How Nordhoff deals with truancy problem

The following article first appeared in the Wednesday, January 21, 1970 edition of “The Ojai Valley News”. It is reprinted here with their permission. The photo has been added by the “Ojai Valley Museum”.

How Nordhoff deals with truancy problem
by
Randy Russell

Randy Russell
(Photo Courtesy of Debby Russell-Swetek)

Truancy is a problem that exists on all school campuses. The Nordhoff High School attendance office reports that the problem is no greater here than at other schools in the county. According to the Education Code passed by the State Legislature “a child is deemed an habitual truant when he has been reported absent or tardy without a valid excuse for three or more times.”

Mr. Paul LaBute has recently been named Attendance Officer to combat the truancy problem on the Nordhoff campus. Specific procedures are followed each day in attendance procedures. Each day attendance is taken in homeroom. Those absent are listed for the day on a Master Absence List. Then each teacher takes roll in each class. Any student absent from class and not on the Master Absence List is reported to the Attendance office.

Step 1 — If it is determined the student is cutting class, a Student Referral Form is made out by the attendance clerks.

Step 2 — If a student receives three of these referral forms (that is, he was caught cutting classes three times) a School Conduct Report is sent by the attendance office to the parents.

Step 3 — If the truancy problem still exists, the student is suspended for five days. He must report to the continuation school to keep up with his class work.

Step 4 — Should a student still be truant, a Notice for Child to Discontinue Violating School Law is sent to the parents from the County of Ventura Superintendent of Schools office. This is sent by Mr. F. J. Holyoak, Child Welfare and Attendance Coordinator and it says:

“This letter is sent to notify you that this office has received a complaint that (your child) is violating the school laws of the State of California by being truant.

In accordance with the Education Code, Section 12408, the County Superintendent of Schools may request a Juvenile Court Petition in behalf of any child who is habitually truant, irregular in attendance, habitually insubordinate or disorderly during attendance at school.

The Juvenile Court, after hearing such a petition, may render judgement that the Juvenile be detained or his parents required to deliver him to the school each day or execute a $200.00 bond which is forfeit if there is further nonattendance or misconduct.

You are hereby directed to do whatever you can to prevent further noncompliance with school law. After 10 days, if matters have not improved or if there are further violations a request for a juvenile court petition will be made.”

Step 5 — The final step is a 10-day suspension, after which the student would be referred to the Placement Committee of the District. The Placement Committee may refer the student to the School Board which could result in expulsion, or the Placement Committee could place the child in a continuation high school or in an adult evening program. After hard work, the student can still graduate and then go into the service, on to college or trade schools or begin a job.

The counseling office reports that a student’s attendance record is a very important factor in job placement. Employers usually ask two questions, “Is this person reliable? Was his school attendance regular.” If the student has been truant the counseling office must report that fact. Work habits are established in school, the counselors concluded, but often the truant student cannot easily be convinced of the seriousness of establishing a truancy record.

Less talk about hippies; more talk about change

The following article first appeared in the Wednesday, November 1, 1967 edition of “The Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette” on Page D-6. That newspaper is now the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission. PLEASE NOTE: Nick Robertson wrote the article when he was only a Senior in high school.  The photo of Robertson was added by the “Ojai Valley Museum”.  

Less talk about hippies; more talk about change
by Nick Robertson
Happy Valley Senior

A “church in change” is a phrase which might draw a strong reaction from both those who think it is perfected and those who think it incapable of facing change. But to a majority of people, it is probably one of the greatest blessings to come from the institutionalized church for a long time.

There are many, myself included, that think that a religious and moral institution should lead the way for social reform, not fight it. There are, of course, arguments which slow the more impatient of us down to a walk: namely, that the church should consider social change carefully before either opposing or supporting it.

What an institution cannot afford to do is avoid facing social changes, and with this in mind, the United Presbyterian Church of So. Calif. sponsored a conference on Theonetics (a catchy, expressive and convenient if undenfinable word) with the subject “Under 21 in California.”

