Click the links below to view recordings of the graduations, promotions and award ceremony
8th Grade Graduation
PK-5th Grade Promotions
6th-7th Grade Promotions
Upper Campus Graduation
Upper Campus Awards Ceremony
8th Grade Graduation
PK-5th Grade Promotions
6th-7th Grade Promotions
Upper Campus Graduation
Upper Campus Awards Ceremony
Ojai Valley School students began remote learning March 17, after in-person classes were suspended to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus. Classes now meet online each morning and students are given assignments to complete during afternoon study time. Visit our COVID-19 page for academic schedules. For working parents and those staying home in response to calls for social distancing, we have included healthy tips to keep your children engaged and entertained in the days and weeks ahead, as well as resources for how to manage stress and anxiety.
Middle schoolers staged an epic re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings last week, continuing an annual tradition that brings history alive for our students. Seventy-four middle school soldiers donned armor, carried shields, shot arrows, and galloped steeds on the Hermes Quad. Like the original Battle of Hastings, William, the Duke of Normandy, led his army (well, 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. Unlike the 1066 combatants, who built their crests, armor and weapons from chain mail and beaten metal, these middle school soldiers crafted armaments from cardboard and duct tape.
On a cool Wednesday afternoon, in the minutes just before lunch, a dozen OVS community members gathered at the Upper Campus to make a great sacrifice: their hair.
Students Ethan Chen (L19), Thomas Christopher (L16), Justin Huang, Brody Moller, Adam Pepper-Macias (L17), Mark Pindur, Andrew Thacher (L17), Sebastian Wayman-Dalo (L16), Logan Wallace (L19), and Gabe Weisiger (L17) all shaved their heads to raise money for and awareness of Pediatric Cancer Research.
Their big-heartedness then inspired Upper Campus ceramics teacher Jody Cooper to shave her head as well.
“I wasn’t planning on shaving my head,” Mrs. Cooper said. “But it’s a great cause and I wanted to support the guys who were doing it.”
The movement all started with OVS seventh grader Jake Larkin and his Shave for a Cure campaign. When Jake was just five years old, he was diagnosed with Very Severe Aplastic Anemia (VSAA), a bone marrow failure disease which is life threatening and extremely hard to cure.
Aplastic Anemia is not a cancer, but Jake’s treatment included many of the protocols and medications developed for pediatric leukemia treatment.
After a two-year battle, Jake was cured through chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. And since then, as a proud survivor, he has been determined to give back. With the help from his family and friends, Jake’s campaign has raised nearly $7,000, chopping off his hair each year to generate contributions for the cause.
This year, Jake asked OVS junior Adam Pepper-Macias if he would shave his head to support Jake’s fundraiser. Little did he know that Adam and ten other high school boys would end up shaving their heads as well
“Jake approached me and initially it was just going to be me,” Adam explained. “But I thought there might be some people at school who would be interested, so I started texting.”
To his surprise and delight, the affirmative texts kept rolling in.
“I wasn’t expecting the response that I got,” Adam said. “It was honestly inspiring.”
The inspiration continued the next day at Lower Campus. Ten of the boys who shaved their heads Wednesday took a trip to Lower, where they were honored for their sacrifice in front of the school while Jake’s mom, Kimberly Cluff, showed a video and explained the goal of their fundraiser.
Just like Mrs. Cooper, three faculty members stepped up and shaved for a cure.
Lower Campus Head of School Gary Gartrell, Assistant Head of School Mike Mahon, and math teacher Duncan Wallace said farewell to their hair at Thursday morning’s all-school assembly.
“It’s a great cause and I’m happy to participate with my students,” Mr. Mahon said. “Anyone can donate money, anyone can participate in certain ways, but when you participate in a way that you have to live with for months at a time, I think that shows a lot more commitment and it will probably inspire a lot more than a simple donation.”
And then all eyes shifted to Jake Larkin, the boy who started it all.
His sister, OVS sophomore CatieJo Larkin (L18) began to put his shoulder length hair in ponytails to chop off, but instead of taking the scissors directly to his hair, she handed them to Adam to cut off the first ponytail.
“It was really inspiring to see all of the other boys cutting off ponytails because you can just see how Jake influenced all of them,” Adam said. “I was certainly honored that I got to cut off a ponytail.”
The remaining ponytails were cut off by the high school boys who shaved their heads in support the previous day.
On top of cutting one of Jake’s ponytails, freshman Logan Wallace took advantage of the opportunity to shave his father’s head, employing a set of clippers to leave only a shadow of hair on Mr. Wallace’s head.
