Brea Old and New: The go-to source for all things Brea and beyond!

Laurel Elementary School

  • Introducing Brea’s first children’s book kid characters

    5 months ago by

    Although it was a very difficult choice to select district children to be featured in the city's first children’s book, celebrating 100 years in Brea, recently five additional students were chosen. But before I reveal their names, I’d like to thank all those parents who answered the casting call submitting information about their children. Again, a very tough decision, as each and every one of the student’s backgrounds was awesome!


      Brea’s historic iconic Charlie the Clock, a timely community-oriented children’s book celebrating 100 years in Brea featuring BOUSD kid characters, from bottom left to right:  Madison Morrill - a third grade Arovista student, Jessie Hirsch - a fourth grade Mariposa student, Roman Meraz - a sixth grade Laurel student, Valeria Zavala – a former Laurel student, Lauren Thompson - a sixth grade Fanning student, Jarred Gonzalez - a fifth grade Olinda student, and Skyler Sandrock - a third grade Country Hills student.

      Brea’s historic iconic Charlie the Clock, a timely community-oriented children’s book celebrating 100 years in Brea will feature BOUSD kid characters, from bottom left to right:
      Madison Morrill - a third grade Arovista student, Jesse Hirsch - a fourth grade Mariposa student, Roman Meraz - a sixth grade Laurel student, Valeria Zavala – a former Laurel student, Lauren Thompson - a sixth grade Fanning student, Jarred Gonzalez - a fifth grade Olinda student, and Skyler Sandrock - a third grade Country Hills student.

      The five students selected are as follows:

        Sixth grade Fanning Elementary student: Lauren Thompson

          Fourth grade Mariposa Elementary student: Jesse Hirsch

            Third Grade Arovista Elementary student: Madison Morrill

              Fifth grade Olinda Elementary student:

                Jarred Gonzalez

                  Third grade Country Hills Elementary student: Skyler Sandrock

                    They will be joining Valeria Zavala, who made history in Brea as the first student awarded National History Day champion for California, while attending fifth grade at Laurel Elementary in 2015. Roman Meraz, a current student at Laurel Elementary, will chime in also. Roman was recognized as a County Champion in the Elementary Division in 2016.

                      It has always been my desire to feature as many children as possible in the once-in-a-lifetime book. So there are three awesome sub-projects, starting with Kids Imagine Brea Essay Contest that was electronically sent out today via BOUSD principals newsletters.

                        Kids Imagine Brea Essay Contest: BOUSD students in the grades 3rd - 6th will have a chance to enter the essay contest, giving their perspective of Brea's future. There will be four winners selected per 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade, as judged by the Brea Education Foundation members. The winning essays along with photos will be featured in the book.

                          In addition, we are in the process of scheduling a panoramic book photo to show as many students as possible. And lastly, a whimsy video has been planned to feature an animated Charlie the Clock dancing with children to a song uniquely personalized.

                            The entire project is very community-oriented. Further details are forthcoming.

  • Full STEAM ahead: Brea district’s first magnet school nearly ready to open

    11 months ago by

    By Principal Heather Bojorquez of Laurel Elementary Magnet School of Innovation and Career Exploration


      Laurel Elementary gets a little TLC over the summer.

      Laurel Elementary gets a little TLC over the summer. Photo via Laurel Leopards Instagram account.


        Big things continue to happen in Brea and I couldn’t be happier to write about the opening of Brea Olinda Unified School District’s very first magnet school this fall. For nearly 95 years, Laurel School has been providing elementary education to students in Brea and this summer it is currently undergoing a an exciting transformation! This August, Laurel will reopen its doors as The Laurel Elementary Magnet School of Innovation and Career Exploration (I.C.E.).

          A magnet school is a public school with specialized courses or curricula. "Magnet" schools draw students from across the school boundaries, meaning the school is open to enrollment (pending space availability) to all families who reside in Brea and surrounding communities. Opening a magnet school has been an ongoing discussion amongst the school board and District for the past few years and we are thrilled to see the vision come to life!

