Update: Monday, January 8, 2018
Dear OVS Families and Friends,
Thank you to the amazing group of students, faculty, staff, parents, friends, and alumni who rallied in support of OVS this past weekend! More than 250 volunteers united to revitalize the school in two labor-intensive, heart-filled days. Without your help, we would not have been able to open school today.
You made the difference.
On Friday and Saturday, it all came together. Volunteer crews tackled dozens of projects, including setting up the new Village for our resident girls, preparing Burr Hall for the start of classes, replanting numerous areas, restoring the fire-damaged amphitheater, building garden boxes, repainting fire hydrants, rebuilding the fence at the campus entrance, setting up the new chemistry and robotics lab, and repairing the stables. It was an extraordinary effort that will forever be remembered.
We are deeply thankful to everyone who gave their time and effort so we could welcome our students back yesterday to the dorms and today for the first day of classes.
“You are returning to a school that is not skipping a beat,” Head of School Craig Floyd told students at their Monday morning meeting, describing the outpouring of support from volunteers over the weekend.
“I couldn’t be prouder to be here at Ojai Valley School,” Floyd continued, his voice breaking. “I’m completely overwhelmed with the emotion of what has happened this past month and what is going to happen for years and years to come. It is the commitment of this faculty, the administration, the Board of Trustees, the alumni, families, yourselves that are going to make this school fantastic moving forward. You’ve heard it before — it wasn’t about the facilities here, it was always about the people. And that is still true today and it is going to be true moving forward.”
In the coming weeks, we would love to hear from each of you. Please send your experiences, thoughts, reflections, and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in a special edition of the Alumni Notes to be published in February. Let’s show the world that we are #OVSstrong.
Thank you, once again, for making the Upper Campus spring back to life in the wake of the Thomas Fire. We could not have done it without you.
Looking Ahead. Stay Engaged. Save these dates:
• Feb. 10: Alumni Soccer and Basketball Games, 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., respectively.
• May 5: OVS Gala to benefit recovery efforts
• June 1: Upper Graduation
• June 8-9: Alumni Weekend at Lower Campus
Update: Thursday, December 21, 2017
Notice to Upper Campus student and parents:
Holiday greetings from the Upper Campus! The Ojai area is now cleared of any remaining fire threat from the Thomas Fire. Air quality has drastically improved, and is improving daily, and we are once again enjoying blue skies. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity in preparing to re-open school on January 7 for resident students and on January 8 for day students. I’m excited to update you on the restoration work completed thus far and provide more details on our next steps:
* Seven temporary dormitories for resident girls and three portable classrooms have been ordered. The first units will be arriving this weekend. Renowned architect and OVS parent Fred Fisher and his associates have designed the layout for a new dormitory and classroom village on the small athletic field. The dorms will be configured around two central courtyards, and the units will provide a range of housing configurations, including three-person and four-person suites with a private bathroom and shower for each suite.
* The classroom units will accommodate our lab science classes as well as our competitive robotics program. More details on the design will be forthcoming.
* Dormitory furniture and mattresses have been ordered. Replacement materials for the sciences and robotics have been ordered, and replacement textbooks are on their way.
* Electricity has been restored. WiFi access is up and running, and repairs to damaged areas of campus are well underway.
* An Industrial Hygienist has visited campus to outline cleanup procedures. Classrooms, dormitories, the cafeteria, and other campus areas will all be properly cleaned before January 7.
For faculty and students who lost personal belongings in the fire, we are collecting personal inventories to begin the insurance claim process for those items. As a reminder, please email Mrs. Quinn at email@example.com with your inventories or bring them with you when you return to school.
The outpouring of support in the wake of the Thomas Fire has been remarkable, and we know many of our alumni, students, parents, faculty, and friends are eager to help repair the Upper Campus. To that end, we invite you to join us for two days of restoration work and campus readiness on Friday, January 5 and Saturday, January 6. More details and a link to sign up will be sent later today, but you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in participating.
