CARLSBAD–Each year, students from Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad have the unique opportunity to travel around the country and around the globe for academic, service learning and cultural experiences.
The class trips are part of the academic curriculum at Pacific Ridge School, and are closely tied to the school’s mission of academic excellence, ethical responsibility and global engagement. This year, almost all students and faculty participated in global travel during the last weeks of school.
Throughout the year, students acquire knowledge and skills, engage with outside communities through the school’s service learning program, gain fluency in world politics and history, and explore literature from around the world. They debate the effect of one world community on another in ethics and environmental science classes. They spend the entire year studying a region such as the Middle East, South Africa, or Central America, and then travel to that region at the end of the year. Led by members of the faculty and staff, the travel programs strengthen understanding of the year’s curriculum and take learning beyond the classroom walls.
“The global engagement piece of the mission weaves through nearly every aspect of our school; it is in the fabric of our community,” said Dr. Bob Ogle, co-head of school, Pacific Ridge School. “The year-end global travel is extraordinary, and a sometimes life-changing opportunity for our students.”
Seventh-grade students visited the Marin Headlands, underscoring an academic emphasis on life sciences. With the guidance of The Headlands Institute, the students hiked through forests and parks, examined the habitats of plants and animals in the area, and identified areas of the coastline affected by erosion. The Marin Headlands trip echoed the school’s mission statement in many ways: it encouraged students to connect to the natural world, to take responsible actions to sustain it, and explore their environment using the tools of science.
The eighth-grade class traveled to Washington, D.C., building upon their U.S. history curriculum. Students attended a performance at the Kennedy Center and explored numerous institutions that comprise our nation’s capital, including the Holocaust Museum, The White House, Washington Monument, the Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery, Mount Vernon, Capitol and Senate Offices, Library of Congress and Gettysburg battlefield. A highlight of this year’s Washington experience was a private visit with Ken Salazar, U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
The ninth-grade class embarked on a trip to China that enhanced a year-long study of world history. Students began in Beijing with an exploration of the city and Great Wall, then traveled to two distinctly different parts of China: the provinces of Guizhou and Yunnan. Students’ activities ranged from subsistence farming, volunteering at a primary school, and teaching English at a local high school, to Chinese cooking lessons, regional dancing, and homestays with families of Pacific Ridge’s sister school, Shidong High School in Shanghai.
The-tenth grade class ventured to Northern Sierra to travel in the backcountry. Students went white-water rafting and backpacking in Yosemite National Park, and developed fundamental outdoor skills such as “leave no trace” camping ethics. The students also participated in service learning work, including trail maintenance and reforestation, as a way to contribute to the conservation of the magnificent places they visited.
Eleventh and twelfth-grade travel programs emphasized service work. The students participating in school-sponsored travel visited Belarus,Brazil, Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas, Costa Rica, France, India, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, New York City, Portugal, Peru, or Spain. Through partnerships with non-profit organizations and sister schools, the students’ service learning projects included tutoring, community rebuilding, and volunteering in schools and orphanages.
The global engagement travel programs concluded back at the Pacific Ridge School campus with a Travel Museum displaying student presentations on their experiences and newfound perspectives.