From the Head of School

All of the Krishnamurti schools are located on large campuses of great natural beauty, with austere but comfortable classrooms. This is partly because the schools share an emphasis on relationship with and care for the natural world.

Yesterday at the May Gathering, a panel of students presented their experiences attending Oak Grove School, as it relates to its emphasis on a relationship with nature. The students ranged in age from elementary through high school, and included a former student. The panelists were thoughtful and articulate. They spoke eloquently about the importance of keeping Oak Grove’s campus natural and open with just a few rustic buildings. They shared their school experiences exploring the local meadows, ocean, rivers and forest. They spoke about traveling to the Grand Tetons, Zion Park, and India. Their stories were vivid and one could feel the sincerity in their words.

Most profoundly, perhaps, was each student’s ability to articulate our collective responsibility to care for the natural world from which we, as humans, are not separate.

“The death of a tree is beautiful in its ending, unlike man’s. A dead tree in the desert, stripped of its bark, polished by the sun and the wind, all its naked branches open to the heavens, is a wondrous sight. A great redwood, many, many hundreds of years old, is cut down in a few minutes to make fences, seats, and build houses or enrich the soil in the garden. The marvellous giant is gone. Man is pushing deeper and deeper into the forests, destroying them for pasture and houses. The wilds are disappearing. There is a valley, whose surrounding hills are perhaps the oldest on earth, where cheetahs, bears and the deer one once saw have entirely disappeared, for man is everywhere. The beauty of the earth is slowly being destroyed and polluted. Cars and tall buildings are appearing in the most unexpected places. When you lose your relationship with nature and the vast heavens, you lose your relationship with man.”

J. Krishnamurti, Krishnamurti Foundation Trust Bulletin 56, 1989

 

In many cultures, graduation from High School is seen as the most significant threshold moment marking the transition from childhood to adulthood. On June 6, 2018, we were given the opportunity to bear witness to this significant symbolic event for 10 young adults who completed their Oak Grove education. Please enjoy hearing directly from each graduate in the videos below.

Our class of 2018 consisted of ten students. The nine who applied to four-year colleges and universities have collectively been accepted into 37 schools. This is an average of four acceptances per student and this average is not unusual for Oak Grove seniors. The schools (listed below) include major public universities and colleges, independent and public liberal arts colleges, and specialized art schools. While this is impressive, and we joyfully celebrate this accomplishment with our students, it is also important to know that it is not our objective to have all of our graduates go directly from high school to a four-year college.

Class of 2018 college acceptances: Bennington College, Butler University, California College of the Arts, Cal Lutheran, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Long Beach, Chico State University, Case Western Reserve, Colorado College, Colorado Springs College, DePauw University, Goucher College, Humboldt State, Lewis and Clark, LIM College, Northeastern University, Otis College of Art and Design, Pacific University, Portland State, Pratt Institute, San Diego State University, San Francisco State University, Sierra Nevada College, Sonoma State University, Towson University, University of British Columbia, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, University of Kansas, University of Oklahoma, University of Puget Sound, University of Utah, Willamette University.

Introduction by Jodi Grass, Head of School

Music performance by the 2018 graduating class

Nathan Wu

Ophena De La Rosa

Bryce Brewer

Sydney Stump

Jackson Mitchell

Isabella Xiong

Sycamore Mitchell

McKenna Lynch

Peter Hu

Grace Story

Jennifer Thompson, Senior Advisor

Conferment of Diplomas

 

From the Head of School

The end of the school year is fast approaching which signals transition to many things—the completion of a grade, the advancement from one program to the next, the excitement of an Ojai summer and time with friends and family. For our seniors, this transition is particularly poignant as in this culture, completion of high school marks the symbolic end of childhood.

Our class of 2018 consists of ten students. The nine who applied to four-year colleges and universities have collectively been accepted into 37 schools. This is an average of four acceptances per student and this average is not unusual for Oak Grove seniors. The schools (listed below) include major public universities and colleges, independent and public liberal arts colleges, and specialized art schools. While this is impressive, and we joyfully celebrate this accomplishment with our students, it is also important to know that it is not our objective to have all of our graduates go directly from high school to a four-year college.

