Category Archives: Youth

Ventura County Fair announces Poster Contest for County Youth

Anna Sorensen, James Lockwood and Jorja Garcia at 2017 poster award presentation.

The Ventura County Fair has announced that the 9th annual Fair poster contest will be held for the 2018 Ventura County Fair. The contest is open to young artists in grades 5 – 12 who reside in Ventura County.

The theme of the 2018 Fair is “A Country Fair with Ocean Air” and will serve as the guideline to the imagery.

Artwork may be created in any medium but may not include the use of glitter, metallic paint, or 3 dimensional objects attached to the artwork.

Poster designs will be judged on Theme, Originality, Composition and Skill. Entries will be accepted until the entry deadline, Friday, April 6. Entries can be brought to the Fairgrounds administration office at 10 W. Harbor Blvd. in Ventura. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8AM until 5PM. (Closed from 12-1PM daily)

Rules, deadlines and other information can be found on the Fair website, For more information about the contest call 648-3376 or send an email to (Please put “Poster Contest” in the subject line)

Prizes will be awarded to the top three entries, First prize: $500, Second Prize: $250, Third Prize: $100.

The winning design will be used to advertise the Fair on Fair posters, souvenirs, advertisements and other applications. Second and third place winners will also be used in various applications. All contestants entries will be displayed in the Youth Expo at the Ventura County Fair.

The Ventura County Fair will begin its annual 12-day run Wednesday, August 1 and continue until Sunday, August 12.

For more information about the Fair, or the poster contest, please call the Ventura County Fairgrounds at 648-3376 or visit

Kids from the Harmony Project dedicate concert to first responders and victims of Thomas Fire

The program builds healthy children and communities.

The student musicians in the Harmony Project of Ventura dedicated their performance during First Friday on February 2, at the Bell Arts Factory to the victims of the Thomas Fire, and to the first responders and firefighters who bravely aided in battling this devastation.

“Most of the kids in our program and their families were impacted in some way by the Thomas Fire, and they feel a personal sense of gratitude towards first responders, and empathy to the many families who were displaced or lost their homes,” said Anne Case, director of New West Symphony Harmony Project of Ventura County. “Our kids want to share their music with the community, and they want to extend a special invitation to people directly impacted by the fire.”

The students also made personal cards and posters promoting Friday’s concer.

“Music has always been a healing and soothing part of our lives, and it is our hope that this concert can both support the victims who were affected by this tragedy, and honor the responders for their heroic efforts,” said Natalia Staneva, executive director of the New West Symphony.

Harmony Project of Ventura County is a tuition-free after school music program of the New West Symphony. The program builds healthy children and communities by providing instruments, after-school music instruction and mentorship to families who would otherwise not be able to afford it. Classes are taught by professional musicians who actively perform, compose, record, and collaborate throughout Southern California. They act as mentors to our students, holding them to high standards and fully embodying the mission and values of Harmony Project.

Founded in 1995, the New West Symphony is a professional orchestra that draws its players from the rich talent pool of professional Los Angeles-area musicians. The Symphony is the resident company of the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and the Oxnard Performing Arts Center. It presents six Masterpiece Series concerts annually, and provides a number of educational opportunities for local youth through its annual Symphonic Adventures concerts, its traveling Music Van, and the Harmony Project of Ventura County, For information go to and follow on Facebook

Male student of the year

Stephanie Caldwell, Chamber President & CEO, Kiernan Rickard, Nan Drake, Citizen of the Year and David Creswell, VUSD Superintendent celebrating Kiernan’s award. Photo by Richard Lieberman.

by Amber Hansen

The 20th Annual Poinsettia Awards Luncheon, presented by the Ventura Chamber of Commerce, was held on January 19th of this year at the Ventura Beach Marriott. Kiernan Rickard was this year’s recipient of the Ventura Unified School District’s Male Student of the Year award. Kiernan is a senior at Ventura High School with a history of academic dedication and an impressive repertoire of achievements. His packed schedule includes running for Ventura High’s cross-country team and acting as a senior officer in the music department.

