District welcomes new student resource officer


Coporal Cornelius Ashton takes a break from greeting students in the LBHS quad. Corporal Ashton has already begun establishing trusting relationships at all four of the district’s schools.

Carly Rohrer and Lela McCarroll

Beginning this school year, Laguna Beach Unified School District welcomes a new face on campus, Officer Corporal Cornelius Ashton as the first ever School Resource Officer.

“It has been my hope for many years that we are provided a School Resource Officer (SRO) for a variety of reasons. To have Corporal Ashton working in collaboration with our administrative team members on behalf of all students and staff within LBUSD is a win-win for all. He brings energy, compassion and a deep desire to help all who may need his assistance,” said LBHS Assistant Principal Mr. Robert Billinger.

Growing up in a rough part of San Diego, Corporal Ashton faced many challenges. He struggled to find positive mentors throughout his life and was taught not to trust police officers. Little did he know, a police officer would change his life. One day during his high school years, an SRO came into the classroom where he was sitting. When the officer tried to engage in a conversation, Corporal Ashton simply told him that he did not trust the police. Throughout the year, that officer continued to engage in conversation with Corporal Ashton. Eventually, the officer began to break down the barriers developed during Corporal Ashton’s upbringing.  Corporal Ashton learned to look up to police officers, instead of looking down upon them.The officer eventually recommended the Explorer Program, which is the Law Enforcement version of Boy Scouts.

“The officers embraced me and supported me and basically raised me. It made me realize I wanted to become a police officer, and I did at age 20, which is the earliest age you can become a cop,” said Corporal Ashton.

His experiences in the Explorer Program inspired him to change his views on life. Corporal Ashton’s goal is to repay the kindness the officers at the program provided him by helping students and paying it forward.

“My purpose at school is to embrace the school community in a positive way. For example, I want to educate students, staff and parents on things pertaining to their safety to ensure that the students have the best educational experience possible. I want to build trusting relationships between the school community and law enforcement,” said Corporal Ashton.

His goal on campus is to determine that students at Laguna Beach High School are happy and educated on current issues dealing with wellness and safety. The 30-pound gear on the officer may intimidate some students; however, he encourages all to say hello when he walks by. Corporal Ashton says he uses his role as a police officer as a platform to help people have a better quality of life.

“I urge students to introduce themselves to me, to use me for guidance and to know that I’m here to positively engage them and make sure that they have the best time during their school years,” said Corporal Ashton.

Corporal Ashton wants to spread the word that he is here for the students, staff and even parents. He wants to be an extra layer of support for students on top of the counselors, teachers and administration.

“I feel safer because you can never be too safe nowadays, and having an officer on campus helps deter any sort of potential threat,”said LBHS senior Evie Laptin.

Students at Laguna Beach High School are encouraged to rely on the support of Corporal Ashton and always alert him of any trouble. Corporal Ashton strongly believes in the motto, “See something, say something.”

“See something, say something” is being aware of your surroundings during, on and off campus, whether it’s through social media or face-to-face conversations. Individuals should be mindful of how they treat one another. If you or someone else is the bystander involved in a bullying situation, when you see it, say something. It’s important to report these incidents,” said Corporal Ashton.

Students can say something by reporting their problem or concerns to “Text a Tip” (858- 848-7847). Students’ identities when reporting to “Text a Tip” will remain confidential.

“I am very honored to be a part of Laguna Unified School District and to have the opportunity to serve the school community,” said Corporal Ashton.