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

Nordhoff, Villanova players garner all-league honors

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ken Brown
Villanova’s Rebecca Saucedo prepares to take a cut at a pitch against Nordhoff. Saucedo earned a spot on the All-Frontier League second team.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
The softball programs at Nordhoff High School (NHS) and Villanova Preparatory School (VPS) both enjoyed success on the diamond this spring and a number of players earned All-Frontier League honors for their efforts.
Headlining this year’s postseason honors was Norfhoff sophomore Sidney Wimpee who was named the league’s Pitcher of the Year. The young flame-throwing Lady Ranger was impressive in the circle for NHS. She posted a 10-9 record with a 2.27 ERA. She also added
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Doran continues his hot streak

James Casey, Ojai Valley News contributor
The Sundowner Golf League reached the halfway point of the season June 13 at Soule Park Golf Course. The team of 5 Guys on Grass were able to put together another solid week and hang on to the top spot in the standings.
5 Guys scored 61 points on the week behind the play of Dustin Baxley, Ryan Wolf and Cade Carper.
Baxley has been on fire this season, and kept up the hot play by scoring a birdie on the final hole to shoot a gross-41 for 21 points. He has seen his handicap drop two strokes
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U12 All-Stars make another championship game

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Photo submitted
Ojai’s U12 girls’ all-star softball team had another great showing at the annual Ventura Breeze Softball Tournament. The local crew made it all the way to the championships before losing to Sylmar in the finals. The team is made up of coaches Ben Rodriguez, Mario Reyes, and Troy Rutherford and players Willow Williams, Mia Reyes, Emma Sobenes, Amber Watkins, Ale Lucchesi, Chelsea Trejo, Arianna Alonso, Hannah Ignacio, Skylar Rutherford, Amber Sage, Maggie Caputo, and Cassidy Pelkington.

Weil Academy bids farewell to graduates

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Photo by Benita La Plante
Ojai’s Weil Tennis Academy and College Preparatory School recently graduated its largest class in 20 years. Weil seniors include (from left) Julianna Johnson, Fidan Khalilzade, Suraj Mahtani, Emilio Monroy, Santiago Berron, Marc Hayashi, Julien Wolfe, Michael Chen, Chris Grasel, Eduardo Villalpando, Alexis Alvarez, Nima Movassaghi, Peter Huang, Connor Reardon, David Bogatin, Hazuki Ogino, Seira Shimizu, Mana Koitabashi, Nadine Del Carmen, Hana Granillo, Lola Gorbacheva, Kate McMahon, Madison Wolfe and Anastasiya Redkina.

Rangers hold annual spring scrimmage

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ken Brown
Nordhoff’s Tanner Garnsey (left) hauls in a pass despite tight coverage from teammate Ethan Sunder in the team’s spring scrimmage.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
The Nordhoff High School (NHS) football team capped its spring practice session with a non-contact scrimmage June 2. According to NHS head coach Lance Wiggins, the Rangers showed marked improvement.
“We had an outstanding spring session. We saw a lot of really good play by everybody and I was just very pleased with the effort and hard work we saw out there,” he said.
According to Wiggins, the Rangers have adopted the motto, “One team, one heartbeat,” this season
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Miles signs with Brewton Parker College

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Ojai Valley News photo by Tim Dewar
Joining Nordhoff High School senior Mikayla Miles (from left) as she signs her letter of intent June 1 are her coach Robert Hastie and mom Brenda Miles. Mikayla established herself as one of the best high school female wrestlers in Ventura County history during her career at Nordhoff High School. For her efforts on the mat, Miles earned a scholarship to wrestle at Brewton Parker College in Georgia. "I am very excited to work with Mikayla for the next four years,” explained Brewton Parker head coach Brittney Gadd. “I believe she is another great addition to our team."

