Category Archives: Youth

Local youths stands up and speaks out

Charlotte, Hannah and Audrey are outstanding young ladies serving the community.

by Jennifer Tipton

Hannah Yale age 15, Charlotte Steiger age 16 and Audrey Feist age 15 attended the City Council meeting March 26th with the invitation of Councilmember Cheryl Heitmann.

Heitmann along with Mayor Erik Nasarenko and Councilmember Matt LaVere planned to propose a policy to support stronger federal gun control legislation and to provide the Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) with freedom and funds to research gun violence.

Hannah, Charlotte and Audrey, all students at Foothill Technology High spoke at the City Council meeting that evening and after interviewing them it was apparent that these sophomores really did their homework!

Hannah tells me the C.D.C is currently prohibited from researching anything that could promote gun control since 1996 because of the “Dickey Amendment”. She goes on to describe the policy they proposed, “it will oppose legislation that weakens California’s ability to propose and enforce gun legislation separate from the federal level”. And not originally on the policy, but added after Hannah’s presentation at City Hall, it will raise the minimum age of gun ownership to 21 instead of 18 and yes, Hannah agrees she will consider a career in politics.

Councilmembers approved the policy unanimously, now the City Manager will communicate to state and federal representatives and from there it goes to California lawmakers.

Audrey said, “it’s very empowering to finally get a chance to speak out! I’m interested in gun control because I see these videos of kids and adults affected by gun violence and it personally resonates with me”. She describes how scary it was when students at Foothill heard of a shooter at the Starbucks just around the corner.

The girls said they used to do earthquake drills at school and practice getting under their desks, but now they are having gun lockdown drills where they are taught to hide and find a shield.

Charlotte tells me, “I’m interested in gun control because I’m from Chicago where there are a lot of gangs, shootings and police brutality, I don’t want to see my second hometown (Ventura) destroyed by guns”.

I asked the girls what their solution is to gun violence and Hannah quickly spoke, “it’s not taking away guns or to repeal the second amendment, that’s a big misconception! We don’t want to take the guns away, just regulate them.”

Charlotte added, “The first step is bigger restrictions, the second step is background checks and healthcare issues, especially mental health, it’s been very neglected in this country.”

Lastly, I asked them why they think gun violence has become much more rampant despite lesser restrictions from years past – what has changed?

Charlotte responded without hesitation, “society has changed!” Audrey added, “and guns have evolved!”

The three have coordinated a walkout on April 20th, students from Foothill High will leave their classrooms at 10 am and walk to City Hall, there they will thank council members and the community for their support. “We want to raise awareness and encourage people to be active in making a change”, said Hannah. Plans are for microphones and bullhorns. Free pizza will be provided by Pizza Saves and Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson will be one of the speakers.

How do the teachers feel about them leaving school?

There is a lot of division they said, one teacher said she’d walk out with them (if she wouldn’t get fired) and another is assigning an essay, so her students can’t go.

The “Li’l Circus the Could” brings Circus Arts & interactive Fun to kids of all ages!

Artists Lynne Okun and Michelle Foster will host two Saturday morning workshops and a “First Friday” interactive event featuring the “Li’l Circus that Could” at Bell Arts Factory. Living Dream Arts ( of SF Bay Area is sponsoring.

The Li’l Circus that could will bring Circus Arts & interactive Fun to kids of all ages! You don’t have to run away to join the circus, we are the circus!

Saturday mornings April 21 and 28th from 10am-12 noon and First Friday, May 4th from 5-8pm Li’l Circus premier interactive performance at Bell Arts Factory, 432 N. Ventura Ave.

In the spirit of keeping Ventura Strong we invite the community to participate in the innovative art of Circus, a fun and open-hearted inter-activity that builds community and ignites the spirit of play in people of all ages. No previous circus arts experience is necessary!

Be a part of the greatest show on earth! Stretch yourself silly, learn the art of juggling, hula hoop, human mandalas, pyramids, and more! Circus arts inspires self-confidence, inner strength, concentration, creativity, and collaboration!

The innovative art of Circus is a fun and open-hearted inter-activity that builds community and ignites the spirit of play in people of all ages.

