[PAST EVENT] ECS Intersession and Community Forum 2016


“I've learned that if I have a cause, and I display it in a way that captures people's emotions, then I can deliver a very powerful message and have a positive outcome.”

– Jalen Staten, 11th Grade


Jalen’s sentiments are shared by many Environmental Charter High School students who arrive at powerful realizations during their month-long, school-wide, interdisciplinary project dubbed "Intersession."

Intersession challenges grade-level teams to research, interview business leaders and community members and take part in collaborative group work to arrive at their own answers to some challenging questions, like, “What does LA need to thrive?” and “Can minimal living improve quality of life?” While answering these questions, ECHS students incorporate community fieldwork to deepen their understanding of the complexity of the issues they are examining. They also participate in service learning projects to contribute to their community in a way that impacts the issue that they are studying.

Students are collaborating in ways that they haven't ever before, learning to apply new media tools and using the city of Los Angeles as their learning lab. It’s an exhilarating and challenging process, and our students are taking the lead in their own learning. They complete Intersession with their own informed insights about relevant issues, and their take-aways shape the values and visions that make them the leaders of today on the issues that matter most.

At the end of this month-long intellectual exploration, students host a Community Forum, a day-long event during which students don their best professional dress, deliver presentations, showcase displays, facilitate experiential learning and educate their community and peers. 

Can Minimal Living Improve Quality of Life?

Ninth graders explored the relationship between quality of life and minimal living by constructing scale-model "Tiny Homes," taking into consideration both sustainable systems and green technology. Having to integrate their individual tiny homes into a shared community, students described how their individual actions and decisions might affect the quality of life in their communities through multimedia presentations.


[Photo] Tiny Homes Presentations.

What Does LA Need to Thrive?

Tenth grade students investigated how the Los Angeles Basin has changed over time—from the Industrial Revolution to the present day. Students also looked into the future, examining how growth has influenced and impacted the ecosystems of the Los Angeles region. In teams, students collected, interpreted and presented their newly developed understanding of 'what LA needs to thrive.' The final product was a student-curated museum exhibition and accompanying presentations.


[Photo] Eleventh grade Biodiversity Museum Exhibits that give answers to the question 'What does LA need to thrive?'

How Does Gentrification Affect My Community?

11th graders explored gentrification and how it affects education, transportation, business, housing and the environment in a community. Students self selected a specific community in the Los Angeles area to investigate and conducted research within that community by interviewing community members and visiting community sites. Students then created a website about gentrification within their own neighborhoods and showcased their findings at Gentrification Forums in their communities of Lawndale, Hawthorne and Gardena.


[Photo] Students welcome guests to their Gentrification Forum.

In What Ways Can I Impact My Community More Sustainably? And Should California Ban the Plastic Bag?

The twelfth graders developed a series of civic actions either in support of or in opposition to the November 2016 ballot measure to overturn California’s Single-use Plastic Bag Ban. Students explored the issue of plastic pollution by conducting a micro-plastics trawl in the Port of Los Angeles with 5 Gyres and the Los Angeles Maritime Institute. They also spoke with local environmental organizations and plastic bag manufacturers and shared their findings on social media. Students then created a voter’s guide tailored to their specific community and canvassed their neighborhoods to inform community members of the ballot measure. At the conclusion of their activism, students collected evidence and statistics to measure the impact of their civic actions.



























ECHS #seniors had a great day trawling for #plastics with @5gyres on @tallshipschool #ships! #Repost @5gyres with @repostapp. ・・・ Trawling for ocean plastics with students from @enviroschools and LA Maritime institute – students gathering data to fight the plastic bag referendum! We need an informed army on this one…

A photo posted by Enviro Charter Schools (@enviroschools) on


























All of these projects were showcased by ECHS students at Community Forum. On Community Forum day, community members were touched and impressed.

“Intersession is what makes ECHS unique.  It teaches students how to present, how to do research, and how to communicate – things that are all a part of the real world.”
– Frankie Foster, ECHS Parent

ECS would like to thank the community partners that helped to make Intersession and student learning possible, including Travis Longcore, an Assistant Professor of Spatial Sciences and Biological Sciences at USC, Katherine Pease, a watershed scientist at Heal the Bay, the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, Laura Pulido, Professor of American Studies at USC, Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen and Anna 5 Gyres, and the Alice Taylor at the Los Angeles Maritime Institute.


[Photo] Thank you for visitting Community Forum!








Photos by Anthony, Alexis Casson, and Lindsey Jurca. 

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