News from around the Ojai Valley

Spork diet: School using it to reduce its waste size

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Ojai Valley News photo by Andra Belknap
 Keiya Moreno (left) and Charlotte Boyce-Prukop make use of Mira Monte's new cutlery during lunchtime April 11.
Andra Belknap, Ojai Valley News reporter
Remember sporks? The plastic spoon/fork hybrid accompanies many a school lunch. 
Mira Monte Elementary School has decided to dispense with the ubiquitous plastic cutlery and allow students to use the real thing (except for the knives) as part of a new waste management strategy.
According to Mira Monte Principal Katherine White, the move has decreased waste at the school, enhanced the campus recycling program and saved money.
The new, metal cutlery was donated by parents and funded by the Parent Teacher Organization, said White.
Instead of unwrapping a plastic spork packet containing the utensil, napkin, and straw, students now pick the utensils they need and deposit them in a bucket of water when they are finished.
The elimination of straws, in particular, has eliminated a great deal of trash on campus.
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Ojai Valley News photo by Andra Belknap
Mira Monte student Aren Mejia examines a worm found in the school's worm bin.
“We used to joke about how we were growing little straws in the grass area because they were almost impossible to pick up,” said White. “They'd get partially buried in the grass and you could stand back and kind of look at the lawn and see all these little pieces of plastic all over the place.”
Mira Monte worked with E.J. Harrison & Sons and Ventura County to establish new waste practices for the 2016-2017 school year. 
“The principal wanted to hit the ground running,” said Lisa McCullough, a Ventura County environmental resource analyst.
Representatives from the county and E.J. Harrison & Sons joined Mira Monte students during their lunch hour for one week in August, instructing students how to separate food waste, recycling and trash, while tossing their utensils into a separate bucket.
“Their recycling is absolutely increasing, thereby offsetting trash disposal,” said McCullough.
Cali Piccirillo, a Food for Thought Ojai employee, spends Tuesdays at Mira Monte, helping students and staff move food scraps to the school’s worm bin while supervising work in the school garden.
Thanks to funding from the Harriet H. Samuelsson Foundation, Food for Thought has a weekly presence at each of the Ojai Unified School District's (OUSD) five elementary school garden programs.
Mira Monte students are particularly fond of the worm bin — one student even offered his half-finished apple to the worms April 11.
And Mira Monte isn’t the only OUSD school working to reduce waste.
Meiners Oaks Elementary School diverts 87 percent of its trash from the landfill, said teacher Janis Duncan, through the use of compostable materials and a school-wide recycling program.
The 2016-2017 school year marked the beginning of Mira Monte’s cutlery program, but not the first time they tried to establish it.
“We attempted this (approximately) five years ago. Shortly after that, the dishwasher broke,” said White.
“We took all the silverware that had been donated at that time and we made art out of it,” she said, recalling wind chimes made from forks and spoons.
The dishwasher has since been repaired with OUSD funding.

Latest sports

Rangers walk away with a walk-off win

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ken Brown
Nordhoff senior Alex Freeman got a late-game, two-out rally going against the Carpinteria Warriors and helped propel his team to a 5-4 walk-off victory.
The Nordhoff High School Rangers were glad to be playing at home April 14, but even then, they found themselves in the bottom of the seventh and one strike away from losing a 4-2 heartbreaker.
On the Wednesday before, Nordhoff was beaten by the Carpinteria Warriors, 7-3, in an away game that was closer than the score indicated. Waite Tucker pitched five strong innings, only giving up two earned runs, and so the
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Weil Academy sending 70 to ‘The Ojai’

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Photo by Jill Cox
Ojai resident Scout Matthews sharpens her skills in a recent practice session leading up to the 117th Ojai Tennis Tournament. Matthews will be one of the favorites in the girls’ 16’s this year.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports reporter
With 70 athletes competing in this year’s Ojai Tennis Tournament, the Weil Tennis Academy is hoping to make the 117th edition of the legendary tournament a memorable one.
“We have several players who should challenge for titles this year,” Weil Academy founder Mark
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Garcia and Grant capture senior best-ball tourney

Joe Garcia and Mark Grant shot a net 55 to edge the 56 shot by Bill Hatch and Lonnie Gibson in the most recent Soule Park Senior Men’s Club tournament. The best-ball tournament featured a Garcia shot that came within 9 inches of the 10th hole.
Hatch shot a gross score of 69 — three under par — to pace his team.
Hatch’s 69 is the lowest senior score recorded this year and represented
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Nordhoff spikers net a big win against Carpinteria

