Ethical Responsibility is one of the three key components of our mission, grounding academic excellence and global engagement as all three components lead students toward a purposeful life. Students in every grade put ethics into practice, locally and globally, in a year-long experiential program of Service Learning. Ethical issues are woven throughout the academic curriculum and the Global Travel program exposes students to ethical issues affecting cultures and societies worlwide. By 11th and 12th grade, students are prepared to routinely recognize and consider ethical issues as they appear in their academic studies and the world around them.

Service Learning

Year-long curricula grounded in ethical principles and societal issues help our students to understand how they impact their communities and the world. Combined with relevant service projects in communities near and far, we instill in our students a responsibility to act, a desire to do good, and the belief they can make a difference.

Students meet weekly to gain academic, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills that will assist them in their projects, which vary by grade. Service Learning projects require students to collaborate with both local and global communities in order to reach concrete goals.

List of 4 items.

  • 7th & 8th-Grade Service Learning: Exposure & Practice

    Under the guidance of faculty advisors, 7th and 8th graders actively engage with three different community partners during each school year. Weekly Service Learning blocks involve field trips, guest speakers and projects that expose students to issues of local concern.
    Head Start/EES: The service learning groups from Pacific Ridge visit two preschool programs (Head Start and EES) in Carlsbad, Vista and San Marcos in order to read to and play with young children. Recent cuts to these programs' budgets have made our work with children there all the more valuable.

    Head Start is the most successful, longest-running, national school readiness program in the United States. It provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. 

    Since 1979, Educational Enrichment Systems, Inc. (EES) has assisted low-income, working families in San Diego County by serving over 1,100 children a year at 22 preschool locations in Chula Vista, Linda Vista, San Marcos, and Vista. EES schools offer an environment designed to meet the social, emotional, physical, and educational needs of the individual child, as well as strengthen and preserve the family and all who influence the life of the child.  EES touches the lives of economically disadvantaged students by giving them experiences that will create a firm foundation for their future, formal learning.  
    ARC of San Diego: ARC is a non-residential facility for developmentally challenged adults in San Marcos, California, that "empowers persons with disabilities, and their families, by working in partnership to create opportunities to achieve their individual goals within the community." Two Pacific Ridge Service Learning groups visit ARC nearly every week. Students collaborate with consumers on craft projects, seasonal activities, music performances, and games like Wii and Nerf bowling. The ARC experience challenges students to learn patience, compassion, and acceptance of those with different abilities.
    Conservation: This group has worked in partnership with the Center for Natural Lands Management in San Diego. A recent project involved the restoration of a local preserve in Carlsbad called Robertson Ranch, where students worked on raking and dethatching the area in the fall and planting native species in the winter and spring. Students in the Sustainability group also learn about environmental issues like water shortages, invasive species, land development, and ocean pollution.
    Senior Connection: The Seniors group partners with ActivCare, a local retirement facility in Bressi Ranch. Students and residents gather to share stories, perform skits, create art projects, and learn important lessons from other generations. Interacting with seniors challenges students to develop listening skills, learn compassion and patience, and confront the realities and responsibilities of growing older.
    Animal Allies: The Animal Allies group visits the Department of Animal Services on Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad to help with promoting adoptions and maintaining the shelter facility. While working with shelter staff and animals, students learn about the homeless animal problem, spaying and neutering, responsible pet ownership, and animal safety. Other projects include letter-writing campaigns to prevent testing on animals and discourage animal cruelty practices around the world. 
    Jefferson Elementary: This group teaches Spanish vocabulary and grammar to 4th graders at a local elementary school. Pacific Ridge students learn about socio-economic diversity in North County and early education strategies.

    Trails: Students partner with the City of Carlsbad Parks & Recreation Department to maintain public paths along El Fuerte Street, learn about local ecosystems, remove invasive species, post plant/animal/insect Identifications on kiosks, understand the watershed system, and grow their awareness of the impact we have on our environment.
    La Posada: This group supports a local shelter for migrant workers and homeless men. Students build empathy for people in difficult circumstances and learn about social and economic issues connected to homelessness in San Diego County by helping in the kitchen, decorating social areas, sorting clothing donations and assisting staff at a Vista thrift store that benefits the shelter.

  • 9th-Grade Service Learning: Training & Collaboration

    Ninth graders spend most of their year in the Service Learning Incubator, practicing how to serve others effectively and building their personal strengths and interests. Through this program, students develop crucial skills and understandings such as collaboration, outreach, empathy, and informed investigation. The Incubator format allows students to become social entrepreneurs-in-training by working in small groups and consulting with local experts. Faculty advisors also guide students in how to approach real-world issues such as social justice, immigration and the border, educational access, and homelessness.
  • 10th, 11th & 12th-Grade Service Learning: Leadership & Initiative

    In the final three years of high school, Service Learning is defined by student-directed action. Students may start, join or lead a service group, execute an independent project, or design a travel experience grounded in service. 
    10th through 12th-grade Service Learning groups have included:
    A Million Knots seeks to improve educational opportunities for underserved girls in India through fundraising and awareness campaigns. 

