Search Site

This search form uses an instant search feature. As you type, search results will appear automatically below the search field. When you've entered you desired search terms use tab to navigate through the available results and hit enter to open the selected page or document.
OUSD Newsletter 2/10/2019
OUSD Newsletter 2/10/2019
Linda Jordan
Monday, February 11, 2019
Ojai Unified School District News update your preferences here
Please visit The Ojai Unified School District website here for updates, including information on scheduled Board and Special Meetings. and upcoming opportunities to serve on committees.  

Topa Topa and Mira Monte Visit The Museum of Tolerance


                  The Diary of Anne Frank, on exhibit at The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles

The Museum of Tolerance (MOT) is the educational arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an internationally renowned Jewish human rights organization.  The only museum of its kind in the world, the MOT is dedicated to challenging visitors to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts, and confront all forms of prejudice and discrimination in our world today.   Topa Topa Sixth grade students visited The Museum of Tolerance on January 22nd, and Mira Monte 5th and 6th grade students will visit on April 9th. Topa Topa 6th Grade Teacher, Sarah Ferranti, noted that prior to her 6th grade class'  MOT visit, “Students read the novel, Number the Stars, which dramatizes the Holocaust and how the Danish Resistance helped Jewish families escape to Sweden”.    Topa Topa 6th graders also produced writing assignments, including “…newspaper articles, slide shows, and mock conversations in secret code,” said Ms. Ferranti.  “We watched a number of age-appropriate YouTube videos on the children who survived the Holocaust, and we had very rich classroom discussions, both before and after the field trip.”  Number the Stars is a novel about fictional character Annemarie Johansen and her  best friend, Ellen Rosen.  Ellen is Jewish, and in danger of being sent to a concentration camp after the Nazi occupation of Denmark.  Annemarie’s family conceals Ellen as part of the family, saving her life at great risk to their own safety.  Number the Stars follows the  historical account of the Danish Resistance’s smuggling of almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea and to freedom in Sweden.   “To ensure our students are able to process the many stories and lesson the visit will offer, the Museum provides teachers with pre- and post-visit lessons,” said Katherine White, Mira Monte Principal.  “Each year, teachers will work with students on one or several of these activities to broaden their understanding of discrimination, and acceptance.“ Recommended Activities:

Family Tree Activity: Pre-visit Activity Students will learn about different family compositions, interview family members, and create a family tree. Cultural Research Activity: Pre-visit Activity Students will listen to multiple stories about families of different cultural/ethnic backgrounds. Oral History Activity: Post-visit Activity Students will discuss ways to collect information about family history, interview family members, and write all interviews in paragraph form with an accompanying picture on “quilt pieces.”

Family Role Model Activity: Post-visit Activity Students will write a narrative about a family role model.

Artifact Research Activity: Post-visit Activity Students will discuss the importance of artifacts and the stories they contain. Students will also bring in personal artifacts and share with their classmates. Quilt Activity: Post-visit Activity As a culminating activity, students will take all “quilt pieces” and assemble them on to posters to display their family histories.  “As Teachers and Administrators who also call Ojai our home, we are committed to providing opportunities for our students, and families, to learn that we all have a voice and a part to play in our community,” noted Ms. White.  “We hope that the exposure to the harmful forms of hate and discrimination have a lasting and positive impact on our students. It is also our hope that our students will feel empowered to stand up for themselves and react in a helpful and positive way if they observe peers being bullied.” For more information on the Museum of Tolerance, please visit their website here For more information on Number the Stars, please click here


            Measure J Construction:  Matilija Kitchen

In November of 2014, Ojai residents approved a $35 million bond fund to renovate and repair Ojai Unified School District buildings and grounds, and provide health, safety and security improvements across our district. One of the larger Measure J projects that is slated to begin later this year  is the Matilija Kitchen redesign.  "This project will provide centralized delivery and distribution for our Nutrition Services Department," noted OUSD Bond Manager, Adam Dutter.  "The design will cut down on food vendor deliveries to multiple sites, and allow for a more efficient and effective use of space”.

