This November our Middle School spent a full day working on service-oriented projects, some at our doorstep and some as far as Baltimore. With Mr. Dan Keller and Ms. Diana Talbott leading the charge, our faculty and students rolled up their sleeves to give back to those in need. As we work together to help others, we strengthen our own community and bring alive our mission to develop “a lasting desire to serve.”
As an introduction to service and Service Day this year, our 6th graders spent the morning learning about the purpose and meaning of giving back. They met in advisory groups to discuss different aspects of service including 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 morning sessions is to help our students to understand why service and community involvement are important for everyone regardless of age or status.
They then participated in rotating service sessions throughout the afternoon:
Making crafts & writing letters for patients at Children's Hospital, UMD Medical System
Making DIY toys for cats and dogs to donate to local shelters
Hand-crafting blankets to donate to children at Sarah’s House
Creating posters about the meaning of service
For each grade, we increase the responsibility and involvement in service to match our students' developmental growth. A step-up from 6th grade, our 7th graders traveled to local organizations and could see first-hand the impact of their contributions. Before beginning their service projects, each group talked about the meaning of their work, expectations and outcomes.
Service locations and activities included:
Planting trees for Blue Water Baltimore in Parkville
Working with the Community Lots team to clean up areas for Civic Works in Baltimore
Working in the pantry and assisting with hot lunch at Paul’s Place in Baltimore
In the weeks leading up to service day, Ms. Kathleen Donovan and Mr. Tim George organized an advisory competition to collect the most number of pantry items for Paul's Place for our 7th graders to deliver and organize during service day. Click here for a fun video of the drive!
For our 8th graders, this day was about digging in and giving back through environmental stewardship. Our 8th graders traveled to the Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills to clear the reserve of invasive species. A representative from Irvine first talked to the kids about how their work would benefit the center and the surrounding community. For every grade, understanding the meaning of service is equally as important as the activities themselves.
Reflection and Purpose
At the end of the day, all three grades gathered in Price auditorium for a group reflection led by Mr. Keller. He encouraged the kids to think about the impact of their activities not only for the organizations but for our own community. Mr. Keller asked the group to consider 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?
Several students volunteered to share their thoughts with the group:
“I realized how much effort it takes to dig a hole and plant a tree. It takes a whole group of people just to plant one tree.”
“The people at Paul’s Place were so grateful for the help we gave them. They had these big smiles on their faces. I didn't expect that and it made me feel really good.”
“At the Irvine Nature Center we helped with pulling weeds and clearing out plants. They have over 210 acres of land and only 40 people on staff that work there. We helped them by covering so much more ground because we had so many more people.”
“It felt really good to help people in the community and to do it with all of us together.”