From their first days on campus, Brentwood students learn that they have a responsibility to extend our open and welcoming community outward.
Service learning opportunities are integrated into the Brentwood School experience, taking students beyond the bounds of campus to explore new perspectives. We educate our students to be active and responsible citizens in their community so that they might recognize the dignity of all people, appreciate human diversity with understanding, and desire to enact social justice.
Through service learning experiences in the Lower School, we introduce students to community organizations and the various social issues they strive to address. These rewarding and fun experiences teach students to identify problems and research resources to help address them.
Each year as students move from Kindergarten to 5th Grade, their knowledge of their community grows. Each grade participates in a service project that connects both to the curriculum and to communities throughout Los Angeles. From baking muffins for a local shelter to partnering with pre-school buddies at the Bessie Pregerson Child Development Center, each trip begins with a class discussion and ends with a post-service reflection that helps students process and contextualize their experience.
By the time today’s kindergarteners enter the Middle School, they will have had five years of diverse service experience in practicing the skills of cooperating, helping, caring, and demonstrating civic responsibility.
The Middle School Service Learning Program provides students with meaningful opportunities to develop and nurture a sense of civic responsibility, as they serve others through structured, informative, and reflective experiences. These experiences enable students to develop an appreciation and acceptance of others, a better understanding of the human condition, a desire for social justice, and awareness of local, regional, and global diversity.
Teachers in the Middle School implement service projects that enhance their current curriculum, and students are involved in grade level and division-wide service projects that enhance the curriculum or meet the needs of our local, national, or global community. Advisory groups complete service projects which support people inside and outside the school community. In past years, some of these activities have included the Thanksgiving Food Drive and Holiday Gift Drive during the holiday season, and natural disaster relief efforts.
Students in the Middle School have a number of ways to be involved as they develop their understanding of service and determine how they will shape a future with meaning. Through the grade level themes, advisory, division and/or school-wide drives, curricular connections, and the Service Leadership group, the middle school service program provides an age-appropriate transition for our students.
Students in the Middle School must apply and be accepted to be involved in this organization. Formed in 2013-2014, Service Leadership is a select group of middle school students who meet weekly to discuss issues (school to global) and educate the community. The mission of the group is to increase awareness through education and seek meaningful opportunities for service or action.
The Upper School Service Learning Program integrates civic responsibility and social justice into the classroom experience, connecting academic learning to real world issues and community needs.
Goals of the Upper School Program
- Gain a greater understanding of community and oneself as contributing, caring human beings
- Develop a heightened awareness of and sensitivity to the needs of others within our community—especially those marginalized or underserved— to foster a great conviction to serve and improve the lives of others
- Apply academic, social, and interpersonal skills to improve the community, making decisions that have tangible results
- Engage in service and advocacy that addresses relevant, real-world issues
- Develop leadership and team-building skills
Basic Service Requirements
Rather than require a set number of community service hours each year, we incorporate 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, 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.