Once again, we want to thank our families for your kindness and generosity during this challenging time. I’m confident we will come together in the New Year stronger, more resilient, and closer as a community. Enjoy the next two weeks and we look forward to everyone’s return in January.
Update: Thursday, December 14, 2017
Notice to Upper Campus student and parents:
Due to the Thomas Fire, the first semester was cut short. Administration and faculty met last week to determine the best way to close out academics for the semester. There was resounding support for wrapping up semester 1 on time, and starting semester 2 anew on January 8, 2018. In support of this plan, all teachers have calculated current semester 1 letter and effort grades, and you can access those grades online through the family access module.
To view your student’s grades and comments, go to the Family Access Module. If you have forgotten your password, go to the Family Access Module and click on “Help: I forgot my password” to reset your password. Please email email@example.com if you have any further difficulties.
If your student is satisfied with his or her current letter grades, then these grades will become his or her permanent semester 1 grades. Should your student wish to take a modified final examination for one or more courses in hopes of improving the current letter grade, then individual teachers will write a modified electronic “take home” final to be completed by your student during the weeks of December 26 through January 5.
Please notify Mrs. Laurel Colborn, Assistant Head of School, Academic Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org to inform her of whether or not your student would like to accept his or her current semester 1 grades as a permanent record, or if he or she would like to take on or more modified final exams. Please email Mrs. Colborn your response by December 22, 2017. Mrs. Colborn, will then provide additional instructions as to how and when to complete the modified final examination(s). Semester 1 report cards and transcripts will become available by January 15, 2018.
I want to let you know how proud we are of our students. They are working hard in their studies and contributing to the life of the school in immeasurable ways. I hope you can share in the pride we feel for their accomplishments. The rebuilding and recovery process is well underway. We are excited to begin the second semester and we will return as strong as ever.
Update: Wednesday, December 13, 2017
More than 200 students, parents, faculty members, and alumni gathered today for a special all-school assembly in the Greenberg Activities Center at Lower Campus. For those who were unable to attend, we have attached a video from today’s meeting. It’s about 32 minutes long (it’s not polished, or Spielberg quality, but the audio is solid):
Thanks to our community members, from near and far, for the outpouring of support, which has been truly remarkable. We are deeply grateful. We will continue to update you on news and events in the days and weeks ahead. Once again, here are key links:
Update: Tuesday, December 12, 2017
We look forward to seeing our Lower and Upper Campus students, parents, and friends for a special all-school assembly on Wednesday, December 13, at 9:00 a.m. in the Greenberg Activities Center. This will be an opportunity to hear updates from the Heads of School on our ongoing recovery efforts, get information about health and emotional wellness in the wake of the Thomas Fire, and sign your names to a Thank You banner for firefighters. Mostly, this all-school will be an opportunity for community members to come together to support one another before we depart for the three-week Holiday Break. We hope you can join us, but understand if families opt out if the air quality worsens.
Update: Monday, December 11, 2017
Our high school faculty gathered at the Lower Campus this morning and started digging in on recovery efforts for the academic program, starting with submitting immediate requests for replacement textbooks, classroom materials, robotics equipment, music equipment, computers, wireless access points — the list goes on. Teachers were also updating grades and planning for the start of the second semester on January 8. High school students, who normally would be in final exams this week, will receive their current grades electronically this week and then make the determinations of whether they want to take final exams in some classes. Assistant Head of School Laurel Colborn said she expects 80% of students will opt to take their current grade.
As the faculty met in the library, 8th graders at the Lower Campus gathered in the art room to make signs thanking fire fighters for their efforts in battling the Thomas Fire, which has now burned more than 230,000 acres. It is now the first largest fire in California history. The students have launched an effort to gather dog and cat food to support displaced animals at the Humane Society shelter in Ojai.
