The idea of actively contributing to one’s community is more than a novel concept at Westerly. Students begin engaging in Service Learning projects in Kindergarten and continue to take on increasingly complex projects each year through Grade 8. Our goal is to create an environment where serving is simply a normal part of life – both on campus and in our student’s everyday lives.
Our youngest students begin their exploration of service learning through our “Community” learning unit in Kindergarten. As part of the curriculum, students identify the various communities in their lives, the people who positively impact these communities, and the ways that they can help as well. Over the next few years, they build upon that learning to take on even larger and more challenging projects that impact the world in meaningful ways, from visiting city hall to learn more about public service, to raising money for UNICEF and other organizations that support less fortunate populations.
During the Middle School years, students take on loftier projects that incorporate intense planning and collaboration. Our structured Service Learning classes allow them to analyze, brainstorm, research and implement actions that can positively affect their community. Students practice the process of brainstorming and engage in the steps of bringing an idea into reality.
Some of our past service projects have included:
- Participating in Million Meals for Haiti
- Hurricane clean-up in New Orleans
- Gift drives for Children Today and New Life Beginnings
- Dozens of partnerships with Justin Rudd’s Community Action Team (Long Beach)
- Beach clean ups
- A lemonade stand to fund a school lemon tree
- Healthy Kids Day
- Mural painting at Century Villages at Cabrillo
- Countless tree plantings around Long Beach
- Stuff-A-Bus donation drive
- Visiting the Special Education program at Webster Elementary for a day of games and crafts
Service Learning helps instill confidence by allowing students to see the difference they can make in the world, even from a young age. It allows them to build high-level thinking skills, develops important interpersonal skills, increases ties to community, and helps create a positive environment campus-wide. Indeed, the program causes a ripple effect whereby Westerly School teaches students, who, in turn, practice what they have learned in the larger community. Imagine our future if all young people embraced such a challenge.