Trip Week to change to better suit Urban School’s needs

Aleah Jennings-Newhouse, Staff Writer

Trip Week here at The Urban School is a landmark event. For many years, come spring term, students have been able to look forward not only to spring break, but a week dedicated to the growth of students outside of the classroom, no homework involved. This is all about to change. Next year, the format and content of Trip Week will look quite different.

While Charlotte Worsley, Assistant Head for Student Life, clarified that “plans are still evolving,” there are a few things that we know for certain. The most glaring change is that Trip Week will probably need to be renamed. There will still be five days set aside for grade-level activities, but they will be split: three of the five days will be in the fall term, and the other two will be a Thursday and a Friday in the spring. In addition, Worsley said that a three-day trip for juniors is guaranteed to happen in the fall, most likely to Point Reyes, and that a two-day trip for seniors will take place in the spring. She also said that for seniors, most of the three days in the fall will focus on college.

Beyond this, little else has been set in stone.

According to Worsley, there are many reasons that the administration has decided to enact these changes. “We’re looking to make sure that Trip Week is a combination of supporting the core value of extending learning outside of the classroom in the context of the city, and maintaining the grade level trips that provide a chance to go outdoors, into a different environment,” she said. A key aspect of the newly-designed trips days is that they will aim to “provide space for programming that doesn’t fit as well in the normal school day…that are better delivered in bigger chunks.” For instance, the fall program for freshmen will include an introduction to Urban’s health and identity curriculum, aspects of the Tech 101 course “that we feel like everyone would enjoy,” and some of the information presented in the Inside Urban series, although the E-period class will still exist.

In determining the content for each grade, Worsley has been asking herself and her colleagues, “What is the kind of information that is easier to get in a day without your classes? What is the kind of information that is easier to get in a class setting?”

In terms of grade-level trips, Worsley said that they want to “think four years.” She said that this may mean, that students would “go on a trip every 16 months.” The main concern with outdoor trips is to “make sure the program fits the size,” said Worsley. Notably, the long tradition of a junior trip to Joshua Tree will come to a close.

The Joshua Tree landscape proves a worthy challenge for the juniors during their class trip. Photo taken by Olive Lopez.
The Joshua Tree landscape and climate proves a worthy challenge for the juniors during their class trip. Photo taken by Olive Lopez.

Urban has consistently had to balance a desire to retain tradition with the need to adapt to its changing size and needs. After 1994, the all-school trip to Point Reyes ended because of school growth, environmental consciousness, and safety concerns with such large numbers. Urban students have maintained trails there since 1986, but Worsley noted that the one day of trail work that freshmen do is not sufficiently helpful to the park service. She said that it is “an Urban School tradition worth picking back up.” The shifted schedule of trips will also allow Rachel Fristedt, Director of Outdoor Trips, to join students on more grade level trips.

There is no formal plan yet for trips week. “These are the programs that are being considered,” according to Worsley, and there is much yet to be determined. “The plan is to come up with a draft to take back to the faculty,” and there will be a place for students and faculty who are interested in giving feedback or maybe even planning parts of it in the process. “In true Urban style, we’re always learning,” Worsley said of redesigning the program.

Any members of the community that would like to be involved in the planning process can email Charlotte Worsley, Clarke Weatherspoon, or Dawn Jefferson, or visit them in their offices in the Student Center and Old Library.