Students reach beyond school walls in service day

CELB organizes seven opportunities for students to give back


Claire Salvin, Contributing Writer

Students could be found knitting blankets, writing letters, exploring the Charles River, and otherwise giving back to the school community and beyond on this year’s Service Learning Day on November 17. The Community Engagement Leadership Board (CELB) planned the day and offered seven different community service opportunities for students.

Alexandra Kluzak ’24 said she believed the day made an impact on the 225 students who participated.

“In the planning process, we were hoping it was going to be really fulfilling, meaningful, and impactful to the greater Boston community,” Alexandra said. “I was so grateful to the student body for signing up in big numbers. It was amazing to watch.”

Fifteen students tutored young students at the Banneker School, a K-6 charter school which strives for equity and excellence in education. Twenty students went to the Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary to learn about and participate in fall habitat management.

As a member of CELB, Howie Brown ’22 was responsible for reaching out to Mass Audubon. He contacted a representative and figured out logistics of transporting students. Once he figured out the timing, numbers, and duration of the opportunity, he and the rest of CELB shifted their focus to marketing the service day workshops to students.

“When not a member of CELB, I myself participated in the Service Learning Day activities,” Howie said. “It was cool giving other people the opportunity to do the same through CELB.”

On campus, the school offered letter writing sessions with Letters Against Isolation, led by Saffron Patel ’22, in which students wrote letters to senior citizens, and sessions with Boston COVID-Tutoring (BCT), led by David Min ’22, in which students listened to a presentation about the history of the organization as well as its outreach.

“Running a workshop was a very rewarding experience because I got the opportunity to work alongside others that were passionate about our organization and our mission or those who just wanted to get involved,” he said. “It was a joy to teach others about the work we’ve been doing and how we’ve done it.”

Alana Kramer Gómez ’23 volunteered with BCT on Service Learning Day.

“When I’m older, I want to be a teacher. I wanted to get experience tutoring as well as connecting with outside organizations, so I thought helping with outreach would be a positive experience.”

Seams of Hope, whose mission is to knit blankets for children suffering from pediatric cancer, held a blanket-making and information session for 20 students, and Laura Rosi, the CEO of Housing Families, an organization that addresses homelessness, presented to students on how to be an advocate for those facing homelessness. Forty students did a river clean-up to help beautify the Charles River.

CELB also held a gallery walk, during which 30 students learned about Seasons of Service, a program in which students design their own service initiatives. During the gallery walk, Charlotte Goodman ’23 presented on her Season of Service volunteering at Red Cross blood drives.

“I think people were very receptive and interested in what we had to do,” Charlotte said. “It was nice to share what I’ve been doing.”

This year, although there were limitations on the overall number of participants to volunteer due to COVID-19, there were more opportunities for avenues of service than in past years. US Science Teacher and CELB Faculty Adviser Michael Chapman said offerings like that of Housing Families, BCT, and Letters Against Isolation were especially noteworthy because of the student initiative behind them.

“In the past, students had been mostly participants. Now, students have been facilitators of activities,” Mr. Chapman said. “I was really impressed to see students bring in members of our community.”

Mr. Chapman said students on CELB and involved with service initiatives had more responsibility than in the past.

Students and faculty on CELB had equal authority in planning the service day, Mr. Chapman said. His responsibilities involved reconnecting with past partnerships, like the Banneker School and Mass Audubon, and finding new opportunities, like BCT.

Next year, members of CELB hope for a similar number of student participants if not more, Mr. Chapman said, in pursuit of the school’s larger mission of principled engagement.

“In our mission to create service day, I learned that the idea of students living lives of principled engagement is a continual process in which service learning has an integral role,” Mr. Chapman said. “Service learning allows students to really look outside themselves, consider the vast diversity of perspectives that are out there and partner with communities outside of BB&N.”

For underclassmen volunteers especially, Mr. Chapman said, he hopes for a continued eagerness to help others that will go beyond service day.

“I am grateful to everyone who came out: the chaperones and all the students who made a meaningful impact. I know it seems small compared to all the work we can do to make society a better place, [but] this was a very important pushing of the pebble.”