With Veterans Day just behind us and Thanksgiving on the horizon, service and giving take a more tangible shape in our minds during this time of year. And in our Middle School, that means intentional programs to teach our students about service, in both philosophy and action. Through Middle School Service Day and the Pay It Forward Initiative, our middle schoolers learn what it means to be contributing citizens of our local and regional communities.
Dedicated to Learning About Service
Middle School Service Day is a full day of activities developmentally structured for every grade level with built-in reflection and sharing time to emphasize the meaning behind the work. With Middle School Dean of Students Ms. Kathleen Donovan leading the charge, faculty work together to educate our students about the purpose and practice of community service. Our students walk away feeling good about themselves with a greater understanding of how they can actively support communities outside of Severn.
As an introduction to Service Day our 6th graders spent the morning discussing different aspects of service including reasons and ways to get involved, results of service and potential benefits. They also heard a presentation from Mr. Bruce Clopein of Sarah’s House before participating 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 BARCS (The Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter)
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' growth in maturity. 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 Real Food Farms and the Community Lots team to clean up areas for Civic Works in Baltimore.
Packing Thanksgiving Meal Bags, restocking the food pantry, and assising visitors at Paul’s Place in Baltimore. In the weeks prior, our Middle School held a competition to encourage every advisory to donate food items to deliver to the organization.
Sorting donations and helping with donation deliveries at Hope for All in Glen Burnie.
For our 8th graders, Service Day was about really digging in and giving back through environmental stewardship. They traveled to the Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills to clear the reserve of invasive species and plant trees. A representative from Irvine first talked to the kids about how their work would benefit the center and the surrounding community.
Not So Random Acts of Kindness
Several weeks before Service Day, Severn alumna Kate Harris ‘11 reached out to our Middle School about an exciting project based on random acts of giving and the “ripple effect," — the Pay It Forward Initiative. The program was sponsored by Kate’s employer. Her company gave each 8th grader a $25 gift card to use toward an act of service with the rule that they must actively do something rather than just give the money away. Each individual or group then wrote a reflection about the experience to share with the entire Middle School. Our middle schoolers were able to help a number of local organizations through this program including:
The Lighthouse Shelter
Arden House by the YMCA
Tyler Heights Elementary School
More Than Words in Our Mission
We believe that students learn best through authentic experiences with the support of adults who model the values of our community. One of the core tenets of our mission is to help our students develop a "lasting desire to serve" — these service-learning opportunities are just one way that we empower our students to become engaged members of our school and the communities that lie beyond our doors. Service is part of our culture as Severn Admirals.