Sunday, January 30, 2011

Franklin High Arroyo Seco Academy Students Design Urban Trails

Los Angeles City Council District Member Ed Reyes welcomed more than 50 community leaders to the recent open house at Franklin High School in Highland Park for a special presentation of student work highlighting more than 30 urban trails connecting the Los Angeles State Historic Park (the Cornfields) with surrounding communities.

A joint project of the City of Los Angeles, the National Park Service, and the Transportation Academy section of the Arroyo Seco Academy at Franklin High School, this senior high school student generated experential learning program used a 'learn by doing' approach whereby the students had to study the neighborhoods, then walk/bicycle them to finalize the creation of their trail.
The project, under the direction of Patrick Johnston of the National Park Service, (shown right here with some participating students), engaged Academy students in developing research, planning, visual design, and presentation skills.

The open house featured an opening welcome, followed by visits to 'stations' throughout the school cafeteria where students both presented their trail design and answered questions from participants.
Here, Los Angeles City Planner Claire Bowin asks questions of a trail team who have created a bicycle path leading from the State Park to Highland Park. The students used a wide variety of visual tools - from powerpoint presentations to table displays to multi-media trail layouts.

One of the highlights of the open house was learning more about the City of Los Angeles' heritage, culture, and history. Most trails had themes: foodie places to stop, historic buildings to see, natural resources to see, monuments to see, Little Tokyo sites, Downtown Civic sites, and so on. It was fascinating watching the students 'defend' their work and this sometimes jaded writer who has been in Southern California for over 30 years had to admit she learned something new!

My personal favorite: the skateboarding trail from Chinatown to the Cornfields. Based on the terrific work done here, I see a number of promising planners for our future.

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