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Service Learning


The Upper School Service Learning Program is designed to educate students about how civic responsibility and social justice are 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 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 additionally in service outside of the classroom, Brentwood has established a unique service-based honor society, Benefacta, to recognize committed volunteer work. 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, the Veterans Support Club and more. Such service clubs are organized and led by students with faculty 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 assisting with paper work in the office of a non-profit). 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.

K-12 Service Learning Events

16/17 Benefacta Service Hours Due (NO EXCEPTIONS)
all day
Benefacta Hours Begin for 17/18 School Year
all day
Benefacta Ceremony CHANGED: moved from 5/23
MS Field
Senior Service Project Presentations & Luncheon CHANGED: moved from 5/30
EC Classrooms


Best Buddies Highlights

by Sophia H. '18 and ME C. '17

The past year of Best Buddies at Brentwood has been so successful and has brought awareness of intellectual and developmental disabilities to the Brentwood community. We were able to host amazing events for the students of McBride School, including Harvest Festival, bowling, and drumming...

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Best Buddies Bowling Puts Smiles on Faces

by Sofie D.'17 and Samantha G. '17

On Monday, March 6, the Brentwood Best Buddies chapter met with our buddies from The McBride School. Best Buddies is an organization that pairs students from schools like Brentwood with students from a school for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities like McBride to form friendships and bonds. We meet with our buddies regularly and always have an amazing time. It is incredibly rewarding to witness your ability to make a difference in somebody else's life while at the same time seeing the impact your buddy has on you...

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A Sense of Brentwood As Home

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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Elena Cardenas

Student Life Assistant & Benefacta Coordinator, Upper School

James Hughes

Director of Service Learning; English, Upper School
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