Experiential Learning

A student smiling in a harness connected to zip line with another student spotting.

Day trips, retreats, and overnight excursions challenge students to navigate new environments outside of a conventional classroom setting.

During these experiences, students focus on team building, leadership skills, executive function, and their social-emotional well-being. Whether visiting a historical landmark, attending a performance or exhibition, or exploring the great outdoors, students strengthen relationships with one another and enjoy a sense of wonder and discovery.


Day Trips and Retreats

Lower, Middle, and Upper School students go on daylong field trips and retreats throughout the school year. Through age-appropriate, interactive activities, students take advantage of all there is to learn about themselves and the diverse communities across Greater Los Angeles. 

Past field trip and retreat destinations have included Balboa Park, the California Science Center, the Getty Museum, Josephine Press, Leonis Adobe Museum, the Los Angeles Arts District, Malibu Creek State Park, Noah’s Ark at the Skirball, Olvera Street, Underwood Family Farms, Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, and Zuma Beach.

Check out a selection of recent Lower, Middle, and Upper School day trips!
Students listen to a docent and look at display case in a museum gallery.

Grade 6 students experience the “Art of the Ancient World” tour at the Getty Villa, bringing to life their social studies and art history curricula.

A student creates a multi-color print while in an art studio.

An Upper Schooler in the Advanced Studio class takes part in a mini-monoprint workshop at Josephine Press, a fine-art printmaking facility in Santa Monica.

A student looks a starfish while standing in front of an open water tank.

Fifth graders take a closer look at sea stars at the California Science Center.

Students and teacher sit in tractor next to corn stalks.

Grades 2–4 get a little taste of fall at Underwood Family Farms for their annual Harvest Festival.

Students at a table together assemble soup kits and snack bags.

On a service learning day trip to the headquarters of the nonprofit Big Sunday, Grade 8 students roll up their sleeves to assemble soup kits and snack bags for Angelenos in need.

Students stand in semicircle on an outdoor stage.

The cast and crew of the Upper School fall play draw inspiration from a a multimodal arts education experience at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum.


Overnight Excursions

Middle and Upper School students have several opportunities to venture beyond the immediate region to enjoy multiday, immersive experiences. While taking part in the following mandatory and optional overnight trips, students foster their independence, practice teamwork, develop leadership skills, and create unforgettable memories.

Conferences

During the school year, small groups of Upper School students attend leadership or diversity conferences—such as the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) or Close Up’s Community Impact Symposium: Race, Justice, and Equity—to develop their social justice practice and learn about allyship and community building. Following the conference, the students lead assemblies and activities to educate their peers about what they learned.

Grades 11–12 International Service Trip

Westmark partners with the organization Rustic Pathways to offer an optional weeklong service trip for Grade 11–12 students during the spring (subject to student interest). Visiting locations ranging from Vietnam to Peru to Thailand, students learn about urgent global issues while working directly with local leaders to make a significant impact on the community they are serving. Trip activities have included building and repairing homes, safeguarding biodiversity, and assisting in educational initiatives—all in addition to enjoying the beauty of the region. 

Grade 8 Boston Trip

Over five days each fall, Grade 8 students have the opportunity to travel to Greater Boston to visit historic landmarks related to their classroom studies. Past trips have included touring the following destinations: Quincy Market, the USS Constitution, Bunker Hill, the North End Church, the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, Fenway Park, the Museum of African American History, the New England Holocaust Memorial, Salem, Lexington, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. Evening events have ranged from escape rooms to candlepin bowling.

Outdoor Education Retreats

Middle and Upper School students kick off the school year with a mandatory outdoor education retreat. During the trip, students participate in an array of activities, from orienteering to nature walks to zip-lining. Students sleep in large cabins and share meals together as a community. All activities are led by trained instructors and monitored by Westmark staff.