Having discovered an aptitude for computer programming at a young age, Kiernan is a leader on the Ventura High robotics team- an accomplishment that earned his nomination for the first Robotics Dean’s List. He plans on pursuing a career in computer programming and hopes to enroll in Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science.

When asked how he felt about receiving the award, Kiernan said he was surprised because he’s surrounded by intelligent peers. He expressed immense gratitude and acknowledged that he could not have done it without the support he’s had from family and teachers.

Phil Gilley imagined a room full of musical instruments

EP Foster School student Ethan Gaona, “almost 9”, piano student with Notes For Notes local program director Fernando Franco.

Notes For Notes was the brainchild of Santa Barbara resident Phil Gilley about 11 years ago when, being involved in a Big Brother, Big Sister program he imagined a room full of musical instruments where kids could come in and play them, many for the first time. He had a kid who asked about how he could get to play an instrument. So, Gilley and others decided to create a program that would not only bring kids together with instruments, but also create an environment for teaching and letting the kids just play. The initial operation in Santa Barbara was piggybacked onto The Boys and Girls Club. Ventura, because of its fortunate placement between Santa Barbara and LA, became an early recipient of the programs expansion plans.

Since launching eleven years ago Notes For Notes is now operating these programs in over 20 locations around the country, including Ventura. Alex Kies is area director for Southern California and says “While they are not exclusive to Boys & Girls Clubs, 18 of the 20 are located within them. Like an embassy inside their space.” Ventura is the smallest market to be fortunate to have this program. Partially due to proximity to Santa Barbara but also because there was funding from local backers like attorney Jim Cole and later Squashed Grapes and others who formed a local “Soundboard” to fund financial support and generate activities like field trips to local music stores.

The latest extension of the program has been to create small recording studios within the club locations. The Ventura Club has such a studio located in the Boys & Girls Club at 1440 North Olive Street and managed by Fernando Franco, who is eager to welcome youngsters to their program. Everything is free, and tailored to the needs of the individual child. All you have to do to involve your child is to go there and sign up. Ventura’s program is aimed at kids 6-12. In other markets like LA, most of the participating kids are older.

Much of the financial support for Notes For Notes studio projects comes from Hot Topic, which donated an initial $25,000 for studios and the CMA Foundation has funded them east of the Mississippi. Included in recent developments are four new studios in the New York area and others in Chicago, Nashville, and San Francisco among others. Ventura is fortunate to be on this short list.

When a child comes to the facility on N. Olive Street, they determine their own plan for what they want to accomplish. If it is banging on drums, a very popular one, or writing a song, or recording one, they can get individual help and encouragement from Franco and the staff. “Kids here want to be loud, so there’s lots of drums and banging around”, says Franco. There is no rigid curriculum so freewheeling experimentation is just fine.

Looking to the future Franco and Kies hope to see a youth band evolve that could perform in the area comprised of kids under 18. Making a recording free is another enticing option for a kids group.

Sponsorships also play a role with major companies like Gibson, Fender, Zildjian and Sony all making donations. The primary instruments used in the program are “combo” type instruments. Guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and vocals are the focus. It was decided early on to leave band instruments like clarinets, tubas, horns and the like to school programs.

So how can Venturans give their support to this worthy program? This community has been good so far in embracing Notes For Notes but more can be done. There is great potential for our youth here. Parents can bring their children to this location at The Boys and Girls Club and get familiar with the program. It is hoped to bring more teens into the program who could also play live. Locals can donate directly to the program through They can also donate instruments but they don’t have room for pianos. Quality microphones are needed. Think limited storage space when you consider donations.

An open house is planned soon but the studio facility is open for parents to bring their kids, take a tour of the studio, check out some instruments and sign up if desired any day, Monday through Friday from 2-6pm. It’s all inside the Robert Addison Boys & Girls Club, 1440 N. Olive Street in Ventura. Get loud!

Thirteen young women are 2018 Debutantes!

All of the young women are high school seniors.

Seven local young women were introduced at the 61st Annual Las Patronas Tea. The Tea was held at the home of Mrs. Stephen Resnik in Camarillo.The girls were presented to the members of Las Patronas, an auxiliary of Assistance League of Ventura County and their guests.

