SOURCE: Santa Barbara Middle School

May 29, 2007 09:00 ET

LOHAS 101: Santa Barbara Middle School Has an Edge on Next Generation Marketplace

The One-of-a-Kind Middle School Makes Learning a Lifestyle

SANTA BARBARA, CA--(Marketwire - May 29, 2007) - LOHAS is an acronym for Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability, a rapidly-growing market segment that includes everything from green building supplies, natural healthcare, and eco-travel. Now it includes education. Santa Barbara Middle School (SBMS) has been quietly fostering healthy and sustainable values for 31 years, and is now becoming an educational model for today's LOHAS-minded parents.

How do values of health and sustainability emerge? Sociologist Paul Ray identified this group of people as the "Cultural Creatives" -- a growing segment of the population who make conscientious purchasing and investing decisions based on social and cultural values. Through its unique curriculum, experiential learning, and community involvement, SBMS has been inspiring "Cultural Creatives" for over three decades, preparing 6th grade through 9th grade students to become the leaders of this emerging marketplace.

Experiential learning is an innovative approach to education, which SBMS uses in the classroom and on its many outdoor excursions. The school is well known for its mountain biking and backpacking trips, bringing students together on 7 to14-day long educational journeys in various wilderness environments.

The school has another special facet: to enroll in the school, students must make "The Deal" which is a pledge to do their best at all school-related endeavors. This self-accountability actually transforms students' perspectives on work. Because of the school's supportive environment, parents consistently remark that their children realize a level of motivation and self-esteem they never imagined before -- and along with that, academic excellence in high school and college.

SBMS community involvement is also a driving force in the students' value-based outlook on life. Community Dean, Whitney Ingersoll, who has taught for 27 years at SBMS, runs the weekly Town Meetings and Community Involvement Week, which places students in a week-long internship every year at local non-profits and businesses. Students contributed over 5,000 volunteer hours in the local community last year.

Students often take initiative in projects related to health and sustainability. Among the countless examples are:

--  SBMS alumni and current San Marcos High School student Claire Lauer
    founded "Cookies for a Cause" which raised money for the Rio Beni Health
    Clinic in Rurrenabaque, Bolivia;
--  SBMS 9th grader Theo Tiffney advocates using the local public bus
    system and was recently asked to participate in a MTD ad campaign designed
    to increase teen ridership;
--  SBMS alum and current UC Berkeley student Jacob Seigel Boettner is
    working with the national non-profit Project Rwanda to organize a group of
    SBMS alums to travel to Rwanda this summer to build bicycles for and teach
    bicycle mechanics to the country's coffee farmers.
The growth in the LOHAS industry now signals an opportunity for these young students who have a head start in health and sustainability to become the leaders in the next generation marketplace. Santa Barbara Middle School has all the qualities to help children blossom in academics, values, and importantly, self-esteem -- so they can make the most of the opportunities of the future.

The Santa Barbara Middle School is the only stand-alone co-ed accredited middle school in California, part of the California Association of Independent Schools. It is located at 2300 A Garden Street in Santa Barbara, California. Visit or call (805) 682-2989.

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    Kristian Beadle
    Christie Communications
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