 The major benefit to our students and families is that the new design will provide a fresher approach to meal preparation, and school site offerings. “I love that the Ojai community is environmentally conscientious,” said Julie Chessen, Director of Nutrition Services.  “Our stakeholders want sustainable, locally-sourced fruits and vegetables, reduction of food waste, and reduction of non-recyclables, such as styrofoam. Our team, with the help of Food For Thought Ojai, has embraced these values and continues to look for ways to deliver them back to our community.”

The central kitchen design of the Measure J project at Matilija supports these values.  The new Matilija Kitchen will allow for the preparation of sauces, main entrees and increased produce processing for all school sites.  “Although we still supplement using USDA commodity foods to manage our budget, we will be reducing the amount of preservatives, sodium, fat, and cholesterol, and transitioning from processed foods to a more scratch cooking model,” said Ms. Chessen.

An example of the scratch cooking model is the daily baking of fresh bread by Nordhoff’s Nutrition Services staff.  “It’s not common to see freshly-prepared, daily offerings of bread in school districts,” noted Ms. Chessen. The new Matilija kitchen is divided into three sections: food storage, food preparation and food service. Once the food is received, it’s delivered to either cold storage or dry storage, then is prepared in the food prep area.  “One addition our staff is very excited to implement is a new piece of equipment for the district; the Tilt Skillet,” said Ms. Chessen. "Imagine a 30-gallon stock pot” that allows Nutrition Services staff to prepare scratch-cooked meals in larger quantities, noted Ms. Chessen.

"The benefit of this new design to our stakeholders is enormous,” said Ms. Chessen.  “Instead of spending funds on purchasing processed foods, we are shifting the funding back to our local economy by preparing food choices that are fresher, and that provide higher nutritional content”.

OUSD’s Nutrition Services staff prepare and serve approximately 1,215 meals each day.  “We are proud of our continued commitment to the students and families in our valley,” noted Ms. Chessen.  “And plan to continue serving education, every day, with best practice nutritional offerings."

For more information on Ojai Unified School District Nutrition Services, please click here.  For more information on Ojai Unified School District construction projects and Measure J bond, please visit  OUSD's Measure J page here,  


               San Antonio Students Visit The Gables of Ojai


                     San Antonio Student Alex Lopez greets residents of  The Gables of Ojai

“At San Antonio, we are passionate about building strong school-to-community connections, and we actively seek out opportunities for our students to learn more about the community around them,” noted San Antonio Principal Robin Monson.  “One opportunity we, as Educators, are excited about is a new outreach with The Gables of Ojai senior living facility.” This year San Antonio’s fourth grade students wrote kind messages in Holiday cards, and delivered them to the seniors living at The Gables.  “As we entered the residence, students introduced themselves with a handshake and handed out the cards,” noted San Antonio Teacher Sheri Usher.  “ Students commented on how the residents were really nice and that they were touched by the attention they were given.” The students also commented on the fact that residents held their hand while they spoke.  In preparation for the visit, students learned that sometimes elderly people appreciate the touch of a handshake. The students also sang a song they had been practicing, Peace Around Our World.  “It was a very rewarding experience for the students, and they look forward to returning in the spring,” said Ms. Monson.


                  Matilija: Hate Symbols Workshop and Assembly  

Matilija students had the opportunity to participate in the "Understanding Hate Symbols Workshop", on Friday January 25th.  The workshop, facilitated by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), through its World of Difference Institute, walks participants through the idea of symbols in our culture.  ADL facilitators provided discussion topics and interactive tools to guide audience members through an understanding that although symbols can be used to convey ideas, qualities, emotions, opinions and beliefs, unfortunately, symbols can also be used to convey hate and bias.  The workshop at Matilija was built around smaller groups, to allow for greater participation among the audience and moderator.

 “The goals of this workshop were to create a respectful, inclusive and safe learning environment and community,” noted Carol Paquette, Matilija Assistant Principal.  “We wanted an opportunity for participants to reflect on the importance of symbols in our society, and how to identify hate symbols and consider strategies to address these symbols when seen in a virtual or real-world environment”.  

Matilija parents were also encouraged to attend one of the two workshops provided specifically for adults, and workshop materials were made available at the Matilija office. “We were very pleased with the information and learning environment the ADL afforded our students during the workshop,” said Ms. Paquette. “We look forward to continuing this path of education for our students, staff and administration”. For more information on the Anti-Defamation League, please visit their website here.

