Guide To Summer Service Opportunities for Upper School Students

Sidwell’s service learning requirement mandates that students must complete 60 hours of service by the beginning of their senior year. To help freshmen, sophomores and juniors find ways to complete the requirement, Horizon has created a guide to service learning opportunities provided within the Sidwell community.

Sidwell’s Auxiliary Programs administration offers the Summer Equity & Justice Institute on campus, the New Orleans Service Learning Trip and the Examining the Refugee Experience Service Learning Trip, which takes students to the Texas-Mexico border.

Students on the New Orleans trip, which will run from June 12-18, will focus on the community’s struggles with housing and homelessness. Auxiliary Program administrator Cate Woodward believes it will be “an enriching trip for students” who participate. The trip can help students earn 20 hours of community service. 

The other service learning trip offered by the Auxiliary Programs department is the Examining the Refugee Experience Service Learning Trip, which focuses on the refugee experience at the Texas-Mexico border. Students will have opportunities to meet an immigration lawyer, work at food banks and visit history museums. The trip takes place August 5-12 and also allows students to earn 20 hours of community service.

On the Upper School campus, a number of Summer Equity & Justice Institute programs run throughout the summer. Each program requires a commitment of around three hours a day for about five days. Students who participate will gain five hours of community service.

The themes of the Summer Equity & Justice Institute programs vary greatly, but all of them provide enriching opportunities for students. One program called Ethical Business Practices allows students to work in the Fox Den while exploring other local businesses that uphold ethical practices in their work. Auxiliary Programs administrator Karen McCann McClelland said the goal is to teach students “how you can have a business that is ethical and then [design] a business and a vision around this idea.”

Another one of the Summer Equity & Justice Institute programs provided is GenHERation, which focuses on young women in business and inspires women to achieve their business goals through different projects and simulations.

There are many other Summer Equity & Justice Institute programs the department offers, ranging from equity and equality in sports, utilizing technology and AI to improve diversity and inclusion efforts and refugee reform.

The highlighted purpose of the Summer Equity & Justice Institute programs is to give students a “deep dive into a topic and how you could apply that to something else,” according to McClelland. At the end of each program, students will reflect on what they have learned throughout the week and how they will apply their new skills to their lives.

Students are encouraged to engage with service organizations outside of Sidwell that help communities they are passionate about working with throughout the summer. While the service learning requirement of 60 hours is something students must complete, the Auxiliary Programs department hopes that students will see the importance and the far-reaching effect of the work they are doing.