Our youngest students begin their community service journey by understanding that we each have a responsibility towards one another. Whether that is by creating cards for nursing home residents, or contributing items to a food drive, they begin to develop compassion for the community around them. Each grade adopts a theme for community service, dedicating time to learning about the topic, creating a tikkun olam project, and educating their peers about the issue.
TK/K – disability (students with learning differences)
Our youngest leaders begin their journey with the leadership elective meeting twice a week to develop their emerging leadership skills and plan community-building activities for their lower school peers. Taking on responsibilities to benefit the community is a relatively new experience for our fourth and fifth graders. The leadership elective offers them the opportunity to plan, execute and reflect upon engaging programming.
The lessons learned in Lower School continue to develop in Middle School. Students are able to look outward and determine the needs of the world around them. In conjunction with the holiday of Purim, our 6th graders hold a tzedakah fair, sharing an organization they’ve researched and giving their older and younger peers an opportunity to donate to that organization. The following year, 7th graders spend their B'nai Mitzvah year focused on a philanthropy project in lieu of a class gift.
It is a common misconception that Middle School students can't be community leaders. With intentional lessons, Middle Schoolers can learn that leadership is not bossing people around, but the ability to lead by example, get things done, stretch themselves to do uncomfortable things like oral presentations, and communicate effectively with their peers. Middle school leadership is an elective class which is open for any middle school student who’d like to enroll. The class meets regularly with the goals of teaching leadership skills through practice and preparing students for high school leadership experiences. Students are given opportunities to highlight their strengths and stretch areas of challenge throughout the entire year by participating in planning and implementing town hall meetings, updating the internal student life page, and brainstorming programming ideas, to name a few.
Students in grades 9-12 make up our ASB. Elected and appointed members meet weekly, seeking to create positive school culture through various activities such as spirit days and dances. The ASB is also responsible for leading weekly town hall meetings with topics varying from current events to social issues to fun games promoting grade bonding. ASB also oversees student clubs, ensuring that clubs are up, running, and successful, and is the conduit for communicating club meetings and other offerings on campus. Our ASB members continue developing their leadership skills by listening to their peers’ needs and determining the best way to implement changes that will enrich the upper school community.
By the time they reach upper school, our students have had numerous hands-on and educational programs designed to deepen their understanding of the responsibility they have towards the larger community. Students are required to complete 100 hours of community service during the course of 9th-12th grade, with many going above and beyond the requirement. A number of upper school clubs, organized by students, focus on bettering the community through service projects. Many of the end-of-yeartrips have a community service component, including the Poland/Israel trip where 11th graders work with Israeli children with disabilities.
The last weeks of 9th and 10th grade are devoted to our immersion program. Leaving the traditional classroom and embarking on a fully immersive experience offers students the opportunity to challenge themselves and gain skills they may not otherwise have encountered. Topics of immersion vary from culinary skills to domestic and international service trips. These weeks are a student and faculty favorite, as they allow for exploration of a specific topic of interest. Throughout the immersion, participants are exposed to new ideas, exciting experiences, and a different style of learning. At the end of the immersion, each group presents to the others, allowing everyone to gain from their experiences.