Fall Festival and Stepping Up

Fall Festival 

Each fall, our Open Classroom Leadership Magnet community enjoys a full-day, off-site educational event planned and put on by our teachers and parents. Fun Friday groups (made up of students from a range of grade levels) prepare for the event by completing projects on campus each Friday morning for five weeks. 

At Fall Festival, these groups rotate through centers with hands-on activities designed to help the students discover various aspects of the chosen theme. After a morning of centers, the groups come together for lunch as a community and finish the day with a closing activity and whole-school Circle of Appreciation.

Adventure of a Lifetime (2014)

The Adventure of a Lifetime theme was complete with stories and artwork inspired by personal adventure, physical games and challenges, treasure hunts, and survival skills for adventures in nature. The event was held on November 21. Each of the following centers were set up and run by parent volunteers (thank you!) at various locations throughout Conejo Community Park and the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden:

5 Senses Adventure – Smelling items through holes in the tops of cans, seeing photos not immediately recognizable and identifying hidden objects in a box, challenged the way they see, touch, taste, smell and hear the world.

Survival Adventure – In a mock survival moment in the botanic garden, they learned how to position and create a shelter, stay warm and survive on bugs such as termites, crickets, scorpions and more.

Create an Adventure – Adventures took flight as they designed kites inspired by an adventure they have experienced or hope for, and sent them soaring.

Pirate Adventure – A pirate scavenger hunt of clues and adventure led them to treasures and discovery as they filled the treasure chests they created during Fun Fridays.

Recess Adventure – Bean bags and a slack line stretched between two trees were a fun, active part of the morning where they set their sights on challenges in balance, coordination and stamina.

As a follow-up outreach project, classes tied the knots on fleece blankets that were donated to My Stuff Bags, a local organization that provides duffel bags filled with comfort items to foster kids.

Nurturing Our World, Head to Toe, Plant to Plate

Caring for ourselves and our community (2013)

The theme of “Nurturing Our World: Head to Toe & Plant to Plate” explores ways that we nurture ourselves, our gardens, and our community. The event took place on Wednesday, December 4 at the Conejo Valley YMCA.

These five, fun learning centers were run by parent volunteers:

Bonsai Tree Farm

Caring for Ourselves and Others

How Do You Sharpen Your Saw?

Animal Center

Plant Anatomy in Action 

As part of the Fall Festival theme, Open Classroom students made lunches for a local shelter a few weeks before the festival, which were distributed at lunchtime through Lutheran Social Services. They each made a sack lunch for themselves and one for someone at the shelter with a handwritten note or drawings. The students also brought canned goods to school that day for Manna to provide future meals for the needy.

ROOTS, celebrating the history of the Conejo Valley, Conejo Elementary School, and our own ancestry (2012)

Fall Festival 2012 took OCLM back to its roots. More than the location at Conejo Community Park--the site of past Fall Festivals--this year OCLM students explored the historic roots of the Conejo Valley.

The Roots theme extended to the people, cultures, animals, plants, trees and landscapes that came before us in what is now the City of Thousand Oaks. The students experienced a living history while learning about the native animals and plants of the area, its mighty oaks and how this land has changed with its inhabitants and the passing of time. The students also discovered constants such as the dependence on water. They found this influence in the Chumash villages built beside the creeks of the Conejo, the roots of the oaks that lie deep underground, and the hardships of early pioneers in years of drought.

A series of Fun Fridays in the classrooms leading up to the event added hands-on activities, storytelling and research on the topics of ancestry, native plants and animals, foods of local cultures, the Chumash people and the history of Conejo School. which will soon celebrate its 135th year. 

As everyone came together following a morning of center rotations in the park, the 100+ students shared a family-style, harvest feast, complete with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, salad and pie. They talked about their favorite moments of the day: hiking up Tarantula Hill for a panoramic view of the city; learning to play traditional games like Bocce and Croquet; seeing the animals of the Conejo up close; hearing stories about the oaks and their history here; comparing different cultures from the Chumash to early ranchers; and creating art inspired by the local landscape.

We then gathered for a sing-a-long through the ages led by a musician with both musical and historical knowledge. We sang, we danced, and gave thanks in the traditional OCLM way--circle time--for the day, the experiences, our friends and family, and the fun we had discovering the roots we all share.

Stepping Up  

Stepping Up is held at the end of the school year, and includes students of all grades as they “step up” to their next grade or “step out” of Open Classroom Leadership Magnet. Like Fall Festival, another annual event unique to Open Classroom, students learn about a particular topic or theme in the classrooms during Fun Fridays in the weeks before Stepping Up. It also is a parent and teacher-run event with activity booths centered around a specific educational theme, but Stepping Up is designed for the whole family to enjoy. 

The evening begins with booths for families to explore together, with OCLM students as their guides, followed by a dinner shared as a community. During the culmination ceremony, each student is recognized individually as they cross the stage, symbolizing their “stepping up” to the next level. Upper-grade students who will be going on to middle school each give a brief speech describing their experiences at OCLM. We also hear from our principal and teachers.

Building Leaders: How & What Do We Build (2014)

The "Building Leaders" theme focused on two concepts: the tangible building and construction of various goods and building yourself as a leader and valuable member of a community such as OCLM. The theme also touched on what we can build and how, and then what skills we need to plan for and achieve our goals as builders.

Centers at the Stepping Up event featured CReATE Studio (building/creating with recycled materials), BuildOn (building schools for needy communities with local materials), Oak park Library with Legos and summer reading program info (building literacy), and Sandbox robotics and computers (building with technology). The kids also participated in enrichment activities with the groups above on campus in the days leading up to Stepping Up.

The students had some exciting Fun Friday experiences with the teachers, including synergizing to build a structure together, constructing cars, the art of sewing, and building and growing themselves as leaders.

This year, an introductory Fun Friday gave the students the opportunity to learn specifically about the theme and complete some team-building activities on the first Fun Friday before beginning 5 weeks of projects

Prior to the building booths and stepping up ceremony, Open Classroom Leadership Magnet celebrated its 20th Anniversary. We honored those who helped build the foundation for the school and those who have continued to build it through its two decades of evolution. It was a gathering of alumni and current teachers and parents who share a love for the unique learning environment that OCLM provides and the strength of its community.

Innovation (2013)

The most recent theme was Innovation. Building on the theme of Roots from that year's Fall Festival, which focused on history and beginnings of people and places, the students dug deeper to explore concepts such as how things grow and flower, and innovation and looking to the future in all aspects of life.

Taking Flight (2012)

The previous year's Stepping Up, with the theme of Taking Flight, included Nature Centers with bees, bugs, butterflies and birds, gymnastics and juggling demonstrations, mechanical flight with a hot air balloon lifting off from the field, fun activities with rocket races, wind tunnels, paper airplanes and remote control helicopters.  

Bizarre Bazaar (2011)

Another year, the students engaged in a “Bizarre Bazaar.” During Fun Fridays, they developed a business idea in their small multi-aged groups and brought that idea to fruition with the help of community mentors. Each student took a leadership role in the process, and on the day of the event, the teamwork and leadership of all the students made the personal business ideas a great success from start to finish.