            Just as its new name implies, Laurel Elementary Magnet School will emphasize innovation and career exploration. Brea schools are one of the strongest community assets the city of Brea has to offer our businesses, and we invite our community to have a part in the education and programming we provide to Laurel students. That being said, a main focus of the Laurel Elementary Magnet school will be partnerships with local businesses. Brea business leaders will sponsor classrooms and provide students the opportunity to solve real world problems that affect their industries and employees. Equally exciting, additional areas of focus for the school will include 1:1 technology for all students and project-based S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) lessons. Curriculum will be centered around a “hands-on, minds-on” learning approach to help give students the tools they need to address real world issues affecting them in the 21st century and beyond.

              Laurel teachers at work creating lessons for new Magnet school's intercommunication.

              Laurel teachers hard at work creating lessons for new magnet school. Photo via Laurel Leopards Instagram account.


                So far this summer, our dedicated teaching staff have put in hours of professional development working together as a collaborative team to build and develop student centered lessons. Additionally, the process to improve the overall appearance of campus has begun. Students will return to a freshly painted building, new asphalt on the upper playground, and we are most excited about the new flexible furniture that will allow for easy grouping and changing of the traditional classroom to mirror a collaborative work environment.

                  I am elated to be part of the Laurel Elementary Magnet School of I.C.E. community and am humbled and honored to hold the position of principal. My vision is to see students leave our school with an understanding of who they are, what they bring, and the limitless potential they have to impact the world. At Laurel, or students will explore, innovate, and create!

                    We have an amazing school community, knowledgeable and invested teachers, hard-working and caring support staff, dedicated and supportive families. On behalf of the entire Laurel Elementary Magnet School of I.C.E. family, we look forward to making this a successful inaugural year!

                      To learn more about Laurel Elementary Magnet School, please visit BOUSD website.

  • Laurel Elementary Students Receive Recognition for Orange County National History Day

    1 year ago by

    Many of Laurel Elementary Schools students received recognition at the Orange County National History Day Award Ceremony held last week.


      In the Performance Category, the Runners-up for their project: Siege of Los Angeles were Brandon Rodriguez, Jonathan Mejia, and Sergio Rendon. Honorable mention to Andrew Castaneda for his website on Rocketry.

        Junior Finalists (Left to right)  Brandon Rodriguez, Jonathan Mejia, Sergio Rendon, and Eduardo Hernandez were Runners-up in the Performance Category. Their project was on The Siege of Los Angeles. Andrew Castaneda (Right) received Honorable Mention for his website on Rocketry.

        Junior Finalists (Left to right) Brandon Rodriguez, Jonathan Mejia, Sergio Rendon, and Eduardo Hernandez were Runners-up in the Performance Category. Their project was on The Siege of Los Angeles. Andrew Castaneda (Right) received Honorable Mention for his website on Rocketry.


          Roman Meraz and Jewel Serrano were recognized as County Champions in the Elementary Division. Roman and Jewel will advance to the California National History Day competition, just like Valeria Zavala, who was named California NHD Champion - the first student in Brea to receive the award under the guidance of Laurel Teacher Jill Berrner. Roman's project is about Walter Johnson, and Jewel's is about The Special Olympics.

            Roman Meraz and Jewel Serrano received recognition as County Champions in the Elementary Division.

            Roman Meraz and Jewel Serrano received recognition as County Champions in the Elementary Division.

            Jason Choi  won the Brea's Kiwanis Essay contest entitled "A Caring Representation." ​

            Jason Choi won the Brea's Kiwanis Essay contest entitled "A Caring Representation." ​

            Three more Laurel students also received Judges Choice Medals. They were Antonio Alas and Jason Choi (for their project about Bill Gates, and Anna Riley Boozer who researched Dian Fossey. Jason Choi also won the Brea's Kiwanis Essay contest last week with his essay entitled "A Caring Representation" ​

  • Laurel Elementary School has a brand new Mac Mini lab – thanks to many

    2 years ago by

    A letter from Laurel Elementary School Principal, Mrs. Bojorquez:


      Ladies and gentlemen,

        I would like to introduce you to our BRAND NEW Mac Mini lab. The computers, keyboards, and mice are courtesy of the BOUSD School Board as a thank you for hosting Fanning while their school was rebuilt. The screens are courtesy of our fantastic Leopard PTA from the funds they raised from Jog-a-Thon. Thank you to both!
        Fanning Elementary School's brand new Mac Mini lab!