                         Matilija: Week at a Glance News


Student News Anchors (l) Mikyla De Alba and Genevieve Neary; (r) Hector Ortiz Medrano, Joshua Quintana, and Emiliano Rodriguez, deliver Matilija’s Week at a Glance news each week, in Spanish and English.   Click on images above to view newscast.

Every Wednesday at Matilija Junior High, Ms. Monarrez’ 6th period Pathways class transforms into a news studio.  From new-anchoring, to filming and editing, 27 students in this class work just like a news crew to deliver weekly video of Matilija’s Week at a Glance news. m “Many of the students in the class are very excited to be on camera, so we provide a sign up sheet to schedule out all interested students,” noted Ms. Monarrez.  Students who do not feel comfortable in front of the camera run the editing portion. “All of the students in the Pathways class are required to learn how to be behind the camera for filming, as well as how to edit film,” said Ms. Monarrez. “Basically, they are trained on all aspects of the filming, but we found that some students do better behind the camera while some do better in front of the camera.” For more information about Matilija’s Pathways class, please email Ms. Monarrez at


                  Nordhoff High School: Mock Trials Club  


Nordhoff’s 2018 Mock Trials Club (l to r) Jem Ruf, Victor Becker,  Trey Fonteyn, Sophey Massey, Tazia Leddon, Greta Griffen, Ryan Straede, Sasha Frazier, Kolby Fink and Club Advisor, Kevin Ruf 

Nordhoff High Schools’ clubs provide its students the opportunity to work with like-minded peers who share similar interests and passions, apart from sports or academic interests.  “Because our clubs are interest-based, they often cut across demographic lines,” noted Nordhoff Principal, Dave Monson. “We do our best to streamline the process of creating a club, allowing students more choice and voice in these extracurricular activities”.  We will showcase several NHS clubs in subsequent news stories over the course of the next few months.  When parents visit the Ventura County Office of Education (VCOE) Mock Trials website, and see the opening question posed to students considering this club, “Do you enjoy arguing?”, we can’t help but be encouraged that our teens’ skills in arguing can be channeled toward an interest in Social Justice.  Ventura County Mock Trial may just be the place for them, as this club helps students acquire a working knowledge of our legal system, while developing critical thinking, communication and leadership skills. “The premise of the Mock Trials club is ‘junior lawyering,’ “ noted Kevin Ruf, OUSD School Board Member and Nordhoff High Schools’ Mock Trials Club Advisor.  “All participating students learn the basic fundamentals of trial practice during the course of the year.” The epitome of the Mock Trial club is a yearly competition where teams argue a hypothetical case in a real-world court setting, and in front of a judge.

 While preparing, each student team provides up to four defense and prosecuting attorneys, witnesses, etc.  All teams study the same hypothetical case, conduct legal research, receive guidance in trial preparation, and present their case.  Nearly 200 attorneys throughout the county volunteer each year as advisors and judges for the Mock Trial competition. Since 1983 the VCOE has partnered with the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) to provide the Mock Trial for students in grades 9-12 throughout Ventura County. Through participating in Mock Trials Club, students enjoy  a real-world example of Social Justice that extends and reinforces the History and Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools. This year’s Mock Trials competition will be held at the Ventura County Courthouse the evenings of February 26th and 27th.  The public is welcome to attend, and certainly Nordhoff and OUSD parents are encouraged to do so. For more information on this year’s Mock Trials competition, please visit the VCOE link here.  

  Registration for Transitional Kindergarten & Kindergarten


Ojai Unified School District's registration for Kindergarten and Transitional Kindergarten is now open.  For families interested in learning more about these options, OUSD is offering tours of the four elementary sites that will be providing Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and Kindergarten in Fall 2019. “TK programs are not preschool classrooms or child development programs,” noted Marilyn Smith, Director of Special Projects.  “Transitional kindergarten is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate."   A child who completes one year in a TK program, may continue in a kindergarten program for one additional year. Children are eligible for TK if they have their fifth birthday between September 2 and December 2 (inclusive). If a school of choice tour (noted above) has already occurred, parents may contact that school site and request an additional tour time.  For more information on the Transitional Kindergarten or Kindergarten options in OUSD schools, please contact the school site(s) listed above. For more information on Transitional Kindergarten or Kindergarten, please visit the California Department of Education's website here.


For information regarding OUSD's communications program, please email