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News & Updates

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Marieanne Quiroz

Fill out back-to-school paperwork now so that your first week back to school is less hectic. 

Our staff has been working hard to ensure a smooth start to the 24-25 school year. We are excited to announce that the online annual update is now open for families to complete before school begins. This is the yearly paperwork we usually ask you to update during the first week of school.

To make things easier for you, we’ve opened it up early. The deadline to complete the update is Friday, August 16th, and we need to have as much information on your student on file by the end of that first week.

We thought this might help take one task off your plate at the start of the school year. The online Annual Update can be found in Q Parent Connection. More information on how to complete the form online, information on the importance of this form, and details on in-person assistance sessions if you need help filling it out, can be found in the fliers below. 

Annual Update Instructions- EN

Annual Update Instructions- SP

four students who started the EnvironMound Club showing off a poster they made
Marieanne Quiroz

While on a field trip to an airport museum, these students were concerned about lead pollution and turned that into an awareness campaign and the formation of the EnvironMound Club. 

Congratulations to Mound Elementary fourth graders Paloma Alpern, Sophia Kuipers, Oscar Smith, and Ivan Kuiper for winning the 2024 President’s Environmental Youth Award!

“Environmental stewardship often begins in the classroom with young people and educators who are taking our planet’s most pressing climate change and environmental justice challenges head-on,” said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. “This year’s awardees represent passionate and dedicated leaders who are tackling the climate crisis, improving public health, and delivering a more equitable future for all.” 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), recognized two California student group recipients – one being our own students at Mound Elementary, with the 2024 President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). 

“We are delighted to celebrate and recognize the remarkable contributions of educators and students across our country,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Our awardees exemplify commitment to environmental education and steadfast leadership in taking creative and innovative approaches to protect human health and tackle climate change. To the awardees, we extend our sincere appreciation for your unwavering dedication to environmental stewardship – we look forward to seeing what you accomplish next.”

EnvironMound Club – Ventura, CA

While on a trip to an airport museum, fourth graders Paloma Alpern, Sophia Kuipers, Oscar Smith, and Ivan Kuipers discovered the hidden ecological hazard of lead pollution from small aircraft emissions in their community. They began researching the problem, talked to local pediatricians, and then took action in their school and community by starting an awareness campaign and forming an environmental club at their school. As part of the EnvironMound Club, mentored by Principal Gina Young, students have created and installed battery recycling containers at the school. They are in the process of expanding their campaign to promote environmental stewardship and reduce the amount and effects of lead pollution in their community.


The PEYA award program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1970 and recognizes outstanding community-level environmental projects by K-12 youth. Each year, EPA honors a variety of local projects developed by students, school classes, summer camp attendees, and youth organizations that promote engagement in environmental stewardship and protection. 

This year, 29 students nationwide who worked as a team or individually on 13 projects are receiving the President’s Environmental Youth Award. Their stewardship projects, conducted in 2023, demonstrate the students’ commitment and success in advancing community garden efforts, addressing environmental justice concerns, reducing pollution, conserving water and energy, reducing food waste, and combating climate change while also effectively encouraging the involvement of people in their communities.  

To read about the winning projects in detail, visit PEYA Winners and PIAEE Winners.   


vhs culinary capstone class
Marieanne Quiroz

Prior to the end of the school year, more than 50 of Ventura High School’s Capstone Food Service & Hospitality’s advanced culinary students had a unique and unforgettable experience under the direction of their teacher, Chef Kayla Hernandez and Peirano's Restuarant.

Prior to the end of the school year, more than 50 of Ventura High School’s Capstone Food Service & Hospitality’s advanced culinary students had a unique and unforgettable experience under the direction of their teacher, Chef Kayla Hernandez.  They participated in our very first culinary dinner, which was used as their final project for the semester, and an evening of celebration recognizing twelve teachers retiring this year and some additional distinguished guests. The students were split into two positions: they were chosen to work in the kitchen or on service. Those who worked in the kitchen were divided into different stations, each representing one of the four courses served for dinner.

For weeks, the students practiced the different dishes and practiced learning how to communicate with guests and answer questions about the menu. In addition, VHS student musicians were on hand to add ambiance to the evening. Watching them execute their responsibilities at a level that a seasoned food service employee could do was magical.

One of the guests on hand that night was the owner and operator of Peirano’s on Main Street, Mr. Jim Rice, and his wife. After the meal, Mr. Rice invited all of the students who had served him to lunch at his restaurant to celebrate their hard work and dedication to their craft.

