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Service Learning

An integral component of Sacred Heart education, service learning is, in part, a tangible manifestation of our Goals and Criteria in action. In preparation for a service activity, students learn about and reflect in Religious Studies classes about their local and global communities. Catholic Social Teachings and basic human rights are explored, as well as issues surrounding equal access to services like healthy food, water, medical care, and quality education. Students are encouraged to voice their experiences and opinions, and to share ideas in order to affect change. We seek to imbue all students with genuine respect and authentic compassion for all people and for the environment in which we live.


Sacred Heart’s Preschool - Grade 8 Service Program combines opportunities for service learning and community outreach, supporting continual growth of both the minds and hearts of our students. Each service activity combines learning, action and reflection. The program helps students cultivate compassion, generosity, and respect for their community members as well as broaden their awareness and responsibility for the world in which they live.

The P-8 Service Program is a combination of all school collections, family outreach opportunities and grade level community partnerships. Each grade level explores curricular ties and leadership development, connected with an outreach activity. Students build relationships and support community programs through coordinated opportunities for direct service, indirect service, and advocacy.

P-8 Programs

List of 3 items.

  • All Grade Drives & Collections

    Thanksgiving Holiday Meals Collection
    Supporting St. Anthony's, St. Francis, and community families
    Christmas Toy, Clothing, and Necessities Drive
    Supporting St. Francis Center, SOS, and Street LifeMoves Ministries, and Haven House
    Uganda Lenten Collection
    Supporting our sister schools in Kenya and Uganda
    World Event/Natural Disaster Relief
    Immediate response to a local or global crisis situation
  • Family Service Opportunities

    Coastal Beach Cleanup Day
    International effort in preserving and beautifying beachfront
    REF Classroom Partners
    Spend time with teachers and students in neighboring schools
    Meals on Wheels
    Deliver meals, make cards, or gift bags for seniors
    SOS - Sandwiches/Soup on Sunday
    Prepare and serve lunch for community members that need a meal every 3rd Sunday
    Sunday Breakfast @ First Steps Shelter
    Prepare and share a meal with families in San Mateo LifeMoves Shelter
    Veterans Outreach
    Make cards and treats for Veterans in the hospital
  • Grade Service in Action

    Pre/K Acts of Kindness
    GRADE 1 Campus Compassion
    GRADE 2 Community
    GRADE 3 Local Government
    GRADE 4 Environment
    GRADE 5 Abilities & Veterans
    GRADE 6 Community & Creation
    GRADE 7 Homelessness
    GRADE 8 Leadership, Community, Independent Service Outreach

SHP (9-12) Program & Graduation Requirement

At the high school level, analysis of the root causes of suffering and injustice is coupled with individual activity and contribution. Through service performed on campus, for local organizations, and on service-immersion programs, students apply their passions to enact meaningful change. Proximity and solidarity with people who are poor or marginalized are emphasized in annual service projects. The goal is to bring students from performing acts of charity to actively seeking a just society. Additionally, some disciplines, electives, and upper-division courses require experiential service activities as part of the standard curriculum. Senior independent studies in community service or social justice also help bring students to a higher level of engagement with social justice.

Students must complete the entire SHP Service Learning Sequence to meet graduation requirements. Those who do not meet the annual service learning requirement may not be allowed to begin their next year of classes until project completion. Seniors may not participate in graduation ceremonies or receive a transcript until Capstone Project completion. Transfer students must complete the service learning graduation requirements beginning with their year of entry.

Service Learning Sequence

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  • GR 9 - Encounter Retreat

    The Frosh Encounter Retreat on SHP’s campus represents faith in action and is a combination of service day and retreat. This is an opportunity for the entire 9th grade class to engage with their new campus and the history of the RSCJ, as well as reflect on the connection between God, themselves, and others. Care packages are created for the housing organization, PATH, as students work alongside and learn from their classmates and faculty about the housing crisis in our Bay Area.
    Enduring Understandings: The connections between God, self, and others, a knowledge of and comfort with Goal III, the importance of service to a Sacred Heart education, the Bay Area housing crisis, personal and civic responsibility.
  • GR 10 - Sophomore Service Project

    After completing their Frosh Encounter Retreat, students choose from a list of SHP’s 10 close community partner organizations for 25 hours of direct service. Journals and a final reflection are essential components of the experience. Students may petition for alternate organizations, provided students are in proximity to marginalized communities and engaged in direct service. Students may volunteer with a maximum of two organizations for their 25hrs of direct service.

