Historical Timeline of Our School
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).
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.
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.”
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.
Aldous Huxley gives commencement address titled “Aún Aprendo,” which means I am still learning. It becomes the school’s motto.
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.
Beatrice Wood, renowned ceramicist begins lecturing and teaching.
Architect Paul Hoag designs house for Rosalind Rajagopal’s lifetime use, and 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.
Austin Bee, HVS Business Manager and newly elected HV board member, helps establish the school on the Happy Valley land in Upper Ojai.
Dennis Rice named Head of School and serves until 2004.
Fire destroys dormitory spearheading a major fundraising initiative that results in the eventual successful construction of the Phoenix dormitory.
Original walnut orchard succumbs to a confluence of ecological and economic problems necessitating their removal; the loss is mourned by all.
New classrooms completed.
Beatrice Wood dies leaving her folk art collection, private ceramic collection, and 1500 volume art book collection to the Happy Valley Foundation.
Completion of the Zalk Theater; Happy Valley Cultural Center established.
David Anderson named Interim Head of School.
Happy Valley School renamed Besant Hill School of Happy Valley; new strategic plan initiated.
The Beato Atelier, a new arts facility, is completed.
Randy Bertin is named Head of School.
”Portrait of a Graduate” established by faculty/staff curriculum committee.
Construction of faculty/student housing, the Doornink Grove, begins; School’s Strategic Plan, “Our Common Purpose” begins.
Doornink Grove completed along with many campus improvements.
Swimming Pool project is completed and named Lee Sanders Aquatic Center in memory of beloved 1960s alumnus.
Thomas Fire devastates much of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, including Lower Campus structures.
Alex Smith is named CEO of Happy Valley Foundation and Besant Hill School.
Portia Johnson is named Head of School, and Alex Smith, CEO, develop and initiate a new strategic plan for Besant Hill School.
Lower campus rebuild following the Thomas Fire is complete, featuring a state-of-the-art Ceramics Studio, a new maintenance building, and four beautiful faculty homes.
Besant Hill School of Happy Valley
8585 Ojai Santa Paula Rd
Ojai, CA 93023
Tel: (805) 646-4343
Fax: (805) 646-4371