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Changing Our World: Fall Service Learning in the Middle 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 Middle School.

Clockwise from top left: Fall Service Day initiatives include cleaning cages at Safe Haven for Cats; reading and doing activities with students in the Lower School; sorting and packaging donations at the Food Bank; making “busy aprons” for clients of Transitions Life Care; and removing invasive species of plants at Falls Lake.

Middle School leadership approaches service learning as a division-wide experience, building into each semester a full day devoted to hands-on activities both on and off campus and giving many students opportunities to lead and support activities.

“We want our students to have the opportunity to see and interact with the people or organization their service benefits,” Associate Head of Middle School Nicole Brown explained. “That can make such a big impact on how they view service learning.”

That mindset was on full display during their fall service day Nov. 18, when groups of students and teachers fanned out across the community to participate a number of service opportunities. These projects included:

Sixth-grade language arts teacher Kim Martin joined students for the visit to Refugee Hope Partners, where they planned and led one-on-one activities with preschool-aged children. “Before going, we discussed what it means to be a refugee, and we considered that they might speak only a little English, if at all. So we prepared by thinking of how we could communicate to reinforce basic vocabulary words, using repetition and hand gestures. At the end of our time, one of the teachers there answered questions about their program and let our students know about other volunteer opportunities, such as homework help.”

Aradhana Babu ’27 said of the experience, “I got to do activities with children ages 3-5. We colored, played with blocks and made necklaces together. Through interacting with them I was able to learn a lot about their lives and what situation these kids came from. Overall, the experience was very educational as well as enjoyable.”

Some other service projects that day took place closer to home. Groups of Middle Schoolers spent time with different classes in the Lower School, while others painted “happiness rocks” that they then placed all over campus to surprise and delight Ravens of all ages. Still others put new skills to work making comfort blankets and sensory items for the Frankie Lemmon School and Transitions Life Care.

But Nov. 18 wasn’t the only time Middle Schoolers have made a priority of service learning. Throughout the fall, Middle School advisories participated in a new “buddy” program with Lower School classes, visiting students once this semester to read books, do fun activities and make personal connections. 

In November, the division collected, sorted and packaged donations for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina and Backpack Buddies. And in December, the “Giving Tree” gift drive will benefit four families — a total of 24 people — being served by the Refugee Support Center

“Parent Heather Allenby created handmade ornaments to place on our giving tree,” Student Government sponsor Kimberly Ewing explained. “Each ornament is one request from the families that we are hosting. Ravenscroft families choose an ornament from the tree, purchase the item, then return the item wrapped.”

In addition to accepting donations from families in the Middle School, members of the SGA have been raising money through bake sales throughout the fall, which they used to fund a special shopping trip to fulfill some of the wishes on the Giving Tree.

SGA co-president Sinclair McGlown ’27 explained that the bake sales have had different themes to align with the seasons and keep students interested. “It feels really good seeing and hearing the excitement from my classmates! There has been a range of baked goods donated, from snowman cakepops, cookies, brownies and muffins to Twinkies, homemade M&M/Rice Krispie treats and Little Debbie Cosmic brownies. The most-sold and highly anticipated goods would be Bella’s Brownies, from a company started by Bella Weeks ’27.”

“I love baking, and bake sales are just a way to channel my passion and support a great cause!” Bella said. “It is very important to me to support causes like the Refugee Center. To know that something I enjoy puts a smile on the faces of refugee children during the holidays — why wouldn’t I make those smiles happen?”

SGA co-president Max Rein ’27 explained that the shopping trip is similarly meaningful to the students who participate. “It allows the students who buy and wrap the gifts to feel more connected to the cause they are working for. It feels amazing to be able to help these families around us and strengthen our community bonds. Community service is one of the major reasons I joined our student council, and it’s enlightening to see the effect we can have when we work together.”

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