All members of the Center community - students, parents, faculty, and Board members - sign covenants stating that they will support the values that build the foundation for Character Education. All commit to promoting the school's core values of caring, responsibility, inclusion, and honesty.
In order to provide our students with a meaningful cross-age experience, elementary students are divided into twenty-six "families." Each family is comprised of at least two children from each grade level. Although every family is facilitated by a faculty and staff member, sixth grade students are given leadership roles within their families. These groups meet approximately six times a year and participate in activities such as writing letters to Veterans, playing games, and sharing ideas about conflict resolution strategies, friendship, and family rituals.
Each elementary classroom selects two children to participate in a two-month Community Service project. Every student has the opportunity to serve a community service representative two or three times during their elementary years. There are five Community Service trips every year, and the representatives plan, participate in, and reflect on their shared experiences. These include playing with children at the Blind Childrens' Center, helping to collect food for the SOVA food pantry, and visiting the Santa Monica Ocean Discovery Center.
Service learning is woven throughout our curriculum and into experiences outside the classroom, many of which call on children of different ages to work together.
Our youngest students begin to feel their impact on our community: EC1 students help to make soup on a monthly basis that helps to feed the homeless, while EC2 students focus on environmental awareness and walk around our community helping to pick up litter. Interested in intergenerational experiences and the needs of others, seniors visit their classrooms throughout the year.
In the elementary school, Kindergarten and 3rd grade collaborate around issues of conservation and the environment, while 2nd and 5th graders focus their efforts on hunger, poverty, and homelessness. Science classes emphasize sustainability at all grade levels, and 4th graders tackle literacy as a service learning focus.
Our 6th grade leaders have a weekly work service experience where they go into a Center classroom to help the teachers and work with the students. They empty all of our school's recycling bins twice a week and they teach our students about the importance of recycling. They help lead their Family's activities and they strive to be positive role models for the entire student body.
All Center students, EC2-6th grade make sandwiches for the homeless on a weekly basis.