OVS Equestrians are riding high at the start of the spring sports season! Click here to learn more about the OVS equestrian program, which offers unique opportunities for beginning and intermediate riders on both campuses, including competitive riding through the U.S. Pony Club in the middle and high school grades.
Archives for March 2017
Each year, our Middle School students have the opportunity to experience a week in a foreign country during Spring Break. In recent years, we’ve sent Spuds to the vast metropolises of China and the jungles of Costa Rica.
This April, 14 students and 4 faculty members traveled to the volcanic island nation of Iceland. The group kicked off their adventure with a dip in the Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s geothermal pools famous for their warm, aqua blue waters and healing properties.
On their first full day, the Spuds toured Reykjavik — the country’s capitol and its largest city — stopping to visit Parliament, old harbor area, the shopping district, and more.
In the following days, they explored sights such as: the Kerio Caldera; the Gullfoss, Seljalandfoss and Skogarfoss waterfalls; Geysir & Seltun geothermal areas; Thingvellir National Park; Kleifarvatn Lake; Vidgelmir lava cave, and lots more.
Hikes to volcanic craters & glaciers, as well as rides through the countryside on Icelandic ponies, rounded out an amazing trip. Icing on the cake: a birthday celebration for one of our students, complete with giant candles!
Click the link below for a gallery of photos:
By Junior Emma Gustafson (L14)
In recognition of its long-standing commitment to environmental conservation, preservation and sustainability, Ojai Valley School has been named a California Green Ribbon School, the state’s top honor for environmental excellence in education.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced the Green Ribbon awards Friday, lauding more than two dozen California schools and school districts for reducing their environmental footprints and engaging students in environmental literacy.
“Through their environmental practices, the schools and districts we honor today are teaching students to be responsible stewards of our precious resources,” Torlakson said at the awards ceremony, held at Redondo Union High School. “I commend their commitment to instill policies and habits that will continue our forward progress in establishing healthy campuses and communities.”
OVS was one of three schools in the Ojai Valley, and one of seven independent schools statewide, to earn the Green Ribbon designation.
The award – the result of a lengthy application process spearheaded by OVS Director of Technology and Sustainability John Wickenhaeuser – acknowledges efforts at OVS in recent years to reduce environmental impacts and costs, improve the health and wellness of students and staff, and promote environmental and sustainability education.
“I feel very, very gratified that somebody has recognized our school initiatives of the past several years,” OVS President and CEO Michael J. Hall-Mounsey said. “And, I was very grateful to Mr. Wickenhaeuser for leading our efforts and for submitting the very detailed application on our behalf.”
Earlier this school year, Wickenhaeuser put together a 48-page application that showcased a host of environmental initiatives launched at both the Upper and Lower campuses.
For example, in response to California’s ongoing drought and keeping with OVS’ commitment to sustainable practices, the school set out several years ago to reduce water usage on its campuses and facilities, replacing grassy areas with mulch and drought-tolerant plants, installing weather-based controllers, and optimizing irrigation.
In addition, the school installed a state-of-the-art irrigation system in its equestrian riding arenas on both campuses, and replaced the fine dusty sand in those arenas with a new footing made from a mixture of quartz sand, polyester and synthetic materials. The move drastically reduced the need to water the arenas to keep down dust.
Taken together, those conservation measures have saved nearly 10 million gallons of water since 2013.
In other areas, OVS four years ago installed a 1,001-panel, 274-kilowatt solar array that produces more than 95% of the electricity at the Upper Campus. The solar panel project has reduced electricity use and green house emissions by 56%, and OVS hasn’t had to pay an electric bill at the Upper Campus in more than three years.
Another important part of OVS, and an important criterion for Green Ribbon School recognition, is environmental education.
Outdoor education starts in pre-kindergarten and continues through the 12th grade at OVS, featuring multiple camp trips each year to national and state parks, mountain ranges, and campsites close and far.
Those trips are meant to be fun, for sure. But they also are in keeping with the school’s fundamental commitment to use the outdoors as extended classrooms to teach students the importance of conservation, preservation and good stewardship of the land.
“One of the areas in which we [OVS] are most successful in and where we truly stand out from any other school is in our outdoor education program,” Wickenhaeuser said. “The breadth of it is pretty extraordinary.”
Over the past two years, OVS has partnered with the National Parks Service on their “Hands on the Land” initiative, which brings restoration work to the Channel Islands.
Funded by the National Environmental Education Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency, the grant has been used by students and teachers on both campuses to access the islands and use them as living laboratories, tackling projects including working on-site in nurseries, removing invasive vegetation, and gathering and compiling plant restoration data.
Students in grades four to 12 participate in those excursions, taking trips to the islands throughout the year. So far this school year, fourth grade students and AP Environmental Science students have taken trips out to the islands to remove non-native species.
And, even as the Green Ribbon awards were being announced, OVS fifth graders were on a trip to Anacapa Island to continue the restoration work as part of the federal Hands on the Land grant.
OVS is hardly done.
The school plans in coming years to continue with water and energy conservation, recycling, and develop more partnerships such as the Hands on the Land effort.
“I think the thing that really pleases me about this is to have a third party recognize and validate what we’ve been doing as a school, and it’s broad based,” Wickenhaeuser said. “It’s not just one person who was doing this. This is something integrated into the experience at Ojai Valley School for a long time.”