        When the community gets together amazing things happen: Laurel Elementary School's brand new Mac Mini lab!


          We have 25 Mac Minis and supplemented with an additional 10 of our white iMacs. This year we will work on fundraising to add 10 more Mac minis to complete our lab at 35. But for now, students may need to share or rotate if the new computers are being used.

            A special thank you to Desmond Nguyen, Kari Windes, and a handful of BJH student volunteers who helped get the lab up and running in two days!

              Welcome to the new lab and it's time to explore all the possibilities for 21st Century learning. What might the kids be able to create?

  • Brea Olinda student awarded National History Day Champion for State of California

    2 years ago by

    5th grade Laurel Elementary student, Valeria Zavala makes Brean history as  National History Day Champion for the State of California. Photo submitted by Teacher Jill Berrner.

    5th grade Laurel Elementary student, Valeria Zavala makes Brean history as NHD Champion for the State of California. Photo submitted by Teacher Jill Berrner.


      Have you heard? Valeria Zavala, a 5th grade student at Laurel Elementary School, made local history as the first Brea student to to be awarded National History Day Champion for the State of California! That’s right! With over 500,000 participants each year, she was the first student from Brea to make it to the state level competition, let alone win.

        Teacher, Jill Berrner, is very proud. So are we."Being able to participate in National History Day, represent Brea and Orange County at state competition and come back as a champion was a great experience for me. I am looking forward to participate in NHD next year and the year after that. I hope more kids from Orange County get to experience what is like to come back home as a champion," said Valeria.

  • Run-down Lagos de Moreno park may get makeover

    3 years ago by

    A better photo of "Preliminary Concept" of a Revitalized Lagos de Moreno park and Laurel lower playground that was presented at the forum. Even if you couldn't attend, you can still share your thoughts. Got feedback? email wearelistening@bousd.k12.ca.us.


      As posted on Revitalize the Heart of Brea: Lagos de Moreno Park - Laurel Elementary (Facebook).


      Is it a park or a school playground?

        Lagos de Moreno Park is also Laurel Elementary School’s lower grades playground and should receive a D for depressing.

          The 1.5-acre property at Laurel is owned by the Brea Olinda Unified School District, but was dedicated as a city park nearly 45 years ago when Lagos de Moreno became Brea’s first sister city.

            Until 2004, the school district and the city had a joint-use agreement for the park, but never renewed it. Regardless, Superintendent Skip Roland and Community Services Director Chris Emeterio indicated that the two entities still honor the former agreement and the public is welcome to use the park after school hours.

              A Google search shows Lagos de Moreno Park at Flower and Birch streets. The city’s website refers to it as a shared-used park at Laurel Elementary School.

                Diane Stites and Mary Martinez, Laurel PTA representatives, have worked for several years to bring attention and help in renovating the park/playground.

                  In 2007, Laurel’s PTA had $5,000 for playground equipment and began discussions with the school district and city about support and options. They applied for grants and sought community support.

                    Around 2010, the PTA joined an online Pepsi Grant Competition with other parks in need around the country, but they didn’t win.

                      In the meantime, the park/playground doesn’t look as if it belongs in a city noted for its attractive, modern parks. Years ago, there were barbecues and picnic areas in the park, instead of play equipment that looks leftover from the 1960s. There are no drinking fountains or restrooms. Even worse, it is not handicap-accessible from the Flower/Birch entrance with stairs.

                        On Aug. 21, a community meeting was jointly held by the city and school district. Approximately 50 people attended, including four City Council members, school board members and one council candidate plus a few Laurel teachers and their new principal, Heather Bojorquez.

                          Emeterio and Roland conducted the meeting. They showed a rendering of early concept plans for the park/playground and explained that although there was no district funding, the meeting’s purpose was to gather input on what the community wants for the park. Roland estimated that a first phase would cost between $90,000 and $120,000 and would include closing the present entrance and putting in an accessible one from the alley parking area.

                            Some attendees asked questions regarding the funding sources and made suggestions for amenities such as drinking fountains, restrooms and safer play areas with some type of shading.

                              “Recognizing the outreach meeting was the first chance for stakeholders to review preliminary plans for a new, improved park, I absolutely think this project provides a great opportunity for the city and the school district to partner together for the benefit of Laurel students as well as the entire community,” Councilwoman Christine Marick said.

