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Changing Our World: Fall Service Learning in the Lower School

Ravens from all three divisions continued in their commitment to serving the community this fall, engaging in service projects and donation drives that benefited numerous organizations and causes. Here’s a recap of some of the projects in the Lower School. 

A collage of photos showing some of the Lower School service learning projects

Clockwise from top left: Service initiatives from the Lower School this fall included writing letters, cards and notes to veterans; collecting socks for Note in the Pocket; a book drive organized by Student Council; and the fifth-grade service day packaging meals with Rise Against Hunger.

Lower School students enjoyed a number of opportunities to support members of the community, whether through helping hands, words of gratitude and encouragement, or thoughtful donations.

In October, fifth-grade teacher Wes Brown and teacher assistant Susan Eichler sponsored “SOCKtoberfest,” a collection drive for new socks to benefit local nonprofit Note in the Pocket. Students in Lower School came through with more than 1,300 pairs of new socks for children just like them who are experiencing homelessness or financial hardship. Reaching across campus to encourage donations from Middle and Upper Schoolers, organizers added nearly 700 more pairs. In addition, alumni brought donations to the Homecoming game on Oct. 7. 

“It was heartwarming to see Ravens of all ages in all divisions contribute socks and learn more about Ravenscroft’s longstanding relationship with Note in the Pocket,” Eichler said. “Lower School Ravens eagerly checked their collection bin and the colorful student sock tally at the front office to count participating students and socks. It was a proud moment for the team to deliver over 2,075 pairs of socks to Note in the Pocket. Ravens are definitely changing our world!” 

That same spirit of generosity and kindness shone through as Veterans Day approached in early November. Fifth-graders wrote thoughtful messages to Ravenscroft alumni who are active service members or veterans, and students in other grades created posters, cards and notes of gratitude, many of which were featured in the division’s Veterans Day video.

In addition, the Student Council organized a book drive, collecting approximately 1,200 books that were donated to the Salvation Army and KinderCare Learning Centers, both of which serve children and families across the region. And, in keeping with a longstanding tradition, students in fifth grade spent Nov. 18 working with volunteers from Rise Against Hunger

After learning in social studies about the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, the fifth-graders focused on Goal 2, Zero Hunger. The morning started with a project-based learning activity to better understand hunger, food insecurity, food deserts and meal planning. In the afternoon, they gathered in Cox Court with teachers and parent volunteers and packaged, sealed and boxed up meals comprising vegetables, rice, soy and vitamins. It is projected that this year’s meals will be sent to Haiti. 

“This is the fifth grade’s ninth year participating in this service learning work,” social studies teacher Michelle Schulze noted proudly. “In that time, we’ve packaged more than 9,000 meals with Rise Against Hunger to create a world where hunger does not exist.”

“The most surprising thing I learned about the Zero Hunger sustainable development goal was that there were so many people in the world without access to nutritious food,” Emma Driscoll ’30 said of the service learning project. “When I realized that I could be a part of making this goal come true, I was exhilarated.”

“The best part, for me, was knowing I was helping families in need and seeing such a team effort by my classmates,” Michael Renna ’30 added. “Since I was younger, I have always wanted to help the less fortunate. I have volunteered my time with my parents raising money and cooking for adults and orphan children. Doing this now with my classmates made me feel really good inside.”

Another longtime partnership yielded big results for students in Costa Rica this fall. Building off of another successful third- and fourth-grade market in the spring, in which students sell crafts and other items they’ve made, the classes donated their profits to Immersion Abroad Costa Rica in support of schools and families there. This year, the funds were used to provide several schools and a child-care center with items including first-aid kits, materials for a schoolyard fence, and paint and other supplies to maintain and upgrade facilities. In addition — in what IACB Director Odilie Calvo called “a before and after in his life” — a portion of the donation was used to buy a motorized wheelchair for a teenager with mobility challenges. The young man sent a letter thanking the Ravens who helped make the purchase possible.

For Lower School leadership, service opportunities such as these get to the heart of the school’s mission.

“We are proud of the service opportunities our students engage in each year. They can embody the Lead From Here framework by leading others and changing their world,” Head of Lower School Nicole Girvan said. “For example, when the Student Council hosted the book drive, the students enthusiastically made signs to advertise it across the campus, collected the books and organized them into categories for younger and older students. They were excited to share the various books they collected. One first-grade student shared that the book she chose was one of her favorites when she was younger, and she hoped that the KinderCare students receiving the books would also love it.”

“Service projects provide our Lower School students with the opportunity to obtain tangible knowledge and understanding of what they are learning in the classroom,” Assistant Head of Lower School Steven Mercado said. “Our mission to prepare students to thrive in a complex and interdependent world requires us to provide windows and mirrors that connect to the world beyond the walls of Ravenscroft.”

READ MORE: Enjoy highlights of Middle School and Upper School fall service projects as well.