Student leaders look ahead: Representatives from La Jolla high schools share thoughts on La Jolla’s future

La Jolla Shores beach
Some student leaders say proximity to the beach is one of La Jolla’s greatest assets
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

As the new year brings thoughts of the future to mind, La Jolla Light reached out to student leaders at local schools for their thoughts on the future of La Jolla. Below, respondents representing La Jolla High School, The Bishop’s School and La Jolla Country Day School share their thoughts on La Jolla’s resources, such as beaches and public spaces, and the challenges of accessibility and walkability.

What is La Jolla’s greatest asset?

“What I find as La Jolla’s greatest quality is its active, vibrant community. I’m beyond grateful for my experience studying in La Jolla: from using its history as a lens for studying the interconnection of art and commerce to performing my harmonica at senior centers amidst the holidays, I find endless outlets to creativity.

“I feel a particular intimacy with La Jolla’s art landscape. Having explored numerous art spaces, from the historical Quint Gallery to the Museum of Contemporary Art [San Diego], I find infinite inspiration within these outlets to take back to my own art studio. La Jolla shows that learning isn’t confined to the school campus, but something I can strive for in the broader community. There are countless instances when I’ve encountered artistic work in La Jolla, dedicated time to analyzing its artist and their process, then channeled fresh ingenuity into my creations. I feel especially inspired by [the Murals of La Jolla public art program]. During my years in La Jolla, I’ve witnessed murals arise, one by one, introducing new colors and shapes to the community. With every mural, I gain a deeper appreciation for La Jolla and the people who shape it.”

— Katelyn Wang, The Bishop’s School senior class president

“I strongly believe that La Jolla’s greatest asset is the amount of nature that surrounds the community and the ability people have to coexist with nature. La Jolla is very privileged to be located by the ocean with beautiful beaches and many species of sea life accompanied with amazing weather!”

— Evan Estrada, La Jolla Country Day School Associated Student Body co-president

“The beach and weather are, of course, significant assets to La Jolla; however, I believe the walkability and safety are most important.”

— Zach Austgen, La Jolla High School Associated Student Body president

“From personal experience, the [community] of La Jolla is extremely tight knit. It’s never uncommon for the citizens of La Jolla to come together for the sake of getting together, or to celebrate the holidays, or to recognize achievements within the city. The numerous local events that … La Jolla organizes (such as the La Jolla Christmas Parade) allow the people to get together and celebrate the marvelous city that they live in. La Jolla has blossomed into an extraordinary community of people that help each other out in times of need -- as demonstrated through the local food drives, vaccination sites, and charity centers that have become an essential part of La Jolla. Ultimately, it is the people of La Jolla that make this city ‘The Jewel’ of San Diego.”

— Eric Yang, La Jolla Country Day School Associated Student Body co-president

“In my opinion, I think La Jolla’s greatest asset is the location. Such proximity to the ocean allows our town to shine in ways other places can’t. I personally think our town thrives from the ocean; so much that La Jolla has to offer stems from it.”

— Ryan Arrowsmith, The Bishop’s School Associated Student Body Council president

In what ways could La Jolla improve?

“In many ways, La Jolla is defined by its brilliant businesses and venues. I think it could improve through further collaborations with youth. For example, this winter, there was a project between eighth graders at my school and [MCASD], where students developed response artwork after engaging in discussion with gallery educators. In student government, I’ve worked with venues like The Conrad Performing Arts Center to host school events. Furthering collaboration between students and La Jolla would foster profound development and innovation.

“I would love to see, for example, our student organizations nurture stronger connections with businesses within La Jolla, so that when we look for resources, whether that be food catering, venues or service opportunities, we can support local efforts. On Bishop’s student council, I enjoyed connecting with the local embroidery shop to create our class sweatshirts: building a local network of support was meaningful, and this symbiotic growth — of businesses and student engagement — would most certainly brighten La Jolla.”

— Katelyn

“My favorite area in La Jolla is Avenida de la Playa, where the street was closed off and restaurants opened up outdoor seating. I think creating more walkable areas across La Jolla gives us opportunities for community building! I believe that would make La Jolla an even better place.”

