Beyond Westridge

Beyond Westridge

Though our campus is an intentional space for focused learning, from the youngest age we ask our students to look outward; to think about their role and agency in the world around them; to soak up educational opportunities outside of Madeline Drive; and, to make connections between what they are learning in class to the world around them. Our curriculum provides age-appropriate opportunities for learning beyond Westridge—experiential education opportunities for deep learning that engages the hearts, as well as the minds, of students.

Program Highlights

Research in Science 

The Research in Science elective provides seniors with hands-on research opportunities with universities and research institutions including California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Children’s Hospital, complemented with weekly on-campus seminar classes on scientific writing and presentation and other topics relevant to pursuing further education and careers in science. In the past five years, 58 Westridge seniors have worked alongside top academics and professional scientists conducting research in such areas as cancer biology, economic theory, control and dynamical systems engineering, astrophysics, and organic chemistry. 

Alaska summer trip

Above: Upper School students on a backpacking trip through the Alaskan tundra over the summer of 2019.

Research in Science

Outdoor Education

Done right, outdoor education is a transformative way of learning. Removed from familiar environments and technology, students interact with each other in new ways, gain confidence by flexing totally new muscles, and learn to perceive the physical world in new ways. Students in each division take part in outdoor education programs. Where possible, it is woven into the core curriculum—our Upper School Field Studies in Geology is a highlight of this. We also offer summer trips, most recently an 11-day backpacking trip to Alaska’s Talkeetna Mountains.

Interim/Discovery Week/Experiential Week

Each year at Westridge the week before spring break is devoted to experiential learning—on-campus for some of our younger students and off-campus for most. Lower School Experiential Week combines hands-on creative learning on campus with day trips to local environments related to their projects. In Middle School, the seventh and eighth graders spend the week together in outdoor, technology-free educational experiences. In Upper School, trips range from day trips exploring different historical, cultural, and artistic themes in our own city and domestic travel (each year there are several outdoor experiences and subject-specific trips, such as a civil rights tour of the south by Upper School choral students who performed and collaborated with local choirs), and an array international educational and service trip options that students select based on their interests. 

Spotted: #WestridgeintheWild

Upper Schoolers in Yellowstone National Park during Interim Week

An outdoor education-focused Olympic backpacking trip during Upper School Interim Week

Upper School students on an Interim trip to Thailand

The Upper School Chamber Orchestra on a performing arts-focused tour of Italy

Middle Schoolers on a backpacking trip through Yosemite National Park

Fourth graders explore San Diego during Experiential Week

Fifth graders are hosted by Discovery Cube's Ocean Quest in Newport Beach during Experiential Week

Westridge Global Initiative

The Westridge Global Initiative allows Upper School students to create their own interdisciplinary study of a modern-day global issue. Students propose a selection of Westridge classes relevant to their area of focus and over two years complete coursework, conduct informational interviews and other research, and participate in related experiential learning such as internships and volunteering. Upon completing their project senior year, students defend their final portfolio and present their work before a committee of Westridge faculty and staff. The program provides an in-depth learning opportunity for students interested in global studies, instilling in them an awareness of their role in the wider world and how their actions can contribute to a broader community of real change. Participating students receive a Global Fellow distinction at Commencement.

This program is student-centered pedagogy that connects Westridge student-learning to the world at large.

Brittany Coker
Global Initiative Committee Chair