    Community Partner options:
    1. Siena Youth Center / St. Francis Center of Redwood City (youth/mentorship)
    2. St. Elizabeth Seton School (educational equity)
    3. Catholic Charities at St. Francis of Assisi Youth Club (youth/mentorship)
    4. Boys & Girls Club (youth/mentorship)
    5. St. Anthony’s Dining Hall (hunger/poverty)
    6. Peninsula Bridge Program (educational equity)
    7. St. Vincent de Paul Society (poverty/social justice)
    8. LifeMoves (family services/homelessness)
    9. Samaritan House (poverty/social justice)
    10. Grassroots Ecology (environmental justice)
    Enduring Understandings: a deeper encounter with Goal III, specifically criterion 3: the school is linked in a reciprocal manner with ministries among people who are poor, marginalized, and suffering from injustice, an ability to ask critical questions and investigate issues and reasons that necessitate the volunteerism, recognizing and participating in efforts to make real the Kingdom of God as demonstrated in the ministry and teaching of Jesus; increased capacities of compassion and empathy for the suffering of others.
  • GR 11 - Social Ethics Urban Plunge

    All students will enroll in Social Ethics and participate in one Urban Plunge as part of their junior-level Religious Studies curriculum. An example of service-infused, experiential curricula, this all-day (8am-4pm) Urban Plunge will challenge students to get outside of their comfort zone by safely traveling to an urban area in San Francisco or San Jose. Students will identify, through direct experience, issues of poverty, gentrification, and inclusion within a local urban environment to deepen their discussions in the classroom.

    Enduring Understandings: a direct experience of urban poverty, gentrification, and the effects of skyrocketing rents on the most vulnerable in our community, an ability to engage respectfully in difficult conversations with people from all walks of life, continued efforts to make real the Kingdom of God as demonstrated in the ministry and teaching of Jesus, a real appreciation for the struggle and hardships faced by people living on the streets
  • GR 12 - Senior Capstone Project

    Students will use all they have learned about charity and justice to design and complete a Senior Capstone Project with a minimum commitment of 25 hours. Campus Ministry faculty must approve project proposals. Preparation, reflection, and advocacy components will be more emphasized to help move students from doing acts of charity to actively seeking justice. Here are the three main options to choose from below:
    • Service-immersion Program: A school-sponsored or school-approved service-based immersion program which includes educational, service, and reflective components.
    • Service-infused Elective/Course: A service-infused course, Inquiry Lab, or Independent Study which includes an ongoing commitment to an organization or issue, as well as educational and reflective components.Leadership role in a school affinity group, SJTI, Civic Action Project, or Independent Study (must include 12hrs of outside, direct volunteerism)
    • Civic Engagement Project: Students who enjoyed their Community Partner Project during sophomore year can continue to work with their chosen organization or can pick another with which to build a relationship. Recognizing that the goal is to authentically build community with a particular organization, details about commitment levels and duration for the project will be worked out with Service Learning advisors and the organization itself.
    Enduring Understandings: a deeper understanding of the difference between charity and justice; an awareness of and comfort with key Catholic Social Teachings like a preferential option for the poor, human dignity, and solidarity; an increase in “critical consciousness that leads [them] to analyze and reflect on the values of society and to act for justice” (Goal III.2) specifically with regard to systematic and structural injustices; departing seniors will be challenged to consider how, moving forward, they will act for justice and sustainably become people of accompaniment and solidarity with the marginalized.

Optional Programs

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  • Service Immersion

    Immersion is an excellent way for students to gain real-world and travel experience, while integrating service and education. Sacred Heart offers a variety of school-sponsored, as well as school-approved, immersion programs throughout the academic year and summer. Students may opt for an immersion opportunity as part of their Senior Capstone Project or in addition to it. To be considered, students must complete an application process and need-based financial aid is always available.

    Recent opportunities include:
  • Service Learning Ambassador Program

    A student leadership opportunity presented to SHP students includes the leadership team of Service Learning Ambassadors. This is a group of self-identified service leaders, lending a student voice to the entire spectrum of service learning activities at SHP. Meetings happen every X period and the group commits to living out goal three, criterion one, “The school educates to a critical consciousness that leads its total community to analyze and reflect on the values of society and to act for justice."
  • Heart Exchange

    Begun as a collaboration between the Service Learning and Fine Arts departments at SHP, the HeArt Exchange provides enrichment programs for underserved students from the Siena Youth Center in Redwood City. With the support of SHP faculty and students who lead each session, the program meets weekly during the school year, providing lessons in everything from instrumental music to robotics, from physics to photo editing. An example of a true reciprocal partnership, Siena students benefit from our campus and students while SHP students gain valuable social awareness and concrete mentorship skills.


List of 2 members.

  • Photo of Kelly Power

    Kelly Power 

    Service Coordinator - LMS
  • Photo of Reid Particelli

    Reid Particelli 

    Director of Service Learning - SHP

Sacred Heart Schools Atherton

Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton

150 Valparaiso Ave
Atherton, CA 94027
650 322 1866
Founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, SHS is a Catholic, independent, co-ed day school for students in preschool through grade 12