Timeline of Events

1946

Founding of “The Happy Valley School,” a co-educational boarding school,grades 10-12 with Rosalind Rajagopal as a School Board member and Vassar’s retired philosophy professor Dr. Guido Ferrando as the first Head of School(a position he held for the first three years of the school)

1947

Happy Valley School enrollment increases to 18 students, 10 teachers; Mathematics teacher, David Young brings an exceptionally high level of folk dancing to the students and school community

1948

First Publication of “Out Of This Year,” a collection of prose, poetry and artwork created by the students of Happy Valley School; the school’s “yearbook”

1949 SCHOOL YEAR

Dr. Ferrando resigns for health reasons. Rosalind Rajogapol is appointed “Acting Director” in spring 1950; eventually the “Acting” is dropped, and she serves for many years

1950-51

Aldous Huxley gives commencement address entitled “‘Aun Aprendo’ (I am still learning)” which becomes the school’s motto

1957

Former faculty member Franklin Lacey went on to co-author the book for “The Music Man” with Meredith Wilson which opened on Broadway in 1957.  Lacey joined the Happy Valley Foundation Board in 1959

1956-57

Beatrice Wood, renowned ceramicist begins lecturing and teaching

1972

Architect Paul Hoag designs house for Rosalind Rajagopal’s lifetime use; Beatrice Wood builds house adjacent to Rosalind’s; both houses later become home to the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts with Rosalind’s living room renamed the Robert Logan Gallery

1974

Austin Bee, HVS business manager and newly elected HV board member helps establish the school on the Happy Valley land in Upper Ojai

1979

Dennis Rice named Head of School, and served until 2004

1987

Penny Gerbode, former HVS student, donates funds for Yurt to commemorate assemblies held in the original campus’ Great Room

1990

Fire destroys dormitory spearheading a major fundraising initiative that results in the eventual successful construction of the Phoenix dormitory

1995

Original walnut orchard succumbs to a confluence of ecological and economic problems necessitating their removal; the loss is mourned by all

1996

New classrooms completed

1998

Beatrice Wood dies leaving her folk art collection, private ceramic collection, and 1500 volume art book collection to the Happy Valley Foundation

2000

Completion of the Zalk Theater; Happy Valley Cultural Center established

2004

David Anderson named Interim Head of School

2006

Paul Amadio named Head of School

2007

Happy Valley School renamed Besant Hill School of Happy Valley; School’s first strategic plan initiated

2010

Completion of the Beato Atelier

2011

Randy Bertin named Head of School; Oral History Project begins capturing alumni reminiscences and memories of HVS

2012

”Portrait of a Graduate” established by Faculty/Staff curriculum committee

2013

Construction of Faculty/Student Housing begins; School’s Strategic Plan, “Our Common Purpose” begins

2014

Faculty/Student Housing completed along with many campus improvements

2015

Swimming Pool project breaks ground. See Growth in Progress in the About Our School section

2016

Swimming Pool project is completed and named Lee Sanders Aquatic Center in memory of beloved 1960s alumnus. Read this news story