This Wednesday, New Hampton School students took a break from their regular schedules to participate in our annual Service Learning Day. The students were instructed to eat a hearty breakfast, pack a good lunch and wear weather appropriate clothing. After breakfast, the whole community came together on Kennedy Field to illustrate the school’s commitment to being All In with a large group photo. From there, they set off on a day full of selflessness, community service, and experiential learning.
What is Service Learning?
Service learning is a concept created in the 1990s. It is a method of education that uses community service volunteer work as a catalyst for learning. This encourages students to lend a hand and support non-profits and underserved community members while learning valuable life skills. The services performed can range dramatically.
What Service-Learning projects did NHS student partake in?
Advisory groups of 6-8 students were assigned to projects that varied in subject as well as location. Students had a chance to connect with the community surrounding our campus and get to know our neighbors. Some examples of this year’s service learning projects included:
- Reading to children in a neighboring elementary school
- Tending to the garden at a local food bank
- Caring for and socializing with senior citizens
- Performing trail maintenance on nearby nature trails
- Completing repairs to a community summer camp
- Playing with and caring for animals at the local Humane Society
A pillar of the service learning experience is a post-service reflection discussion in which the students can think back on what they have learned and what was gained from their experience. Students shared their reflections with words and drawings on handkerchiefs that are now strung along the windows in the cafeteria. They met with their Advisory groups to discuss the work they did and decipher what they learned from the experience. Jonathan Schwab explains, “Being able to offer authentic learning opportunities where students can connect competencies and skills they are learning in their classes to real issues at the local and global level is incredibly rewarding and important. Not only are students providing a real service for so many community partners, but they are also stretched outside their comfort zone. In doing this, students are able to bring their experiences on our service learning days back into the classroom, which enhances our entire community’s overall experience.”
As the advisory groups look ahead to future service days, they consider new possibilities that they’d like to explore, while others decide to pursue similar service experiences, and some returning to the same non-profits to build a closer tie with the people they’ve helped. We look forward to the continued efforts of our students and faculty throughout the school year as they reach out within the greater New Hampshire community.
“Great kids, great chaperone, great experience. They were involved and left with smiles and sore arms.” — NH Habitat for Humanity
“Our AmeriCorps members said they had a wonderful time with the students and we got a lot done!” — Squam Lakes Association
“I heard nothing but excitement and compliments from our staff and students about your visit.” — Bridgwater-Hebron Elementary School
“The students did a great job and were very friendly and courteous!” — Pasquaney Garden Club