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Pandemic Pottery Classes Resume In Person For Some South Coast High School Students


Ceramics is a hands-on craft. But how do you TEACH it remotely, during a pandemic? A South Coast High School overcame the challenge, and is now welcoming back students in person.

If you went to Ojai Art In The Park last weekend, you may have seen a booth manned by students from Nordoff High School, selling their pottery works.

The students are back in person, getting messy as they work on their creations.

Pottery teacher Gray Duncan says he’s delighted - as it’s been challenging to teach such a hands-on class, online.

"It's been a challenge for everyone. I don't think it's more of a challenge for an artist than for an academic class.

"We got to send clay home and work via video lessons. Their generation is really accustomed to watching videos and learning from it, so it was successful and I give them the credit," he told KCLU.

"Now that we are back live, you can tell the difference as they're really alive here," said Duncan.

It’s rare to have such a specialized ceramics class in a high school, with specialist equipment like potter's wheels and five large specialist kilns.

"It's a pretty high end situation here," explains Duncan.

"We are really fortunate here in Ojai to have the program. Around Ventura there are only a handful of similar programs.

"Ceramics is a very specific media that isn't taught everywhere. We are lucky to have a community that supports us the way that they do."

Student Ella Grigsby is putting the finishing touches to her pottery work.

"It's incredible to be back," she says. "It's a really fun class to come in and work on your own stuff.

"It's really messy but that's always fun for me"

Students take their ceramics class outdoors at Nordoff High School in Ojai
Students take their ceramics class outdoors at Nordoff High School in Ojai

The Ojai Art Center donate a booth at the annual Art In The Park to the budding artists.

It’s all part of nurturing the local artists of the future says Duncan.

"We are able to do a lesson on the business aspects of art," he says of the opportunity.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.