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VENTURA COUNTY NEWSWATCH

June 01, 1993|Gary Gorman

FINAL COMMENCEMENT: High school graduations are coming up, and this year the principal of Ventura County's largest high school is graduating too. Kenneth J. Benefield is retiring from Channel Islands High after 19 years as principal and 32 years in the Oxnard High School District. . . . Biggest change he has noticed: "Teachers are being held more accountable." But kids are pretty much the same, he says. "They just change the way they dress every four or five years."

BEACH BOOKS: Don't tell Ed Elrod you're looking for a trashy novel to take to the beach. "We call it literary slumming," said Elrod, co-owner of the Ventura Bookstore. . . . So what's hot in paperback this summer? "Jurassic Park," he said, thanks to the hoopla for the upcoming movie, as well as John Grisham's legal potboilers, especially "The Firm." . . . At Waldenbooks in Thousand Oaks, the hard-to-put-down hardcover is Robert James Waller's "Bridges of Madison County," a love story. "We're sold out," manager Diane Henderson said.

KID STUFF: Speaking of summer reading, the 25% budget cut proposed for county libraries won't affect story hours and other children's programs until late July at the earliest, spokeswoman Donna Roff said. . . . This summer, a program called Camp Readamucha rewards kids with a T-shirt transfer for finishing 15 books. But unlike past summers, there will be no puppet shows or other activities to kick off this year's program. "Next year it's doubtful we'll be able to do any kind of reading program," Roff said. "We won't be open enough hours."

YOUNG POLITICO: James F. Cowan, who is retiring as Ventura County superintendent of schools next month after 24 years (B1), won six straight elections without opposition. . . . But Cowan got an early start in politics: In 1951, fellow students at Ventura College elected him Joe Pirate, a sort of class king named after the school's mascot.

Biggest High Schools

Enrollment at Ventura County's largest high schools Channel Islands: 2,614 Hueneme: 2,302 Oxnard: 2,192 Buena: 2,143 Simi Valley: 2,084 Camarillo: 2,078 Rio Mesa: 1,925 Ventura: 1,834 Royal: 1,776 Westlake: 1,715 Source: County Superintendent of Schools

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