The Vanguard found this year’s Community Day the best one yet. We appreciated the opening assembly, where teachers presented meaningful but concise speeches about aspects of their identities—it kicked off the event in an effective but expeditious manner.
Also, though before Community Day we were apprehensive about the morning identity-based workshops, thinking they could be divisive and limited in range of perspectives, afterward we thought they had been worthwhile, allowing us to connect with those who had similar stories and experiences. From the feedback we’ve heard, the morning was unique and beneficial for many.
That said, The Vanguard believes that in upcoming years we can improve our approach to achieving the goal for the afternoon “action” workshops, which was to better learn about problems affecting the larger community and about ways we can together address them, according to Community Day organizers. We didn’t think the action workshops were as successful as the identity ones because many didn’t present concrete suggestions for ways to get involved.
Also, is only one day of all-school, organized community building really enough? If community building is an institutional priority—which it must be if we skipped classes for a day to discuss it—shouldn’t we consider these topics and encourage discussion about them more often?
To enhance the action workshops and encourage further thought on the day’s themes, how about hosting a Community Day in the beginning of the year? Students would still attend identity and action workshops, but they would also then spend another day participating in service projects after school during the traditional Community Service Afternoons—one day of each Mud Week—that correspond to their action workshop choice. For instance, after attending an action workshop on homelessness and hunger, students could visit Horizons for Homeless Children for a more meaningful, action-focused experience. Or, after attending an environmentalism action workshop, students could volunteer at the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
The event could be held on a Tuesday or Thursday, so athletes in playoffs wouldn’t miss any games.
Students would still select both their identity workshop and service endeavor in the same way as this year—choosing their top three—but instead of just learning about websites, numbers to call, or other resources in their action workshops, they would also travel with their workshop group—three times per year—to volunteer at those local organizations or non-profits affiliated with their chosen cause.
This plan would help us learn about and act on topics impacting our communities in more depth, it would provide more opportunities for mixed-grade interactions, and it would introduce students to community service projects they can continue on their own, whether during a season off, Senior Spring Project, or other free time.
This year’s Community Day helped unite the Upper School and inspired thoughts of how else we could develop the program. By using Community Day to launch more organized, interest-specific community service during the school year, we could strengthen the action portion of the vision and deepen the event’s overall impact.