Three Grades, Ten Locations: Middle School Service Day 2017
Middle School Service Day has taken on a life of its own as it grows each year to engage more students for a longer period of time to benefit a larger number organizations — some at our doorstep and some as far as Baltimore. With the Middle School Community Service Committee leading the charge, our faculty orchestrated a full day of service-oriented activities for our students. The energy was palpable as our middle schoolers worked together — giving back, strengthening our community and having a blast doing it.
6th Grade Service
The theme for sixth grade was an introduction to service. For their first Middle School Service day, it was important that they understand the meaning and purpose behind community service. Before diving into the activities, 6th graders met in advisory groups to discuss different aspects of service: reasons and ways to get involved, results of service, and potential benefits. They also heard from Mr. Bruce Clopein of Sarah’s House. The goal of these introductory sessions was to help our students develop an understanding of service and community building before committing to the process, giving greater meaning to the activities later in the day.
For the afternoon, they participated in rotating service sessions:
- CPR training with Ms. Michelle Anderson and Mr. Dan Mahoney
- Writing cards for returning military service members
- Making blankets to donate to children at Sarah’s House
- Packing food for the Baltimore Hunger Project
“For every grade, we’ve been very intentional about giving teachers the resources they need to prepare for the day ahead of time. Ms. Talbott and I scheduled the activities, but the teachers worked with the kids in advisory to build the necessary background knowledge prior to the day. There are also several debriefing activities planned afterward. So our students get educated about service, do service, and then reflect on their experiences; thinking about what’s the next step and how to continue serving.” — Ms. Kathleen Donovan
7th Grade Service
For the seventh graders, it was less of an introduction to service and more of a step-up in terms of responsibility and involvement. They traveled to the local organizations and could see first-hand the impact their work has on our surrounding communities. Education about service was still a key component but also done off-campus. Ms. Talbott and Ms. Donovan arranged for members of the organizations to talk to our students about what they would be doing and why it’s important.
The seventh graders:
- Packed food bags for Services from the Heart and delivered them to local schools
- Cleaned and painted structures at the Queen Anne’s County Animal Welfare League and spent time socializing the animals
- Cleaned up the grounds and prepared lunch service for My Brother’s Keeper
- Helped set up the 6th-grade activity for Baltimore Hunger Project
- Organized clothing donations, packed toiletries for the homeless, and did grounds work at Light House Shelter
- Cleaned up the B&A trail
- Spent time with residents at Sunrise Assisted Living facility
8th Grade Service
For our 8th graders, this service day was about really digging in and giving back through environmental stewardship. Like the 6th and 7th grades, they too had informational sessions the morning of, prior to beginning their work. For every grade, understanding the meaning of service was equally as important as the activities themselves.
The eighth graders:
- Cleaned up areas of Baltimore for the Civic Works Community Lots team
- Planted trees and did grounds work for the Irving Nature Center
“We feel very strongly that for each grade, their level of involvement in service should grow. We want to make sure that it continues that way — maybe in the future we can add a second day. If we want to say that service is important in our Middle School, we really have to do it. We have to grow every year. It’s a lot of work but we can definitely see the value in it.” — Ms. Diana Talbott
Reflecting on the Day
At the end of the day, all three grades gathered together in Price auditorium for a group reflection led by Middle School Head Mr. Dan Keller. He encouraged the kids to think about the impact of the activities not only for the organizations but for our own community. Mr. Keller asked the group to think about several questions and share their answers with one another:
- What new ideas do you have about service/others outside Severn that you didn’t have before?
- What does 'a lasting desire to serve’ mean to you after everything you did today?
Learning More and Doing More
Middle School Service Committee members Ms. Donovan and Ms. Talbott were inspired to expand our Middle School Community Service Day after attending an AIMS workshop at the end of September, Building Partnerships: Best Practices in Community Outreach and Service. They saw that what we had done in the past was good, but found ways to improve to make a bigger impact on the community and get our kids even more involved in doing good for others. With the support of other committee members Mr. George Yost, Mr. Daryl Walsh, Mrs. Lisa Clarke and Mr. Dan Keller, they worked quickly to turn that inspiration into the biggest service day yet.
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