Because a WIS goal is to prepare students for a life of active, responsible, community engagement, service is a key part of the curriculum. Students engage in numerous and wide-ranging endeavors from fundraising and environmental improvement to involvement with local and international service agencies worldwide. Through these efforts, students gain insight into the problems faced by others and the satisfaction of knowing they may have made a difference.
At the Primary School, students are introduced to service learning in a variety of ways. All Units of Inquiry include an action component, where students reflect and take appropriate actions; often, these actions take the form of community service. Students have helped to organize clothing and book drives for those in need; they have created bags of necessities to pass out to people experiencing homelessness in the DC area; they have raised money for UNICEF during their annual “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” each October; they have examined some processes at school and proposed changes that would benefit the environment. Additionally, a key component of the Grade 5 Exhibition is each team’s creation of an action plan they can implement as a result of their investigations.
In Grades 6-8 there is no specific community service requirement, but efforts are integrated into the curriculum and students are encouraged to pursue service interests outside of class. For example, Grade 6 students partner with students at Marie Reed Elementary School for Reading Buddies once a month, while Grade 7 students spend at least two days during the year volunteering at local organizations, such as DC Central Kitchen, the Tregaron Conservancy, Capital Area Food Bank, and Seabury Resources for the Aging. Students in Grade 8 have the option to enroll in an elective called LearnServe, where they create an organization (including a mission statement and business plan) that will help improve their community in a meaningful way.
Students in Grades 9 and 10 must complete a total of 20 hours of service, some of which may be on-campus activities. Additionally, Grade 9 students complete a day of service during their Activities Week in March, while Grade 10 students spend time at various organizations (Habitat for Humanity, Wetlands Restoration, and Harvest Food Pantry) in New Orleans during their class trip.
As part of the IB Diploma Program, a minimum of 60 hours of outside volunteer service is required in Grades 11 and 12, and WIS students regularly exceed this amount. For example, the Class of 2019 performed over 6,600 service hours with over 50 organizations around the world. Participation and leadership in school clubs and activities may also count toward in-school service. Upper School students also have the option of participating in school-organized trips (during Spring Break or summer) with a service component; recent trips have had a focus on global health issues.
- Bikes for the World
- Capital Area Food Bank
- DC Central Kitchen
- Greater DC Diaper Bank
- Habitat for Humanity
- Humane Rescue Alliance
- Martha's Table
- Tregaron Conservancy
- A Wider Circle