Every Sidwell Friends Upper School student is expected to have significant exposure to community service opportunities as a requirement for graduation. To build camaraderie around service, there are group community service obligations for freshmen. All freshmen in the classes of 2004 and beyond participate in three service activities in small groups for which transportation and faculty supervision are provided (Sophomores from the class of 2003 will also participate in two group service projects this year). Students who fail to fulfill these expectations must complete 10 hours of independent service over the summer before beginning their next school year.
In addition to the group projects, every student is expected to perform an individualized, off-campus service internship. The project should involve direct person-to-person service in a disadvantaged setting with which the student is unfamiliar. This service may be performed during free periods of the school day, after school, on weekends, during school year vacations, or during the summer. This service must:
- be performed outside of the Sidwell Friends School community;
- be a steady involvement in one activity, or participation in more than one workcamp;
- be a minimum of 60 hours completed in no more than one calendar year (or two consecutive summers), up to 10 hours of which can be necessary training and preparation.
- be performed during the 9th, 10th, or 11th grade year (completed before Opening Day of senior year, but not before the start of the 9th grade);
- be completed by all new students entering after 9th grade who have not met the requirement during their tenure at another school;
- be non-paying, volunteer work;
- be performed for an individual or a community whose culture/circumstances is/are different from the student's;
- provide regular, direct interaction with the disadvantaged individual or population being served;
- be approved by the Director of Community Service, and subject to review by the Community Service Advisory Committee as necessary BEFORE the project is begun;
- be evaluated by the student and the project supervisor at the conclusion of the project using the proper forms.
In addition, students must return their Community Service Contract, which outlines and describes their service project, by the end of 11th grade. Examples of volunteer work that might be quite worthwhile but do NOT meet these guidelines include: Sunday School teaching at your own church; Camp Counselor for "mainstream" children; clerical or office work; museum work; animal protection; environmental work without personal application to individual or community needs; medical or scientific research without immediate, direct application to individual or community needs; working for a political candidate or office-holder; working for groups whose programs are inconsistent with Friends' Testimonies. Occasional exceptions are made to certain of the above guidelines when a worthwhile project requires it. Requests for exceptions are reviewed by the Director of the Community Service Program and the Community Service Advisory Committee.