By Norma Richman
“Service Learning is to help out others as well as helping yourself.” -Jerry S., age 13
In keeping with the strong tradition of Community Engagement at High Point Academy, Mrs. Colleen Zeiss, Co-Director of Junior High, and Stephanie Gangl, High Point’s Junior High math teacher, set aside two days in September as ‘Service Learning and Team Building Days’. Little did they know how entertaining that time would be for all involved.
Mrs. Zeiss described the two days of service-learning and team-building as “great bonding experiences for us all. Together, we embraced the opportunities to help out the school and our local community. The bonus was all the fun we had.”
A break in the usual routine was a treat for these kids. They had a chance to try their hands at all sorts of new skills: baking, planting, and the ever-scintillating photocopying—a thousand pages, no less! While Service Learning is all about helping others, the kids seemed to get as much out of the activities as they gave. Being outdoors, team building, and developing a knack for wielding a rolling pin were the highlights, as far as these students were concerned. And along with the two days of service came the learning part; after some time to reflect on all their hard work, students realized just how much they were contributing.
Jerry S., age 13, noted, “Service Learning is to help out others as well as helping yourself. It’s nice to feel like I’m being useful to others. Planting was the best part—to add to nature.”
Beautifying the campus was a satisfying way to give to the school, and Elliott S., 13, seconded that motion. “Planting was my favorite. On one day we had to make over a thousand copies on the copier for Mr. Woodward’s fifth-grade class, so planting and being outside was definitely better.”
“I was one of the ones doing the planting. I’m happy that it turned out nice for the campus and its legacy,” added Armin B-B, age 13.
Jackson S., 13, summed up the landscaping project: “It was hard work and I finally got the hang of it. Hopefully, future classes will see and appreciate our work.”
Weighing in on the baking side of things, twelve-year-old Laurene K. noted, “My favorite was baking dog cookies. I bake all the time anyway. I picture the dogs liking it and being happy. I don’t have a dog, but I’m glad we got to help some others.”
Jason L., 14, added, “It felt good helping, and feeding the dogs makes a contribution too. It was Mrs. Zeiss who suggested the project.”
The secret recipe for ‘High Point Academy Dog Biscuits’ was revealed by Alice G., age 12: “Two cups whole wheat flour, ½ tablespoon baking powder, 1 egg, 1 cup water, four strips of bacon (chopped), and ½ cup pumpkin purée. I think this was worth it. I would do this project again for pets because my own dog really enjoys snacks like this.”
Twelve-year-old Nicholas C. added, “These dogs at the Humane Society deserve more and we can help. I think I liked the teamwork projects the best, though. I liked the job where we had to number hundreds of pages for the 2nd graders’ science notebooks. I liked it because we got to work as a team in an assembly line.”
Mrs. Gangl summed up the entire experience this way: “The service-learning and team-building days were a lot of fun for both the teachers and the students. The small, interactive group setting allowed us all to bond, connect, and get to know one another better. It was a great two days for everyone involved, and the students shared they would definitely like to spend more days like that around campus!”