Williams comes through for Ojai All-Stars

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Photo submitted
With two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the seventh inning, Willow Williams hit a game-winning base hit to score Hannah Ignacio from second base to help the Ojai 12U girls earn the championship of the annual Nipomo Girls’ All Star Softball Tournament. Big hits from Ale Lucchesi, Amber Watkins, Cassidy Pelkington and Chelsea Trejo, combined with keen fielding from the rest of the team made the first championship in over 10 years possible. The Ojai All-Star squad is comprised of (back row, from left) coach Ben Rodriguez, Williams, Mia Reyes, Emma Sobenes, Watkins, Lucchesi, coach Troy Rutherford, Trejo, coach Mario Reyes, Arianna Alonso (front row, from left) Hannah Ignacio, Skylar Rutherford, Amber Sage, Maggie Caputo and Cassidy Pelkington.

Mataisz Memorial golf event benefits Nordhoff

The 27th annual George Mataisz Memorial Golf Tournament, a fundraiser for the Nordhoff High School golf program, recently took place at the Soule Park Course and a healthy contingent of golfers came out to support the local program.
The 2017 George Mataisz Memorial Trophy went to the 1990s’ alumni team comprised of Jacob Lusk (72), Mark Sebek (76), Ryan Blatz (77), Tim Sebek (80), Troy York (80) and James Casey (80).
In the best-foursome competition (gross), Kenny Wiksell teamed with Blatz, York and Casey
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Teams shift positions in golf standings

James Casey, Ojai Valley News contributor
The Sundowner golf league completed week seven June 6 and the field is bunching as they round the turn towards the end of the first half of the season.
5 Guys on Grass still have a hold on the top spot, but four teams have made a move to get within striking distance with only one week to go in the first half.
5 Guys came back down to earth with a modest 53-point total on the week, more than five points below their season average. Ryan Howatt kept the team in the mix with a gross-39 for 19 points
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Mercer hopes to rebound Villanova basketball program

Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
After winning just two games in the last two years, the Villanova Preparatory School (VPS) girls’ basketball team will have a new head coach. VPS recently announced the hiring of Dan Mercer, who spent 19 years leading the Carpinteria Warriors.
In 19 seasons, Mercer racked up a record of 247-232 (.520 winning percentage) and led the Warriors to the postseason in 16 of those 19 seasons. He also has 12 CIF-playoff victories
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Nordhoff High School football squad hosting spring game June 2

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ken Brown
The Nordhoff High School football team performs agility drills as assistant coach Gerald Deason (center) walks the line looking for correct technique. The Rangers are working to turn the program around in 2017 after winning just four games over the last two seasons. Nordhoff’s head coach Lance Wiggins said he has been happy with the team’s spring practice so far. The Rangers will conclude their spring work with a scrimmage June 2 at the Ojai Valley Community Stadium. The junior varsity will hit the field at 4:30 p.m. before giving way to the varsity at 6 p.m. Nordhoff will open its 2017 regular season schedule Aug. 25 at Hueneme High School.

5 Guys on Grass are weeding out competitors in Sundowner Golf League

James Casey, Ojai Valley News contributor 
The team of 5 Guys on Grass continued their dominance in the Sundowner Golf League May 30 when they managed to put up a team score of 64 during week-six league play. They hold a 14-point lead over the field with only two weeks remaining in the first half of the season.
5 Guys were led by the play of newcomer Ryan Howatt, who shot his season-best round of a gross-37 for 22 points. Teammate Dustin Baxley also continued his memorable season
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Ojai hosts more than 2,600 marathoners

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Photo by Ray Smith 
More than 2,600 runners hit the streets of Ojai May 28 to take part in the Mountains-2-Beach Marathon. The race started in downtown Ojai and took runners to the Ventura Promenade via the Ventura River Bike Path. In addition to the 26.2-mile race, the event also featured a half marathon and kids’ run. This year’s male winner was Kosuke Amano, who covered the 26.2 miles in 2:31.55. On the women’s side, Jill Deering of Santa Barbara won in a time of 2:50.12. The half marathon was won by Steven Youngbloos (1:13.31) and Shelby Buckley (1:18.10).

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