Fall Field Trips: 7th Grade Service Learning

This week is Fall Field Trip week at L-Dub. Every fall the entire student body heads off campus with faculty members and hits the road, somewhere where they will stretch, learn, grow, and most likely even feel uncomfortable. For sixth grade students, this is their first chance to work on their LWGMS resilience. For seventh and eighth grade students, they are expanding on their foundations, pushing their boundaries, and coming back together as a group.

The 7th grade Service-Learning-themed trip is intended to help the girls and their teachers understand issues facing currently homeless and hungry populations, to humanize members of our community for whom this is a reality, to learn about organizations that are serving currently homeless populations, and to teach ways of advocating and acting toward change.

To prepare for their experience the girls underwent Companionship Training with Kae Eaton, Companionship Coordinator and Spiritual Director from the Mental Health Chaplaincy.

The group also spent time – in class and at home – with the following resources:

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On the first day of their journeys, the girls heard from speakers from Real Change and FareStart, and then they set out on public transportation, bags on their backs, to the following locations to offer their help and support: At Union Gospel Mission Hope Place, a group of girls helped out at the Children's Activity Center and served dinner; at Mary's Place the group offered their services to the Kid's Club and brought and served dinner to the guests at Bianca's Place, emergency family night shelter and home to 40 moms, dads, and kids; a third group brought collected donations of food and supplies to and spent time with the residents of Tent City 3, and then headed to Teen Feed to serve and share a meal with the kids there. The final group went to Jubilee Women's Center to spend some time with the residents and help prepare gift bags and birthday card for them. 

The 7th graders also collected food and supply donations for Tent City 3.

The 7th graders also collected food and supply donations for Tent City 3.

Everything worked out well last night. The Lake Washington Girls Middle Schoolers came ready to work.

The Middle Schoolers were so “into it.” I taught some of them to use the dishwasher and it seemed they could hardly believe that someone would let them operate the machinery. They really liked operating it! Every one of the students was willing to do whatever needed to be done. Of course, with middle schoolers, one does have to give a lot of instructions. (E.g., they poured the milk but I later noticed that they had only filled the cups half full.)

Thanks for putting the whole event together. Donna and I have nothing but praise for the Middle Schoolers. They clearly wanted to serve and stayed on task the entire time. Donna and I were both very impressed with their “work ethic.”
— Steve Layman, SPU Professor and Teen Feed Volunteer

All of the groups then walked or took public transportation to Epiphany Parish to spend the night in their shelter. The Parish has a strong relationship with Teen Feed and also watches out for the homeless in countless ways, particularly in helping people find places to stay overnight. Epiphany hosts Operation Nightwatch, a shelter for a small group of currently homeless men every Friday night. The girls learned about this operation and slept on the same floor the men share on Friday nights.

Today the girls met with Chaplain Eaton to debrief, process, reflect, and discuss what they learned, feel, and intend to do from here. Later today they are making their way on foot and via public transportation to Camp Long in West Seattle where they will spend some time as a group making a plan for their next steps in their Service Learning journey.

On September 23 a group of students will be giving a presentation about their classes' experience to our Board of Trustees at their annual retreat. The Board is committed to using the information our students bring to them to inform their strategic planning decisions in all aspects of the operation of the school.