“I wasn’t planning on shaving my head but I was inspired by the high school guys who jumped in and supported the cause,” Mr. Wallace said. “I’m proud of my son and happy to support a good cause.”
Thanks to the help, hair, and support of many, the Shave for a Cure fundraiser has raised nearly $7,000 for Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Inc., which distributes money to organizations battling childhood cancer.
“We shave heads to raise awareness about these childhood illnesses, show support and camaraderie with kids that are sick and to raise money for the MAAC Fund,” Jake’s mom said.
To learn more about the MAAC Fund, visit www.maccfund.org. To donate to Jake’s fundraising efforts, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/jake-shaves-his-head-for-a-cure
What’s cuter than a penguin family? LOTS of penguin families! Our pre-kindergarten class taught us all about the lives of their South Pole pals at Tuesday’s All School meeting. Taking the stage before a packed house in the Greenberg Activities Center at the Lower Campus, these 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds taught us how penguin parents trade off babysitting so the other one can go “fishing,” how penguins feed their babies, how they keep warm in icy weather, and how they have unique calls for each other.
And, of course, they taught us how penguins walk.
Click here to see photos from the penguin performance!
January 30 – Winter sports continued this week. Here’s the run-down, with contributions from Upper Campus sports writer Olivia Brown (L16):
This week has been jam-packed with basketball games for both the girls and the boys teams. Last Wednesday, both teams played against Besant Hill. Unfortunately, the girls lost. But the boys swept the win with a final score of 54-28. Junior Bob Chen (L17) and senior Aaron Wolf (L16) played a great game with multiple shots and impressive assists.
Last Friday, Thacher hosted the OVS teams in the evening for non-league games. With roaring crowds and excitement in the air, both teams displayed excellent skills and ended up winning their matches. The boys team took the win with a 34-32 final score. The players all worked well together with great assists and good defensive plays. Freshman Ethan Nash took the game-winning shot resulting in a two-point lead. Following the boys, the girls had an exciting game, leading to their first win of the season. The game displayed exceptional performances from junior Kanna Terumuna and a season-high from senior Stephany Nostrant (L16), scoring 17 points.
On Saturday, the teams were excited to host Dunn for final matchups of the season against the school. The girls team had a nail-biting performance and took the win in the final quarter with a 30-27 sweep. Despite not ending up with a win, the boys also displayed impressive skills.
Yesterday, both teams traveled to Midland School to play in the afternoon. The girls continued their winning streak, earning their third win. With a final score of 37-17, the girls had a great game with remarkable defense from sophomore Kyla Pinchassi and a career-high of 16 points from sophomore Eva Gueguen.
The boys swept the win against Midland with a 48-8 defeat. Aaron Wolf scored the most with 12 points, including a beautiful slam dunk. The team worked together, playing tough defense and having impressive assists.
The basketball season ends in two weeks but the schedule remains full. The next game for the girls is against Garden Street Academy this Friday at 7 p.m. while the boys will be hosted by Thacher once again at 5 p.m.
The girls team took a 7-1 win over Oak Grove last week with goals from freshman Piper Snowber, junior Zela Henderson, senior Margo Eramova (L16) and senior Claire Alexander as well as a hat trick from senior Avery Colborn (L16). From start to finish, the girls worked hard together and showed great teamwork. Senior Caspian Ellis (L16) had great passes and sophomore Catie Jo Larkin (L18) displayed great defensive work, with the team having one of its best showings of the season. Last week, the girls played down a player in an away game also at Oak Grove and pulled out an impressive 5-0 win. The girls lost 0-2 on Saturday against Thacher at the Upper Campus Dok Smith Field.
The boys soccer team also played at Oak Grove and triumphed with a 16-2 win. With multiple first-time goals from many of the players, the boys worked together and displayed great teamwork. Senior Sebastian Wayman-Dalo (L16) scored his first goal of the season after receiving an admirable pass from freshman Eiki Fukuyama. The boys won their game against Midland on Saturday.
January 22 – Last week, our high school faculty took a walking tour of the construction site at Upper Campus and heard an update on plans to replace the buildings destroyed by the Thomas Fire, as well as the addition of the new Student Commons. Grading is underway, and the site is beginning to take shape.
As we stood on top of the hill, with dark rain clouds approaching, we could envision the monumental changes to come in the months ahead, and the tremendous benefit they will bring for the future growth of the school.
