Seniors from Franklin High School’s Arroyo Seco Academy in Highland Park spent some quality time this past semester considering Los Angeles history. With guidance from the National Park Service, students partnered with the LA City planning department to develop trails as part of the CASP (Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific) Plan. The CASP plan is especially significant for the park because it affects future development of the area immediately surrounding LASHP. Not surprisingly, the park figured prominently in the urban trails that the students developed. In fact, after touring the park and learning of the site’s history, students themselves determined that LASHP should be the ending destination for the trails that each team was tasked with developing. Superintendent Sean Woods and Park and Recreation Specialist Stephanie Campbell recently visited Franklin High School to see their proposed trails and talk with students.
From walking to biking to skateboarding, the trails were multi-use and creative, capturing many interesting sites and modes of transport. One team envisioned a trail along Grand Avenue centered on the theme of entertainment. Another originated at a Ramen shop in Little Tokyo, passing a monument to a Japanese American Astronaut, and then through a pocket park commemorating Christopher Columbus. One particularly thoughtful trail, titled “Exploration of the Township,” traversed the area adjacent North Broadway, including Cathedral High School, Johnson Fain Architecture and San Conrado Catholic Mission, which holds a Native American mass the final Sunday of every month. In addition to assets along the trials, students also identified areas for improvement such as wider sidewalks, enhanced street lighting, graffiti removal, and the addition of bike lanes, rest stops, and vegetation.
All the trails shared a true sense of Los Angeles history and contained surprises even for State Parks staff well versed in local history. Superintendent Woods was particularly pleased by the student projects, noting the, at times, arduous process of obtaining an historic designation for the park site. “It’s so gratifying to see the students embracing the history of the park and carrying on with what State Parks and the advisory committee began ten years ago.” Councilman Ed Reyes must also have been quite impressed. He not only addressed the students but spent time talking to each and every team about their trails. By 7:00 pm, as the evening was winding down, the Councilman was still happily engaged with students and immersed in LA history.
Great work Franklin!