Four students explore LA culture

Four juniors and two teachers immersed themselves in the culture of Los Angeles through the Los Angeles Service Academy, which began in August.

Kennedy Green ’14, Henry Hahn ’14, Grace Levin ’14 and Tom Thorne’ 14 traveled around the city with LASA to better understand the life, planning and politics of Los Angeles.

Executive Director of LASA Doug Smith contacted upper school Dean Jim Patterson, who put LASA in contact with upper school history teachers Katherine Holmes-Chuba and Francine Werner, who both became chaperones of the program.

The program consists of around 25 students from Los Angeles and Montebello, including Harvard-Westlake and Polytechnic School in Pasadena.

LASA provides transportation to the Huntington Library, the program’s monthly Saturday meeting place, where they occasionally host guest speakers.

“When we are at the Huntington, we get to see manuscripts from the library linked to the topic of the day,” Holmes-Chuba said. “Last month, we saw engineer reports, water reports, drawings, proposals for various dams and water projects.”

In addition, the group goes on field trips around Los Angeles. They have visited the Metropolitan Water Treatment facility, Warner Bros.  Studios, the Los Angeles Public Library Central Branch and City Hall, and they plan to visit a manufacturing site for the space shuttle.

“LASA has definitely raised my awareness of the city’s operations, historical developments, and political machinations,” Thorne said. “We don’t learn much about our local government and its past in school, and LASA is a terrific place to do just that.”

Levin said that LASA has allowed her to learn how diverse and complicated the city is.

“Los Angeles is such a unique place to live in with so much diversity and so much to learn about,” she said.

Thorne believes the leaders of the program have given the students a great opportunity.

“My favorite part of the organization is the knowledge and expertise of its leaders,” Thorne said. “They are historians of the American West, and they bring a vast wealth of information to the program.”

LASA has enabled its members to become more aware of the importance of the city’s functions.

“It was 105 degrees in Azusa and we were looking at water plants,”
Holmes-Chuba said. “With that kind of heat, you are more aware of how important water is.”

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