Community Service Re-Imagined
One successful approach has been to utilize the existing co-curricular structure, and have all athletic teams and organizations that meet in the afternoon participate in one community service project per group, per term, and this past fall that translated into 53 projects. Each coach felt that they could give up one practice, and some found that service projects can even build team cohesion. Additional benefits have included the opportunity for older students to mentor younger students, and the fact that service projects provide another opportunity for faculty to interact with students in a meaningful way.
A DAPPer washes windows at the Koch Center
Last spring, under the direction of Assistant Dean of Students Amie Creagh, another new service initiative was launched; entitled the Deerfield Academy Perspectives Program (“DAPP” for short), the program was specifically created for sophomores, all of whom participate in one way or another. The program was expanded this year and two sessions were implemented over the fall and winter terms.
DAPP serves a two-pronged purpose: to have every sophomore complete meaningful work on campus and thereby gain an appreciation for what it takes to keep the Academy in running order, and to present an opportunity to build relationships between students and staff. At its heart, DAPP is an on-campus work program for sophomores, and “DAPP-ers” give up one free period a week to work with Physical Plant staff, in administrative offices, and in the Dining Hall.
“The result is that they learn a lot about what goes into making the school run,” said Ms. Creagh. “Some also learn new skills, and gain an appreciation for the spectrum of work that is done on campus and for the people who do it.
“It was a little difficult at first to get some students, who are already extremely busy, to invest in jobs they don’t see as their purview, but then the program gained momentum, and overall, students had positive comments after fall term.”
DAPP task: checking crossword puzzle clues for Deerfield Magazine
In fact, the program is so successful that Ms. Creagh and her team are considering expanding it to run all three terms next year.
“We’re trying to instill the idea that everyone needs to pitch in when there’s work to be done, and that a community is not a community if we compartmentalize,” said Ms. Creagh.
Golden Pencils and Golden Rules
In addition to new community service programs such as DAPP and team-based projects, the student-run, co-curricular Community Service Board continues to fulfill the important mission it has for many years. Led by senior Lucy Phillips, the board consists of thirteen students who arrange student and faculty workers for Second Helpings meals, coordinate weekend projects, recruit volunteers for Special Olympics, and more.
This co-curricular program is built on consistency and relationships, and most of the service projects the board tackles are ongoing from year to year. Sophomores apply to join the board as juniors, and the juniors who become board members are mentored by their senior counterparts.