Service Learning

Service Learning is deeply integrated into Harbor School culture. By recognizing needs in the community, addressing those needs, and reflecting on their experiences, Harbor School students develop and enhance compassion, responsibility, and leadership.

We emphasize service to the school, to the community, to the region, and to the world.

- Harbor School Alumni

“…the most important feeling that we were all left with was one of having worked hard for our community. There was work that needed to be done and there was a community appreciative of our efforts. This left all of us with a sense of satisfaction that our work had contributed to the beauty, health, and forward movement of our community.”

Grades 4 & 5 study Puget Sound Marine Life. As part of their hands-on learning, they spend a day cleaning up our island beaches.

Upper Elementary Beach Clean-Up

Volunteering at the Vashon Food Bank and at Northwest Harvest in Seattle.

Students Journey to Northwest Harvest and Help Package Peas for Distribution

For many years, students have spent several days helping plant trees, clean trails, and more.

Planting Trees at Vashon Maury Island Land Trust

Since 2002, Harbor School students have been visiting Vashon Community Care, a non-profit retirement home and care facility, to share activities with our island elders. Several times during the school year, our students make the walk to VCC to play board games, sing holiday songs, or trick-or-treat during Halloween building connections with our elders.

Visiting with Elders at Vashon Community Care

Students team with Vashon Alliance to Reduce Substance Abuse to pick up trash around our island. Their hands-on work helps keep our community vibrant and clean.

VARSA Trash Clean-up

As early as 2002, Harbor School students have been volunteering to tend to our island parks by removing blackberry bushes, clearing overgrowth, and grooming the land through the expert guidance of the park district staff.

Students Tidy Trails and Overgrowth for Vashon Park District

Click the arrows to see some of our Service Learning trips!

We are now accepting applications for the 2024-25 school year:

Learn More & Schedule a tour

- Anita Desai

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”

The Harbor School Travel Study program develops students who are compassionate, curious and strong. Harbor students learn how to be independent while simultaneously developing an even stronger sense of belonging. As they live and work with their teachers and peers, away from their homes and their daily routines, they deepen their understanding and awareness of other cultures, and nurture their own lifelong passion for learning. Their Travel Study experiences inspire them to dream as well as to think differently.

Inspiring students to contribute with compassion to their community and the world around them, is our mission. As such, we integrate service learning into many of our Travel Study experiences.

Travel Study at Harbor School

Travel Study at Harbor consists of planned week-long experiences as well as many day excursions throughout the school year.

At the end of the year, class trips bring the cycle of learning to an exciting conclusion.

Class Trips

Each March, students embark on a further, week-long adventure of their choosing.

Voyagers Week

To begin the school year, all students in grades 4-8 embark on a stay at Camp Sealth on Vashon.

Camp Sealth


Travel Study Expenses

One of the most magical experiences for our Kindergarten through 3rd grade students is the journey to JUMPING MOUSE most Friday afternoons. Jumping Mouse takes place in a lovely, private, forested property situated close to the school. Students have time to creatively explore and become stewards of the natural environment. Each child chooses and tends a ‘magic spot’ in the woods. While there are structured activities offered, many students choose to engage in self-directed imaginative play.

Talk to any Carpe Diem alumni who has moved on to high school or college and you will hear fantastical stories with larger-than-life smiles lighting up their faces. Jumping Mouse gives everyone a love for the outdoors and grows one’s imagination in countless ways. It truly is an unforgettable experience – and how fortunate for us to have such a magical spot right here on Vashon!

Outdoor Education at Jumping Mouse

Physical Education

The goal of our PE program is to foster enjoyment of physical activity and play in every student. The PE program provides opportunities for each student to experience success, to develop a range of developmentally appropriate fine and gross motor skills, to participate in a wide range of games, sports and activities and to reflect on their own personal fitness, setting goals and measuring progress along the way.

In addition, PE provides opportunities for character development, allowing students to develop and practice cooperative supportive behaviors in a challenging and physical context.

Students in grades 4-8 take part in a PE class three times a week with most classes engaging more than one grade level at once. For example, students in 6th grade have one class per week with Upper Elementary, one together with 7th grade and one on their own.

Grades 4 - 8

Students engage in a variety of play-based physical activities. Students participate in individual, small and whole group activities aimed at developing gross motor skills, physical fitness, and teamwork. PE class for Carpe Diem takes place at Harbor School. PE class is a fun filled experience that inspires students to run, jump, and laugh together.

Grades K-3

We strive to have students outside and actively moving as often as possible though from time to time we may utilize an alternative indoor space for PE that allows students to engage in physical activity even when the weather is bad.

We choose to deeply immerse our students in every aspect of their learning through subject-integrated thematic units that foster stronger connections between concepts and lasting understanding.

Hands On Thematic Units

Students venture outside the classroom and beyond our island throughout the year. Connecting academic lessons with life experiences cultivates lasting bonds and builds independent thinkers.

Travel Study and Outdoor Education

Service to our community and our environment is part of school life. Our students experience giving back to our island community as well as places far from home. Connecting to the environment, to one’s community, and supporting a cause that is near and dear to students, brings a level of compassion that is often missing from society at large.

Service Learning