The Nordhoff High School (NHS) boy’s volleyball team went up against the third-place Carpinteria Warriors after losing to them in five a few weeks earlier.
“We knew going into this match that it’s probably the most important game of the season if we are going to make the playoffs,” explained NHS volleyball coach Travis Wood. “If we lost, we would have to beat
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Young volunteers help continue tennis traditions

Joy Maguire-Parsons, Ojai Valley News contributor
The annual Ojai Tennis Tournament will again afford many opportunities for area youth to develop an increased sense of social responsibility and to serve the community.
From the young women providing cookie service who are continuing a tradition that is more than 100 years old in the Ojai Tea Tent, to the ball boys and girls who provide on court support that helps speed up play, to the assistant tennis coaches who share their love for the game of tennis with 4- and 5-year-olds weekly through the Ojai Recreation
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Nemo finds first loss in JTT action

Rick Thompson, Ojai Valley News contributor
Team We Can began the day with a cheer screaming, "We can!" then followed it up with a 15-12 win over the previously unbeaten Nemo in week five of Junior Team Tennis (JTT). Liz Spiller and Dylan Files led with a 6-3 doubles win for We Can. Jules Thompson, of Nemo, came back with a 5-1 singles win. Christian Roe and Spiller
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Doyle walks away with Front Nine win

The Soule Park Front Nine golfers’ third mini-tournament of the spring session was a game of “Sand … Not!”  Each player was allowed to remove one beached shot with no penalty.
Coming in first place was Sherry Doyle with a 32 (net). Ruth Hemming was second
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Nordhoff baseball team earns a much-needed victory

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ken Brown
Nordhoff High School junior Cade Morrison fires a pitch in a game earlier this spring. Morrison had two hits in Nordhoff’s first win of the season against Foothill Tech.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
No team in the Ojai Valley needed a win more than the Nordhoff High School baseball team. Sitting at 0-10 and having gone through a situation where three players were dismissed from the team that led their head coach to voluntarily resign; scoring a victory was something at the forefront of the Rangers’ minds. 
The Rangers got that much-needed win when they shut out the Foothill Tech Dragons, 1-0, to improve to
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Winter sports players honored

Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
This winter, the girls’ soccer teams from Nordhoff High School, The Thacher School and Villanova Preparatory School all played in the same league for the first time.
Nordhoff won the battle of Ojai, finishing with an overall record of 16-8-1. Against their Frontier League foes, the team was 9-3-1. At Thacher, the Lady Toads went 9-7-1 overall and were 7-6-1 in league play. VPS suffered a difficult year, going 0-18 overall and 0-13 in league.
The Frontier League recently announced its all-league selections
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For the birdies: Two teams repeat as championship qualifiers

Ted Cotti, Ojai Valley News correspondent
The Soule Park Men’s Golf Club selected its representatives for the 2017 Southern California Golf Association Four-Ball Championships, slated for later this year. 
Scott Snowbarger and Bob Ridgway posted a best-ball-gross 67 in the April 8 qualifying tournament at Soule Park and will represent the club at the gross edition of the SCGA Championship.
Mark Blankenburg and Brian Wadsworth teamed to post a net 62 and will represent the club at the net version. 
This is the second time that each of the twosomes have earned the right to represent Soule Park. Both teams
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Mataisz Memorial set for May 21

Nordhoff High School golf coach Dick Sebek recently announced the 27th annual George Mataisz Memorial Golf Tournament and Social would be held May 21 at the Soule Park Golf Course.
The annual fundraising event for the NHS golf teams will tee off at 10 a.m. using a shotgun start. Sebek noted the field would be limited to the first 60 paid players. 
Golfers will compete for awards in the following categories: best foursome, low gross, low net, skins, closest to the pin, long drive and fewest putts.
For more information or to register for the event, interested players can call Sebek at 646-7503 or 794-6731.

Nordhoff softball in hunt for Frontier League title

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ken Brown
The Nordhoff High School softball team currently sits in second place in the Frontier League standings and is eyeing a postseason berth. Players, including freshman Morgan Albertsen, shown here sliding into third base against Villanova Preparatory School, are a big reason NHS is challenging for a league title. Nordhoff’s next home game will be April 20 against the Santa Paula Cardinals. The contest is set to begin at 3:30 p.m.

Casitas rowers make waves in Long Beach

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Photo by Wendy Gillett
Casitas Rowing made the finals with every squad at the 27th annual Long Beach Invitational April 8 and April 9. The race that brought in more than 24 different rowing teams from four different states is a challenging three-day event. The Casitas Rowing members also medaled in three events including a varsity girls boat seen here with their bronze medals. The boat included (from left) Kaylie Dawson, Jackie O’Connor, Rebecca Moya, Lisa Leap and Hannah Hassien. Interested athletes can learn more about summer class signups at www.casitasrowing.org.

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