Aside from the word, which sounds much more active than theology, the subject is particularly attractive to someone under 21 in California. It was, as a matter of fact, even more attractive when I found I could be subsidized by the conference if I went as a “conversation starter”: one of the few times I have ever heard the axiom that children should be seen and not heard put to better disuse.

The idea of having a host of youths at the conference was necessary, not only because of the topic, but because over half of the speakers were well over 21 anyway (it was decided that 21 really meant nothing and it was youth that was being discussed). The formal parts of the meeting tended to be discussing youths rather than discussing with them.

As I have an admitted bias to being discussed rather than heard from, I think that I will speak primarily about being heard from.

Hippy topic

The hippies, whoever they may be at the moment, were the predominant topic of discussion for the first two days.  It seemed to me that most of the people attending were unduly hung up on long hair and acid, and the program scheduled two speakers on the hippies.  The first was the editor of a Los Angeles underground newspaper, “The Oracle”, and in keeping with the spirit of the times, he was well over 40.  The second speaker did not show up for some reason, and by the second day it struck me as good luck that the emphasis (we youths had discussed threatening a walk-out unless emphasis was taken from the hippies) was shifted.

The first evening featured three young speakers under the heading of “Youth in Action”. They were all participants in some sort of social welfare program (Inner City, VISTA, and a function of the Presbyterian church called Caravaning). The church establishment came under a certain amount of fire from all of them, as the church is bound to. The message: do something!

I think that as far as I was concerned the most impressive speaker of the entire affair was introduced as “The Minority Youth.” He was Johnny Scott, a product of Budd Schulberg’s writer’s studio in Watts, and one of the most eloquent voices to come out of the ghetto (some of his poems appeared in both the L.A. Times and Time Magazine). Scott, a student at Stanford, spoke stirringly about the plight of the black man in a lily-white America. Being predisposed to such talks, anyway, for I feel that most of us WASPS (White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestants) have created a lot of our own problems, and having the guilty conscience of the typical white liberal, I don’t think anyone left the conference not duly impressed and saddened by the demand, not plea, for understanding of a black youth.

More discussion

The entire set-up of such an event makes it possible for all in attendance to either take or leave the insights presented as well as enrich them by informal conversations.  It is only fair to admit that I approached the hall with somewhat the attitude of an extremely angry (and extremely) young man, and I think that hard-headed , angry revolutionists pale after a brief exposure.  Were it mine, I would keep more time unstructured:  I felt that the talks provided a tremendous stimulus, but a stimulus that could have been matured better by more freewheeling discussion.  Our table talks were probably as important to all involved as any other single part of the conference, though I could have relaxed a little more at them.

One decided hang-up most young people attended with was the idea of communicating for result. We are an impatient breed. While we speak of the necessity of communication rather incessantly, there is, so to speak, method to our madness. Most went not with the idea of learning so much as to prod, to force a confrontation on the church, speed up a committee or two, and get what many young people in the church feel is a necessary involvement out of their congregation.

While adolescents are almost by definition a state of change, the church has often been a leader in social reaction, and it seems that there is now a tremendous impatience within the younger membership of the church that now demands action and acceptance of change.

But when one can obtain enough objectivity, it is seen to be a creative, worthwhile, and effective means of dealing with a problem (assuming that a younger generation is a problem). Perhaps we can attribute the tremendous concern for the younger generation to the long-haired, barefoot element. We beat the “seen but not heard” axiom by looking fully as obnoxious as we sound.

Ojai resident Nick Robertson when he was around 14 years old.

Marijuana more than a drug; it’s a symbol

The following article fist appeared in the Wednesday, May 31, 1967 edition of “The Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette” on Page D-6. That newspaper is now the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission. Nick Robertson wrote the article when he was only a Junior at Happy Valley School.  The photo of Robertson was placed into this article by the Ojai Valley Museum.  

