As students and faculty members drove up Coldwater Canyon Ave. on the first day of school, they may have noticed a formerly prominent element missing from the front lawns of the neighboring homes—the protest signs. While these signs once served as a physical manifestation of the tension between the school and its neighbors, their absence now symbolizes a potential for a more positive and accepting relationship.
The purchase of the Weddington Golf & Tennis property last year put plans of a new parking structure over Coldwater Canyon Ave. on hold, drawing support from both neighbors and local officials.
“I’m glad that Harvard-Westlake is shelving its plans to build a parking structure across the street from its Coldwater campus,” LA City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, who represents the Studio City community, said in a press release. “They deserve credit for listening to the serious concerns that the community and I raised about the project, and their announced agreement to purchase Weddington Golf & Tennis shows they are ready to move in another direction.”
While many neighbors, including Krekorian, recognize the potential for the school’s positive influence, the lack of communication between Harvard-Westlake and the outside community has resulted in fear of future plans. In the school’s efforts to continue to facilitate a more positive relationship with its neighbors, we feel that more direct community engagement is necessary.
For example, an increase in transparency regarding the administration’s decisions as they pertain to the community would foster a greater sense of trust between both parties. In our new Community section, we highlight the neighbors’ feelings surrounding Harvard-Westlake’s purchase of Weddington. We will continue to strive to bridge the gap between the two communities.
Furthermore, the school should make more of an effort to invite the community to participate in campus events. Advertising sports games and arts productions would help to create the more inclusive environment that the school strives to achieve, as stated in the mission statement.
While there are certainly ways the school can and should improve our community relations, we also must acknowledge that community service has always been a pillar of our school’s values, and there have already been steps taken to engage with the people around us.
For example, the Harvard-Westlake Outreach Performers club plans variety shows that they perform at local elementary schools and retirement communities. In addition, the Wider Than The Sky poetry festival invites student poets from all over Los Angeles to campus to hear and learn from speakers and attend specially curated workshops. We hope that the school will continue to find ways to use its resources to help the community.
Over the course of this school year, we want to see this positive trend in communications with the community and overall engagement continue. On our part, we hope to expand the reach of our paper and in turn help to inform the community of what is happening on campus. We feel that through transparency and openness, the school can repair old wounds and work to involve ourselves in the supportive and trusting community around us.