The pathway students enjoyed a three-course Peirano’s lunch and spent one last time together as the Ventura High School CTE Food Service and Hospitality graduating class of 2024. This special event not only marked the culmination of their rigorous training but also served as an opportunity for the students to experience a professional dining environment firsthand. The camaraderie and mutual support among the students were evident, highlighting the strong bonds they have formed over the years.

Chef Hernandez, herself a product of the Food Service and Hospitality pathway at Ventura High School, presented pathway completion certificates and green and white cords to the students to wear at graduation. Jim Rice, a strong supporter of Career Technical Education, expressed his pride in the students' achievements and encouraged them to continue pursuing their passions.

Congratulations to the Ventura High School CTE Food Service and Hospitality graduating class of 2024 on their accomplishments, and best wishes for their future endeavors! Many thanks to Jim Rice and Peirano’s team for supporting our students and Career Technical Education in Ventura Unified and for his continued partnership.





student being wrapped in a blanket at indian education honoring ceremony
Marieanne Quiroz

The Ventura County Indian Education Consortium celebrated its 49th Annual Indian Education Honoring Ceremony on Thursday, May 16, 2024 at Cal Lutheran University with many of our VUSD students participating. 

The Ventura County Indian Education Consortium celebrated its 49th Annual Indian Education Honoring Ceremony on Thursday, May 16, 2024, at Cal Lutheran University.

The Ventura County Indian Education Consortium (VCIEC), a federally funded Title VI Indian Education program, with additional funding provided by the consortium partner districts, includes 324 enrolled Native students from throughout Ventura County who attend school at one of 17 public Ventura County school districts and charter schools.  This year, at our end-of-the-year Honoring Ceremony, we celebrated the Indian Education Graduating Class of 2024, which included 34 graduates.  We also celebrated our 21 American Indian Students of the Year, who are being recognized for their dedication to their Native heritage and their success in academics, attendance, and attitude.

The Honoring Ceremony, held on the beautiful campus of California Lutheran University, invited students, their families, and school district representatives to participate in a very special rite of passage that serves to connect the students to their Native heritage and the Native community of Ventura County. They were celebrated with cultural presentations by Chumash elder Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, Tribal drumming by the Bearspring Singers, songs by Sacred Indigenous Preservation’s Hummingbird Singers, and a special Jingle Dance style of powwow dance.  Those present were also invited to a barbeque dinner put on by Oxnard Union High School District’s Pacifica High School Culinary Arts Department, and the highlight of the evening was the graduation blanketing ceremony, where graduates were draped by their loving family in a Native American blanket, representing their passage to this next important stage of life and welcomed back into the community as High School graduates.

Sylvia Soholt, a parent committee member for the last 11 years, attends the Honoring Ceremony each year.  Here is what she had to say about this meaningful event, “It brings our community together in a good way to celebrate the students for their achievements in a culturally significant way. Marginalized people historically have not had as much family and community support when it comes to advancing and higher education, and for that reason, when we come together as a community to honor the accomplishments of our Native students, we are part of helping them envision a future for themselves that takes into consideration a history of where they have come from.”

Evangelista Cobos, a Ventura High School senior who was honored, had this to say about the ceremony, “What made the event so special for me and my family was the fact that we haven’t been able to celebrate our culture in other ways ever since the elders in our family have passed away. It was special because one of the speakers was someone from our tribe and our specific clan, and I know my mom was very excited about that. It's overall just a really nice and special event for my family and I, and we're so happy we attended and got to celebrate with the community.”

Though Ventura County schools are all located on traditionally Chumash lands, the VCIEC student population includes students from 69 different tribes.  The graduating class of 2024 includes students with the following tribal affiliations: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Chumash, Fort Independence Paiute, Gila River Pima, Ho Chunk, Iroquois, Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, Karuk, Mohegan, Navajo, Northern Cheyenne, Osage, Pascua Yaqui, Ponca, Shawnee, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Spokane, Standing Rock Sioux, and Tongva Gabrielino.  Congratulations to all of our graduates!


teacher and students sitting on the skate ramp that will turn into boat sculpture for Ventura Skate Jam
Marieanne Quiroz

Skate Jam ramp will transform into community art piece once X Games have ended.

In an exciting collaboration with Visit Ventura, students from Buena High School are building a skate ramp for the Ventura Skate Jam, a free all-ages community event to celebrate X Games Ventura on Thursday, June 27, 2024.  This ramp, commissioned by Visit Ventura, designed by Buena High School’s Cabinet Millwork Technologies Capstone class and painted by Buena Art students, will later transform into a community art display after the X Games.  

