On Friday, September 29th, students at Parkway Sports & Health Science Academy in La Mesa were treated to the opening of a new skateboard ramp. Not only did students in the school’s Skate Club have a chance to skate the ramp, but they did so alongside La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools Superintendent David Feliciano and teacher and Skate Club sponsor Patrick Martin.
The ramp, a collaboration between Parkway and the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District’s Extended School Services (ESS) program, brings innovative learning and recreational opportunities to the school and the broader community.
Says seventh grader and skate club member Jeremiah, “I think it’s amazing. It’s so chill. It’s like the best thing to ride on.” In addition to the fun of skating, Jeremiah talked about the importance of the club in making and building relationships at the school.
“When I hopped on a skateboard and met people that know how to skate, I just started feeling really inspired.” When asked what inspired him Jeremiah explained, “A lot of friends are for you; I met friends and a lot of people that are nice, and they’re just really cool to be around.”
Jeremiah also mentioned that Skate Club has built his interest in taking Mr. Martin’s innovative Engineering of Skateboarding class at some point. The class is taken by over 100 students each year and spurs new interest in math and engineering.
How The Ramp Came About
Seeing the popularity of the class and club, Parkway Principal Jacob Ruth began working with Mr. Martin and district leaders to see what it would take to have the ramp built.
“With the combination of those two groups we started thinking about building a ramp last year,” says Mr. Ruth. “We worked with our [ESS] after-school program and split the cost of the ramp, so it will be used by that program as well as our classes and student club.”
Mr. Ruth also sees broader use for the ramp as a way to reach out to and engage the local community. “Our goal is to host clinics for the community, with skate lessons and events; we’ll use it quite a bit!”
Renowned Designer Worked With Students
The ramp was designed and built by renowned skate ramp builder Jim Bell, a San Diego fixture in the skating world who has built similar structures across the country. Bell engaged with students in the Engineering of Skateboarding class throughout the project. Says Mr. Ruth, “He talked to the engineering kids about how he built it, he showed them photos and talked about the construction, the angles, how he made the cuts, and the materials used.”
The process helped students see the way the work they do in class translates to the real world. Continues Mr. Ruth, “The engineering kids came out here and saw the ramp mid-production when they were putting in the structure of it and they were stoked. They were taking notes and when they went back to class they talked about the different angles and how it’s built, and the kind of the structure of it right and how [Jim] made it so sturdy. It was an amazing experience.”
Skating With The Superintendent
Not only is La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools Superintendent David Feliciano a supporter of the project, but as a skater himself, he offered to attend the opening event and skate the ramp alongside students.
“This ramp creates so many opportunities for our students,” says Mr. Feliciano. “It offers chances for recreation, building relationships, and taking ownership of a unique space at the school. It’s also a fantastic way to see how the learning at Parkway Academy translates to real-world applications right here on campus. I’m happy to join in on the celebration and show students that skateboarding is a multigenerational sport that can be enjoyed by all.”