                                The city and Brea Olinda Unified have other shared-use parks, such as Brea Junior High School, Country Hills Park and the Brea Sports Park.

                                  Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. She gives her perspective on Brea issues twice a month. Contact her at daxoncomm@earthlink.net.

  • Community Forum Date set for Lagos de Moreno Park Revitalization Project

    3 years ago by

    Lagos de Moreno Park 2014


      You are invited to the Community Engagement Forum

        Revitalize Lagos De Moreno Park - Laurel Elementary "Lower" Playground Project

          When: Thursday

            August 21, 2014

              6:00 – 8:00pm

                Where: Laurel Elementary Cafeteria

                  Who: All are welcome

                    Please bring your children & grandchildren - It's their park too.

                      It’s your opportunity to give your ideas & opinions to revitalize this Brea City Park & BOUSD school playground.

                        It’s been 20 years since there’s been new play equipment. We think it’s time for a 21st Century Playground-Park that meets ADA accessibility requirements.

                          Our priorities:

                            Shaded Play Equipment

                              Re-do Play Area Surfacing

                                Modern Amenities

                                  Tell us your priorities for this playground-park.

                                    Laurel PTA has been working to revitalize this playground-park for 7 years. We think it's time for this project to be a priority. Let's decide Lagos De Moreno Park-Laurel School Lower Playground’s future together.
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    Laurel PTA spearheads community involvement for Lagos de Moreno Park Revitalization Project

    3 years ago by

    This year Laurel Elementary School’s Park, Lagos de Moreno, turned 45 years old. For the past five years PTA volunteers, Mary Martinez and Diane Stites, along with fellow school park enthusiasts, have been on a mission to revitalize the park (open to the public when school is not in session). Today the park is in poor condition with the playground area containing just a few equipment, much different than it was in October of 1973, the day it was renamed from Laurel Elementary Park to Lagos de Moreno in honor of Brea’s sister-city located in Mexico.


      Back in September of 1973, plans were made to welcome 13 visitors from our sister-city Lagos de Moreno, Mexico established in 1969. At the time Lagos de Moreno was 300 years old with a population of 65,000 residents, which was large in comparison to Brea then and surprisingly now. Various city committees were developed with specific duties to entertain the guests’ five-day stay in the City of Brea. It took many people to make the event a success. Among the committee members were Brea’s Mayor Don Fox and his wife Pat, along with fellow council members and their wives, city staff, Brea-Olinda Unified School District board members, and 30 citizens, many of who were Mexican-American residents residing near Laurel Elementary School, the city’s largest Mexican-American populated area.

        Lagos de Moreno busy five-day Brea itinerary started with the official welcoming on Wednesday, October 3, 1973 at the Brea Community Center. Thursday morning began with a breakfast at the Imperial Golf Course, followed by two separate luncheons: one for the women and another for the men. After lunch the women engaged in a two-hour shopping excursion while the men participated in an industrial tour. To unwind and relax, a late afternoon siesta time was allocated as dinner was planned at Sandy’s Casita. The highlight on Friday was the football game of Brea-Olinda vs. Laguna Beach held at the high school. Then on Saturday morning the Lagos group joined Brea dignitaries for the formal Lagos de Moreno Park dedication to start the daylong festivities, which included an installation of a plaque at the park's one acre entrance. It was also noted that Lagos de Moreno Park was intended for the Mexican-American residents located in the central area of the city. Sunday morning consisted of a tour of Disneyland. And finally farewell activities were scheduled before the Lagos group made the long trek back home.

          Many of you who are familiar with Lagos de Moreno Park remember the significance of the fire truck. According to Don McBride, longtime rotarian member, the Brea Rotary Club was instrumental in gifting Lagos de Moreno a working fire truck along with other necessity items. Prior to the sister-city relationship evolving, Don recalls going down there and serving as an interpreter on a boat in Mexico translating how we wanted to develop a mutually beneficial program between our two cities, which soon after became the first sister-city Brea adopted. We also had a fire truck that was donated by the City of Huntington Beach and placed in the park for children to enjoy. Jack Smith, Olinda native and museum docent, recalls installing the 1946 Seagrove fire truck at Lagos de Moreno Park in 1975. But where is our fire truck today?

