The sophomore year at University School of Milwaukee focuses on service and service learning, as the school works to prepare students as citizens who engage in their local and global communities. In their final year as underclassmen in the Upper School, our 10th graders begin their next step between their transitional freshman year and the start of their journey as upperclassmen in 11th grade. By the end of their sophomore year, students will better understand responsibility, time management, independence, and the impact of their decisions on others.
Although the service work may start during their freshman year, sophomores are required to complete at least 20 hours of community service at three different nonprofit locations by the end of 10th grade. The goal is to give each student an introduction to community service by working in a variety of communities of need within the greater Milwaukee area. Students who show great interest in the 9th grade Community Engagement Program are also invited to join the Distinction in Service Leadership program in their sophomore year.
Students also tend to discover themselves more in 10th grade, showing and desiring more independence overall, and advisors, faculty, and counselors work with both students and their families. This is also typically a year when students begin to explore and take more risks, including the exploration of social-emotional issues, which is why a safe and supportive school environment is so important.
Sophomores are encouraged to choose their academic courses mindfully and participate in extracurricular activities wisely, as the curriculum begins to become more challenging for students during this year. In 10th grade, students typically have a maximum of 40 minutes of homework per class meeting, and no homework is assigned over breaks. For Advanced Placement courses, faculty may assign a maximum of 60 minutes of homework per class meeting and also one assignment (60 minutes) over school breaks. There may also be up to three hours of homework over summer vacation for Advanced Placement courses.
Early in the sophomore year, 10th graders take part in two day-long community service retreat days. The purpose of the retreat is to build awareness in our students of the many communities within the greater Milwaukee area and to encourage them to develop their own ideas about community service. These two days offer sophomores the opportunity to see a local organization and serve it and its people, and advising group discussions also allow for the sharing of unique experiences. In addition, the sophomore class works each year to plan Homecoming themes and activities. Leadership roles on the Upper School student council, sophomore class board, and as House captains are available to interested students. Our 10th graders also develop friendships and engage in social activities with our prekindergarten students, including reading sessions and event poster-making for school activities, with the sophomores serving as role models for our youngest learners.