Giving is part of what it means to be a Wyvern. As a Progressive school, we believe in service to the community and in developing students’ sense of responsibility and compassion. Community service is a key component of student life for all ages here at St. Francis School.
In Preschool, the concept of community starts inside our classrooms. For many of our students, this is their first experience being part of a group outside of their homes, and they are learning what it means to be an active member of the school community. By helping at snack, hanging up their jackets and backpacks, practicing sharing, and serving as classroom helpers, our youngest Wyverns participate in their community. As they develop more independence and understanding of how to be part of a group, they can apply these service experiences beyond the classroom.
For Lower and Middle School, service learning is student-led and is one of the ways that we put our Core Values of Individuality and Responsibility into action. Students get to express their individuality by advocating for issues about which they are passionate, and they gain the confidence that comes from knowing they have the power to effect change in the world. Students learn about responsibility by working as part of a team to decide on and accomplish a shared goal. Working as part of a group to identify a need, learn about an issue, devise a plan, and then put that plan into action is an invaluable experience. They also have opportunities to work with community partners. For example, our 1st graders recently decided to help feed hungry people in our community. They invited Annette Ball from Dare to Care to come speak to them about the problem of food insecurity and how they can help hungry people in our community. The students learned they could host a food drive at school. They worked together to draft and deliver an announcement at Lower School Morning Meeting, and they created posters to hang around the building about the upcoming food drive. They will place collection boxes in the School and will be collecting items through December 17. Service learning experiences such as this give students the chance to develop the kinds of communication, problem solving, leadership, and project management skills that build strong communities while also allowing students to discover the joy that comes from working in service to others.
At the High School, our long-standing tradition of community service dates back to the 1990s. During our six half-days of community service, our students, faculty, and staff are assigned community service sites that fall within one of three major strands: human services, civic literacy, and environmental stewardship. Each site provides a different focus with projects ranging from rocking babies to pulling weeds to packing boxes of food for senior citizens, and more. Students are encouraged to evaluate the needs of their community service organizations and develop plans to help in ways that make sense to the students and the organization; this also helps them learn as they serve. If you are looking for a way to give back this holiday season, the High School WeACT Club is fundraising for displaced populations. Donations and food items (snack food like peanut butter crackers, granola bars, fruit snacks, and applesauce in cups) will be donated to Dare to Care and the UP Women’s Shelter. (They are also hosting a Parents’ Night Out for Lower School students next Friday and will donate all proceeds.)
The St. Francis School community service program helps students from Preschool through 12th grade to understand and care for the world around them and to cultivate a lifelong interest in serving others.