Marijuana more than a drug; it’s a symbol
by
Nick Robertson
Happy Valley Junior

Probably one of the most pressing problems for many people today is the question of juvenile use of drugs. Question, perhaps, is not exatly what it is though: thus far, one group has been determined to stop people from smoking marijuana and the other group has been hell-bent of getting high without getting caught. Both groups, as a matter of fact, are too busy to bother to learn anything about marijuana itself, or the other group.

At the moment, marijuana is more than just an intoxicant. For the mainstream of America, it is long hair, beards, cacophonic music, and “dropping out.” For the “hippies” and the other youth cults (call them what you will: fads, movements, games, cults. Who knows?) it is a heavy club to hold over mainstream America, somewhat comparable to a Masonic handshake or some other symbol of a closed society.

As far as I am concerned, it is a rather selfish cause, but highly understandable. To many people, middle class America is represented as much by alcohol as the hippies are by drugs, and a rebellion against middle class America is not only understandable but highly logical to youth.

But I’m straying from my end: It is time for a reevaluation of our laws concerning marijuana on one hand and a reevaluation of the use of marijuana on the other.

Its history

Let’s begin at the beginning: marijuana is the name we have for the leaves of the plant cannabis sativa meant to be smoked. The plant, also known as Indian hemp, was at one time used for rope. Hashish, a specially prepared form of the plant which looks somewhat like sen-sen, takes it name from the same root as assassin: disciples of Hassan Ben Sabah, “The Old Man of the Mountain,” who started a terrorist organization working from the mountains of Persio, got “high” before they were sent out to murder assorted people. Thus, hashish, “the gift of Hassen.”

The drug is common in the Middle East, where the Muslim religion prohibits drinking. Apparently, there is little or no problem of addiction in the hashish dens more spectacular than their equivalent of barflies.

The problem does not begin until one comes into possession of marijuana in the United States. According to the 1965 edition of Compton’s Encyclopedia, one is arrested for failing to pay the tax on marijuana (this is the federal law, bear in mind: probably designed to make the FBI eligible for work in narcotics control), or for selling narcotics without license, if sale is the charge. Though I do not know exactly what would happen were one to ask for a tax stamp, there are also state laws (though in Colorado, the charge of marijuana possession is a misdemeanor only) which make it illegal.

Effects

The effects of marijuana have been variously described as amazingly similar to alcohol (they are in essence the same, after all), an opening of doors in the mind, and even as a temporary form of paranoia. It is non-addictive, and as to charges that it leads to addiction, they have been answered by saying that this is society-induced and legalization could correct it.

Many people find absolutely no hostility when under the influence of the drug, but law enforcement agents say that someone may become dangerous when under the influence of some form of marijuana. It is said that marijuana leads to addiction, and some would even consider the drug addictive.

The numbers of people knowing, or having heard, both sides to the story is extremely small. As a matter of fact, most people are rather ignorant about the subject, yet would cheer when users are arrested simply because they are breaking the law.

The police, of course, recognize the ignorance and apathy get nowhere, and have begun programs of education for youths, parents, and teachers.

This is a step in the right direction, but with one foot only. Is there any reason why parents shouldn’t talk to some users, too? Is there an way the police could talk to the users?

Whether all this is possible is indeed a question, but I fail to see how the best interests of all can be served unless both sides are shown in a fair and just light. Of course, if indiscriminate arrest or constant use are in the best interests of all, I stand corrected. But if otherwise, there is no cure for gloating over the arrests of “pot-heads” and expelling suspected users from school, nor in groups sitting around a pipe, secure in their superiority over mainstream America.

There has obviously got to be some form of correction of our attitudes. As usual, the problem is communication, and barriers are put up by both sides. Perhaps long hair isn’t all bad, perhaps work has its spiritual and moral aspects, and little on both sides. Marijuana might be a somewhat ridiculous place to start, but everybody should be grateful for anything.

As it is, any discussion of marijuana is hampered by the association of it with rebellion on college campuses, sit-ins, marches, and youth movements: by the continued propaganda and lobbying of the all-powerful liquor industry; by the inherent evil people seem to find in things foreign and the inherent good young, or rebellious people seem to find in things forbidden.

