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.
June 28 — OVS Summer Camp 2015 begins today and continues for the next six weeks as campers from around the state, nation and the world gather in sunny Ojai, California, to enjoy a fun academic and outdoor program. From equestrians in our horse camp to the singers in performing arts, our campers in grades PK-10 will enjoy the coming weeks together. Learn more at http://summer.ovs.org/
Congratulations to the Class of 2015! Click here to see a gallery of additional photos from the June 5 commencement.
June 1, 2015 — This week we conclude the academic year at Ojai Valley School and hold graduation ceremonies for our eighth-graders and seniors. We are thrilled that more than half of our eighth-grade students will move on to the Upper Campus in the fall, continuing an education rich in academics, sports, outdoor education, equestrian, fine and performing arts. Our seniors, who have just concluded a busy spring calendar filled with Advanced Placement exams, will graduate on Friday and prepare to head to top colleges in the fall.
We are confident the school has prepared them for the next step in their lives, and we look forward to seeing what they will accomplish with the confidence, character, and academic skills that an OVS education has given them. Senior Matt Gustafson (L11, U15) spoke eloquently about this during our recent Pons dinner.
“As I prepare to leave OVS and go off to college, I have some of the same fears I had going from middle school to high school,” Matt told the eighth graders. “The road ahead is filled with so many choices — student housing, classes, academic major, career — all of which will eventually determine so much about the future course of my life. Fortunately, I feel that what I have learned from my family and everyone at OVS has given me the ability to make good choices and the confidence to tackle each new experience one day at a time.” We could not have said it better.
The final days of the 2014/15 academic year have been filled with traditions, rehearsal ceremonies, celebrations — and adventures. Our fifth-graders enjoyed a fabulous day on the Ropes Course at the Upper Campus, challenging themselves to climb the wall, collaborate as members of a team, and bravely leap from a 35-foot platform to ride down the zip line.
It’s all part of the learning experience at Ojai Valley School.
By Daphne Psaledakis
It’s 6:49 on a Tuesday morning and a dozen middle school students are huddled around a giant white helium-filled weather balloon on the Lower Campus athletic field. Their breath is visible in the cold morning air, and their eyes are bleary from a long night crashed in the tech lab, making final calculations on a science project that they hoped would be out of this world.
On the field, the countdown begins. “10… 9… 8… 7… 6…” The students tighten their collective grip on the balloon and its long roped tail. “5… 4… 3… 2… 1…” They release it – and in doing so culminate the ultimate STEAM project and become one of the first schools anyone is aware of with an actual space program.
The balloon, which carried a tiny camera to capture images of the curvature of the earth and the darkness of space, traveled approximately 95 miles, reached an altitude of 82,266 feet, and at its fastest speed was traveling more than 100 mph.
“We wanted to do something special that allowed students to tackle a real life problem rather than the kinds of problems presented in typical academia,” said Mike Mahon, Assistant Head of School, who launched what he dubbed Project X as a challenge to an elite hand-picked group of technology students.
Mahon joined forces with alum Jason Goldman, who was the Mission Director for Project X, to come up with a project that would increase student engagement in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and general tinkering.
To apply for the mysterious mission, the students wrote an essay showcasing their STEAM qualifications and explaining how they would contribute to the team.
“It was an amazing experience,” eighth-grade team member Wendy Lazo-Dowdy told an All-School audience after the launch. “We all launched something into space. We will remember this our entire lives.”
The recovery stage of Project X is ongoing. The balloon popped at about 70,000 feet, and the capsule, attached to a parachute, drifted to a remote area south of Palmdale. Two efforts to locate it thus far have been unsuccessful, but Mahon intends to launch a third search party after graduation next week. “We’ll find it,” he said. Stay tuned.
OVS equestrians rode away with top honors in show jumping, dressage, and horse management this month at the U.S. Pony Club Mega Rally in Moorpark, the largest competition of Pony Club riders in the Southern California region.
The team of seniors Jenna McIntosh (L11), Ali Fortier Weller(L11), eighth graders Mattie White, Clover Griffin, and sixth-grader Kaitlyn King proved formidable. The riders all jumped clear rounds and had no penalty points for their horse management, which included stable and tack care as we’ll as sportsmanship. The OVS team won the rally by more than 10 points ahead of the next team, and also won for horse management.
“Needless to say, they were awesome,” said Equestrian Director Stephanie Gustafson. “What a great way to end the year.”
Next week, Ojai Valley School will hold its 51st commencement at the Upper Campus and celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2015. This talented, smart, diverse, and fun group of 25 seniors slipped off campus earlier this week for their senior ditch day to the beach. In the fall, they will attend top colleges and universities, including UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, Loyola Marymount University, College of Charleston, Cal Poly Pomona, Occidental College, University of Redlands, Savannah College of Art & Design and more.
Continuing a long tradition at Ojai Valley School, middle school and elementary students ventured into the outdoors for their spring backpacking trips earlier this month. Students hiked and camped in the Sespe and Dick Smith Wilderness areas north of Ojai and Santa Barbara.
They worked as team members to carry and filter water, pitch tents, and cook meals over the campfire. Like generations of students before them, they jumped in swimming holes and walked away with special memories of their shared experiences in the outdoors.
More than 130 Lower Campus graduates, eighth-grade students, and teachers attended the 20th annual Pons dinner earlier this month. An annual tradition, PONS dinner serves as a bridge between middle school and high school, allowing our young alumni and our current students to come together as one group to share their OVS experiences together.
Every year Pons dinner features guest speakers, including a current senior at the Upper Campus and an alum. This year senior Matt Gustafson (L11, U15) spoke to the incoming freshman about what to expect as they move on from the Lower Campus.
“When I transitioned to the Upper Campus I had some anxiety about the many changes and challenges in front of me, but I quickly found out that the transition was really nothing to worry about, especially with the help and support from teachers and friends all around me,” he said. “Bad days have been rare at the Upper Campus, and although school is not always easy, it can be fun if you are willing to be open to new experiences and work hard.”
The support Matt talked about in his speech is apparent in everyday life at both of our campuses. It is obvious that the students care for one another, that they look up to their teachers, and that those teachers share the genuine love and care for their students that their students have for them.
Alum Parker Colborn (L05, U09) reflected on those relationships in his speech as well, and expressed gratitude for the varied experiences he had on both campuses.
”There is something about this school that puts something inside you that doesn’t go away. I’m never going to forget the people here,” he said. “It’s more than just school. It’s a second family.”
Click here to see photos from this year’s Pons dinner.
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