Oakgrove is a student-led human relations program that was founded by Venice High School teacher Dale Stuck in 1972 as a way to address race relations on campus. The off-campus weekend retreat in the mountains provided students a forum to discuss their feelings and opinions openly and in a safe place, without fear of judgment. In the years since, Oakgrove has continually evolved to reflect and address the changing culture, society, and issues as presented by today’s students.
Oakgrove exists as a forum for students:
- To participate in discussions and activities with fellow students of different cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds.
- To give students a space to speak freely and openly about themselves and their feelings without fear of judgment.
- To make connections with peers with whom they do not usually interact.
- To gain a better understanding of themselves and their peers.
Oakgrove instills in students a sense of community through understanding. Participants create an educational environment that is free of judgment, helping students concentrate on their education and improve themselves. A greater sense of understanding and tolerance enables students to work more efficiently and proactively to improve the school and surrounding areas through discourse and volunteer projects.
The Oakgrove retreat is organized and conducted by a Council of students. These students are selected each semester by the outgoing Council. This unique approach is an integral part of Oakgrove’s model of sustainability. Today, as a program of the Wildwoods Foundation, the Council and Alumni leadership have developed a manual and training process for the Oakgrove program. In 2013, Wildwoods launched Oakgrove on two new schools: John Marshall High School in Los Feliz and the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex in downtown Los Angeles.
Students, teachers or administrators interested in bringing Oakgrove to your school, please contact us: info@WildwoodsFoundation.org.
Dale Stuck, a teacher at Venice High School, started Oakgrove in 1972 to address race relations on campus and lingering tensions following the Watts Riots. When Dale retired, he passed Oakgrove on to David “Gardner” Graber. From David Graber, it was passed to Mark Cohen, then Naomi Sugimoto, and Sam Siegel. In 2007, the Los Angeles Unified School District changed it’s policy regarding liability coverage for off-campus overnight activities. This, unfortunately, led to the risk management office denying coverage for Oakgrove retreats.
Sam (who served as a legislative deputy to then-Councilmember Eric Garcetti) turned to two colleagues who served on the board of The Wildwoods Foundation. Wildwoods’ mission, ideals and philosophies were a natural alignment with the Oakgrove program. Wildwoods welcomed Oakgrove as one of their programs in 2008. In the years since, Wildwoods has established Oakgrove in two other schools, Marshall High School in Los Feliz and the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex in downtown LA.
Over the years, Oakgrove has been steered by the hands of many, many dedicated volunteer alumni: Byron Najera, Sara Sweeney, Kim Grooms, Kaitlin Amorde, Joseph Feinberg, Mari Ogino, Ariana Dunbar, Kate Bleyer, Nicole Romanak and Jenni Fiederer.
Through all the changes and growth, Oakgrove has remained strong and stayed true to Dale Stuck’s original fundamentals due to the loyal camper and alumni involvement, and his wonderful creation has transcended his life.
This semester, Oakgrove will be April 12-14, 2013.
For a more detailed history and purpose of Oakgrove, please read our History section.
For the safety of campers, Alumni Co-Chairs should be informed of students requiring prescriptive medications. All information will be kept confidential.
Sufficient and seasonally appropriate clothes for the weekend
Sleeping bag and pillow
Closed toed comfortable shoes
Comments or questions are welcome.
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