Read more OVS student journalism at On The Hill – OVS
OVS Summer Camp Expands Offerings for 2017!
Since 1943, Ojai Valley School has welcomed summer campers from around the world. Our traditional Summer School & Camp is an ideal setting for day and overnight campers, ages 8-16, to develop academic skills in language arts, science, technology, and math while participating in fun-filled afternoon activities that include archery, swimming, sports, dance, cooking, and more. Campers are grouped by grade level and hands-on courses are designed to make learning fun. We also offer a Junior Camp for younger day campers, ages 3-7.
For summer 2017, which begins June 25, we are excited to announce a new and revised line-up of fun and enriching academic offerings and afternoon activities. These include: Digital Storytelling, Kitchen Chemistry, Math Boost, Making Music, Ocean Study, and more. Click here for a list of morning classes and afternoon activities.
Ojai Valley School also offers specialty camps in robotics, equestrian, and English language studies. Students spend their mornings immersed in hands-on instruction in these specialized fields, then join peers from the traditional Summer School & Camp in the afternoon to participate in camp activities.
Our flexible schedule allows day and resident campers to enroll for 2, 4, or 6-week sessions between June 25-August 5, 2017. We are excited to welcome new and returning campers, who together develop independence and form lifelong friends in a safe and supportive environment. Learn more and register today at https://summer.ovs.org/
March 9 – The spring sports season is in full swing! Baseball will open its season next Wednesday, March 14, with a non-league home game against Villanova and then host the league opener on Friday, March 17, versus Hillcrest Christian of Thousand Oaks. This season, baseball is competing in the Omega League, which will mean new opponents that we have not previously played. The OVS squad is young and looking to build on last season’s successes. Please come out and the support the Spuds and enjoy Baseball Bingo at all home games!
Golf season will tee off with a home match versus Trinity Classical Academy on Tuesday, March 21, at Soule Park Golf Course and then play an away match against Villanova on Thursday March 23, at Soule Park. Golf is competing in the Heritage League this season and will also play local high schools in non-league matches. The Spud golfers are eager to get on the course.
In addition to competitive baseball and golf, OVS offers as spring sports lacrosse, equestrian, and tennis. Check the website calendar for game dates and times.
By Lee Roberts, Sixth-Grade Language Arts Teacher
March 9 – Last week, 80 young soldiers donned armor, carried shields, shot arrows, and galloped steeds in a battle for the British Isles. Like the original battle, William, the Duke of Normandy, led his army—in this case, the entire sixth and seventh grades—to victory over King Harold II, the last Anglo Saxon King of England, and his eighth-grade defenders. However, unlike the 1066 combatants who crafted their crests, armor and weapons from chain mail and beaten metal, these local soldiers wrought their armaments from cardboard cadged from Ojai Valley shops and donated by local families. While the field of soldiers kneeled, the entire Lower school looked on while Head of School Gary Gartrell, standing in for the Archbishop of York, crowned seventh grader Violet Ruby as King William the Conqueror of England.
For the eighth consecutive year, OVS history teacher John Rowan orchestrated what has become a fond tradition among participants and alumni. Math teacher Doug Colborn said his children, Nolan and Avery, who are now enrolled at the Upper Campus, participated as middle school students. Colborn described the importance of lasting memories like these. His children, and all who join in the fray, “will never, ever forget the Battle of Hastings.” Gartrell said the Battle of Hastings has become part of the fabric of OVS. “It connects generations of OVS students,” he said, adding that the elementary students watch every move of the cardboard wearing soldiers in anticipation of their own battles. “They can’t wait.”
One of the reasons this school-wide event works so well, according to Gartrell, is the level of the middle school-aged children’s willingness to participate in an imaginary event en masse. “At this age, they buy into it 100 percent,” he said. Amateur historian Tigran Nahabedian, a sixth-grade Norman archer, said, “It’s a fast-paced historical lesson for the whole school.” Even the smallest children have a vested interest.
At dinner following the battle, John Rowan’s daughter Clementine, in second grade, mused on the fact that William and the Normans had won again, saying, “I thought the Saxons would win, since the Normans won the last few times, Dad.”
The cardboard-rich reenactment began as a way to make an abstract historical event real to children nearly a thousand years after the fact. Using the Bayeux Tapestry as a guide, Rowan’s students follow the strategy. The archers’ volley—in the OVS version, paper folded into wings, launched from oversized rubber bands—starts the battle. The Saxon’s resist, their lines break; the sixth-grade Norman cavalry encircle the disconnected foot soldiers, galloping pretend warhorses in formation; and the Norman Knights finish the fight victorious. Ojai Valley School’s entire middle school plays a part, according to Rowan, even acting out a metaphor for the students’ progression on to high school. The soon-to-be graduated eighth-grade thanes fruitlessly defend the Eighth Grade Lawn against the seventh-grade Norman knights, and the sixth-grade cavalry and archers fulfill the Norman’s strategy.
Next winter, as the pile of Christmas cardboard at the ends of Ojai driveways disappears, residents might know where it will find a second life, before eventual, inevitable recycling.
To view photos from the event, visit the website Images of OVS gallery.