Finally, our award-winning student journalists — who lost their classroom, trophies, news clips, and the latest in-process issue of their print newspaper in the fire — quickly rebounded by posting stories on their journalism website, On The Hill. Their voices are a powerful reminder of the strength of our community. Read more on the website: http://oth.ovs.org/
Update: Saturday, December 9, 2017
The Upper Campus remains closed, and fire crews are still monitoring hot spots around campus and in the Ojai area. In the coming days, we hope to allow resident boys to return to gather their belongings, but at this time we need to limit access to fire and emergency personnel. Here are the latest updates we want Upper Campus families to know:
- Resident students will return to the Upper Campus on Sunday, January 7, 2018. Classes will resume on Monday, January 8, following an all-school meeting at 8:00 a.m.
- Academically, our plan is to give students the option of taking their existing first semester grades or take final exams in January. Some students may want to take a final exam to be factored into the first semester grade, and we will make arrangements on a case-by-case basis for this when they return to campus.
- We are working on housing plans for the resident girls. This could be housing at the Lower Campus dormitories, or temporary dormitories at the Upper Campus, or moving the girls into Hermes Hall once the new construction is completed. We want to be very open with our families that at this point no final determinations have been made. Please be assured that this is our highest priority and we are committed to having OVS campus housing for all resident students and staff when they return after the break.
- Classroom space is also a top priority. All classes will continue to be offered, including ceramics, photography and all our lab science and social science classes that previously met in the Science and Tech Center. We are getting creative about how to make this work, including schedule modifications, temporary classroom buildings, re-purposing of existing offices and existing classroom areas. If you lost textbooks in the fire, do not reorder. We will manage replacements.
- All testing opportunities, including SAT and AP exams, will continue to be offered and accessible for our students.
We will continue to offer our wide range of co-curricular activities, including outdoor education, athletics, equestrian, and robotics.
- We are continuing to support our seniors in their college application process, and that they will graduate in the Carl S. Cooper Amphitheater on June 1.
Again, we would like to invite our Upper and Lower Campus students, parents, and friends to join us for a community all-school meeting on Wednesday, December 13, at the Lower Campus Greenberg Activities Center at 9:00 a.m.
Update: Friday, December 8, 2017
We are inviting families from both campuses to join us for a community all-school meeting on Wednesday, December 13, at 9:00 a.m. in the Greenberg Activities Center. This will be our first opportunity to come together as a school to support one another, hug, cry, and begin our collective recovery.
This is the plan at the moment, and it could change pending air quality and road closures. We know many families have left the valley, and we know not everyone can be with us. We will confirm this meeting early next week, but our intent is to be there for those who can attend.
It has been a difficult week for all of us as the Thomas Fire encircled our beloved town, severely damaged our Upper Campus, and displaced so many of our families. Right now, we are in the process of assessing damage at the high school and making sure our families are safe. Our students, faculty and staff will return in January with hearts open and our focus more determined than ever to rebuild. More details about the high school will be forthcoming tomorrow in a separate email for our Upper families.
In the meantime, we want to express our deepest thanks for the outpouring of love and support since the fire began. This is a challenging time for us all. We are deeply grateful to our firefighters, our faculty and staff, and our network of parents who have offered to help in any way they can. For now, we ask for your patience as we determine the next steps.
Update: Wednesday, December 6, 2017
It is dark and smokey here in Ojai, but the spirit of resilience is powerful among our faculty, students, and alumni, and the outpouring of support in response to this disaster has been overwhelming. Members of the faculty and administration met this morning to plan the coming days, and to begin the process of rebuilding.
Here are key points, for each campus, that we want to families to know:
- We have suspended the first semester for high school students. Only a few students remain with us at Lower Campus, and we are working with families on travel arrangements to get those remaining students home.
- In the next 4 1/2 weeks, we will regroup and begin to repair and rebuild. We are meeting with the insurance adjusters today. Our plan is to secure portable classrooms and dorms. We will re-open school on January 8, 2018.
- We want to assure our students and families that the school is going to re-open. Our Class of 2018 will graduate in June and there will be no significant disruption to the education of our students.
Please contact your faculty advisers during the break as needed, and check your emails as we will be sending frequent communications in the days and weeks ahead.