Laguna Blanca’s New Center for Science and Innovation

Schools of Thought introduction, originally published in the November 19, 2020 issue of Santa Barbara Independent.

Schools of Thought introduction, originally published in the November 19, 2020 issue of Santa Barbara Independent.

Hope Ranch Campus Provides Proper Home for Project-Based Learning

Sometimes it’s all in the timing. Take Laguna Blanca’s new Center for Science and Innovation, the school’s first major facility addition in at least 20 years.

“We decided to go forward with construction on March 11 of this year, and two days later we were closing school because of the pandemic,” said Head of School Rob Hereford.

Plans for the 5,500 square feet of modern, dedicated space have been in the works since 2014, a drought year where the first big rains damaged the chemistry lab. They did a short-term fix, but Hereford knew it was past time to do some real improvements.

“When I give tours to people who were here back in the ’50s and ’60s, and they say, ‘Oh, it looks just like when I was here as a student,’” said Hereford. “That is comforting on one level, but a little disturbing if you’re trying to teach chemistry in the 21st century.”

Working with the school’s buildings and grounds committee, KBZ Architects, and the science department, the team settled on renovating two older existing locker rooms that had morphed into what Hereford called “the campus junk drawer, where anything we didn’t know what to do with we would just throw it into that space.” But the size was right, and there was already plumbing, which would be needed for lab space. One of the “odd advantages” of having closed the campus for so many months is that the project — which
includes biology and chemistry labs, a STEM Research and Innovation Lab, outdoor research areas, a physics lab, and a teacher innovation lab, which gives teachers from different grades and disciplines a space for collaboration — is now on schedule to open sometime in January 2021.

“We had an outstanding science program, and we were doing it in spite of our mediocre facilities,” said Hereford. “This allows us to have really up-to-date facilities that we can grow into. There is space for teachers to be able to do more and expand the programs in ways that are really going to be terrific. When I think of what we’ve been able to pull off in these substandard facilities, it’s exciting to think about what our teachers will be able to do in these brand-new spaces.”

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020. To read the section as it appeared in print, please click here.


Dug Uyesaka: Long Story Short

A collection of work by Dug Uyesaka will be on view at Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art beginning Oct. 20. Courtesy photo.

A collection of work by Dug Uyesaka will be on view at Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art beginning Oct. 20. Courtesy photo.

The Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum opens its fall season with a diverse collection of art objects and images by Dug Uyesaka, on view from October 20 through January 14 in the museum (955 La Paz Rd.).  A free, opening reception for “Dug Uyesaka: Long Story Short” takes place on Thursday, October 20, from 4-6 p.m. in the museum.

Uyesaka, a third generation Japanese-American, enrolled at UCSB in 1975 and was mentored by art faculty William Dole, Howard Fenton, Bob Thomas and Richard Ross.

"Guided by Voices II" by Dug Uyesaka, courtesy photo.

“Guided by Voices II” by Dug Uyesaka, courtesy photo.

“He is such an integral part of Santa Barbara’s art scene,” says Judy Larsen, R. Anthony Askew professor of art history and museum director. “He is a UCSB art graduate; a frequent exhibitor at art exhibitions around town; and an art teacher at Laguna Blanca School. Our mid-career retrospective of Dug’s work will showcase his amazing oeuvre—from prints to paintings and drawings, from collage to assemblage.” 

"Smoke" by Dug Uyesaka, courtesy photo.

“Smoke” by Dug Uyesaka, courtesy photo.

The Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art is free and open to the public Monday–Friday, from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 13, 2016.

Growing Green Schools

Laguna Blanca Coastal Clean Up

Laguna Blanca Coastal Clean Up, courtesy photo

Inspiring students—and their families—to think globally and act locally, schools have become a vital incubator for environmental stewardship.

Students in Santa Barbara High’s Green Academy learn about green biology, environmental science and chemistry, but they also get their hands dirty by maintaining a large production garden, complete with row crops, native plant insectary, fruit trees, grapevines, chickens and bees. They also deliver regular orders of greens to the school cafeteria and take food home to enjoy with their families. Plus they provide native and edible plants to support thoughtful landscaping on campus.

Environmental awareness is woven into the curriculum at Laguna Blanca School. Captaining our local California Cleanup Day last fall, they helped clean up Miramar/Hammonds Beach and Hope Ranch Beach and collected a total of 65 pounds of trash and more than eight pounds of recycling. In addition to the daily discipline of an environmentally conscious curriculum, composting, recycling and using eco-friendly products, the school also celebrates Earth Day in a big way with their own festival, community service projects and even student-produced environmental short films.

As part of an architecture unit on developing the “perfect” school, students at The Knox School of Santa Barbara research “green” architecture and look into the future for energy sources beyond fossil fuels, ultimately constructing their own plans for green buildings.

At Midland School, boarding school students combine rigorous academics with a simple self-reliant lifestyle, close to nature, that emphasizes a connection to the environment and teaches students to be good stewards of the earth. For example, with the solar panel program, 10th graders have installed photovoltaic arrays every year since 2003—now more than 25% of the campus is powered by these arrays.

The outdoor education program at Santa Barbara Middle School offers a unique approach that takes students and staff on rigorous expeditions in the wilderness—with self-discovery in mind. These “trips” are learning adventures that take students by bike, boot or boat on journeys where they learn about pushing through personal boundaries while building communities.

Water Filling Stations are at schools throughout Santa Barbara

Water Filling Stations are at schools throughout Santa Barbara

At Cathedral Oaks Nursery School, an official Green Care Provider School, teaching children to live a green lifestyle is one of the main components of the school’s philosophy, with a garden program that provides snack-time treats fresh from their own fields, grown from seedlings sprouted in the school’s greenhouse.

Sprout Up!, a nonprofit youth-to-youth environmental education program that was founded at UCSB, sends college students into first- and second-grade classrooms at elementary schools to teach children vital concepts in environmental science and sustainability. Among the schools participating are Monroe, Adams and Isla Vista Elementary Schools.

Also a nonprofit, Lets’ Grow! (formerly the School Gardens Program funded by Orfalea Foundation), has installed or enhanced 35 school gardens in the county, including a recent one at McKinley Elementary School.

These are but a few of the exciting and positive developments on the local green school front. Stay tuned…

–Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in the Spring 2014 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.