The Tea is a first in a series of events that will culminate in the Las Patronas Debutante Ball on March 10, 2018 at the Ventura Beach Marriott.
Proceeds from the Ball are used to benefit Assistance League philanthropies, including Assistance League School, Girls Club/Teen Club, B.U.F.F.Y. Bear Program and Operation School Bell®.

All of the young women are high school seniors, the debutantes represent seven high schools in Ventura County. In their high school careers, they have distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, leadership, the arts, and philanthropic service.

The following are the Ventura 2018 Debutantes:
Miss Jacqueline King, daughter of Mr. and and Mrs. Joseph King. She attends Buena High School.
Miss Sadie McCormick, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jack McCormick. She attends St. Bonaventure High School.
Miss Lauren Powell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Powell. She attends Ventura High School.

High school Youth and Government delegates of Ventura Family YMCA

The high school Youth and Government delegates of Ventura Family YMCA are on a mission to raise supplies to create care packages for US soldiers overseas. Every year the Youth and Government of California devise a Social Initiative for Y delegations across the state to participate in as part of their #BeTheChange movement.

The Ventura Delegation are assigned to collect snacks and treats.

The Youth and Government is a cause-driven program that strives to engage high school youth in a hands on experience that educates them on government while fostering their ideas, leadership skills, character and critical thinking.

Girls scouts help collect many items for the needy every year

Girl Scout Troop donates socks to the homeless before the cold season.

As the weather begins to cool down, local girl scouts teamed up with Ventura’s Hypno Comics Store to donate socks to homeless in need.

Girl Scout Troop 61686 annually sets aside a portion of proceeds from their fall product sales of nuts, candy, and magazines to support a service project to help “make the world a better place,” to honor the Girl Scout Law.

After considering a few different options, troop members voted to support the Los Angeles Dumbledore’s Army’s 2nd Annual Dobby’s Sock Drive in support of the Midnight Mission.

The troop was able to make a donation of $100.00 worth of men’s, women’s and children’s socks which will be distributed to the homeless before the cold season. Several troop members showed up on delivery day to personally deliver the socks to Hypno Comic’s owner George Chase. Chase was pleased to see such a big contribution be made to his location’s collection box.

This is one of three collection drives supported by the comic book store; later in the year the store also helps to collect food and toys. The troop is happy to support these kind of collections, as in previous years the girls have helped collect many items of need including children’s books, pajamas and birthday supplies for hospitalized children.

Ventura High annual Cardboard Boat Race

On Thursday November 16th Ventura High School had their totally awesome, annual Cardboard Boat Race. It is a long-standing, student run, lunchtime activity.

Each team is given a refrigerator box-size piece of cardboard, a roll of duct tape, a yardstick, and a box cutter. They are not allowed to leave their 10‘ x 10‘ area in the parking lot while building their “cardboard boat”

The races then take place in the school pool. Teams try to get their cardboard boat across the pool without sinking! At least 1000 kids were on the pool deck watching the races! Good, clean fun!

Even Principal Carlos Cohen gave it a try.

Oxnard schools participate in Mobile Oilfield Learning Units (MOLU) program

On Nov.1&2 elementary and middle school students from the Ventura and Oxnard school districts participated in the Mobile Oilfield Learning Units (MOLU) program at the Museum of Ventura County and Nov. 3 at Oxnard College. Approximately, 190 students visited the MOLU each day. The unit consists of six self-contained components with curriculum-based, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities about energy and the processes involved with the oil and natural gas industry.

The local MOLU visit is sponsored by local oil and gas producers Aera Energy, California Resources Corporation, Seneca Resources, Renaissance Petroleum and Western States Petroleum Association who partner with local schools and community organizations to enhance STEM education in Ventura County. Employees from the companies were on-site to assist students as they engage with the MOLU activities.
Students were provided STEM career pathway materials developed through the educational ‘Careers in Energy’ program.
The students in the photo were one of two classes from Cabrillo Middle School who visited the exhibit.