Upper School Advisories Connect With Partner Organizations for Year of Service Learning

More than 20 Upper School seniors spread out along the banks of San Juan Creek and its adjacent bike and horse paths, carrying trash bags filled with bottles, papers, plastics, and various other pieces of trash. All told, they filled more than 10 large trash bags in a short amount of time.
The work was part of their advisory’s yearlong partnership with Drains to Ocean, a local nonprofit with the mission to keep pollution from flowing into rivers, lakes and oceans. The students took part in their first cleanup effort “upstream” where trash around San Juan Creek could eventually make its way toward the ocean during the upcoming rainy season. Future trips will take students “downstream” to Doheny Beach for trash pickup, a small step toward a cleaner and healthier ocean.
While grade 9 and grade 10 students took part in Innovation Block mini-courses this week, St. Margaret’s grade 11 and grade 12 advisories dived into their service-learning partnerships during Wednesday’s two-hour Service Learning and Innovation block, which is built into the Upper School’s schedule once every three weeks.
During the first blocks of the school year, the Upper School advisories dedicated time to developing a partnership with an organization, and participating in a guided workshop which dissected the “why” of service learning, created a better understanding of real needs versus perceived needs, and discussed how students can better serve as strong volunteers supporting their partner organization’s purpose.
For 2021-2022, grade 11 and grade 12 advisories have partnered with more than 15 organizations. While some advisories stayed on campus Wednesday supporting St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Special Camp and outside organizations that could be served from afar, other advisories traveled to help organizations at their headquarters. Three advisories visited The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, one went to a Tustin-area elementary school, another went to Family Assistance Ministries in San Clemente, and another went to Irvine to serve the Jessie Rees Foundation.
Other advisories walked to their experience, including the grade 12 advisories working with Drains to Ocean at San Juan Creek, and two advisories walking to nearby Casa de Amma, one in partnership with Goin Native helping maintain the garden and fruit trees for the residents.
“For most junior and senior advisories this block was the first opportunity to serve their partner organization this school year, but it won’t be the last,” Upper School Director of Community Life Lora Allison said. “Our service-learning program in the Upper School is intentionally designed to build relationships with organizations, which nurtures better learning outcomes, deeper investment and more authentic contributions to community needs. We look forward to all of our students developing these important connections as the year progresses, and in the case of grades 11 and 12, they will be sharing some of these partners with grades 9 and 10, which makes for a leadership opportunity as well.”   
Grade 9 and grade 10 students will serve their partner organizations at the next Service Learning and Innovation Block after Thanksgiving.
An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California
St. Margaret's Episcopal School does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, sexual orientation or national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational, admission, financial aid, hiring and athletic policies or in other school-administered programs.
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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