In 2007, Happy Valley School became Besant Hill School of Happy Valley.
By the 2006-2007 school year, applications and admissions, the lifeblood of any school, were dropping at an alarming rate. The feedback was: unfortunately, the adjective “Happy” suggested images of a drug rehab, or a troubled teens facility, or an elementary school. The HVS administration and the HVF board deeply understood and shared the alumni’s individual and heartfelt attachment to the name “Happy Valley School.” It was indeed painful to believe that market image might trump a 60-year tradition. Yet even more painful was the reality that many children were missing a Happy Valley School education because the name deterred families from investigating the school.
Effective July 1, 2007, the change to “Besant Hill School of Happy Valley” was made after a HVF Board driven initiative sought input from over 700 alumni, parents, long time friends. The selection highlighted the truly remarkable visionary and public servant, Annie Besant, who raised the funds for the 1927 purchase of the 500 acres in Upper Ojai, and who firmly believed this breathtaking land would be the cradle of and model for the “new civilization of education,” where improvement in human history begins with the individual who knows how to think, rather than what to think, and with a culture embracing interrelationship: self to self, to mankind, to the earth, and to scientific progress.
This name selection was deemed to authentically reflect and honor our history, our past and the principles formulated by the founders. It was felt that by honoring Annie we not only honor her but also honor and reaffirm a future she predicted, which today’s administration and board are committed to fulfill. The selection was felt to be a win-win for both our alumni and our prospective students and families.
The land itself, the 500+ acres owned by the Happy Valley Foundation, is and will forever be known as the Happy Valley. The school’s Development Office today answers the phone “Happy Valley School/Besant Hill School of Happy Valley.”