            After a few phone calls, the fire truck was found just down the road at Unicorn Metals on Lambert Road in La Habra. Luis Ornelas owner of Unicorn Metals said, that the City of Brea contacted him about 10 years ago to relay that the fire truck, due to its unsafe worn condition, was available for purchase. Luis said he purchased it but did not have a plan in mind regarding what he was going to do with it. So, today it’s located in his scrap metal yard, in tact, and according to Luis, if anyone is interested in restoring it, contact him as it is for sale.

              What’s next for Lagos de Moreno Park? Mary and Diane have been working hard to gather funds to restore Lagos de Moreno Park creating Revitalize the Heart of Brea: Lagos de Moreno Park - Laurel Elementary. In the past, many of their attempts included applying for grants from major corporations such as Kohl’s, Avery Dennison’s and taking the Pepsi Refresh Challenge in 2010, offering a million dollars a month for playground equipment to the winning school based on votes. Unfortunately, they did not win, but to their delight they gained a lot of attention from the city and residents of Brea that led to the Laurel PTA members meeting with representatives of the City of Brea and Brea-Olinda School District on June 4, 2014, to discuss plans about revitalizing Lagos De Moreno Park-Laurel Elementary "lower" playground.

                On the agenda this summer is an open community forum. A date will be announced soon. Everyone is invited to lend a voice to the revitalization project of Lagos de Moreno Park. Mary and Diane ask that concerned citizens help spread the word to attend and assist in creating a concrete plan for ‘our gem’ of a park in the ‘Heart of Brea.’

                  A special thanks to former Mayor Don Fox's wife Pat for the Lagos de Moreno articles of memorabilia and also to Mary and Diane, Laurel Elementary PTA members, for contacting Beautiful Brea Old and New Facebook to assist in spreading the word.

                    We can do it if we work together.

                      Carolyn Campbell

  • Brea’s 97th Birthday Selfie Photo Contest Winner Chosen

    3 years ago by

    Befitting for a city turning almost 100 years old, our Brea’s 97th Birthday Selfie Photo Contest was a fun way to showcase our beautiful city on Beautiful Brea Old & New (BBON) Facebook. We had six entries shown on an album on BBON, and each one of them featured a special place near and dear to each contestant. But only one could win.


      As the official judge, Greg Voisan of Greg Voisan Panoramic Photography had to make the tough decision.

        We thank the Brea Museum & Heritage Center’s Director Sue Nguyen, Board Member Scott Neal and intern Christopher Turner, Tina Beck, Jimini Ohler, David Derk, Heather McDaniel-Gaytan, and Chris Mynes for sharing their Selfie portrayal of Brea’s notable places.

          Greg’s choice was Chris Mynes's photo of our icon Brea’s Best Burger’s that after many, many, years in business still captures the attention of everyone and not surprisingly as it has been recognized numerous times on OC hot list of Best Burgers. Chris Mynes a longtime Brean, said, “Almost everyone in or from Brea Has a Brea’s Best Story experience – at Brea’s Best Hamburger.” Greg echoed, “There is a special place in my heart for anything to do with Brea’s Best Hamburgers.”

            Chris Mynes's selfie photo of Brea's Best Burgers.


              Grand Prize: Two Tickets to the Curtis Theatre on Saturday, April 5, 2014, to see Yesterday and Today…The Beatles Experience, a new interactive concert like no other, plus dinner for two at The Melting Pot Brea.

                Retail value for theatre tickets: $72.00

                  Dining gift card: $50.00

                    TOTAL grand prize worth: $122.00

  • Laurel Elementary Electronic Recycling Fundraiser

    4 years ago by


      HELP THE LEOPARDS raise funds through an e-waste collection fundraiser: Laurel Elementary School is holding an Electronic Recycling Fundraiser this Saturday, December 14, from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. All electronic devices are accepted with the exception of batteries, light bulbs, and vacuum cleaners.

        Laurel Elementary is hoping for a good turnout, so please tell friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors about their event.

          If you do not have the time to drop off your items this Saturday, leave a message on BBON Facebook for Chris Mynes and he will assist.