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Multidimensional Torreys

By Dan Lenzen, director of design and innovation
Cultivating success through student intersections and innovative collaborations.
The most impactful experiences I’ve observed at LJCDS occur when students fuse multiple interests and apply skills across disciplines to create unique projects that often influence college choices and career paths. The fusion of seemingly unrelated passions has led to remarkable outcomes, providing evidence of the importance of promoting and facilitating explorations to prepare students for future challenges. Graduates frequently reinforce the impact and importance of this approach by sharing their work and inventions with current students.

Some of these diverse intersections include design and innovation with performing arts, citizenship, athletics and science.

Design & Innovation 

…and Performing Arts
In December, a group of design and innovation (D&I) and theater tech students visited Rick Galinson ’85 to tour the prestigious special effects studio Legacy Effects. Rick is responsible for some of the most famous characters in films and movies (e.g., various dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and Grogu, aka Baby Yoda, in The Mandalorian). His presentation showcased the seamless integration of engineering skills with prop and character creation, illustrating the practical application of the problem-solving approach we teach at Country Day. At Legacy Effects and in his home studio, Rick’s workshop of tools is almost identical to those in the LJCDS Innovation Lab. 

…and Citizenship
Sydney Strawn ’20 was deeply involved in D&I and the Center for Excellence in Citizenship at LJCDS. She discovered her intersection during a meeting with an engineer from the Democratic Republic of Congo. As part of a nonprofit, the engineer was working to increase access to water so women and girls wouldn’t miss school due to the long hours spent retrieving clean water every day. This encounter inspired Sydney to bridge entrepreneurship with international relations and create her own major, Global Commerce, Culture, and Society. She is also completing a minor in social entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia.

…and Athletics
The synergy of D&I with athletics was exemplified by Joshua Church ’13 and his cousin Rob Church. While they were both athletes, Rob was more interested in engineering and finance, while Joshua was drawn to entrepreneurship and marketing. Their shared passion for athletics intersected with entrepreneurial spirit and engineering drive to create Edge Theory Labs. Their company, which produces portable cold tubs for athletic recovery and general wellness, earned Joshua a spot on the 2024 Forbes 30 under 30 list in the Manufacturing & Industry category.

…and Science
Science found its place at the crossroads of passions for Rostam Reifschneider ’17 and Julian Davis ’17, also recognized in the 2024 Forbes 30 under 30 list in the Manufacturing & Industry category. At LJCDS, they won the Diamond Challenge (business) and Cooper Hewitt (design) competitions and were D&I program members and devoted science students. Julian studied management and physics at Georgetown, and Rostam focused on mechanical engineering at MIT. The duo transformed their business, design and science skills into the innovative technology behind Hydrova. These co-founders and co-inventors created a novel engineering technique for turning landfill-bound aluminum waste into valuable, reusable products, emphasizing the potential of interdisciplinary expertise. 

These stories underscore the invaluable role that intersections play in shaping students’ journeys—at LJCDS and beyond. Reflecting on these experiences, I envision creating spaces on our campus that foster continual exploration. By providing flexible environments, we aim to adapt to emerging topics and encourage students to navigate uncharted territories guided by their passions. While we cannot predict the future’s important issues, we can empower students to lead the way through their unique and diverse interests.

La Jolla Country Day School

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La Jolla, CA 92037

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