Music is alive and well at our schools

Cabrillo Middle School Music earned top ratings.

The String Orchestra and Wind Ensemble Cabrillo Middle School students earned gold ratings from the Forum Music Festival held on Saturday, March 24th. The festival took place at Whitney High School in Orange County, and was adjudicated by music professors Bob Feller of Biola University and Jeff Jarvis of CSU Long Beach based on the national standards of music in education.

Under the direction of Mario J. Boccali, Music Teacher at Cabrillo Middle School they received the highest overall ratings of all the schools in attendance:

String Orchestra – Average score of 96.5

Wind Ensemble – Average score of 97

The Ventura High School Honors Wind Ensemble also had an outstanding festival experience while in Boston.

The Wind Ensemble Honors Wind Ensemble has returned from a very engaging and exciting trip to Boston. They performed with Collegiate/Professional level music with a great degree of musicality. Their overall score was 97% while under pressure and the adjudicators were blown away that high school students could play such challenging music.

There were many encouraging comments made from the directors, one from Berkley, another of Boston Conservatory, Dartmouth and New England Conservatory. The director of Dartmouth promised every member of the ensemble to have their application expedited through admissions, regardless of their major.

Panel to share their personal stories at Town Hall

Foster daughter Betty and foster mom Liz will share their story at the Foster VC Kids Town Hall in Ventura.

Foster VC Kids, a program of Ventura County’s Children and Family Services, will host a free, informational Town Hall on Saturday, April 21 from 10am to 11:30am at Children and Family Services building ,855 Partridge Drive in Ventura. Residents interested in helping local children and teens are encouraged to attend and learn more about the urgent need for Ventura County homes to support youth in care. Panelists will include former foster youth, current foster parents and birth parents who will share their perspectives and answer questions about foster care in Ventura County.

“You loved every single piece of me even if it was horribly broken and I truly believe that your love was the first step in putting me back together again,” 18-year old foster youth Betty wrote in a holiday letter to her foster mom, Liz Thiele. Thiele, who has fostered nearly 40 children and teens in Ventura County, and her foster daughter Betty, will be among the Town Hall panelists who share their personal stories.

Those interested in fostering, adopting or mentoring can learn more by viewing the 26-minute online information session at, calling 654-3220 or attending the April 21 Town Hall meeting.

Additional panelists include local foster parent Natalie Torres who has provided a home to nearly 70 youth, as well as foster alumni Lucy who will share her perspective about being separated from her siblings while in care.

Angelina McCormick-Soll, Program Coordinator for Foster VC Kids explains, “More homes are urgently needed, especially in the cities of Ventura and Oxnard. We’ve had a rise in the number of children over 16 years of age who are in care, from 17% last January to 21% this year. These teens are in jeopardy of aging out without ever having had a permanent home life. Children who age out of foster care are at much higher risk for homelessness, teen pregnancy, and incarceration. And, a heartbreaking 47% of our youth have been separated from some or all their siblings.”

Foster VC Kids works to protect these children by ensuring they are placed with fostering and kinship families who have the support and resources to provide safety, permanency and quality care. Extensive training and support services are available to ensure caregivers have the resources to nurture, protect and care for local youth in need.

Learn how Foster VC Kids is making a difference throughout Ventura County,

McGrath State Beach to host Annual Boy Scouts Camporee

This time McGrath will close to serve the Boy Scouts.

McGrath State Beach will host the Ventura County Council Boy Scouts of America, Sespe and Channel Islands District Annual Camporee, from April 20 to 22. The park will close to the public on these dates and will reopen on April 23.

Approximately 500 scouts and scout leaders from Camarillo, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Ventura, Ojai, Santa Paula and Fillmore will come together for the Camporee to test their scout skills with over 15 events set up on site. Camporee events include a variety of competitions such as knot tying, first aid, and emergency preparedness activities. The annual event is typically hosted at Camp Willett in Ojai, but due to the damage caused by the Thomas Fire, McGrath State Beach will fill in as the alternate location.

The event will occupy all available campsites at McGrath State Beach and no campsites will be available from the morning of April 20 until April 23.

