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Experiential Learning

7th grade students on kayaks at Angel Island

Kirby recognizes the importance of learning beyond the walls of a classroom. Our holistic approach to education includes opportunities for students to learn through experiences that help them shape their understanding of the world while integrating principles discussed in the classroom. These experiences include, but are not limited to, community service projects, field trips and retreats.

10th grade Students walking toward a plantation in South Carolina


One of our signature programs is the grade-level retreat. These immersive experiential learning opportunities occur in the early days of the school year. All grades participate. Retreats help establish a positive social climate. As a school that builds our success on partnership and community, we believe that providing these shared experiences will help students cultivate meaningful relationships with their peers and teachers. Where are we going this fall? Read more.

four students smile on the beach

Service Learning

Service learning is an integral part of the Kirby educational experience. We pair service projects, which are hands on learning opportunities, with classroom lessons--producing a holistic learning experience.

Community Involvement Day was inspired by students who sought partnership and support from Kirby in designing academically integrated programs that serve their community.  Last year, Kirby faculty, staff and students logged over 1,000 hours of service in one day alone.

Students have taken water samples on behalf of the county, worked at election polls, organized school-wide clothing swaps, and more. Students are encouraged to pursue capstone projects for their Intensive Paths or Independent Study courses in their own areas of interest. These experiences build leadership skills and provide deeper insight into social, economic, environmental, and other forces that shape our community. 

Field Studies

Throughout the academic year, Kirby faculty organize field trips to deepen understanding and provide hands-on experiences. Last year, students visited Ano Nuevo State Park, the Santa Cruz County courthouse, the San Lorenzo River, and a professional production studio, to name a few.

"At Kirby, we are given the opportunity to be hands on in our learning. Hands-on learning helps me retain information, and allows me to gain a deeper understanding of the topics we investigate."Kirby 12th Grade Student

8th grade students sitting around white water rafts smiling