An integral part of Seven Arrows’ curriculum and philosophy, Service Learning makes a positive contribution to communities and has become an increasingly prized pedagogical form. As a teaching method, Service Learning enriches and strengthens students in a number of important ways: It facilitates critical thinking and problem solving within the school and the community while helping students master important curricular content as they make meaningful connections between what they are studying and its many applications. Most important, it builds moral character and a passion for actively giving to one’s community.

Our kindergartners are our “Pint Sized Heroes” who support a school-wide Red Cross blood drive each fall. They have also worked in the past on a project with endangered animals, which is connected to the Stone Age unit in Global Cultural History. Finally, they collect and design blankets for delivery to local homeless shelters.

The first-grade class has two Service Learning projects during the year, both closely linked to their Global Cultural History and science curricula: the Seven Arrows monarch butterfly sanctuary (in collaboration with the educational group Journey North); and ecology in our community, both at school and in the Ballona Wetlands.

Second-graders are our school’s “Keepers of the Earth,” a theme derived from their Global Cultural History curriculum, which focuses on Native Americans, Incas, and Mayans. They work with Heal the Bay, integrating Service Learning with language arts and their science curriculum, which is based on ocean and marine animals.

Third-grade students collaborate with seniors at Sunrise Assisted Living to obtain important information about the development of Los Angeles.

Fourth-graders integrate language arts, drama, and music with a project working with disabled children.

In the fifth grade, students practice their written and spoken Spanish as they write to pen pals in Colombia and work with young Spanish-speaking learners at a Westside elementary school.

Our sixth-grade students divide into small groups, and each group chooses a community service project for the year. The students plan, develop, and carry out this project with the support of adult mentors and teachers.

Our school’s vision is to develop ethical leadership qualities in all our students by supporting them as they develop their own ideas and means of serving their community. Therefore, in addition to our Service Learning curriculum, we have an Ethical Leadership program that is purely student driven.

Throughout the year, individuals and small groups of students (from all grade levels) initiate community service projects that are of great importance to them. Not only do these young leaders have to submit a plan of action for project approval, but they must market their projects at school and earn support from fellow students and parents. Previous Ethical Leadership projects include: beautifying Palisades Park, raising funds for terminally ill children at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, supporting children at an orphanage in Africa, and collecting coats for needy families. By sixth grade, every one of our students is expected to have led one community service project and to have been a team member in other projects.