Experiential Education


The mission of the Experiential Education Department is to Explore the unknown, Learn by doing, Lead by example, and Cultivate life-long learning.

At the core of an Overlake education is the ability to step outside the familiar, immerse in the unknown, and learn by doing. Experiential education happens when students engage in thoughtful, interactive, and authentic experiences and follow these experiences with reflection and critical analysis. By doing so, students develop relationships to self, others, and the world around them, and they are able to transfer their learning to future activities. Students must also take initiative and appropriate risks, make decisions and assume responsibility, celebrate success and embrace failure, and develop empathy for oneself and others. These principles are the basis for Overlake’s experiential education programs. Students will have the opportunity to engage in these experiences in both Middle School and Upper School, and through academic classes offered in the Upper School.

Signature Programs

Outdoor Education

Overlake outdoor education programs emphasize cooperation, perseverance, judgment, and leadership by creating an experience in which wilderness activities challenge students to take healthy risks, to be in an environment where they need to take responsibility for their own actions, and to cooperate with others. Whether students are backpacking, snowshoeing, or sea kayaking, they will also develop an appreciation for the natural environment and learn the skills necessary to undertake various activities in the outdoors. 

Service Learning

Overlake’s service-learning program supports the school’s mission of fostering responsibility and cultivating compassion for others by introducing students to the complex needs of their local community. Students are invited to collaborate with non-profit organizations and encouraged to develop a passion for service by pursuing opportunities in areas of personal interest. By engaging in service opportunities such as facing poverty and hunger or environmental stewardship, students reflect on their experience and gain a better understanding of their role as responsible, caring citizens.

Project Week

Project Week courses are as varied as the students who participate in them, and Overlake sets this time aside to recognize the many educational experiences that take place outside the classroom. These experiences may involve projects in areas such as the Arts, Sciences, Service or the outdoors and can happen locally, domestically, or internationally, but all uniformly provide personal challenge, attend to group process, and engage students in meaningful reflection. Students also participate in group reflection in order to present their learnings to the greater community.