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February 7, 2022


Laguna Beach Unified Board of Education Unveils Its New Community Athletic Field at Thurston Middle School with a Soft Opening

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. - Laguna Beach Unified Board of Education is proud to announce the newly renovated 2.86-acre Thurston Middle School Athletic Field opening. To provide community space for the youth of Laguna, the Board of Education began discussions around renovating the field in 2015 as part of the facilities master planning process and approved the renovation in August 2020.

On February 4, 2022, a small group of staff led by Principal Joe Vidal, our facilities team, ASB Co-Presidents, Brighton Welch and Ariana Ghane, second-period PE students, and Board Members eagerly commenced at the entrance of the Athletic Field with the TMS band playing in the background for the soft opening. “A new field is very motivating,” exclaimed Ariana Ghane, TMS Co-President, as she gazed across the field.

The new field has expanded playability for TMS students, community sports, and is now a CIF regulation field for Varsity softball, soccer, and lacrosse. The renovation repaired significant erosion damage, improved drainage, and stabilized the slope. The field is environmentally sustainable with organic infill and uses significantly less water.

“It is my honor, on behalf of Laguna Beach Unified School District and our Board members – now and those before us – to say we are grateful to Jason Viloria for leading the District administration team, all who worked with pride and diligence to utilize the Capital Improvement Program and realize a new and stunning athletic field in this historically celebrated setting,” said Carol Normandin, School Board President.  “I am thrilled we can now provide a state-of-the-art CIF regulation athletic field for Varsity softball, soccer, and lacrosse. This field is another great example of diversity, equity, and inclusivity in our district.”

“The school district couldn’t be more excited to reopen our facility to the community,” said Jason Viloria Ed.D., Superintendent. “This new field will provide desperately needed, year-round access to all students and community members in Laguna Beach, reduce our water usage, and provide an amazing new field for our LBHS Softball program as well.”

“This amazing project would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of Ryan Zajada, Director of Facilities, and the Thurston Middle School facilities team comprised of Ken Konkel, Todd Foote, Eddie McReynolds, and Roger Romero Sr,” shared Joe Vidal, Thurston Middle School Principal. “I would also like to acknowledge and thank Mr. Wade and our band for setting the vibe on this beautiful day and to our PE teachers and student who have the extraordinary privilege of being the first Thurston students and staff to embrace our newfound space.”

“We couldn’t be more grateful for the incredible work it took from everyone to make this field a reality. Custom-designed by Ruhnau Clarke Architects, it is only the second field built by our installers that features a turf track designed into the field. Alongside the track, the updated field also features a CIF regulation Varsity softball field laid into a CIF regulation Varsity soccer field, and lacrosse,” said Jeff Dixon, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services. “From our architects to the skilled contractors and inspectors who pieced the entire project together, the quality of the team making this project come true has been incredible. I am also especially thankful for Ryan Zajda's work managing this project for our district. Ryan’s construction acumen and commitment to delivering the very best projects continue to benefit our community.”

“I would say a big thank you to Mr. Dixon, who oversees and manages our finances to allow LBUSD to make major facility improvements,” said Jan Vickers, Board Member. “Being community-funded requires long-term financial planning to fund these projects. I would also acknowledge the oversight and management of the project by Mr. Zajda. This new field will benefit many, as our facilities are shared with the community.”

“It has been an honor watching this incredible project come to fruition,” shared Dr. James Kelly, Board Member. “I have truly enjoyed listening to Jeff Dixon provide regular updates at our board meetings and couldn’t be more excited for our students and community members to have a second track to run on. Our new field is absolutely superb!”

“What a beautiful field,” shared Dee Perry, Board Member. “This is a wonderful area for our students and community, and I hope many enjoy it for years to come!”

“The Board of Education is thrilled to celebrate the opening of the Thurston Middle School field,” shared Kelly Osborne, Board Clerk. “The modernized athletic field will provide a safer and more environmentally-beneficial turf, both for competition and day-to-day use. I look forward to seeing our P.E. classes, sports teams, parents, staff, students, and all Laguna Beach community members all enjoying this world-class facility in the years to come.”

After several years of planning, hard work, and dedication, the TMS field is officially open and ready for our community. LBUSD plans to host an official ribbon-cutting ceremony in late March 2022.

TMS ribbon cutting group picture