Certificate of Merit for excellence in Math and Science presented to young ladies

Several Ventura students were honored by the Society of Women Engineers.

The San Buenaventura Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) honored 62 female high school juniors from Ventura County with a Certificate of Merit for excellence in Math and Science. Over 125 students, parents and teachers attended the award event held at Moorpark College on Friday, March 23.

Dr. Scarlet Relle of the Moorpark College Engineering Department faculty hosted a tour of the engineering laboratories and coordinated with Moorpark College to host the event. Sheryl Shatz, Professional Geologist and SWE chapter president, along with Elena Woodard, a microchip process engineer, hosted the event. Seven other SWE members ensured that the evening went smoothly. In her keynote speech, Vivian Goo, retired engineer from Point Mugu, gave academic and career advice to the young women and their parents

In Ventura, the following students were selected from their schools: Buena – Delaney A. Jannone; El Camino – Sophia Nguyen, Cayla Rosene and Sierra Futterman; Foothill Technology – Anna Lapteva, Abbey Bufford, and Rachel Chang; Ventura – Isabel Mercado and Sarah Clench.

From Ojai, the following students were selected: Nordhoff – Abilene Runyan and Claudia Adelman, Oak Grove – Bria Schraeder; Ojai Valley School – Junwei “Ivy” Sun, Wendy Lazo-Dowdy, Peiwen “Cici” Feng; Villanova Prep – Keily Valdez, Maria Reed and Jiale Sherry Zhu.

Math and science teachers, and guidance counselors throughout the county are invited to submit two or three female student’s names from each school to receive SWE’s Certificate of Merit. Students are encouraged to add the award to their resumes or college applications.

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is a not-for-profit educational and service organization that empowers women to succeed and advance in the field of engineering, and to be recognized for their life-changing contributions as engineers and leaders. SWE is the driving force that establishes engineering as a highly desirable career for women through an exciting array of training and development programs, networking opportunities, scholarships, and outreach and advocacy activities.

On the national level, SWE also offers over $715,000 in 233 scholarships. For more information about SWE SBV, go to

Deadline for Ventura County Fair Poster Contest

The deadline to submit entries for the 9th annual Fair poster contest will be Friday, April 6. 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.

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.

Become a soccer star

Ventura’s AYSO Region 39 will hold upcoming tryouts for its boys’ 12U and girls’ 14U EXTRA teams in April.

The boys’ 12U tryouts, for players born 2007 and 2008, will be Sun., April 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Huntsinger Park, 1198 S Saticoy Ave., Ventura.

The girls’ 14U tryouts, for players born 2005 and 2006, will be Sun., April 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Huntsinger Park.

Region 39 plans to have two girls’ teams, with 14 players per team, but may decide to limit it to one squad depending on the number of girls that tryout. There will only be one boys’ 12U team.

Please RSVP to EXTRA program coordinator Daniel Wolowicz at with child’s name, date of birth and contact information of parent or guardian. Registration fees and details will follow.

Some key differences between EXTRA and the core AYSO program are:

Tryouts are required. Cost is about $250 per player. Level of play is more competitive than the core program. Teams can stay together from one season to the next. Travel is required, as teams play other EXTRA squads in neighboring cities. EXTRA teams can also compete in tournaments in the spring.

Should a child not make the team or should the team not play due to too few teams in Area 10W, players will still be eligible—and are encouraged—to play in AYSO’s regular fall season.

For more information, call Wolowicz at 415-9177.

VMF Student Jazz Competition

All four delivered compelling interpretations from the jazz standards songbook.

by Paul Peterson

A curated list of top flight high school jazz talent was showcased at Squashed Grapes, on Sunday, March 18 as they competed for cash prizes and live appearances as The Ventura Music Festival produced their 12th annual Student Jazz Competition. Four young musicians from area high schools took the stage, backed by professional jazz players and performed before a packed house of fans, families and judges.

