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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / Westridge School’s Annual Summer Opportunities Fair Draws Hundreds

Westridge School’s Annual Summer Opportunities Fair Draws Hundreds

by Terry Miller
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By Nuria Mathog

Overcast skies and light rainfall couldn’t put a damper on the spirits of visitors at the Westridge School’s 24th Annual Summer Opportunities Fair.

Saturday’s event showcased more than a hundred different activities, including community service, academic programs, art and theater immersion, and traditional summer camps. Posters of campfires and kayaking competed with friendly dogs brought by Pasadena Humane Society& SPCA volunteers.

The Westridge School was founded in west Pasadena in 1913 as an educational institute specifically for girls. Today, the private school offers academic programs for 484 girls in grades 4 through 12 and prides itself on a challenging curriculum steeped in humanities, technology, math and science. Every year, the fair provides opportunities for students to further expand their skills and knowledge.

The fair began 24 years ago when the former head of Westridge, Fran Scoble, decided to recreate an activity event she remembered from Colorado. It didn’t take long for the new fair to gain traction.

Lou LaCasse, Westridge’s assistant to the director of advancement, said many of the programs and activities featured at the fair have been setting up booths for years. Invitations to participating organizations are sent out in October and November, and the groups convene for the fair each February.

“It was very small in the beginning,” LaCasse said. “We had 50 programs and it’s just grown over the years.”

While it’s difficult to say which programs are the most popular, LaCasse said, there are definitely trends. Local programs appeal strongly to parents of young children, while older children tend to gravitate toward the travel opportunities, she said.

On Saturday, there were plenty of chances for Westridge’s younger students and their siblings to get in on the fun. Some children gleefully jumped around in an inflatable bouncy house, while others had henna tattoos carefully applied to their arms. A dozen freshly-made tie-dye shirts hung suspended from a clothesline, adding a decorative splash of color to the scene.

At the booths, members of each organization spoke at length about the activities they offered. Hannah Kessel, a leadership intern at the Institute for Girls’ Development, spoke to interested students about the organization’s relationship-building workshops, which empower young women to create positive friendships. The group offers two main workshops: “Mind, Body, Spirit, Friendship Adventures” for girls in grades 3 through 5, and “Be R.E.A.L.” for girls in grades 6 through 8.

“We focus on building healthy friendships and effective communication,” Kessel explained.

Abigail Kornafel, an 11th-grade Westridge student, said she couldn’t pick a favorite program from all of the available opportunities at the fair.

“I guess in general I just liked looking at all the different activities,” she said.

Her friend Christine Kurohara, also in 11th grade, agreed, adding that she had enjoyed the live music performances. One band, she said, had been composed entirely of the fathers of Westridge students.

LaCasse said it’s important for the young women at Westridge to have opportunities to participate in summer activities.

“I think it broadens your horizons,” she said. “It teaches you that you can go out into the world and expand yourself and become a more well-informed person.”

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