Some of our students choose to pursue a personal passion directly after Oak Grove. Sophia Grunder (2013) has made her lifelong dream of being an artisan chocolatier a reality. Today, alongside her mentor, Jennifer Smith, Sophia owns and operates the exquisite Ex Voto Chocolates in Ventura. Some Oak Grove graduates choose to defer their college acceptances and take a gap year, like Emilie Del Signore (2017), who has spent this past year traveling through the American Southwest and western Europe. This summer Emilie is planning to trek across Zavkhan, Mongolia, before beginning her studies at Syracuse University in the fall. We also have several students who chose to attend one of California’s excellent local Community Colleges to complete their general education requirements while staying closer to home, saving money, and perhaps pursuing other passions. Dane Wilson (2014) who spent several years with the US Sailing Olympic Development Program before heading to San Diego State University.

Oak Grove High School has a challenging college preparatory scope and sequence curriculum not because we think all students should go directly from high school to a four-year university, but because we want every student to have the choice of going directly to a university if that is what is right for them. More importantly, we want our students to be well educated with a solid and well rounded academic foundation for whatever they choose to do in life.

Class of 2018 College acceptances:
Bennington College, Butler University, Cal College of Art, Cal Lutheran, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Long Beach, Chico State University, Case Western Reserve, Colorado College, Colorado Springs College, DePauw University, Goucher College, Humboldt State, Lewis and Clark, LIM College, Northeastern University, Otis College of Art and Design, Pacific University, Portland State, Pratt Institute, San Diego State University, San Francisco State University, Sierra Nevada College, Sonoma State University, Towson University, University of British Columbia, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, University of Kansas, University of Oklahoma, University of Puget Sound, University of Utah, Willamette University.

 

From the Head of School

At the deepest level of our mission is the notion that if one is intrinsically motivated, not striving for external stature, for fame, for wealth, one would clearly understand the connection between one’s actions and all of life. One would understand there is nowhere else to be, but where one finds oneself now. One would naturally reveal one’s personal talents and thrive. Krishnamurti referred to this idea as “flowering in goodness.”  Here, in this place of completeness, we understand that it is in the ordinary moments that we find the extraordinary.

This idea reminds me of what William Martin writes in the “The Parents’ Tao Te Ching.”

 

“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.”

 

Another excerpt states …

 

“If you always compare your children’s abilities to those of great athletes, entertainers, and celebrities, they will lose their own power. If you urge them to acquire and achieve, they will learn to cheat and steal to meet your expectations. Encourage you children’s deepest joys, not their superficial desires. Praise their patience, not their ambition. Do not value the distractions and diversions that masquerade as success. They will learn to hear their own voice instead of the noise of the crowd.”

 

You can find out more about William Martin’s book here.

From the Head of School

A few years ago, we lost a huge oak tree near the Pavilion. Losing this tree was a particular hardship as it provided a perfectly-situated screen to the arc path of the spring sun. Spring is when we have many large assemblies and performances. Without the oak, the glare and heat of the sun becomes extreme for both those on stage and those sitting in the audience. After careful consideration, we decided to plant another oak where the previous one had been. To promote faster growth, we planted a nurse tree next to it. A nurse tree, if you don’t already know, is a larger, faster-growing tree that shelters a small, slower-growing tree. The nurse tree can provide shade, shelter from wind, or protection from animals. Our nurse tree is a Tipu Tipu. This morning, I noticed how tall and strong both trees have become. It almost appears that the oak is leaning or reaching toward its Tipu Tipu nurse. I began thinking about what a lovely metaphor this partnership offers.

During the month of December, even whilst navigating the chaos and trauma caused by the fire, Oak Grove received generous financial gifts from parents, alumni, staff, and our philosophical donors. It is so clear that these financial gifts allow our school to strengthen and grow in a way that would not be possible otherwise. So much of what has been done over the past few years has been possible from these ever-growing gifts.

 

Oak Grove recently received an extraordinary art collection from the estate of David Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez was an art teacher at the American International Secondary School in Germany and early on developed a lifelong interest in art. Mr. Rodriguez first heard Krishnamurti speak at Saanen, Switzerland in the mid-1960s. Mark Lee recalls meeting David throughout many decades at various Krishnamurti talks in India, Switzerland, England, and in the United States.

The rather large collection contains fine art, Tibetan antiquities, folk-art, and other artifacts from around the world. Some items are of sentimental value, while others are relatively precious. It was David’s expressed wish that Oak Grove maintain the collection as a whole and requested we not sell or donate any or all of the collection. We are hoping that the collection will serve an educational purpose —  introducing our students to art they may otherwise not have encountered — and at the same time raising profound questions about the role of art in the world, the relationship between art and religious ideas, and practical questions about how art is preserved and displayed.

