A Message from OVS President/CEO Michael Hall-Mounsey
December 4 – One year ago today the Thomas Fire roared through the Ojai Valley, leaving devastation in its wake. It destroyed more than 1,000 structures, including our Lucila Arango Science and Technology Center and our beloved Grace Hobson Smith House girls’ dorm at Upper Campus.
From the ashes of the fire, we vowed to reopen and rebuild – and it is remarkable how far we have come.
Today our Building and Grounds Committee of the Board of Trustees approved final schematic designs for a restored science and technology center, an expanded girls’ dormitory, and a new Student Commons dining and library complex to meet the needs of our growing high school. We now move to the next design phase and hope to break ground next summer.
At the same time, our Restore Renew Rebuild campaign is gaining traction, including $320,000 in gifts and pledges received just last week. We are grateful for a $200,000 anonymous gift and a separate $100,000 pledge from past parent ZhenWu Lin to name the new Lin Family Lab for Biology and Environmental Science.
Since launching our campaign in May, we have received more than $2.85 million in gifts and pledges from past and current families, trustees, alumni, faculty members, students, and foundations. This includes a $1 million donation by The Aramont Foundation for The Aramont Science and Technology Center. We are grateful to Aramont trustee Lucila Arango (U84) for securing this lead gift and inspiring others to give.
The outpouring of support for OVS in the year since the December 4 Thomas Fire has been like nothing we have seen in the school’s history.
With the help of nearly 200 volunteers, we reopened in January with temporary dorms and classrooms and without interruption to our academic and co-curricular programs. In this can-do spirit we began visioning workshops with Frederick Fisher and Partners architects for the new buildings. Meanwhile, our students showed their resilience by tackling AP exams, spring backpacking trips, senior capstone projects, and more.
This week, Upper Campus students will join other area high school students in a joint Ventura County Strong week, penning letters of gratitude to first responders who were on the front lines for the Thomas Fire, and who have since responded time and time again to wildfires and other tragedies. To end the week, our students will join their peers across the county in wearing white, symbolizing their unity and their desire to hold together their communities. Our award-winning journalism students are adding their own voices, providing valuable perspective on all that has transpired. You can read their stories here.
In so many ways, our students and faculty are determined not to look back, but to push forward, focused on what’s ahead. And it is in this true OVS spirit that we have rebounded and are now poised to rebuild in a manner that will greatly improve the school for years to come. We hope you will join us in this effort.
Learn more about Restore Renew Rebuild campaign at campaign.ovs.org.