Grauer Students Return to Bahia de Los Angeles for Service Learning

Encinitas, CA, December 05, 2013 --( Twice a year, students at The Grauer School embark on weeklong expeditions to international and national destinations. The fall round of expeditions took place during the last week of September with the featured international destination to Bahia de Los Angeles in Baja California, Mexico.

The Grauer School has traveled to Bahia de Los Angeles, a tiny fishing village far south of the border, on several occasions as part of the school’s Expeditionary Learning program, which takes students to locations locally as well as around the globe each semester to learn outside the traditional classroom.

Students and alumni cherish trips to Bahia de Los Angeles as some of the most beloved expeditions The Grauer School has embarked upon. Alumna Rian Alworth joined the first trip in 1992. This year, her son Nino (class of 2017) made the same journey back to Bahia de Los Angeles to immerse himself in the protected coastal reserve. Rian says, “I was excited for Nino to be able to go on this expedition. The memories I made and lessons I learned on this trip were ones I have taken with me throughout my life. I was hoping it would affect Nino in this same way.”

The expedition has left its mark on Nino. He says, “In Bahia, we did so many amazing things! Every day… we spearfished, swam with whale sharks, saw dolphins up close and even caught a glimpse of a finback whale. We also hiked up steep cliffs with amazing views.” Just as his mom had done 21 years earlier, Nino visited local students and participated in a beach clean-up.

The inspiration for these trips began in 1992, when Grauer students visiting a local college course in marine biology met a couple from Bahia de Los Angeles who conducted turtle research for the Mexican government, tracking migration patterns and population degeneration, and the students were invited to help with the research.

While the sea turtle research facility is no longer in operation, The Grauer School now visits the Glendale Community College research station and continues in the same spirit that they began with back in 1992. While for many years the Bahia Expedition was placed on hold due to traveling advisories, Founder and Head of School Dr. Stuart Grauer is glad the school is again able to return to Baja California.

“Although we didn’t think much of it back then, we were about to create our own meaning for a term that’s come a long way since then: service learning. I'm not sure we went [in 1992] with a complete sense of service, as we do today. We went back then because we needed a blank slate, a getaway. We were leaving our hang-ups behind, and the artificial confinement of standard education,” says Stuart. “Wonderfully, once we actually got there, it was easy for our students to ‘invent’ service learning and to discover some big things about life.”

This spirit of humanitarian education and service learning drives the school’s twice-yearly expeditions. “Trips like this always involve transformation: our school could never have come of age without the breakthroughs made on the road and in Bahia de Los Angeles. Like our school and like any great organization, our students are also transforming with trips like this, seeing the world in larger ways,” says Dr. Grauer, who will be receiving the top career achievement award from his alma mater, University of San Diego, this year. He emphasizes that experiences like this one are integral to The Grauer School’s mission of balancing academics with expeditionary learning. Nearly every expedition finds a way to integrate service with local schools, often in the form of spending days with local students, engaged in the universal languages of art, music, or sport.

The Grauer School, located in Encinitas, CA in North County San Diego, is a grades 6-12 private college preparatory school balancing academic rigor with expeditionary learning, focusing on relationship driven education and Socratic-style teaching. Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and a member of the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), The Grauer School is the only school in the region to be honored as a designated UNESCO school. The school serves as a successful educational model for many schools around the world through the Small Schools Coalition (SSC) established by Founding Head, Dr. Stuart Grauer.
The Grauer School
Traci Kitaoka
760-274-2115, 760-944-6777