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.
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. 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.
The Great Outdoors
Getting outdoors, removed from familiar environments and technology, can be a transformative experience. Students interact with each other in new ways, gain confidence by flexing totally new muscles, and learn to perceive the physical world differently.
CLASS TRIPS & RETREATS
Our class trips and retreats are intentionally designed to take students outside of the city, allowing them to build trust and bond with one another while connecting with the natural world. Each year, students participate in exciting, hands-on, outdoor activities through Discovery Week options for Upper School and Lower and Middle School class retreats at Pali Mountain, El Capitan, and Ojai (where students tackle high ropes courses, rock climbing, hiking, and more).
ECO-SUSTAINABILITY IN ACTION
From the 6th grade Eco-Homes project and Middle School’s Soil Unit (an interdisciplinary unit focused on soil ecology), to our Upper School Permaculture Garden class (which is responsible for the design and maintenance of our sustainable garden on campus), understanding our relationship to and impact on the environment is woven into our core curriculum. While some classes—like our Environmental Science & Sustainability Advanced Course—teach students about the role the environment has on all aspects of human life through project-based learning, other classes ask students to take on the role of field researchers through off-campus trips and hands-on labs.
Each year at Westridge the week before spring break (known as "Discovery Week") is devoted to experiential learning—on-campus for some of our younger students and off-campus for most.
For Lower School, this week combines hands-on creative learning on campus with day trips to local environments related to their projects. In Middle School, the 7th and 8th 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.
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.
Global Initiative Committee Chair