We are always honored to be part of this important community celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “Change does not roll on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

In recent years, a greater global understanding of both environmental concerns and the measures necessary to prevent them has occurred.

The coronavirus has wreaked havoc worldwide, from social distancing to overcrowded hospitals, to over 88,000 deaths across the nation. But even in darkness, there is light, and even in the worst tragedies, there is always a bit of hope.

When one of my family members asked me to explain my quarantine experience in one word, I said “grateful.” I chose this word because quarantine has made me aware of how much I had taken for granted, such as a loving school community, relationships with people, physical touch, fresh produce, my family having stable jobs, nature, and oddly enough, toilet paper!

Oak Grove’s high school students are obsessing over homework, class participation, tests, and how these will affect student grades. Even during remote learning, where our circumstances are incredibly different, students’ mindsets have remained the same.

Oak Grove alumni are just as much a part of our community now as they were when they attended Oak Grove School. Each month we focus on one, keeping up to date with their current adventures in life.

Here is a growing list of our recently formed Alum Focus pages, listed in order of date posted.

 

Mary Eliza Gilden began her schooling at Oak Grove in 1989 and graduated in 1996. She then went on to obtain a BA in Dance, Performance, and Choreography from San Francisco State University. Later she pursued an MA in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University. Mary lives in Durango, Colorado, with her husband and two beautiful daughters. Besides being a mom, Mary is an Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist. Her passions are varied, including dance, travel, reading, gardening, cooking, and anything involving being outside.

Of her Oak Grove education, Mary says:

I reflect often on my time at Oak Grove and am reminded of the importance of relationship and how our relationships (to others, to ourselves and our lives) have a rippling effect into our community and our world. I am grateful that through the teachings of Oak Grove my relationships are founded and nurtured through kindness, respect, and compassion.”

View the list of Alum Focus posts.

Jay Jayanetti joined Oak Grove School in 3rd grade back in 1988 and graduated in 1998. He went on to obtain his B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior (NPB) with a minor in Studio Art from University of California, Davis. Jay subsequently obtained his Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS) and Specialty Certificate in Prosthodontics from UC San Francisco. Heading east, he then obtained a Specialty Certificate in Maxillofacial Prosthetics from University of Alabama, Birmingham. (Maxillofacial prosthodontists treat patients who have acquired defects in the head and neck region usually due to cancer, surgery, trauma, and/or birth defects.)

Jay spent five years working as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Prosthodontics, first at UCSF School of Dentistry and the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry before joining Louisiana State University in the same capacity. At LSU School of Dentistry, Jay was awarded the “Golden Apple” Excellence in Teaching Award in 2014.

Last year Jay was thrilled to return to California. He is currently the UCLA Associate Program Director of Maxillofacial Prosthetics and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Advanced Prosthodontics.

Asked if or how his Oak Grove education remains important to him, Jay responded:

I don’t subscribe to supernatural powers. Instead, I am a naturalist in my thinking. Therefore I know that I am a product of my genetic material and my upbringing, the latter of which was to a great degree influenced by the faculty and staff and friends that are the fabric of the Oak Grove School community. To that end I know that I am fond of my time in Ojai and at OGS. I love reminiscing about these past chapters in my life, and when I’m in Ojai, I’m drawn to the campus for a quiet stroll through the wood chip paths. I usually take a moment to sit on a boulder under an oak tree, and without trying I hear the voices of those that shared with me a piece of themselves: Karen, Vicky, Darcy, Theresa, Don, Jake, Issa, Karen, Jeff, Jeff O., Liz, Posy, Gabe, Larry, Laura, Irmgard, Christy, Meredy…”

View the list of Alum Focus posts.

The Journalism class produced an in-depth audio report on China-US trade relations.

Listen here:

The spaciousness to ask both practical and perennial questions is an essential part of the Oak Grove educational program. Through academic inquiry (Socratic, scientific, normative, conceptual, etc.), dialogue, Council, as well as reflective practices, students and teachers explore questions about the world outside and within. The student newspaper, The Oak Grove Times, is a place students may give form to such inquiry — a public forum, the published word. Students choose an area of focus and are supported to develop questions, a clear direction, and to establish a detailed research plan (focus groups, data, etc.). The adults engaged in this process serve as mentors, sounding boards, and advisors. Often the relationship among the subject of an article, the student, and the advisors becomes a transformational opportunity to look at their conditioning, biases, and assumptions.

In the fall of 2017, Sanaya Danhanukar, then a junior at Oak Grove, authored an article titled “Who is God?” In it, she writes:

What created this galaxy that we exist in? We have all heard about the Big Bang Theory, but what caused the Big Bang? This remains a mystery to us all. What would happen if one fell into a black hole? There are some things that even science cannot give us explanations for, without leaving behind questionable doubt. The argument is that this mystery makes it clear that there is a God who is responsible for the creation of life and our world, as we see it today. In times of difficulty and despair, God has answered prayers. While atheists may argue that there is nothing to prove the existence of God, a counter-argument made by believers is that while there may not be concrete evidence to prove the existence of God, there is also no evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist. These arguments are a valid justification for why these people hold the belief that they do.”

In December of 2018, Cassius Calzini, an Oak Grove student for the past nine years, published a piece about the school’s grounds and questioned the need for recent changes to the campus:

Meditative walks in the oak grove and playing in the lost meadow are experiences that have enhanced my time at Oak Grove School. Now, being a ninth grader, I am looking at my school, and I’m noticing a change: I am feeling a great pressure from society for schools to prepare their students for the outside world in a way that doesn’t allow individuality and personal growth. At Oak Grove School we focus on the individual, not just academically, but as a whole. In return, people graduate from our school as truly amazing human beings, carrying on the impact of what Oak Grove has taught them throughout their lives. I worry that the pressure to conform to society could cause us to lose the unique opportunities provided by our school that allow children to explore themselves, and the freedom to inquire and ask questions.”

In the most recent edition, May 2019, sophomore Nayeli Tirado questioned our biases around immigration, while senior Lewis Lu shared his own cultural conditioning bias as a Chinese citizen against seeing Tibet as a sovereign nation, and student Earl Marvin explored the depths of ethnocentrism with his poem titled “Fascism.”

To delve deeply into a question can confront our beliefs and leave us feeling unsettled under any circumstance, but to then publish that process requires a significant level of vulnerability. This is the power of the published word.

 

View all of the archived newspapers here.