"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
Burke's founders envisioned a school where along with academics, arts and athletics, students would learn how to be active citizens who were committed to social justice. Not only is civic engagement a pillar of our school, it is also a fundamental component to the philosophy of progressive education.
The following goals guide the Service and Civic Engagement program at Burke:
1. To offer opportunities for students to be involved in service and civic engagement throughout the DC metro area.
2. To integrate high quality service learning in the academic curriculum.
3. To impart a civic education rooted in social justice that develops students’ capacity to contribute to the communities in which they live.
To meet these goals, Burke students in grades 6 to 8 engage in service learning
where classroom learning connects directly to learning in the DC community alongside nonprofits addressing systemic social issues. In grades 9 to 12, students have an individual service and civic engagement
requirement of a minimum of 15 hours each year for a minimum of 60 hours by graduation. Throughout high school, our Service Director, Christiane Connors, works directly with high school advisors and students to identify service opportunities across a wide variety of causes and disciplines that fulfill the requirement.
Burke also offers five immersive overnight trips
that count toward the service requirement. These trips include helping communities in New Orleans and along the Jersey Shore to rebuild after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, working on Pine ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota to understand the Lakota community's history and present circumstances, and engaging communities in Appalachia to learn about the impact of the coal mining industry on people's livelihoods and assist with community renewal efforts. In addition to engaging in community service, these trips provide students opportunities to explore other regions and cultures of the United States, consider different perspectives on our society and bond with their classmates and faculty.
Finally, students engage in justice-oriented projects throughout the school year that reflect current social justice events occurring in the communities in which they live. While these might originate, for instance, in the 11th grade Activism class in the Health, Values and Ethics department, they often find a home in the Justice Club. Click here
to see some of the past and ongoing student projects.