Signature Experiences

Student-driven projects build context and confidence.

At Pacific Ridge, Signature Experiences are developed at each grade level to augment classroom learning and co-curricular programming, and to address the “purposeful life” element of the Pacific Ridge School mission statement. In the Middle School, these experiences allow students to examine a complex topic from multiple angles and explore the practical applications of their classroom studies. In the Upper School, students are encouraged to delve into a topic that interests them and, through a student-designed project, connect with the school community and larger world. Ranging from integrated academic exercises to highly anticipated rites of passage, the Signature Experiences give real-world context and deeper meaning to the learning process.

7th Grade

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  • VOICE Project

    After researching a current world issue, 7th graders “stand up and speak out” on the topic, raising awareness and proposing possible solutions through video, social media, and other communication platforms.
  • Border Connections

    Seventh graders study immigration and the border between Mexico and the United States in their Social and Community Studies class. After researching and discussing relevant issues, the class spends a day at the border talking with historians, community leaders, and patrol agents.

8th Grade

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  • Rube Goldberg Project

    Using physics concepts learned throughout the year, students build a Rube Goldberg contraption: a machine designed to do an easy task in a very complicated and often wacky way.

  • Purpose Project

    Students take a critical look at a topic that matters to them personally. Working over eleven weeks, they develop an essential question and design a solution that demonstrates their personal connection and makes an external impact on their chosen subject. Students will be asked to leverage the full extent of their middle school learning and various technologies at their disposal to design/build/program/engineer their culminating project.
  • High-Altitude Balloon Project

    After studying heat, pressure, temperature and buoyancy topics, 8th-grade Conceptual Physics students design experiments and build payloads, which they launch into near space with high-altitude weather balloons.

9th Grade

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  • Freshman Orations

    Over the course of several months, ninth graders write, revise, memorize, practice and perfect original speeches on topics of their choosing, which they then present to the Pacific Ridge community. Students research their topics and learn about the persuasive powers of logos, ethos and pathos, while rounds of peer feedback and faculty guidance help them refine their writing and presentation skills. Through the orations process, students learn that age is not a barrier to developing an authentic voice, and that they can enlighten and change minds when they present their ideas in a thoughtful, deliberate way.
  • Muse Project

    Building off of their reading of The Odyssey, ninth-grade students create personal mythologies using modern traditions of storytelling.The project culminates in a multimedia museum event that showcases students' understanding of the power of storytelling.

10th Grade

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  • Planting A Seed

    Collaborating in groups, sophomores identify a problem they see in a near or distant community, and devise a social action project to address it. A number of projects are voted for further development, with teams of students conducting research, developing solutions, exploring financial models and marketing concepts – each student contributes to their project’s and team’s success.  Students learn how to contribute meaningful work toward solving real-world issues, and find connections between their individual strengths and the needs of a group. The winning group receives a grant to help bring its idea to fruition, and all groups can continue as independent service learning projects in the junior and senior year.

11th Grade

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  • Junior Project

    Students identify areas of business, science, arts, politics, social entrepreneurship, etc. that interest them, seek out local leaders in those professions to interview, and present detailed findings to their peers. The process allows students to learn about the sources and characteristics of leadership in a range of professions. It also encourages important networking and interview skills, and encourages students to make connections between their academic and extra-curricular interests and real-world careers.

12th Grade

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  • Senior Signatures

    Seniors develop a project that translates their skills, passion and knowledge of the school community into a tangible project that can endure after they leave. It culminates at year’s end in a presentation, performance or exhibition of a “product” that attests to the people they have become, leaving their legacy with the Pacific Ridge community. Projects can be physical objects (furniture, time capsules), compilations of knowledge (manuals for running existing service learning groups, ideas for curriculum or program direction), artistic works (songs, pieces of art) or anything else that a student feels will contribute to the community.