— Evan

Some student leaders say more outdoor dining and improved walkability would make La Jolla better.
Some student leaders say more outdoor dining, as shown on Avenida de la Playa in La Jolla Shores, and improved walkability would make La Jolla better.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

“Given [its] wonderful assets, La Jolla is an exclusive place to live. This exclusivity is an issue that needs improvement, as it is difficult for new families to enter the community.”

— Zach

“As a student at LJCDS, it’s not uncommon for students and educators to hear the roar of airplanes overhead or the sounds of the tram traveling by the school in the middle of teaching lessons, assemblies, etc. Although this problem seems to not have a clear solution, it definitely is a distraction to the wonderful learning environment that Country Day provides to its students. Additionally, given the tightly packed neighborhoods within La Jolla, traffic is definitely a recurring problem for the citizens of La Jolla — but also for commuters traveling through La Jolla before and after work/school. Ultimately, commuting through the streets of La Jolla isn’t as efficient as it could be.”

— Eric

“One of my biggest complaints about La Jolla and the ways I think it can improve is the quality of the roads. I think the streets of our town are not up to par and should be quickly improved.”

— Ryan

What does La Jolla need to do or change to be the best community it can be and how do you think it can get there?

“It would be helpful to see more awareness among youth on the history and ongoing projects of La Jolla. For example, many students in La Jolla recognize certain local murals: perhaps John Baldessari’s puffy cloud looming over a palm tree that overlooks our shoreline [on Prospect Street], or Isaac Julien’s shadowy figure peering out a circular yellow-tinged window on Girard Avenue, which, by the way, refers to the myth of Icarus—a story often cited in our English classrooms. It’s not simply unique moments like these where student learning runs hand-in-hand with the life of La Jolla.

Isaac Julien’s ‘ECLIPSE (PLAYTIME)’ was installed March 30 at 7569 Girard Ave.
Isaac Julien’s ‘ECLIPSE (PLAYTIME)’ was installed in 2020 at 7569 Girard Ave., and some student leaders say public art makes La Jolla great.

“Yet, many young scholars know little about projects like the extensive [Murals of La Jolla public art program], an initiative active since 2010. This project has worked as an outdoor exhibition uniting international artists to not only reframe public arts practice, but make encountering these artworks - whether you’re strolling down an alley, peeking out your school-bus window, or enjoying a run along the shoreline — a chance to see the world anew. Every artist that has painted La Jolla worked with a message, along with an intellectual, creative quality that every student can learn from. I would advocate for further school outreach that brings the vibrancy of La Jolla to its students through the forms of learning, service, and opportunity.

“In the classroom, we are taught to constantly look outwards, to fuse our academics with concepts of the real world, when all along, that real world could be our very own seashore neighborhood — our very own La Jolla.”

— Katelyn

“I think that a more official public transportation system could truly benefit La Jolla. Public transportation would allow for more people to get to their destination in a more sustainable manner without leaving any sort of carbon footprint. Having many cars on the street also takes away the opportunity to create areas where our community can come together as one.”

— Evan

“Better public transportation and affordable housing would create more accessibility and connect families outside La Jolla.”

— Zach

Some student leaders argue better public transportation would improve access to La Jolla.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

“Specifically, for the problems that relate closely to LJCDS, the noise of the overhead tram could be addressed by implementing sound-proof glass barriers on either side of the tram’s tracks — especially when the tram is over the LJCDS campus. (That would greatly reduce the noise of the tram allowing for a better learning environment at LJCDS.) To address some of the [above] possible improvements, [San Diego City] Council members and citizens of La Jolla could look to improve the city’s infrastructure organization to make room for more roads to increase efficiency when commuting through La Jolla. By either increasing the number of roads per street in La Jolla or by changing the organization of infrastructure in La Jolla, this could greatly increase the efficiency of commuting through La Jolla on a daily basis.”

— Eric

“One step La Jolla can make to improve the community is to create more walking and pedestrian spaces outdoors. A good example of this is in The Shores. That one strip of [Avenida de la Playa] is very pleasant and I think [La Jolla] could stand to benefit from more imitations or similar concepts. I think this is something the community would thrive from and would be eager to get behind.”

— Ryan ◆