For our teachers, the rebuild will mean moving into spacious, modern classrooms and science laboratories equipped with the best technology available. The new Aramont Science and Technology Center, perched on the hill overlooking Burr Hall, will offer expansive views, natural light, and environmental sustainable features that will meet the standards of LEED Gold certification.
Inside the tech center, the Digital Media Lab will meet the needs of our award-winning journalism program and allow us to expand our academic course offerings. Next year we will add a new class in videography, supported by Hollywood-grade editing hardware and software. We will also bring back Music Theory and Composition, giving our aspiring music students the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and experience.
Across the hallway from the Media lab, the impressive Makerspace and adjacent Physics Lab will meet the needs of our growing robotics program, allowing students to develop their engineering skills while working with hands-on projects. These spaces will encourage students to experiment, design, build and program at a collegiate level using professional-grade resources.
With student input, the design of the rebuilt Grace Hobson Smith girls dorm will offer stunning west-facing views of the Ojai Valley. It will feature a beautifully landscaped central courtyard and more dorm rooms to accommodate more students in the years ahead.
In the two-story Student Commons, our entire community will soon be able to gather under one roof to enjoy meals together. Our current cramped dining hall will then be converted to a student kitchen and boy’s dorm lounge. The Commons will also provide a spacious library with views of the Ojai Valley, bigger meeting rooms for College Counseling and the Learning Center, a dedicated Student Store, and a long-awaited Mezzanine Lounge for all our students to relax, study, and socialize.
We have always been a college-prep school, but the rebuild is finally allowing us to provide students with modern facilities that feel like a small college campus without abandoning our character or connection to the outdoors.
We are eager to see it come to life and move into the new buildings during the 2020-2021 school year. I encourage you to see renderings of the buildings, which are posted on our website. We will certainly update you on our progress in the months ahead.
Thank you to the students at Lower Campus for their generous donation of $258.01 to the Humane Society of Ventura County! After hearing about a recent cat burglary at the Ojai shelter, the student council helped by putting on a bake sale and donating the proceeds to the Humane Society. The students presented a check to the shelter on Friday, January 17.
Students at both campuses support the the Humane Society as part of their community service. This year, 18 high school students at the Upper Campus have completed training and made a one-year commitment to the program. They work at the shelter every Tuesday afternoon.
Thank you for your generosity!
By Oliver Chen (U21)
Talk about team spirit.
In a first for Ojai Valley School, the girls’ cross country team has captured back-to-back Condor League titles, putting on a dominating performance on its home course Wednesday to earn its second league title in a row.
Led by senior Avery Colborn and freshman Piper Snowber, who came in second and third overall, the runners of OVS spared no effort on the three-mile grind, with OVS girls taking six of the top 10 spots in the Condor League race, held on the school’s tough Pi course.
It is the first time in school history that any girls team has won back-to-back league titles, and this is the third time in the past five years that the girls cross country team has earned the Condor League crown. Wednesday’s performance once again qualified the runners for a berth in the CIF preliminary meet, which will take place Nov. 16 in Riverside.
The OVS girls faced a season of hard, hot, hilly workouts in preparation for the league final, but senior leader Avery Colborn said they grew together as a result of that work.
“Knowing it’s going to hurt you really bad, you still know the team has got your back,” Avery said of the grueling workouts that are part of cross country. “I’m proud of how much the team improved over the season.”
The OVS boys cross country also turned in its best performance of the season at the league championship.
Led by junior Gabe Weisiger, who was the 9th fastest amongst all the runners, several of the boys ran personal bests on Wednesday, and the team as a whole came within just a few points of defeating Dunn School and qualifying for the CIF preliminary meet.
Gabe himself came within one place of qualifying for CIF as an individual runner. Runners who are not on qualifying teams, but who finish in the top eight, qualify as individuals.
“At the end of the day it’s a fun race,” Gabe said. “But even if I did get qualified, I wouldn’t be with my team, so it wouldn’t be so much fun.”
OVS coach Fred Alvarez said the entire team, both boys and girls, has been building since late August toward the Condor League final, knowing it would take place on OVS’s home course. And he said Wednesday’s meet was extra special in that this is the last year OVS will be competing in the Condor League, a league that has been home to OVS sports for decades.
“We wanted to have a great showing at our final Condor League race, knowing that it was the end of an era,” Mr. Alvarez said. “These runners didn’t let us down, and I’m incredibly proud of what they were able to accomplish this season.”
Read more at On The Hill: oth.ovs.org