Community Service

Service to the greater community is one of the five basic commitments upon which Crossroads School was founded.  The program manifests itself at each division of the School in a way that is developmentally appropriate for the age and stage of an elementary, middle, or upper school student.  While each individual's relationship with community service may vary, we believe community service activities provide students with an invaluable opportunity to see themselves in the larger context of the greater community in which they live, and to experience the benefit and fulfillment of that connection. We look forward to seeing this essential element of Crossroads School develop and evolve with time and community input.

List of 3 items.

  • Elementary School

    Service to the community at large is an essential part of the school philosophy. In the Elementary School, it is called "Service Learning" and is distinguished from "Community Service" because the service is actually embedded in the curriculum. Children learn essential skills while participating in service to the community both within and beyond the school in response to a community need.
    Each classroom has a curriculum component that embodies service. Our Kindergarten children begin the service learning component of the curriculum by first trying to understand the meaning of the word "community". They learn about the members of their new school community, with special attention to the staff who enable the students and teachers to do their work. The Kindergarten children also grow and sell vegetables. The proceeds from their sales go to a local preschool much in need of supplies and equipment. Our Kindergarteners and the preschool children visit one another's schools to learn about similarities and differences in their two school communities.

    After reading a fictional book about a blind Native American child, the fourth grade students begin to more deeply gain understanding about differently-abled children. Subsequently the children are invited to study universally accessible playgrounds and to play with differently-abled children their age. These sessions provide a direct learning experience for the children to experience and play with others they might not otherwise meet. Reflection about their experiences leads them to think more empathetically about differently-abled persons and, hopefully, to become advocates for social consideration and justice.

    There are school-wide Community Service projects that are initiated by the Community Service Room Parents and implemented by the Elementary School Student Council. Community Service projects have included collections of change for UNICEF, non-perishable food for One Voice and the Westside Food Bank, and books for public schools in Venice and South Central Los Angeles.
  • Middle School

    A paradox of our time is that community service has developed a stigma of punishment rather than opportunity; of a chore rather than a responsibility. The Middle School Community Service Department is committed to changing this perception and establishing a mindset embracing, “The Privilege of Service”.

    We believe it is an opportunity, a responsibility and a privilege to serve the community. Thus, service in the Middle School is not hourly based, nor is credit given for participation. Our aim is to bring focus to the quality of service rather than accumulating hours. We believe service is a lifetime commitment and by benefiting others we in turn develop and benefit ourselves.
    Mission Statement
    The mission of the Crossroads Middle School Community Service Program is to promote active participation, community awareness, and empathy for the needs of our local and global community.

    Opportunities for Involvement
    While individual students are always encouraged and free to seek a meaningful service project, our department will provide opportunities for students to get involved in community service through our Athletic Team Service Days and Challenge Teams.

    • Athletic Team Service Days
      In conjunction with the Athletic Department, once a trimester, student athletes will have the opportunity to participate in a service project as a team.

      Here is how it will work…

      On the designated dates, all student athletes participating on sports teams in season will suspend practice for the day and commit to an afternoon of service. While participation is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged, as our Service Day will foster teamwork, promote social bonding and allow students to explore a new interest in service. The coach of each athletic team will provide more detailed information about the specific service opportunity his or her team will perform.

    • Challenge Teams
      This new opportunity is open to all students who are interested in a cooperative learning experience designed to facilitate active participation in a meaningful community service project.

      Here is how it will work…

      Middle School students will be allowed to form a Challenge Team (“Team”) to work together to address one of 14 posed challenges. Middle School students of any grade level with similar service interests may form Teams of no more than six students. Each Team must fill out an application listing its Team members and desired challenge. If students would like to form a Team to address a challenge outside of the 14 listed on the application, the team members may seek approval for that by contacting Marcelo Vaz at mvaz@xrds.org.

      Once a Team has formed and agreed on a challenge, the team members will meet and work to develop creative ways to involve themselves in addressing the posed challenge in our local community. More than one Team may choose to address the same challenge, but different Teams may choose different approaches to the challenge. Students have free range to explore all possibilities in connection with their particular challenge and will work with an advisor from the Community Service Department to make sure each Team has a focus and attainable goals for the year. Teams are also encouraged to use the Community Service Department website to connect to existing charitable organization specializing in their chosen challenge field. After Teams have developed a focus, they will have interim meetings and check-in dates with an advisor to make sure Teams have the support and structure they need. 

      Challenge Examples:
      The Challenges will take the form of broad categories for service.
    • Education
    • Pollution
    • Sports and Mentorship
    • Nature and Wildlife
    • Health and Wellness 

    Parent Participation
    By moving away from a mandatory community service program, Crossroads has not changed its fundamental commitment to service. Instead, we want to foster a culture where motivation to improve our community is natural and intrinsic. Parents play a vital role in helping to create and promote the value of service by encouraging participation in the Community Service Challenge Teams. We hope that parents will talk with their children about the value of contributing to the community, improving our environment, sharing their skills or talents with others, or helping to end injustice. We hope that the number of middle school students engaging in community service will increase with this new approach to the program.

    Reflections
    One’s character is sculpted through thoughtful, creative reflections on our experiences and relationships. In other words, at Crossroads, it is not enough to just do. In order to move beyond a seemingly superficial one-time experience in a food bank or beach clean-up, for example, each individual and/or Challenge Team will be asked to create some kind of multi-dimensional meaningful project to share their work and reflections with the community.

