October 10 — The girls’ varsity volleyball team is gearing up for what promises to be a tight contest this weekend against Providence. So far the girls have experienced an up-and-down season with dominant wins over Besant Hill and Midland, only to fall this past week to Dunn and Laguna Blanca. The JV team will start at home Saturday against Providence, followed by the varsity squad at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, the OVS boys’ club soccer team played its second match this week which ended in a tie against Oak Grove. Up next: Soccer will play on Garden Street on Saturday, October 18.
At the Lower Campus, the Middle School volleyball and soccer teams played their first games and show promise for the season ahead. The boys’ soccer team will play away next Tuesday, October 14, against Crane at 4 p.m. and then face Santa Barbara Middle School on the road on Thursday. Girls’ varsity and JV volleyball teams will play next Thursday, October 16, at different locations.
Visit the website calendar for game times and additional information.
Two years ago OVS launched an ambitious solar project that has significantly advanced the school’s sustainability goals. The project includes 1,001 photovoltaic panels that cover 19,016 square feet of hillsides and rooftops at the Upper Campus. Launched in 2013 with HelioPower and Southern California Edison, the project was designed to supply 85% of the electrical demand for the Upper Campus, saving more than $64,000 a year in energy costs and reducing the school’s annual carbon footprint by an estimated 299,000 pounds. With planned additional energy efficiency measures and greater conservation awareness, the school hopes to move close to 100% renewable energy in coming years.
In addition to solar, here are additional ways OVS teaches and demonstrates its commitment to environmental sustainability:
• PK-12 environmental education in classes and activities
• Comprehensive recycling programs
• Retrofitted lights with energy-efficient bulbs and fixtures
• Water-efficient irrigation systems and plumbing
• Drought-tolerant and native plantings
• Non-chemical fertilizers, pesticides and cleaning products
• State-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant at Upper Campus
• Partnering with local farmers in our dining halls to provide local produce and growing vegetables in the school’s own gardens
Photo by Peter Chang, Class of 2015
By Lauren Rothman, Class of 2017
“Trees need people. People need trees. Welcome, Carl,” the 12 students chanted while trying not to slip down a precarious, dry slope under the beaming Ojai sun. They were gathered around a tiny, freshly planted oak tree that they named in honor of Carl Cooper, headmaster of Ojai Valley School’s Upper Campus.
This past Saturday, Ojai Valley School became home to 34 new coast live oaks, each named and welcomed as they were planted on a long, steep slope beneath the main classroom building at the Upper Campus.
The planting, on the heels of Arbor Day, was done in collaboration with Ojai Trees, a non-profit association founded in 2008 to maintain the health and beauty of the environment in Ojai, specifically the topiary.
“It was hard work, but it was worth it,” said senior Nakita Moler, one of the OVS Student Council members who helped with the tree planting. “I named my tree Jake, and if it grows to be really big and tall one day, and I come to visit OVS some time, I’ll think, ‘Hey, I planted that tree!’ ”
Ojai Trees co-founder Garrett Clifford, the father of three OVS alums, tirelessly works to maintain the health and inventory of the valley’s community forest.
“We realized that the urban forest in Ojai was predominately aging oaks and other natives, and that it was in less than good health,” said Clifford, who joined a handful of Ojai Trees volunteers at OVS on Saturday to help with the planting. “We needed to start planting if we want to continue having the trees we currently have in the Ojai Valley 50 years from now. If we plant trees today, 50 years from today we should still have the canopy.”
To that end, OVS has launched a significant forestation plan for the Upper Campus that will meet several goals.
In addition to further beautifying the campus, the newly planted trees will help stabilize the hillside on the north slope below Burr Hall, keeping the classrooms and the library on top of the hill, instead of possibly sliding down on to the soccer field below.
The forestation effort is part of a larger, environmentally proactive plan at the Upper Campus designed to replace existing grass areas with a drought-tolerant landscaping that will reduce water use for years to come, said Mac Lojowsky, the school’s director of facilities and grounds.
Over the next few months, Lojowski and his crew plan to remove 12,946 square feet of turf near the girls’ dorm. That area will be retrofitted with a new irrigation system, and will be beautified with decomposed granite walkways and 120 various types of drought-tolerant plants.
The project will hopefully be completed in about six weeks, Lojowsky said.
“This is a major project,” he said. “It’s going to immediately look nice, and it’s going to really look nice in about two years, and then incredible in about 20 years.”
Ultimately, the school hopes to advance its sustainability goals by becoming a net zero emissions campus, and the drought-tolerant plants, which will lower water use, will help move it toward that goal more quickly.
Two years ago, the OVS Upper Campus installed 1,001 solar panels on the south-facing side of the hill. Those panels now provide about 95% of the electricity needed to operate the school, according to Technology Director John Wickenhaeuser.
The panels allow the school to nearly be net zero with carbon emission.
“These trees early on, in their first 10 to 15 years, won’t do very much in terms of carbon capture,” said Wickenhaeuser, who also teaches AP Environmental Science. “But because they live to be 300 or 400 years old, once they get beyond 15 years, they start taking in carbon really rapidly. This is a long-term, down the road benefit from a carbon standpoint.”
In addition to reducing the carbon footprint, the project will beautify the campus to its students, faculty, and prospective families.
