign to raise money for pediatric cancer and participated in OLM’s first Math Angels program, helping tutoring students. She also participated in an anti-bullying campaign and the Long Walk to Water, raising money for the people of Sudan. She is also an active member at OLM Church, altar serving on many occasions. Neuner played volleyball for OLM as well as on a club team, all while maintaining straight A’s. She has been described as “a role model to her peers as well as younger students.” Neuner will begin ninth-grade at Marymount High School in the fall.
Eighth-grader Teresa Contino helped her Our Lady of Malibu School community by serving on the Student Council. Beyond helping the OLM campus, Contino helped raise funds for pediatric cancer. Contino demonstrated her ability to help OLM students by participating in the Math Angels tutoring program and helped others beyond Malibu by participating in the Long Walk to Water drive. Contino has been described as “a scholar as well as a role model to peers … she is kind and generous to all.” Contino participates in musical theater and recently played the role of Rizzo in OLM’s production of “Grease.” Contino will continue her education after OLM at Louisville High School.
Brianna Honkawa d’Estries joined Viewpoint School in her sophomore year and has made a lasting impact, including founding and taking on the role of president of the campus’ Animal Rights Club. While at Viewpoint, d’Estries was able to show her creative side when she earned an honorable mention at the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and a certificate of merit for the 16th annual High School Art Invitational. Taking a challenging course load, d’Estries is a global scholar, AP scholar with honors and a member of the Cum Laude and French Honor societies. Outside of school, d’Estries runs an international lifestyle and design blog. She will be heading to the University of California, Berkeley in the fall.
Webster Elementary fifth-grader Annika Bolander has made an effort throughout the school year to improve her classroom, her school and the community. Outside of the classroom, Bolander is involved with a variety of service projects through her church, including helping assemble dinners for the Ocean Park Community Center shelter in Santa Monica, as well as hygiene kits for Safe Place for Youth in Venice, which is a program designed to help homeless youth. Her interests include AYSO soccer, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and learning how to surf. She also plays the piano and cello. Bolander has been described as having “exceptional character” and that she can always be counted on to be honest and trustworthy.
While at Webster Elementary School, fifth-grader Stefan Colburn has demonstrated a large effort to help both his immediate community and beyond. When Colburn learned that some people in Tijuana live in cardboard boxes, he donated supplies to help with their day to day life. In response to the earthquake in Nepal, Colburn donated money for rebuilding efforts. Locally, Colburn has helped out with the Malibu Community Labor Exchange by shopping for, transporting and serving food to people. He assists with the annual holiday drive where toys and clothing are collected for the workers. Colburn is deserving of the award “because he takes responsibility to help others locally and globally, he celebrates diversity, and he acts to improve the world’s conditions through volunteerism and service to others.”
MUSE School ninth-grader Sequoia Beaver has demonstrated talent and grace while at MUSE. Beaver volunteers at the Skirball Center eight hours per month, facilitating children’s art projects. She led her high school classmates in a project to help clean up Corral Beach in Malibu, collecting 60 pounds of trash over five days. The project culminated with a formal letter written to President Obama, presenting a solution for the beach’s poor condition: to request that big corporations like Starbucks and McDonald’s use biodegradable materials to package their products. Beaver and her classmates received a letter of response from Obama, commending the class for its efforts. In addition to helping the environment, Beaver is in an accelerated academic program at MUSE, allowing her to co-enroll at Pierce College for a course in critical thinking.