Upper School Service Learning

The Upper School Service-Learning program embraces the values expressed in the OES Service Learning Mission Statement: "Service Learning at OES inspires students to explore their individual and collective power for good, connect to the world around them, create ways to help others, and commit to lifelong service. We aspire to a program that fills the heart and changes lives."

All Upper School students must complete a Service-Learning requirement to graduate. Service must be unpaid, and it must support a nonprofit organization and/or those who are truly in need.

Service-Learning is an element of many academic classes, Activities, and school trips, there are several annual Service Days set aside for different grade levels, and the entire Upper School participates in Mount Hood Climb Service Day each May. The Service-Learning Action Committee (SLAC), made up of US students, organizes Upper School service projects and reviews Service Learning policies.

For more information, please contact Kara Tambellini, Upper School Service Learning Coordinator.

Service Learning Requirements for Graduation

60 On, 20 Off to Start — 2 Projects to Finish
  • School service: 60 hours of service to the school ("ON-campus"), to be completed before May of the senior year.
  • Service explorations: 20 hours of service to the community outside the school ("OFF-campus") before 2nd semester of the next academic year (e.g., between the end of 8th grade and January of 10th grade). This should typically include a variety of different activities.
  • Service learning projects: Two substantial projects to be completed by the Friday before Memorial Day of the 12th grade year (these projects will usually be done in the later high school years, not in 9th grade).

**Requirements for Students Entering After 9th Grade**

“60 ON; 20 OFF to start; 2 projects to finish.”

  • School service: 60 hours of service to the school (“ON campus”), to be completed before graduation.

Entering 10th grade: 45 hours

Entering 11th grade: 30 hours

Entering 12th grade: 15 hours

  • Service explorations: 20 hours of service to the community outside the school (“OFF campus”) before the beginning of the next academic year (between the end of 8th grade and January of 10th grade). The 20 "exploratory" hours must be completed before proposing a Project.

Entering 10th grade: 10 hours (accepting hours done outside of school before entering OES)

Entering 11th or 12th grade: 5 hours (accepting hours done outside of school before entering OES)

  • Service learning projects: Two substantial service learning projects (recommendation: about 20 hours of service each), to be completed by the Friday before Memorial Day of the 12th grade year (it is expected that these projects will be done in the later high school years—20 "exploratory" OFF campus hours must be completed before proposing a Project).

Entering 10th grade: Ditto

Entering 11th grade: Ditto

Entering 12th grade: One project

Service Ideas and Opportunities



There are many ways to fulfill the Project requirement, but to get you started, here are a few examples.

Some OES Programs That Can Help to Fulfill the S-L Project Requirement

  • Hispanic Culture & Communication (Language Department)
  • French Culture & Communication (Language Department)
  • Religion and Social Justice (Religion Department)
  • Science Research Projects (Science Department)
  • InvenTeam (Activity)
  • AASK (tutoring or Day Camp)
  • Greenhouse (Activity)
  • Winterim Service Programs
  • Discovery in a nonprofit organization
  • Some Programs Outside of OES That Can Fulfill the S-L Project Requirement

  • Eagle Scout Project or Girl Scout Gold Award
  • Multnomah County Outdoor School
  • Providence Center for Medically Fragile Children Camp P.L.A.Y.
  • A service trip that lasts a week or more and is sponsored by a church or other organization
  • A semester of volunteer work with TOPSoccer or Special Olympics
  • The Elana Gold Environmental Restoration Project, Catlin Gabel School
  • Multnomah County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Training
  • OMSI Rising Stars
  • About Service Learning Projects


    The requirements for a Project are based on the standards for effective Service Learning established by the National Youth Leadership Council. Each individual student Project must:

    • Address an identified need in the local or global community.
    • Include research on how to serve that need and/or how that need is being served.
    • Involve the student in the process of planning and carrying out service.
    • Be of significant duration and intensity to amount to true service, true learning.
    • Engage the student in partnerships in the wider community.
    • Promote understanding and respect for cultural and other differences.
    • Include shared reflection about the effect of the service on the need and on the student.

    For further guidance, see "About Reflection" below.

    All Service Projects must be:

    • Sponsored by a faculty or staff member through a school program (there are a variety of classes and activities that will fulfill the requirement), OR
    • Offered through a recognized outside program or agency, OR
    • Planned and executed by the student in collaboration with others.

    In all cases, projects must be approved by the Service Learning Coordinator. To propose a project, fill out the Service Project Proposal form. See "Project Ideas" For samples of programs and activities that meet project requirements.



    Your Reflection is your thoughtful and considered response to the Project you did. It can be formal or informal, and it doesn't have to follow any standard model. It should come from the heart and it should tell your true story. Be clear and specific; don't fall back on abstractions.

    Whatever form your Reflection takes, you should include:

    • A brief description of the Project: what need it addressed, whom you worked with, what agencies or organizations were involved, and what you did.
    • Your expectations going into it, and your thoughts about how they were—or were not—fulfilled.
    • Appreciation for those you worked with.
    • Specific stories about what you experienced. Give the details. "It changed me for the better" doesn't tell a story. This is a story: "For two months [after the tsunami] she did not know if her family was alive, cause she couldn't find them. At the end of her story, we were both crying … [I learned that] cleaning up after disasters takes years and years."
    • Consideration of what went well and what could have gone better, and why.
    • Discussion of the effect you think your work may have had on the population, cause, or situation you served.
    • And, most important, reflection on the effect the project had on you; how have you grown, or changed, or learned something, as a result.

    Ways Students Might Fulfill the Reflection Requirement

    • Assigned paper for a class
    • Reflective paper/personal essay
    • Article for publication (OES or outside)
    • Presentation to a group (OES or outside)
    • Power point or slide show, available for teacher, student, or agency use
    • Video or audio production
    • Participation in panel or discussion group led by Corbet Clark
    • Display and presentation for Service-Learning “Showcase” (November)

    Examples of Reflection

    • Outline for presentation to OES Japanese class on earthquake relief work in Japan.
    • PowerPoint on planning a party with the Celebrate Me Foundation for a child whose family is affected by cancer.
    • Daily journal and reflection on the "Giving Science Back" Winterim, preparing lessons plans and teaching Science classes at William Walker Elementary School.
    • "This I Believe" speech for English 10, on a service project in the Dominican Republic.
    • Research-based paper on working in a dementia ward.
    • Presentation for Lower School classroom on working at a panda preserve in China.
    • Personal essay on work with the Elana Gold Environmental Education Project.
    • Reflection paper on leadership of the Midwinter Madness fundraising & philanthropy Activity.

    Service Learning Opportunities Page


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