As many of you already know from previous years, 7th graders at Park and Terrill Middle Schools participate in an independent service-learning project every February through May. This project requires them to select a community issue that interests them, research it, and design and implement an action plan to address that issue. We thank everyone who has assisted our students through this process in the past, and we are excited to once again have our students get out into the “real world” in the upcoming months.
One of the key features of this project is an emphasis on hands-on service and direct interaction with community members. While this is an exciting prospect, it can also present certain challenges. In the past, students have volunteered at local hospitals, animal shelters, assisted living centers, and more. However, many organizations’ policies have changed, and they no longer allow middle school students to volunteer. We welcome any local organizations who do allow student volunteers, or who have other “hands-on” ways to get students involved besides direct volunteer work, to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, many students do not choose to volunteer with an organization directly, but rather create or repurpose items to donate to charity, organize environmental improvement events, or assist their neighbors in some way. Please be aware that this year, our students are not allowed to collect money in conjunction with service learning. Instead, we are encouraging our students to “think outside the box” and find other ways to make an impact on society.
Through all of these efforts, we encourage students to contact neighbors, charities, and organizations directly so that they can practice effective communication skills. We ask for your patience and assistance in this endeavor.
Lastly, please challenge students to share their knowledge with you! In addition to their actual service, we encourage students to spread awareness about their chosen problem or issue. One of the great things about service learning is that there is an equal emphasis on the service and learning. Students will have researched their chosen issues, so please feel free to ask them questions about what they know.
We thank you for taking the time to help our town’s students make their service learning experience the most meaningful that it can be!
Julianne Gorton, Team 7D Social Studies (Park Middle School)