Marieanne Quiroz, Director of Communications for Ventura Unified, recently sat down with Mr. Scott Manninen, Woodshop Teacher at Buena High School, and eight of his students, John Maida, Angel Pineda, Logan Torres, Jacob Ruiz, Ryan Nunes, Aiden Brandle, Mason Carter, and Zakhariah Walker to learn more about this exciting project.  Mr. Manninen expressed his enthusiasm when Visit Ventura reached out about this project. "I was thrilled when Visit Ventura asked if our students would be interested in designing a skateboard ramp for the Ventura Skate Jam," Manninen said. The ramp will be showcased downtown before being moved to the Fairgrounds for the X Games. "They wanted a ramp for both beginner and professional skateboarders, with the ability to transform it into a piece of art for the community," Manninen explained.

Manninen and his students, some experienced skaters, sat down to design and refine the ramp. One prominent feature of the original design was split to become the bow and stern of a boat, turning the ramp into a boat sculpture complete with a bench for photos. The team started with sketches, built a model, proposed a budget, and involved Ms. Nicole Rapattoni and her art class to finalize the design. By the writing of this story, the ramp was nearly complete and ready for Ms. Rapattoni's class to begin painting. 

Mason Carter, an essential student in the project who designed the quarter pipe curve, shared his excitement. "I grew up skating; it's super cool to be a part of something where beginners and insane skaters will use our ramp. It gives me chills to think that a pro may skate something I helped build."  

The project provided valuable lessons beyond skating. Logan Torres, who aspires to be an engineer, found it a great introduction to his future field. John Maida highlighted the teamwork and problem-solving involved, stating, "We learned that some tasks are very difficult, and you had to be precise. We needed to find creative ways to solve issues as they came up and fix them together as a team."

"It's cool that, as kids, we can bring something to the community. Later in life, when we look back and see we were involved in something like this at school, making our dreams come true, building something that professional skaters may skate on. It shows that you may be young but can still do big things. It is never too early to start working on your future goals," stated Zach Walker. 

When speaking with the students and seeing their eyes light up around the topic of their woodshop class, there is one thing the entire group agreed on: woodshop has made their educational experience better.  They all expressed that the woodshop was a relaxing, safe space for them. A place to escape the realities of life and school and zone out while being creative, building items with their own hands and feeling rewarded when the final piece was done.  "Woodshop for me is really stress relieving because I come in and I get to help people work on their projects and create my own things, and it's cool to bring home things I made myself and show my dad," stated Ryan Nunes.  

All of the team members on the project are juniors and seniors, and they never dreamed they would work on a final project like this.  "I will be able to look back at this at any time in my life and be really proud," stated John.  Jacob agreed, "Life is creeping up on us as we will graduate soon. This project and class have been very helpful; they have taught me to be more productive and treat this like a real job.  It taught me persistence to stay with something."

This project was like a dream come true for the avid skaters on the team.  Mason said, "It's pretty sick to know that I rode that ramp before the pros get a chance to." Zach agreed, "People that I grew up watching, like Thrasher, Wheels on Fire and Streets on Fire, all of these skater movies, and Jason Jesse. It is really cool to contribute something to this event." Angel summed up his experience with this, "It's really cool to work on something that's going to be displayed at the X Games. When I was little, I watched them, which got me into skating. So, I'm really happy I'm able to participate in this. We have been making small projects over the years in school, and now, in my senior year, to be able to make something that everyone's going to be able to see is pretty incredible."

The group agreed that this was only possible with their teacher, Mr. Manninen.  "Mr. Manninen definitely made this project a lot easier, and he's a great teacher. He is really good at explaining, helping us see the big picture, and getting us through the project's difficulties.  He was the brains and the brawn of the whole thing," stated Mason.  Zach agreed, "None of this would have been possible without Mr. Manninen.  He brought this project to us, and it is cool that in his job, he even gets to do something as big as building this project, and he is teaching us and allowing us to be a part of it."

“Working with local student talent to help celebrate the X Games coming to Ventura stemmed from the overwhelming success and electric energy of last year’s Skate Jam,” according to Marlyss Auster, President & CEO of Visit Ventura. “Involving local students in the project where they can have a lasting legacy in X Games Ventura 2024 is what the games are all about.” 

“It’s been awesome to see the students build something of this caliber that professional skateboarders could potentially skate on,” said Visit Ventura Director of Marketing and Buena High School alumni Mike Laan, who led the project with Communications & PR Manager Julie Madsen. “The ramp is gnarly — we can’t wait to see all their hard work showcased at the Skate Jam.”

Look for the ramp on Main Street or visit it at the Fairgrounds during the events. Great job, Bulldogs! Keep up the good work; we are so very proud of you!