When the music ended and judges results were tallied, all four were winners. First place went to Mathew Kuperberg on piano, a senior at Agoura High School, who offered a charming version of “I’ll Never Find Another You”, second place went to Henry Urschel on alto sax who is a junior at Dos Pueblos High School, and third place was a tie between Jonah Goldstein, guitarist and also a senior at Agoura High (which speaks well of their program) and shared with Finn Dunham, on alto sax , just a freshman at Thousand Oaks High School. All four delivered adept and compelling interpretations from the jazz standards songbook and demonstrated a genuine commitment to the art form, surprising for their age and inspiring to those in the crowd.

The process of curating these musicians begins early in the year, according to VMF executive director, Susan Scott. “We begin with a wide swath of Southern California high school jazz players”, she says. They submit their performances on mp3’s to the VMF offices and in January the judges begin listening and ranking them.

“They submit their mp3’s blind, with no names to the judges, who then evaluate them”, says Charles Levin, drummer and host of the showcase. “That’s how we selected these four. There was a fifth player who was selected but couldn’t come”. Levin, along with other jazz professionals Bevan Manson on piano, and Domenic Genova on standup bass, held down the rhythm section as each musician stepped up and smoothly narrated their instrument on their chosen song. After totaling up the points, the winners were ranked and all the musicians came back up for a spirited jam on the jazz standard “The Chicken”.

This year’s judging team included such notables as the pianist Bevan Manson, Eddie Arkin and Tom Buckner, who made the selection of the winners. Each year the winners package includes $500 for the top prize, $250 for second place and $100 for third. The package also includes three or four live shows during the year including slots on VMF’s annual Rising Stars Concert, a 90-minute concert of jazz, classical and choral music, scheduled for May 18th at 8pm at the United Methodist Church. These are paying gigs for the musicians.

Adam Randall, owner of Squashed Grapes, 2351 East Main, enjoys helping the next generation of young musicians develop on his stage. Like the musicians, he wants to perpetuate the jazz art form. His wall is festooned with signed head shots of hundreds of jazz and blues artists who have graced his stage.

” We’ve had all this year’s winners perform here before but this is their first time with the contest”, he said. Randall also has plans to move Squashed Grapes to a new larger building, a few blocks away, later this year. That’s good news for jazz fans in Ventura, and for these four winners. The commitment of these people to keeping jazz alive is good news for all Venturans.

Seven young women are presented at 61st Annual Debutante Ball

Sophie Buffo, Maddie Kelly, Lauren Powell, Anna Casillas, Hannah George, Jackie King and Sadie McCormic are new debutantes.

Seven local young women made their debut as debutantes at the 61st Annual Las Patronas Presentation Ball held at the Ventura Beach Marriott. The Debutantes were presented by their fathers and grandfathers, and celebrated with family and friends at the white-tie fundraiser gala. The guests were welcomed by Las Patronas Chairman, Wendy Eales. Chuck Spence presided as Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

It was a magical evening with the ballroom filled with exquisite floral arrangements and the use of the Las Patronas fan, a time honored tradition. The girls wore a small gold and pearl fan necklace as a gift from the Las Patronas Auxiliary.

All high school seniors, the 2018 Debutantes represent 4 cities and 7 high schools in Ventura County. In their high school careers, they have distinguished themselves in academics, school government, community service and philanthropy, science, performing arts, and athletics.

All proceeds from the ball benefit Assistance League philanthropies, including the Assistance League School, the Girls Club/Teen Club, B.U.F.F.Y. Bear Program, and Operation School Bell ®.

The following are the 2018 Debutantes:

Miss Sophie Buffo, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Michael Buffo, Camarillo.
Sophie attends Newbury Park High School .

Miss Anna Lauren Casillas, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Casillas, Simi Valley.
Anna attends Oak Park High School.

Miss Hanna Elizabeth George, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James George, Westlake Village. Hanna attends Oaks Christian High School.

Miss Madeline Grace Kelly, daughter of Ms. Suzanne Kelly, Camarillo.
Madeline attends La Reina High School .

Miss Jacqueline Marie King, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph King, Camarillo.
Jacqueline attends Buena High School .

Miss Sadie Josephine McCormick, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jack McCormick, Camarillo. Sadie attends St. Bonaventure High School .

Miss Lauren Powell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harold William Powel III, Ventura. Lauren attends Ventura High School .