Cultivating an Ethic of Service
A key element of Waynflete’s Mission is “to encourage their (students’) responsible and caring participation in the world.”
This part of our Mission is fulfilled through a multifaceted effort. Each year, it begins even before classes start, as students in 10th and 11th grades have the option to do service work for Outdoor Experience. My talk to Upper School students on the first day of classes highlighted the importance of service work as a way to answer Sophie Raffel’s ‘15 call to her classmates last spring in her graduation speech to find “things that make us matter.”
Last week, we held an assembly that focused on service performed by Upper School students. For inspiration, I told the story of how ten years ago, a Waynflete student stepped forward and almost single-handedly saved Project Story Boost, a literacy program at Reiche School that has benefited scores of young readers. Then, to give students a sampling of the range of service opportunities available to them, I introduced a series of speakers:
- Dean of Student Affairs Lydia Maier spoke about the upcoming Global Citizenship Forum, which will highlight service work performed by Waynflete students domestically and abroad.
- Waynflete graduate Desiree Lester ‘05 talked about her start with service as a Project Respect mentor, which led to her work later on with the United Way.
- Teacher James Carlisle spoke about the Habit for Humanity Outdoor service trip.
- Helen Gray-Bauer ‘15, one of seven Waynflete students and three faculty who volunteered last summer domestically and abroad in Students Shoulder to Shoulder projects, spoke about her experience in Nepal and what she carries from it.
- Dyer Rhodes ‘15 spoke about mentoring Waynflete Middle School boys.
- Alonzo Antoine ‘16, Izzy Brady ‘17, Sarah Daoudi ‘17, Caroline Hastings ‘17, and Mary Acheson Field ‘17 spoke about their experience this past summer at Seeds of Peace Camp and what it meant to each of them.
- Julianna Harwood ‘15, Anna Lee ‘16, Marijke Rowse ‘16, and Haley Johnson ‘15 shared their experiences volunteering for political campaigns.
This week we held an advising afternoon, which is time set aside for advising groups to build connections. Many chose to do service work together. Click here to see write ups and pictures from the day. In the spring, an entire day is set aside for students to do service work in advising groups, giving the groups a chance to deepen their relationships and say goodbye to seniors while exploring service together.
The School supports service work in many other ways as well. Most of the activities offered in the Upper School Activities program are serviced based. Moreover, most of those were started by students seeking to make an impact on the world, giving students the chance to develop their leadership capacities. Project Story Boost, the Reiche School literacy program mentioned earlier, is staffed this year by 70 Waynflete student volunteers. Waynflete, Reiche, and the West End and Parkside Policing Centers have co-sponsored the mentoring programs for neighborhood youth for 15 years. Other service activities focus on mentoring opportunities on campus, promoting service work and social causes in the local community, and affecting positive globally.
Many students also volunteer on their own without any direct association with the School. As I told students at the assembly last week, we have a service requirement for juniors and seniors, but more often than not, students far exceed our expectations without being prodded by the requirement. Such an impressive commitment to making the world a better place is testament to the strong ethic of service that the School and our families cultivate in our students and that our students in turn encourage in each other.