“One of the things about the Upper Campus is that it’s a stunningly beautiful setting for the school, so there’s not much you need to do to really enhance that,” said Tracy Wilson, the school’s director of admissions and marketing. “But some nice landscaping and planting some trees for the future so that kids will continue to see a really beautiful school is important, and this is going to go a long way to accomplishing that.”
The current students at OVS are excited to see these plans develop.
“I am excited because it is saving water that we can use for other things,” said senior Jenna McIntosh, “and because we are in a drought, I think it is appropriate to stop watering the grass.”
The Music Van recently visited the OVS Lower Campus to inspire elementary students to pursue a musical instrument. Andy Radford, the Ojai Youth Symphony director, and volunteers introduced students in grades 3, 4 and 5 to various instruments, including trumpet, cello, flute, harp, clarinet and more. They learned how to make vibrations, not only with those instruments but also with their own vocal chords. Students got to see how wonderful it was to try new things and many of the students talked about how much they enjoyed playing these musical instruments — three students even decided to pursue private music lessons because of how much fun and enjoyment they had trying out the instruments.
Spring has arrived in Ojai! Winter rain (although not much of it) has left both Upper Campus green with fresh growth. In the month of March, students and staff at the Upper Campus will plan more than 40 oak trees as part of a forestation and hillside stabilization plan. Juniors will take the SAT on March 14. Middle School students will head to the desert and explore the wonders of Joshua Tree National Park. Spring sports teams will launch their new seasons. And our seniors will receive more news about their college acceptances.
Students across the county will compete next month in the Ventura County Science Fair and OVS middle school students will be well represented among them with projects that focus on issues relevant in today’s world and in our own Ojai community.
Sasha Valenzuela, a current seventh grader, will take her project that tested the purity and cleanliness of our local drinking water. Scott Inman, another seventh grader, will represent OVS with his homemade wave machine that explored the relationship between waves and reefs.
Other middle school students advancing to the next level of competition are: Caroline Morrow, William Campana, Emmy Hilgers, Lucy Orgolini, Bella Welch, Sean McHale, Sean Cahill, Clover Griffin, and Will Lang (8th Grade); Avery Colborn, Aaron Wolf, Ava Whitsitt, Nate Schmidt, Caspian Ellis, Emerson McNeil, Rachel Greenleaf, Matthew Thacher, Michael Bender, Olivia Brown, and Andrew Morse (7th Grade); Bella Slosberg, Adam Pepper-Macias, Timothy Chadwick, Jocelyn Gonzalez, and Kiana Carlisle (6th Grade).
This group of Middle School junior scientists a month to prepare for the county science fair, where they’ll be competing against students from Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks and Moorpark. The county fair will begin on March 31 when contestants set up their projects. Project judging will take place on April 1 and recognition will be on April 2. Students will have the opportunity to network and leave the event with new contacts after the “expo” portion of the Science Fair. Businesses, colleges, universities and government agencies will be available for students to learn more about programs, careers, and areas of study.
This week marks an annual tradition on Lower Campus- Theme Week. The Primary and Elementary grades turn their classrooms and curriculum into an international smorgasbord learning about the histories and cultures of different countries around the world.
The first grade classroom takes the students to the other side of the Pacific to Japan. The second graders are immersed in Mexican culture while third and fourth are representing Russia and France. These youngsters may not be ready to travel abroad on a field trip, but soon enough they’ll be able to follow in the footsteps of their senior schoolmates and have the opportunity to travel to exciting new destinations around the world.
As the Primary and Elementary classes turned the Lower Campus into an international melting pot, the Middle School has been preparing for an international adventure to Costa Rica. Keeping in the style of OVS this isn’t completely a tourist destination for the students onboard but it will be filled with life changing community service experience geared at teaching how easy it is to help our global neighbors.
Our high school students stepped into the spotlight this week and gave our community three tremendous performances of the Tony Award-winning musical “Into the Woods.” It was a powerhouse ensemble cast that demonstrated the talented vocals of seniors Nicole Kang (L11) and Amy Xu (L11) as the Witch and Rapunzel, and showed the deep talent pool of our younger students, including sophomore Lauren Rothman as Cinderella, junior Savannah Moler as the Baker’s Wife, sophomore Gavin Floyd (L13) as the Baker, freshmen Leila Giannetti (L14) as Red Riding Hood and freshmen Liam Castagna as Jack.
Hopefully our younger children weren’t frightened by senior Connor Floyd’s portrayal of the evil Wolf, which thankfully was balanced with his performance as the pompous Prince Charming. Freshman Jacob Tadlock (L14), whose comedic timing we’ve enjoyed in previous performances at Lower Campus, showed his whimsical touch yet again as the Granny and the other charming Prince.
Congratulations to the entire cast and crew, which included more than 40 students and 16 teachers, dorm parents, staff, alumni and former faculty members. Special thanks to John and Lisa Boyd, who for 29 years have guided and inspired OVS students to find their voices on and off stage.
Middle School teacher, Duncan Wallace, sits with his class under one of the old oak trees o0n Lower Campus. Every Monday the Outdoor Education team immerses the students in an exciting learning adventure as they discuss important issues, techniques, and skills needed for their upcoming backpacking trips.