Ojai resident Nick Robertson when he was around 14 years old.

 

 

AFS pupils like new homes, school

The following article first appeared in the Sunday, September 8, 1968 edition of “The Ojai Valley News” on page A-1. It is reprinted here with their permission. The article was authored by Fran Renoe.

AFS pupils like new homes, school
by
Fran Renoe

HIGH SCHOOL, U.S. style is much different for Nordhoff’s two American Field Service students, both 17-year-old seniors. Julita Tellei, left is from Palau, Micronesia, a group of South Pacific Islands, and Salustiano “Tano” Crespo, right, is from Leon, Spain.

Life is busy, bewildering but bright with the promise of an unusual life for Julita Tellei and Salustiana Crespo, American Field Service students who are living with Ojai families for the present school year.

Julita is staying with the Rev. Richard Terry’s family and “Tano”, as he is nicknamed, with the Boyd Ford’s.

It’s a long way for Julita from her home island of Palau, Micronesia (a group of small islands in the South Pacific) and a trust territory of the United States, and for Tano, whose home is in Leon, Spain.

Language

With two years of Spanish, and a good background in English, Julita has not had too much trouble understanding her new “family”, friends and teachers.

Tano, however, who speaks Spanish and French, “has only 9 months of English”, and finds communication becoming easier, but not yet fluent. However, both are making friends fast, enjoy their families, and seem to find the differences between former school ways and American ones interesting and fun.

As Julita says, “everyone is so nice here. All the people talk to you, say hello. I am so busy here that there is no time to get homesick.”

Julita fits in with the Terry family, who unexpectedly found themselves with all five of their children at home, instead of four they expected. She shares a room with 17-year-old Lynn, and also shares Lynn’s teen-age interests.

Sports

“I like to watch baseball, and I enjoy playing volleyball and table tennis. I’m used to a family with children.” At 17, Julita is the oldest of nine children, with seven brothers and two sisters at home. Tano, on the other hand, has only a nine-year-old brother at home, and a sister, 22 who is married, and is enjoying having the four Ford boys as companions.

Tano’s hobbies are photography and architecture, and architecture is the field he hopes to study later in an American college.

As for Julita, “I want to go to college, and probably will. However, I do not know exactly what I want to do. I like geometry, but am not so good at math. I also like science. I will probably be a teacher.”

The Girls

More than Julita, Tano finds living in this country much different from living at home.

“I am not used to going to school with girls,” he said with a big grin, “because I have always gone to a private school for boys only. “But,” and the grin got bigger, “after the first day I decided that going to school with girls is very, very nice.”

It seems that co-education is uncommon in Spanish schools, with only a few private schools using this system.

Both teenagers agree that “children here are much more free with their parents. Free to discuss things, to have an opinion.” At home, Tano emphasized, “children have no opinion.”

“In my home we talk about things,” Julita said, “but not in every home is it like this. It is better if you can discuss things with your parents, like here.”

Julita finds the food much different from her usual diet, “we have more fish, and of course, taro, but here more meat and bread, things like that.”

More Cars

“Also, in Spain, we have our lunch at 2 in the afternoon and dinner at 10 at night. Here, of course, is much different,” Tano remarked.

“There are more cars here, too,” Julita said.

“Something else,” Tano commented. “At home, ladies who are married, ladies with children, do not work. Here, ladies like this work.”

“Oh, married women where I live work,” Julita said, “They didn’t used to, but they do now.”

Tano enjoys playing basketball and Julita is an avid antique collector.

Both admit to having trouble remembering the names of all the friendly students and teachers they have met, but both say, “It is so nice to live in Ojai, everyone is so good to you.”

They also enjoy the idea of living in a small town — Julita, because it seems familiar, Tano because it is different in size from his hometown of 100,000 people. And both like living near a metropolitan area of Los Angeles because “our families are quite good about taking us everyplace.”