Community service is not required; instead, it is integrated into the curriculum in the lower and middle schools so that by the time students reach upper school, participating in service and engaging with the wider community is a natural part of life.
“Service is part of the educational foundation of Haverford,” explains Ms. Jini Loos, Director of Service Learning at Haverford.
In the lower and middle schools, community service activities are integrated into the curriculum in a way that helps boys make connections between what they are learning in class and how they can contribute to communities in need. By the time students arrive at the upper school, most are eager to seek service opportunities.
This fall, upper school students were engaged with a wide variety of community service projects: participating in the AIDS Walk, the Parkway Run & Walk for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, volunteering at the Special Olympics Fall Festival at Villanova University, and working one on one with children with special needs in a variety of settings, including a new tutoring partnership with the Overbrook Educational Center.
Ms. Loos is incredibly proud of the work students have done with children with special needs.
“Many boys have preconceived notions of what people with disabilities can and cannot do—but after volunteering they come away with a new understanding and sincere appreciation of how capable individuals with disabilities are.”
Students also supported the annual can drive, which collected over 6,200 cans, the frozen turkey collection which resulted in almost 100 turkeys donated, and the Peanut Butter and Jelly Club, where students make sandwiches to pass out to the homeless.
Fourth Former Brady Stallkamp was one of the students who worked on the Turkey Drive this year.
“Helping out with the Turkey Drive is simple and easy but makes a big difference for so many families in our area during a holiday that is literally about giving,” Stallkamp said. “That is the good thing about our community—that we help out wherever we can and the opportunity to do so is everywhere.”
As a kick-off to EA Day festivities, in collaboration with Agnes Irwin and Episcopal Academy, students helped bag over 1500 lunches sent to nine different organizations. Students added handwritten notes of thanks and appreciation.
Ms. Loos described how meaningful those notes are. At one community organization for veterans, the men sat in a circle and read each other their notes. One of the gentlemen then pulled out his wallet and shared all the messages he had received from previous years’ lunches. He had saved them all.
The Service-Learning Initiative also fosters connections between older and younger students. The Brotherhood Project brings upper school students into the lower school, where they read books and share time with younger boys.
“Upper School boys don’t always realize that they are role models for what the younger boys do; they watch and see that it’s important to the older boys. Then, they emulate that,” Ms. Loos said.
More service opportunities are on the way. Winter service opportunities include the coat drive and the Toys for Tots Holiday Toy Drive, both happening before winter break. The Notables, in support of the Toy Drive, will perform on December 13 at 7:00 p.m. in Centennial Hall. Attendees are asked to bring new, unwrapped gifts for a child. Finally, in January students will hold a gently used clothing drive and a book drive as a part of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day activities.