The Middle School makes a serious effort to relate academics
to local community needs. The faculty is committed to providing students with
opportunities to make meaningful real-world connections that help bring their
curriculum to life. As part of that effort, core classes connect to social
issues through yearlong themes: sustainable agriculture for sixth graders,
poverty for seventh graders and education in at-risk communities for eighth
graders. While Menlo’s Middle School students are not lacking in academic
motivation or positive attitudes, our Community Service Learning Program hopes
that the interweaving of service and academics will feed students’ hearts and
engender a commitment to civic engagement and growing respect for cultural
Students in each grade spend two service days per year
working in the community organizations. Volunteers from those organizations
speak to the students beforehand.
Sixth graders study the effects of huge farms on the
environment as well as on our health. They work in Collective Roots’ garden at
EPA Charter School, harvesting, weeding, mulching and planting crops. They
learn about a broad range of issues, including the importance of seasonal
diets, how many miles their fruit and vegetables traveled, the damaging impact
of pesticides, plastics, safe drinking water, the bee virus, recycling, and our
Seventh graders work at local shelters to better understand
poverty and basic needs, and come to understand the hurdles low-income families
face every day.
Eighth graders have an ongoing relationship with children in
five Head Start preschools in Mountain View for whom they plan a day of
activities and educational games twice a year
In addition to these theme-based activities, each grade also
participates as a group in another day of activities. Sixth graders work a
shift at the SF Food Bank. Seventh graders spend the day in San Francisco’s
Tenderloin District, helping deliver groceries, preparing and serving lunch to
low-income and homeless people living and working in that community. Eighth
graders participate in a half-day poverty simulation activity in which they
role-play the lives of low-income families over the course of four simulated
Students and their families also participate in additional
activities for the underserved as their time permits: Thanksgiving Dinner and a
Christmas Cookie Decorating Party at a local shelter; preparing and delivering
Sunday dinners six times a year for local shut-ins, chronically ill or disabled;
rebuilding or doing chores for the elderly who no longer can maintain their
homes by themselves. You can find information about all the above activities,
as well as others, on the Middle School Community Service Learning calendar.
In the Upper School, students are given increasing responsibility to choose their own issues, agencies and projects to fulfill this educational requirement. A Community Service Coordinator oversees the program and helps students find community service opportunities. The Upper School also maintains a community service club, Knight Vision.
Freshmen participate in a class-wide community service day at Taft Elementary School, as well as select from other community service opportunities, both on and off campus. The day is centered around literacy and mentoring, and Menlo freshmen assist homeroom teachers, lead read-aloud lessons, and run games at recess and during lunch. Students will become familiar with the school and the social issues, problem solve, and reflect on their experience during the Student Life Block.
Sophomores participate in a class-wide community service day at InnVision’s Georgia Travis Center in San Jose well as select from other community service opportunities, both on and off campus. The focus of the day is domestic hunger and homelessness, and students will serve a meal, work in the food closet, clothes, or toys closet, run computer workshops for the clients, read to the children in the day care center, and help with the produce distribution.
Beginning in the spring, each sophomore will develop his or her Personalized Action-Community Time (PACT) proposal for a project to be carried out during his or her junior and senior year. The PACT enables juniors and seniors to build on the skills they developed as freshmen and sophomores and gives them the freedom to create a service project related to a social issue of personal importance. PACT’s most important goal is to encourage students to take ownership and to develop a sense of commitment to purposes larger than themselves.
Juniors and Seniors will implement their PACT as well as participate in other community service opportunities to further their development as active citizens. In addition to carrying out a successful PACT Juniors and seniors are required to participate in at least three Menlo service opportunities.