At Roland Park Country School, community service means much more than simply volunteering time. We teach our students to think seriously about using their skills and talents to effect change in the community, and they regularly amaze us with their generosity of spirit. Our students engage in community service as a selfless act of kindness, of inspiration, of mentorship or friendship. Opportunities for leadership and service are frequent for Lower, Middle and Upper School students and the effect of our students’ participation is transformative, not only for the population served but for the students serving.
In the Lower School, each grade level pursues a “Bear Hugs” project. Student leaders research charitable organizations, make a selection, and present their cause to the class. Once a cause is selected, students and teachers work together to choose a means to help.
In the Middle School, the sixth-grade service learning component revolves around the concept of community with an emphasis on hunger issues and food deserts within Baltimore. On campus, we conduct lessons about food deserts and have community planners visit to share with the girls. Service learning trips include visiting local neighborhoods, volunteering at community farms, and working at local food banks and soup kitchens. In the early spring, the girls organize a fundraiser to support a local community agency of their choosing.
The sixth grade will continue to further recognize and understand community concerns by planning fundraisers that correspond with global and local issues addressed in their Integrated Learning curriculum.
The seventh grade also contributed to a donation made by RPCS to the St Vincent De Paul of Baltimore’s “Empty Bowls” fundraiser. Upper school art teacher Toby Rivkin leads upper school students and RPCS faculty in creating clay bowls. The seventh grade, along with the fifth grade, applied coats of glaze to the bowls, resulting in unique and colorful bowls. We plan to continue our collaboration wit the Empty Bowls fundraiser. We also hope to connect with a local assisted-living facility. We would like to send cards throughout the year and culminate with a visit by the girls.
The appointment of a new principal at Barclay Elementary School brought an end to our long standing relationship with their second grade. Eighth grade will discuss new ventures and partnerships with other schools and organizations. Throughout the year, eighth grade students contribute to a variety of fundraising drives and initiatives.
The service learning project, in which the entire middle school participated was making Care Boxes for the Salvation Army Family Shelter for the kids who might not get anything for the holidays. We also gave some Care Boxes to a homeless mission at an area church.
During her Upper School years, an RPCS student has the opportunity to deepen her commitment to service through our 60 hours community service requirement—40 hours must be completed under the auspices of a single organization and the remaining 20 hours can be served at that same site or through a multitude of other opportunities. To document her hours, each student is required to file paperwork that includes a supervisor’s evaluation and a self-reflection, providing the opportunity for each girl to experience and give feedback on their experiences, and to give real consideration to the interactions they had and to both the triumphs and challenges of service work. Questions about the Upper School community service requirements can be directed to Janet Weller, Coordinator of Community Service for Individual Projects. Students and parents can find copies of the required documents on their individual community pages after they log in.
Recent Upper School projects were undertaken at food pantries, hospitals, churches, mentoring partnerships, tutoring programs, daycares, camps for underprivileged children, clothing and food drives, animal shelters, nature preserves, and organizations including the Salvation Army, Refugee Youth Program, Jewish Volunteer Connection, Special Olympics, Teach for America, Catholic Charities, the SPCA, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Students are honored at graduation for contributions of 100 or more hours of community service, and the Community Service Award is offered to that student who has contributed most to the Baltimore community through her volunteerism and community.