     (Alternative Energy Sources) works with local businesses and international partners to develop alternative energy sources such as biofuels and solar briefcases.
    Bird's Nest sells school spiritwear and gear through its student-run store, with profits benefitting Service Learning groups at Pacific Ridge School.
    Buddy Project forms relationships with special-needs children through a partnership with the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), Flora Vista and La Costa Heights Elementary School.

    Building Blocks partners with Head Start and Educational Enrichment Systems, Inc. (EES) to promote creativity and confidence in the children through crafts, games, and projects. 

    Educating Near & Far strives to empower and educate children in the community and worldwide by sponsoring STEM workshops and raising money to build a school in a developing country. 

    Friends of Hands of Peace is dedicated to the advancement and improvement of the Hands of Peace organization. Hands of Peace is an interfaith organization designed to bring Israeli, Palestinian, and American teens together to discuss the Middle East conflict. 

    FAST (Friends Assisting Special Needs Teenagers) travels to the Country School every other week to run a clubs program for special needs students.
    Food for Thought partners with SuperKids for SuperFoods in educating the local community on food and nutrition, and makes healthy, nutritious meals to donate to those in need.

    Global School Connections aids the LiMing School in China’s Yunnan Province by providing sustainable help to kids in need. The group also supports children in Haiti, India and Vietnam.
    Global Vantage provides an online and print platform through which students and school communities share stories and thereby form relationships across geographical and cultural boundaries.
    Lingo Online forges personal connections, develops friendships, and promotes cultural understanding by teaching English to local schools and to students in other countries through video chat.
    New Haven Night Shelter supports Haven Night Shelter in Cape Town, South Africa, by collecting supplies and fundraising.

    New Ocean Blue educates local children and the community about plastic and the ocean gyres, promotes the use of sustainable materials, and initiates preventative cleanups.
    NKT Connections aids Raksha, a women’s shelter in Nepal, coordinates sack-gardening in Kenya, supports the Tibet Girls School, and contributes to international projects through Kiva Microfunds.

    Notes of Hope uses the power of music to promote happiness and well-being during monthly performances for audiences in retirement homes, hospitals, and other care facilities. 

    On Pointe members teach a dance program at the Bressi Ranch Boys & Girls Club, assist Girl Scout troops seeking a dance patch, and support local and international dancers whose families are in need.
    One Step Back, Two Steps Forward members travel to a local elementary school each week, where they develop friendships with young students as they work on projects together.
    Phoenix Foundation educates the local community about cancer, establishes relationships with cancer survivors, and aspires to establish a Pacific Ridge School sponsored scholarship for cancer survivors attending college.
    Playing for a Difference coordinates with Sports For Exceptional Athletes, using sports as a tool to share expertise and encourage special needs athletes to reach their full potential, and partners with Grassroot Soccer Association to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in various African nations.
    P.R.O.S.A. (Pacific Ridge Organization for Saving Animals) supports the Rancho Coastal Humane Society by providing hands-on assistance at the shelter once a week.
    Second to None partners with a U.S. Marine platoon stationed in Camp Pendleton. While the troops are deployed, group members send care packages for troops and work with Camp Pendleton to help support family members at home.
    StoryShips develops face-to-face relationships with members of school, local, and elderly communities to learn about others’ lives and ideas, preserve personal histories, and instill the importance of storytelling.
    Student Inclusivity Team works to provide a student voice in developing a strategic plan for the school as it pertains to issues of equity, inclusivity, diversity, etc.

    Tech Team
     lends technical expertise to Pacific Ridge Service Learning groups by creating training videos and documents, and working on Google sites for various groups and teachers.

  • Independent Service Learning: Entrepreneurship

    Upper school students may also pursue a service project individually or in small groups of two or three. Recent projects include:
    • Acquiring and distributing AEDs (Automatic External Defibrillators) to a school in Escondido
    • Creating plans to transform an immobile bus into a thriving school library in Mexcio
    • Sharing an English-Farsi language software program with remote schools in Iran and eastern Turkey
    • Working with local organizations to start a battery recycling program on the Pacific Ridge campus
    • Creating a music curriculum in order to offer music instruction in local schools that do not offer music classes
    • Making a documentary video about the Community Coaching Center to spread word about its work with autistic children
    • Learning and sharing stories of homeless war veterans in the San Diego area
    • Developing and presenting curricula to teach local elementary school students about bullying prevention


In a community that fosters academic excellence, ethical responsibility and global engagement, Pacific Ridge School prepares students for college and a purposeful life.

    • Germaine Jackson, Director of Service Learning