    In general, the reflection should detail the service project/challenge chosen and the team members’ experiences. Once the Teams have formed, students will be provided with questions designed to provoke reflection and analysis throughout the year. We hope that by using these questions as a guide, student reflection will change and deepen as the year progresses. Toward the end of the school year, Teams will have the freedom to think creatively about how to represent their service project in a reflective project to be shared with the school community. One Team may choose to create a video reflection; another may choose to write a reflection in the form of a poem. Selected reflective projects will be published online to be shared with our entire Crossroads Community. 

    To learn more about Crossroads Middle School Community Service Program please call (310) 829-7391 ext. 344 or e-mail Marcelo Vaz at mvaz@xrds.org.
     
  • Upper School

    The Community Service Program is designed to instill in students a lifelong pattern of giving, by helping them to develop a connection with the larger society.  At this age, community service is a door to the world, and we encourage and support students to do their community service in areas that reflect their passions--and in ways that leave them changed as much as those they serve.
    Program requirements overview: 

    9th grade Community Awareness class; 5 Community Awareness Hours completed inside of class during that semester.
    9th or 10th gradeOne 20-hour project, done either year; must be completed by the end of 10th grade year.
    11th grade Life Skills/Service Leadership; a 15-hour service project completed during class throughout the year.
    12th gradeBridging Community; combined with Senior Mysteries classes.



    In the Community Awareness class, the primary goal is to introduce students to service participation at the high school level. After reviewing the Upper School graduation requirement, students learn about community service needs and opportunities through a variety of speakers and other experiences. Students are exposed to local service venues such as: OPCC, Westside Food Bank, Head Start, St. Anne School, convalescent homes, etc. The students may visit some of the above organizations during class time so they can have a more hands-on experience. The intention is that students discover a range of possibilities and ultimately find personally meaningful opportunities through service. During this semester (inside of class time) students complete 5 hours of Community Service. This class is graded Pass/Fail.

    In Life Skills/Service Leadership, we bridge our focus from the stories of individual students toward our commitment to the greater community. This class provides the stress relief and group support of a Mysteries class, while simultaneously developing students’ service leadership awareness and skills (including public speaking, delegation, decision making, organization, and working well in a group). Students in this class conceive, develop and implement a ten-hour service project in class while developing a deeper understanding of what it takes to create and maintain various service-based nonprofit organizations. This class is also designed to serve and support students’ academic, social and emotional life, providing a place for students to discuss concerns, self-reflect, gain group support and develop ways of reducing the stress of this period of their lives. Life Skills topics for the class may include: study skills, stress-reduction, time management, creating balance and joy, managing emotions, and the telling of one’s life story as a “hero’s journey.” Students are responsible for completing a minimum of five additional service hours by the end of their 11th grade year in order to fulfill their Community Service requirements. This class is graded Pass/Fail.

    The twelfth grade Community Outreach class is integrated into the year-long Mysteries class. After obtaining a Council Training during class time, the class visits other Los Angeles based schools to both facilitate and participate in Council. This provides an opportunity for our students to learn about others their age in different areas of the city.

    On campus we have many student clubs that encourage students to be advocates for civil rights and social justice. Often these are student-inspired and led. Examples of such clubs include:

    • Teen AIDS Ambassadors: The Crossroads Teen AIDS Ambassadors are educator-activists working towards the eradication of HIV/AIDS. This cadre of motivated teenagers is in the business of persuading others to join the global fight against AIDS, which they believe is the moral crisis of their generation. The Ambassadors are the only peer-education program backed by the UCLA AIDS Institute, which provides the science-based materials that the Teen AIDS Ambassadors use when they make presentations. The program’s mantra is "Knowledge Is Power" — the more you know about how HIV is transmitted, the safer you are. We believe that every person needs this information, because every sexual encounter is potentially an encounter with the most deadly virus humankind has ever encountered. 
    • PRIDE: The mission of PRIDE at Crossroads is to create an atmosphere of respect, understanding and awareness of the issues and concerns of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning people through informative activities, open discussion, and social interaction.
    • Animal Rights: A club of activists whose goal is to go out into the community and educate people about animal welfare. Students present issues to the City Council and are often seen demonstrating in locations like Third Street Promenade. 
    • SEA Club: The goals of SEA (Students for Environmental Activism) are to COMMUNICATE ideas of sustainability and respect for the earth to our community, ENACT CHANGE within our school and our community toward a sustainable future and DEMONSTRATE an environmental conscience. 

    Close to Crossroads, students have performed service at Turning Point, a transitional housing facility; St. Anne School; Westside Food Bank; Edison Language Academy; and Team Prime Time, which is an after-school sports and mentoring program at Webster Middle School, as well as organizations located in different parts of Los Angeles, such as Pep LA, Teenline, and Inside Out Community Arts. Inspired by their community service experiences, some of our students have traveled independently both in and out of the country for various summer service opportunities.

    Because reflection is a key component of meaningful experiential education, we build this in to the service process. Through discussion and reflection papers, we invite students to consider the learning they’ve experienced. These reflection papers are often shared by the coordinators with other students to provide inspiration and an awareness of what is possible in having an impact on the community as well as on oneself.
Middle and Upper School: 21st Street Campus | 1714 21st St., Santa Monica, CA 90404 | Phone: (310) 829-7391
Elementary School: Norton Campus | 1715 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404 | Phone: (310) 828-1196