Focus on Education - April 2023

  • 3/31/2023 10:16:00 AM
Focus on Education - Ventura County Office of Education

April 2023

Focus on Education provides news about K-12 public schools for families and educators in Ventura County. It is published by the Ventura County Office of Education (VCOE).

Fighting Fentanyl Use Among Students

A Message from Dr. César Morales

Ventura County Superintendent of Schools

Dr. César Morales, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools

While the opioid crisis is nothing new, the sudden arrival of fentanyl on the scene has dramatically increased the risks and dangers to our community and our students. I want you to know about two important events that are being held this May to help address this crisis.


On May 2, the Ventura County Office of Education will host a workshop for school administrators and nurses about the current fentanyl and opioid crisis. And on May 9, Ventura County Behavioral Health will launch a powerful fentanyl and opioid awareness campaign geared specifically toward students. Called “Real Talk: Fake pills, 100% danger,” it’s a 45-minute video that schools are encouraged to show students. It includes heartbreaking stories from parents who lost children to fentanyl. 


Learn more about local efforts to protect students from the dangers of opioids in this column I recently wrote for the Ventura County Star.

Students and exhibits at the Ventura County Science Fair

Science Fair Returns In Person


Five hundred entries, 120 volunteers, 30 school advisors and limitless creativity were all part of the 68th annual Ventura County Science Fair that was held on March 24 in Camarillo. It was the first time the event took place in person since 2019. The top-scoring middle and high school projects will now head to the California Science and Engineering Fair. You can find the complete list of Science Fair winners plus photos from the event and the awards ceremony at this link


Migrant Speech and Debate Tournament

Migrant Students Shine at Tournament


Students in the VCOE Migrant Education Program took to the stage at Oxnard College last Saturday for the 20th annual Speech and Debate Tournament. They wowed the crowd by presenting prepared and extemporaneous speeches in English and Spanish. 


This tournament got its start in Ventura County and is now held in several other parts of the state as well. A big thanks to the volunteer judges and the MEP team for providing this amazing opportunity for our migrant students. You can see the list of winners here.

2023 VCOE Equity Conference

Equity Conference Uplifts Students


Helping ensure that all students have the support and resources they need to succeed in school was the goal of the 3rd annual VCOE Equity Conference, which was held in Camarillo in March. This year’s conference took on added significance following the COVID-19 pandemic, which amplified existing inequities and challenges faced by many students. More than 300 educators, parents, students and community members attended the free event with 16 breakout sessions on a variety of issues. The conference was presented at no charge to eliminate financial barriers to attendance. 

2023 Ventura County Mock Trial

Mock Trial Makes History


The Ventura County Mock Trial competition was recently held in person at the courthouse in Ventura for the first time since the start of the pandemic. It was also the first time that middle school students had the chance to participate in this popular event that simulates a courtroom trial. 


Congratulations to Trinity Pacific, Oak Park, and Westlake High Schools for taking the top three high school spots in this year's event. Trinity Pacific also placed first at the middle school level with 2nd and 3rd place going to teams from Mesa Union School.


And kudos to Ella Ochoa from Channel Islands High School. She won the courtroom artist competition at the county level, went on to win 2nd place at the State Finals, and will be heading to Little Rock, Arkansas to represent California in the national competition. You can see the complete list of winners at this link

Digital Upskilling

Free Computer Courses


Whether you're new to using a computer or need to build advanced skills, there are now training courses available to Ventura County residents at no charge. The Economic Development Collaborative and its partners, which include the Ventura County Office of Education, are providing this opportunity to help give local people the technology skills they need for the modern workforce. Complete information about the courses and how to sign up is available here.

Upcoming Events and Workshops


The Ventura County Office of Education and its partners present a wide variety of workshops and events for educators, students, and community members. Some of our upcoming offerings are below, and you can browse the full calendar of events at



Developing Reading Skills for Multilingual Learners

April 17, 2023

Workshop for secondary ELD teachers.



Family Childcare Conference

April 29, 2023

Professional learning and networking for family child care providers.



Opioid/Fentanyl Recognition, Response & Strategies

May 2, 2023

For school nurses and administrators.



Dual Language Summit

May 19, 2023

Workshops and exhibits for dual language educators.

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