A superb education is much more than gaining knowledge within the walls of a classroom. Our service learning, experiential learning, and leadership and co-curricular programs are fundamental to the Westmark experience.
A key aspect of the Westmark experience is developing responsible members of society who contribute their time, energies, and talents to improving the quality of life in our School, community, nation, and world. These efforts help students to realize their ability to act as positive members of their community, both within and outside of Westmark. In addition, service learning provides opportunities to build leadership skills, develop creative talents, and increase awareness of the world at large. Students may even explore career paths through volunteering and thoughtful reflection. The following goals guide our service learning program:
- To shape young adults who possess strong personal values and who understand the importance and benefit of helping others.
- To develop leadership and teamwork skills.
- To build relationships with non-profit organizations and the outside community.
- To fine-tune unique talents and interests.
- To uphold the principles of community involvement and thoughtful action.
- To learn how to effectively engage with the complex global society.
In addition to field trips throughout greater Los Angeles during the school year, Westmark offers the following experiential learning opportunities:
- Pali Institute Retreat: As part of Westmark’s signature experiential learning program, Grades 6–8 students travel to the Pali Institute in San Bernardino County for outdoor adventures that foster the values of leadership, teamwork, and communication. Students learn to place trust in their classmates, get creative, take risks, forge new friendships, and have tons of fun!
- Washington, DC/Boston Trip: Each year, Grade 8 students have the opportunity to travel to either Washington, DC, or Boston, MA. Students have the opportunity to visit historic landmarks that tie closely to their classroom curriculum. The kids enjoy being together outside of the school's setting, as they gain independence, develop deeper relationships, and explore the nation's monuments.
Middle School students are invited to participate in the following leadership opportunities and co-curricular programs:
- Affinity Groups: These student groups provide a safe space for Middle Schoolers to explore issues of their shared identity; affirm emotional and intellectual responses to inequity; reduce isolation, discomfort, and marginalization; and embrace different parts of their identity. In addition to engaging in social justice issues, students participating in affinity groups develop critical thinking and social-emotional skills, learning how to make a difference through self-advocacy and allyship. Student affinity groups vary each year depending on the student population.
- Clubs: Every quarter, students choose from a variety of clubs based on their interests and affinities. Clubs range in topic from kickball and film criticism to escape rooms and puzzling.
- Eye to Eye Mentoring-through-Art Program: Westmark is proud to host a chapter of Eye to Eye, a nation-wide mentoring program that uses art to help students understand and embrace their learning differences. As part of the program, Upper School mentors collaborate with Lower and Middle School mentees on projects designed to build community and help younger students thrive both academically and personally. It's a rewarding opportunity for mentors to practice leadership and serve as positive role models and for mentees to develop critical social-emotional skills like self-esteem, self-determination, and self-advocacy.
- Student Council: Middle School Student Council plays a key role in organizing the division's quarterly socials. They meet weekly to discuss student life on campus and find innovative ways to foster and maintain an inclusive community and build Westmark spirit.