VALLEY CATHOLIC SCHOOL (K–12)
4275 SW 148th Ave, Beaverton
“Varsity” isn’t just a designation for athletes at this Beaverton institution. In middle school, students can earn a letter in service by devoting 20 or more hours per year to their community—in addition to the 10 hours required of every student.
Giving back to the community was a core value of the Sisters of St. Mary who founded Valley Catholic in 1903, and is one that’s woven throughout the middle school’s curriculum. Because the campus houses both a preschool and a nursing home, options for transgenerational service abound. Seventh graders can elect to spend their one free period a day volunteering with one of the sisters—helping in the garden, working in the kitchen, or caring for the preschoolers. And then there is what they do inside class.
Eighth graders, for example, spend at least one class period a week visiting with a resident at Maryville Nursing Home. The visitations form the foundation for part of their Living Histories project: during their visits students compile information and stories from the senior in a book that they will present to the resident’s family at the end of the year.
“It’s kind of a built-in grandparent experience for the kids,” says Hilee Jackson, activities director at Maryville. “And the residents need the visitors; it’s powerful for kids to be able to see that need.” —KC
JESUIT HIGH SCHOOL (9–12)
9000 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy
As part of their school’s Christian Service Program, Jesuit students spend an average of 128 hours volunteering over the course of their high school career. Collectively, that means each class contributes roughly four years’ worth of community service. Impressive, yes. But when you consider that the program has been in place since 1985, the good-karma count ticks an astonishing benchmark: Jesuit students have donated nearly 90 years—a long lifetime—of service to the community.
“Ultimately, our objective is to teach students about social justice,” says program director Scott Powers. “The most effective teachers of these lessons are the people our students serve—those people who understand what injustice means because they have lived it.”
To that end, juniors and seniors commit 65 hours in service to marginalized groups, keeping a journal of their activities along the way that will eventually inform a kind of thesis. In the past, projects have ranged from going camping with children with disabilities to building schools in rural El Salvador.
Senior Joey Grimmer focused his efforts on the homeless in Portland, spending the summer volunteering at Blanchet House of Hospitality, which serves more than 600 meals a day. “We brought joy to each other there,” says Grimmer. “And it’s where I learned to enjoy the little things in life.”
Now that’s something a textbook can’t teach. —AM
THE MADELEINE SCHOOL (K–8)
3240 NE 23rd Ave
Eighth graders complete a capstone service project in which they research a social issue, donate time to the issue through groups like Oregon Food Bank, and then recount their experience in a reflective paper and oral presentation.
PORTLAND WALDORF SCHOOL (P–12)
2300 SE Harrison St, Milwaukie
High school students at Waldorf are highly active do-gooders, thanks, in part, to the school’s commitment to service learning. Students donate an average of 16 hours a year to organizations such as SOLV, penning an essay about their experiences. And each April pupils and teachers alike commit a day to service in support of National Volunteer Service Week and Earth Day.