Annual giving promotes a strong culture of gratitude with thousands of hours spent by students on community service each year.
Promoting a culture of gratitude and giving back is an essential part of Westside School’s learning experience. Each year students in every grade participate in meaningful and important service projects in the community, expanding their knowledge, citizenship, and leadership in the world around them. These experiences are integrated into Westside School’s academic curriculum, which gives students opportunities to use newly-acquired academic skills and knowledge in real-life situations in their own communities and extends learning beyond the classroom. Ultimately, service learning helps foster the development of a sense of caring for others.
In the Lower School, service is a community effort that varies year to year. Whether students are running canned food drives, gathering supplies for families in need, or visiting the local retirement community, our students are making an impact – and feeling proud of their accomplishments.
First grade students began visiting the residents of Day Star Retirement Home last year. They will continue this year with four to six trips in the spring, where students will sing songs and mingle with the residents. In preparation for their trips, students learn appropriate songs, discuss how to introduce themselves, how to converse with adults in a respectful way, and how to present in front of an authentic audience. Last year our first grade class helped celebrate two 100 year old’s birthdays! The visits are powerful and emotional. The resulting friendships are beneficial to both students and residents. First grade loves their Day Star friends!
To gain further pride and understanding in their work, Middle School students participate service learning throughout the year. Not only are they weeding and planting at nearby forests, stocking shelves at food banks, or gathering supplies for teens in need at Youth Care, they are expanding their worldview and gaining necessary knowledge about the impact of their contributions.
In 2016, the fifth grade class participated in the service component of their Service Learning Project for four months in the spring. In line with their curriculum for those months, students worked to restore a local forest by removing invasive plants and preparing the green space to plant natives later that spring. Through the work of this significant project, the students learned how people, even kids, go about making positive change in their community.