UCLA Lab School Opens Hillside Trails

Sylvan landscape of the Westwood campus provides socially-distant spaces for relaxation, study, and play.

Students at UCLA Lab School have created hiking trails across from the Redwood Forest that is part of its campus, located at UCLA. In May, a ribbon cutting was held to introduce the school community to the new space.

Christopher Wilson, a demonstration teacher in the Intermediate Level at UCLA Lab School, described the project that his class initiated in order to provide more socially distant spaces for students, faculty, and staff to enjoy during breaks, study, and play. 

Student at UCLA Lab School  looks at flower sculpture
A UCLA Lab School student enjoys her peers’ artwork in Hillside Trails’ sculpture garden. Photo by Alyna Carter

“We started by just exploring the area as a place to be outside when we all needed to be in separate spaces on the yards,” said Wilson. “The project that developed was a set of hiking trails that classes could enjoy.  They named it ‘Hillside Trails,’ and prepped some areas for all students at UCLA Lab School to enjoy and explore.”

After clearing invasive ivy from the area, Wilson and his students developed short, marked trails with geological samples to study; a meadow clearing with stumps to use when sitting, sketching, bird watching, or reading; a small sculpture garden with artworks they and another Intermediate cohort made; and a trail map to lead the way. Future plans for the trails include removing more ivy and replacing it with native plants, creating new gardens of native flora, and adding more student artworks to the sculpture garden. 

In the ribbon cutting ceremony, students recognized with respect that the land where they learn and play originally belonged to a California Indigenous tribe.

“Did you know that a very long time ago, the land that we are standing on right now belonged to the Tongva people?,” noted Intermediate student Eli I.

“In the process of making Hillside Trails we learned a lot of things—from which tools worked for different things, like pulling out ivy or flattening out dirt, to how to connect sticks with wire to create sculptures,” said Intermediate student Margot M. upon reflecting on the project.

UCLA Lab School students enjoy one of the socially-distant spaces for play, study, and relaxation in their newly created “Hillside Trails” space.
Photo by Christopher Wilson

“We also realized it was very fun and enjoyable being outside. We hope future classes will add to Hillside Trails and it will become a highlight of our school.”

Above: Renata Gusmão-García Williams, assistant principal at UCLA Lab School, prepares to cut the ribbon to officially open “Hillside Trails,” as Christopher Wilson, a demonstration teacher in the Intermediate Level, looks on.

Wilson and his students prepared Hillside Trails as a space for hiking, study, play, and relaxation on the Westwood campus.

Photo by Alyna Carter