Learning Beyond the Classroom
At Riverdale, students are encouraged to spread their wings and expand their minds through a variety of field studies.
Grade School Field Trips and Field Studies
Primary grades enjoy a wide array of field trips complement and enrich the concepts explored throughout the curriculum. Examples of past day trips include the Oregon Coast, OMSI’s paleontology lab, Oregon Children’s Theater, Jackson Bottoms and Luscher Farms. In addition, many community outreach programs bring specialists and guest speakers into the classroom.
In 3rd and 4th grades, learning is extended beyond the classroom through exciting, relevant field trips such as exploring Bull Run Watershed, a canoe ride along the Willamette River with invasive plant removal, a day in the life of a laborer at Fort Vancouver and an overnight “pioneer” field study experience.
Unique educational experiences include a fall field study trip to Mount St. Helens in 5th grade. Parents join the faculty and students for several days of geological inquiry in a camp-like atmosphere. Other significant 5th grade units of study include a space study and a focus on United States history. 6th graders focus on plant life during a biology-focused field study trip to Outdoor School in the spring, and explore World History and Geography of the Western Hemisphere. Both grades participate in the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s classroom Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program, raising and releasing fish each year.
Riverdale 7th graders enjoy a unique field studies program constructed to enhance their focus on World History – a week-long medieval-themed camp in the spring. There is also a service-learning focused “Amazing Race” geo-caching day that takes students all over downtown Portland. The 8th grade field study is a capstone trip to Ashland that ties directly with the English curriculum. Students explore the town and see three or four Oregon Shakespeare Festival performances. Not only does this trip serve as a culminating activity for students’ grade school experience, it also makes for many positive and lasting memories.
High School Field Studies
Each spring, high school students, faculty and staff participate in our annual week-long field studies. These excursions provide the opportunity to use classroom knowledge in real-world, experiential settings.
Annual traditions include:
- A week in Ashland, Oregon, taking in numerous productions at the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival, exploring the sites and completing a nature-oriented service project.
- All freshman and new students journey to Wildhorse Canyon, run by older student leaders and directors who plan the week's activities and supported by many other students who served on the food crew. Participants spent the week expanding their social circles and joining in writing workshops, yoga, obstacle courses, high ropes courses, games, art and group dynamics activities. One student described the trip as “a way for everyone to bond and share what’s going on in their life, and you realize that a lot of the things you’re going through, everyone else is going through, too.”
- At Summer Lake, a seven-hour drive away, seniors use the mountains and deserts of Southeastern Oregon to study the geology, natural history and culture of the rural West. They fill their days hiking and their nights reflecting on their outdoor travels while sitting in natural hot spring tubs made of rocks. While there is plenty of free time to explore and get to know fellow students, service learning is an integral part of the trip.
- Sailing in the San Juans is an educational sailing adventure on the 160 ft. Schooner Zodiac, a 90-year-old wooden sailing vessel, which incorporates as much hands-on learning as possible for the students. Days begin with students working alongside crewmembers to raise the ship's sails and maneuver as needed to keep the boat on course. Time off the vessel is spent hiking and exploring marine and wildlife.
- There are a number of other excursions both in and out of town each year from which students can choose.
- Additionally, students can apply for week-long internships or request approval for independent college visits.