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Service Learning


The Upper School Service Learning Program is designed to educate students about how our participation in and service to our community is integrally linked to their work in the classroom. The goal of the program is to tie their academic learning to real world issues and community needs, instilling in our students a sense that their actions can positively affect the world around them. Service Learning reinforces our core values of civic responsibility and ethical character development.

Goals of the Upper School Program

  • Students gain a greater understanding of their community and themselves as contributing, caring human beings.
  • Students develop a heightened awareness of and sensitivity to the needs of others within their community—especially those marginalized or underserved—so as to foster a great conviction to serve and improve the lives of others.
  • Students apply academic, social, and interpersonal skills to improve the community. They are involved in making decisions that have tangible results and engage in service and advocacy that addresses relevant, real-world issues.
  • Students develop leadership and team-building skills.

Basic Service Requirements

Rather than requiring a set number of community service hours each year, the Brentwood program incorporates at least one meaningful service learning project at each grade level into an academic course or program, ensuring that all students participate in some form of civic engagement each year. Several departments offer additional service learning projects tied to specific course curriculum. Students also participate in grade level service days and service retreats annually.


To encourage students to participate in service outside of the classroom, Brentwood has established a unique service-based honor society to recognize committed volunteer work, Benefacta, which in Latin means “good deeds.” Students generally accrue hours by working with a service agency after school or during the summer. We have numerous Service Clubs each year that are devoted to service, including the Best Buddies Club, Interact Club, Ecology Club, Animal Allies and the International Outreach Club. All of these and more are organized and led by students with faculty acting as advisors and meet regularly during a designated Activity Period each week. Learn more...

Direct vs. Indirect Service

Direct service entails working with an underserved population or entity that immediately benefits from the work you do. Examples include providing meals to the homeless or cleaning a polluted river. Indirect service includes advocacy and behind-the-scenes work to provide assistance indirectly to a population or entity (e.g. collecting food for the homeless or planning a river clean-up). While Brentwood School honors both direct and indirect service, all major service project and service clubs are required to have some component of direct service to ensure the most meaningful level of civic engagement and interaction with those served.

Service News

Martin Luther King Jr. claimed, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, "What are you doing for others?" As we approach his birthday this coming Monday—now recognized as a National Day of Service—it seems apt to ponder and attempt to answer Dr. King's question. That is precisely what happened this week during the Upper School's Community Time assembly, which focused on "The Power of Community to Improve the Lives of Foster Youth." The assembly spotlighted not only two impressive non-profit organizations, A Sense of Home and Success in Degrees, that are working to improve the lives of foster youth in Los Angeles, but it equally highlight the impact of our own school community on one former foster youth who attended Brentwood School, Emmanuel Benton, Class of 2008...

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by Elena Cardenas, Best Buddies Advisor

Brentwood's Best Buddies chapter gathered on Monday, December 5, for our annual Holiday Party with our Buddies from McBride School. This is our third meeting with the buddies, and as I watched and saw how caring and kind our Brentwood chapter members are to the buddies, it overwhelmed me to see that through all the challenges happening in our world, there is still so much good and kindness that often gets overlooked...

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K-12 Service Learning Events

No Limits 24 Hour Musical Rehearsal
EC Theater
No Limits 24 Hour Musical Rehearsal
EC Theater
No Limits 24 Hour Musical Performance
EC Theater
MS Human Rights Day
EC Gym
16/17 Benefacta Service Hours Due (NO EXCEPTIONS)
all day
Benefacta Hours Begin for 17/18 School Year
all day
Benefacta Ceremony
MS Field

Elena Cardenas

Student Life Assistant & Benefacta Coordinator, Upper School

James Hughes

Director of Service Learning; English, Upper School
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