Special education student named Buena High homecoming king

From left: Mia Mumford, Robin Fenstermacher and Ian McKeever celebrated Ian’s nomination as homecoming king at a Buena High football game last week.

From left: Mia Mumford, Robin Fenstermacher and Ian McKeever celebrated Ian’s nomination as homecoming king at a Buena High football game last week.

It was a night that Robin Fenstermacher won’t soon forget: her student, Ian McKeever, voted homecoming king, taking turns dancing with students during last week’s homecoming dance.

Fenstermacher teaches special education with the Ventura County Office of Education. Her classroom is headquartered at Buena High School in Ventura. McKeever, 17, is one of her students, and when teaching assistant Mia Mumford suggested nominating McKeever for a chance to be homecoming king, Fenstermacher says that they all jumped at the opportunity.

“He got excited when we nominated him,” said Fenstermacher. Though the VCOE special education is located at Buena High, it is part of a county program and not associated with the school. Fenstermacher says that what the Buena High students did for McKeever was special.

“I’m really honored to be part of this and to be working here at Buena, to teach on a campus where there’s so much acceptance for all students,” said Fenstermacher. “This truly was his senior highlight so far.”

McKeever was introduced during Buena High’s football game prior to the dance, and students lined up to take photographs with him. After graduation in June, McKeever will attend the TEAMS Program at Dorothy Boswell School in Ventura.

“This is the first time in VCOE’s history that we’ve had a student nominated and/or crowned king or queen, so it’s really a big deal,” said Fenstermacher. “That’s why we’re so excited.”

Water focus of annual Ventura film festival

It’s raining films as the Water: Take 1 short-film contest gets underway for its fifth season.

The contest pits shorts submitted online against each other on the topic of conservation, water protection and sustainability at the local, national and global levels, in a wide range of genres from sci-fi to comedy. Though the contest is open to submissions from the world over, the festival has a very local connection with the awards ceremony and kickoff celebration hosted in Ventura.

Shana Epstein, general manager of Ventura Water, which hosts the competition, said that in light of the current drought (which has been ongoing for several years), the festival is both timely and relevant.

“With the drought uppermost in the minds of Californians, this short-film festival brings together our local, national and global conversations,” said Epstein.

The deadline for film submissions is Dec. 14, and voting will begin for the Audience Choice Award soon after, ending on Jan. 14, 2017. The winning films will be showcased at an awards celebration in March 2017. For more information and submission guidelines, visit www.watertake1.com.

Oxnard probation officer charged in possession of child pornography

District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced on Thursday that 52-year -old Oxnard resident James Richard Schmitt has been charged with two felony counts of possession of child pornography. Schmitt served as a senior deputy probation officer with the Ventura County Probation Agency.

An investigation was launched in 2014 after Internet service provider Yahoo submitted evidence to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of a certain number of its users trafficking child pornography from the Philippines, where child pornography files and “real-time” online sex shows involving child performers are offered to international buyers.

Individual cases from the submission were brought to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, traces of which lead to Schmitt and his Oxnard residence. In February of this year a search warrant was issued, and officers seized computers on which child pornography and communications were recovered.

Schmitt is now in Ventura County jail with a bail set at $50,000 and faces up to three years and eight months in prison if convicted.