Elks honor law enforcement and firefighters

The Mission Viejo Saddleback Valley Elks recognized local first responders during their annual Law Enforcement and Firefighter Appreciation Awards luncheon.

Starting off the Meritorious Service Awards was Sgt. Pete Kim introducing California Highway Patrol Officer of the Year Patrick Bourassa.

California Highway Patrol Officer of the Year Patrick Bourassa.(Photo by Rick Moscoso)

Capt. Carl Bulanek introduced Deputy Nicolas Longcob, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Deputy of the Year for San Juan Capistrano.

Deputy Nicolas Longcob was named the Orange County Sheriffs Department Deputy of the Year for San Juan Capistrano.(Photo by Rick Moscoso)

Orange County Fire Authority Battalion 7 Division Chief Rob Capobianco introduced Firefighter of the Year Capt. Drew Garcia.

OCSD Sgt. Chad Phillips, for the city of Aliso Viejo, honored Investigator Jason Chapluk.

City of Laguna Hills Lt. Matthew Stiverson presented the OCSD Deputy of the Year award to Deputy Colton Walsh.

OCFA Battalion 4 Division Chief Mike Contreras introduced Reserve Firefighter of the Year Nicolas Mester. Battalion Chief Ryan Bishop introduced Capt. Richard Ventura.

OCSD for the City of Dana Point Deputy Juan Ochoa was introduced by Sgt. Michael Stout as Deputy of the Year.

The city of Lake Forest honored OCSD Deputy Sergio Castro as Deputy of the Year.

Laguna Beach Fire Department Engineer/Paramedic Zack DeJohn was among the honorees at the luncheon.(Photo by Rick Moscoso)

Unable to attend was City of Laguna Niguel Deputy of the Year Micah Sulham. His award was accepted for him by Capt. Virgil Asuncion.

For the city of Rancho Santa Margarita, Capt. M. Kennedy presented Deputy Carlos Nieto with the Deputy of the Year award.

OCFA Battalion 6 awards presented by Battalion Chief Aaron Clark went to Reserve Firefighter Brian Chen and Capt. Andrew Vanderstelt.

OCSD City of Mission Viejo Deputy of the Year award was presented by Capt. Quyen Vuong to Deputy Carolynn Cuzynski.

OCSD Southeast/Unicorp Operations Capt. Joe Vollmer introduced Deputy of the Year recipient Kevin Riske.

Laguna Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Crissy Teichmann presented the award to Engineer/Paramedic Zack DeJohn.

More than 120 guests, including law enforcement and fire authority VIPs and award recipients, were joined by their spouses, parents and children, making the event truly a family affair.

– Submitted by Andy Costello

La Quinta High School named champion school for unified P.E. program

La Quinta High School was recently named a Unified Champion School by the Special Olympics Southern California for its unified physical education program bringing general education and special education students together for P.E. activities.

La Quinta High School Assistant Principal Wendy Rhinehart, adapted P.E. teacher David Vickers, adapted P.E. teacher Brittany Schmitt and Assistant Principal Adrian Fernandez celebrate the designation of La Quinta as a Unified Champion School from the Special Olympics Southern California.(Photo courtesy of La Quinta High School)

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program promotes social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systemwide change. The program equips students to foster climates of acceptance in sports, in the classroom and throughout the school.

The unified physical education program was launched by La Quinta P.E. teacher Jason Rodewald and Brittany Schmitt, an adapted P.E. teacher at La Quinta High School committed to breaking down barriers and creating a sense of belonging for all students.

“Our program gives special education students the opportunity to play on a team, to have cheerleaders and fans, and enjoy the social-emotional benefits of sports,” Schmitt said. “At the same time, it helps general education students demonstrate patience, compassion and empathy and improve their teamwork and communication skills.”

– Submitted by Abby Broyles, Garden Grove Unified School District

Irvine Public Schools Foundation raises more than $1 million, honors school district alumni

The Irvine Public Schools Foundation raised more than $1 million at its 25th Anniversary Spirit of Excellence Gala at the Great Park’s Hangar 244 in Irvine. The money will fund critical programs and classroom support for Irvine Unified School District (IUSD).

Elementary and middle school students who are in an afterschool musical program performed scenes from “High School Musical” at the 25th Anniversary Spirit of Excellence Gala hosted by the Irvine Public Schools Foundation.(Photo by Frank Armstrong Photography)

“The funds raised will make an impact in the educational experience of over 36,000 students in our community,” said Neda Eaton, president and CEO of Irvine Public Schools Foundation.

The evening also celebrated the accomplishments of two honorees who each received the Spirit of Excellence Award in their respective fields.

The honorees are:

Shadlie Kensrue, Irvine High alumna and coordinator of health services for Irvine Unified School District, with husband Dustin Kensrue. This year, the Irvine Public Schools Foundation honored the school nurses who support the well-being of more than 36,000 students in grades K-12 districtwide.(Photo by Frank Armstrong Photography)

Spirit of Excellence in Service — IUSD School Nurses. The foundation honored school nurses who support the well-being of more than 36,000 students in grades K-12 districtwide. The award was received by Shadlie Kensrue, Irvine High alumna ’99 and district coordinator of health services.

Spirit of Excellence in the Arts — Bardia Shah-Rais. The five-time Emmy-winning producer worked at NFL Network and is now at Fox Sports. Shah-Rais graduated from University High School in 1991 and oversees studio production for MLB on FOX, Big Noon Kickoff, and FOX’s Big East and Big 10 basketball shows.

As a leading nonprofit whose mission is to enrich the educational experience of each child in every school, the foundation relies on generous community support to fulfill its commitment to provide programs, raise funds and unite the community in support of educational excellence in Irvine schools.

A man, a dog and lots of kindness

Steve Booth, who retired from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in 2015, recently received the first Placentia Clean and Kind award created by Placentia Mayor Rhonda Shader to recognize community members who care for the environment and are kind to others.

Placentia Mayor Rhonda Shader presented her Placentia Clean and Kind award to Steve Booth at a City Council meeting. The award recognizes community members who care for the environment and are kind to others. Booth and his golden retriever therapy dog, Henry, bring comfort and kindness to Placentia Fire and Police workers.(Photo courtesy of city of Placentia)

In 2013, Booth adopted a golden retriever named Henry. Henry was recognized by the dog trainer as a natural therapy dog and was certified as a Pet Partners Therapy Dog in 2015.

In 2016, Booth and Henry joined Hope Animal-Assisted Crisis Response. They have done more than 750 calls in seven years. Since 2017, they have been part of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Peer Support Team and have attended more than 200 incidents.

Since retiring, Booth devotes his time and energy to training and caring for Henry for the sole purpose of being kind and caring for others during their deepest needs.

Booth voluntarily extends the greatest kindness of traveling to wherever frontline workers have been dealt the hardest circumstances and brings sweet Henry to comfort them in their greatest need.

Booth runs toward difficulties when others move away. He and Henry bring great compassion and comfort in the most inconsolable circumstances. Booth has shown up in the direst of circumstances and losses for the Placentia Fire and Police workers, bringing comfort and kindness to frontline workers.

The Bravo! section highlights achievements of our residents and groups. Send news of achievements for consideration to ocrbravo@gmail.com.