School holds event to thank community


Alex Dinh/Chronicle

RECOGNIZING RIVER PARK’S PARTNERS: The school’s administration hosted an event for River Park’s partners to thank them for their support on Jan. 25. Attendees included the Tatviam Band of Mission Indians, Special Olympics, Angel City Sports and Friends of the LA River.

Alexander Dinh and Olivia So

The school hosted an event to thank community members  for supporting the River Park project  Jan. 25. Participants spoke with the school’s faculty, administration and prefects about River Park, and President Rick Commons addressed the crowd in a speech.    Community partners at the event included  the Tataviam Band  of Mission Indians, Special Olympics, Angel City Sports and Friends of the LA River.

The city government  examined  the River Park project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) last spring and determined  the project will have no significant negative environmental impacts, according to Head of Communications & Strategic Initiatives Ari Engelberg ’89. The school is finishing the final EIR in the coming months,  and upon its completion, there will be a series of meetings between the school and the city to determine if the project is approved to start construction.

Sophomore Prefect Eric Lee ’25, who attended the event, said he valued  talking to community members who hold different perspectives about River Park. He said they provided valuable insight into the development of the facility as a whole.

“It felt really good to interact with the whole community  because you get a lot of different perspectives,” Lee said. “The Friends of the LA River look at things from the perspective of how it impacts the LA River, whereas the Native American tribe might view it from a cultural perspective. It was really great getting to see how different people viewed River Park because it allowed me to better understand what the community’s overall opinion might be on the development of the facility.”

Lee also said once the project is completed,  it will greatly benefit the school community by providing convenience to students, especially athletes.

“[River Park will] be a great benefit to future athletes,” Lee said. “[The athletes] will be able to get better practice times and be able to get home earlier. I feel that [the project] will be a great benefit to the Harvard- Westlake community.”

Engelberg said it was a refreshing experience to be able to talk to neighbors  who are in favor of  the project.

“It’s been very gratifying to hear members of the community voice their support about River Park,” Engelberg said. “We’ve all seen the yard signs and the social media posts from the project’s opponents, and we’re fully aware that there are those who oppose River Park,  but there have been lots of neighbors and community partners who were previously unaffiliated with Harvard-Westlake who have come out to support what we’re planning to build, and those expressions of support are certainly helpful to the project.”

Director of Community and Public Affairs Stacy Marble said the River Park project fulfills  the school’s mission statement. Marble connected the project to the mission of purpose beyond ourselves at the school and expressed optimism in having a home for not just students but also organizations as well.

“[This project] is a testament to our mission of purpose beyond ourselves,” Marble said. “We are able to create 16 acres of land to be used not just by our students but by some wonderful community organizations that will call the River Park home.”