Welcome back to school, BB&N! As the year starts, it’s time to think about extracurriculars. What fall sport will be on the schedule? Any new clubs? Maybe even a job? While these activities seem to arise freely as the first few weeks of classes commence, one extracurricular sometimes fails to make the beginning-of-the-school-year plans: community service.
Do you wait until days before Mud Week to choose a service project, absentmindedly completing the emailed survey as a study break? Do you grudgingly sign up to help out at Cradles to Crayons or on the banks of the Charles just to fulfill the 40-hour requirement?
The Vanguard believes that as a school, we could get more excited and proactive about community service—especially if we design our own projects. Many students thrive on the service opportunities the school provides, but for those of us struggling to find projects that truly interest us, taking the initiative to create individual service plans that directly tap our passions could be really energizing and meaningful.
Those who love English class could teach a writing workshop or read stories to kids at a local community center. Avid sports players could set up a clinic or training session for youth with little access to coaching. Juniors and sophomores whose ideas need funding could apply for the Marina Keegan Fellowship, which supports student-driven service over the summer. With the year still ahead, don’t be afraid to reach out to your communities and use Ms. Kaur and Ms. Sanderson as resources. Get ideas from others who have previously designed their own service projects for ideas, especially if you find yourself uninspired by what the school offers.
Moreover, teachers, how about promoting more service-based projects in class? The Vanguard supports incorporating these activities into the curriculum. For example, chemistry students could use their understanding of changing states of matter and chemical reactions to make ice cream for kids at a hospital. Spanish students could volunteer in Spanish-speaking communities or offer English lessons to those who want them. At the end of a unit relevant to the test, students in any class could teach it to adults looking to get their GEDs.
The Arts Department already incorporates service into their classes through the Hand and Heart Auction by donating proceeds from student-submitted art to selected charities. How can we translate that idea to other departments?
We hope students will construct unique and exciting service endeavors and apply what they know to real-life contexts. That way, community service can become more about love for the good deed and less about last-minute commitment to a requirement.