With this educational purpose in mind, and in considering how to best understand and display the collection, we hired Oak Grove alumna Liza Shapiro, who has her own collections care and management company. Liza graduated from Oak Grove in 2006. Since then, she studied art restoration and art history at Lorenzo De’ Medici, Florence, Italy, Art Conservation at Camberwell College of Art, London, and Museum Studies at University College London.

Liza has broad experience in London’s foremost museums and galleries, including the Victoria and Albert Museum and Tate Modern, where she assisted in the Exhibition and Conservation departments. She also worked at the Redfern Gallery as a studio assistant and at Paul Stolper gallery supporting a Damien Hirst exhibition. Additionally, Liza worked for Lock & Co. as an Exhibition Registrar. Liza has recently relocated to Los Angeles, where she currently manages and cares for private art collections.

Liza has catalogued the collection we received and is working closely with Oak Grove staff to determine the best way to share and protect this generous and thoughtful legacy gift. Some of the less valuable artifacts may be displayed at the campus for students and others to enjoy, while the more precious items will likely be loaned to museums that have the ability to properly care for them while making them available to a larger audience.

A legacy gift of this magnitude has a large impact on a small school like Oak Grove. To honor this gift and the desires of the late Mr. David Rodriguez, we are working to preserve his collection and make it available for many years to come.

 

View this article in the 2016/17 Annual Report.

 

More about David: 
David Evan Rodriguez was born on July 1, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois. He attended Lane Technical High School, where he took art classes in oil and watercolor painting. After enrolling in Saturday classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, he was granted a four-year scholarship, where he completed a BA in Art Education.

Pursuing his interest in teaching, David moved to Berlin in the early ‘70s, where he served as an art teacher at the Berlin American Elementary (Thomas A. Toberts) School and then at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK). David’s eclectic group of friends included the German artist Eberhard Franke, with whom he had a close friendship that spanned decades. When David retired and moved to Florida, the two men kept in touch through many long letters and postcards. Through these letters, one gets a deep sense of David as a human being and friend: kind, loyal, caring, and profoundly intelligent.

David Rodriguez traveled throughout the world, to Europe, North and South America, and India, where he became familiar with J. Krishnamurti, whom he met several times. At one of Krishnamurti’s talks in Switzerland, David met Mark Lee, the first Director of Oak Grove School. After traveling to the Rishi Valley School in India, where he saw Mark once again, David decided to make the trip to Ojai, where he discovered the beauty of Oak Grove School. Feeling a deep connection to Krishnamurti, David believed that the school would be the ideal place to bequeath his extensive art collection so that he could continue to inspire students.

David Rodriguez was an independent, free thinker whose unique art collection includes Asian antiquities, paintings, prints, and many of his own artworks. Oak Grove is deeply grateful to have the opportunity to house his art collection, with hopes to inspire the students and community for many years to come.

Run for the Hills – 5K RUN

Kick off Earth Week, Sunday, April 15, at Oak Grove School. This is a community event to benefit the OVLC hillside restoration efforts.

  • Half mile run for kids at 9:30am
  • 5K campus trail run at 10:00am

This family-friendly event will include numerous schools from the Ojai Valley. The 5K course will span Oak Grove School property.

After completing the run, stay and enjoy our post-race community activities:

Music • Yoga • Food Trucks • Environmental Speakers • Student Booths • Leisure Games • Chalk4Peace • and more

Hosted by the Green Schools Student Collective: Besant Hill School, Thacher School, Oak Grove School.
Proceeds benefiting local hillside restoration efforts by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy.

 

UPDATE: May 20, 2018

In a follow-up from last month’s Run for the Hills fundraiser, the high school students, as part of the Green Schools Student Collective, along with the help of teachers and volunteers, raised over $4,500. The proceeds will benefit the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy.

This event and the Seed Propagation Project that was initiated earlier in the year are an ongoing effort by our student community to help restore the surrounding hills following the Thomas fire.

The Thomas Fire affected each of us in unique and personal ways. Our neighbor to the East at Besant Hill School had their own collective experience. A snapshot of their story is detailed on their website, two days after the fire began:

I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude to our entire community, which not only entails the students, faculty and staff, but also our parents, alumni, trustees, and independent school colleagues from around the country offering assistance, a listening ear, prayers, and positive energy. It has been a whirlwind over the past 48 hours, and I am humbled by these responses and support.

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