Dustin Todd (left) and Tom Jones, both from Crefeld’s Class of 2013, help to remove trash from the Wissahickon Valley during a cleanup day last Spring.

by Paula M. Riley

Each September, the Chestnut Hill Local showcases new programs, people and projects at area schools. This is the fourth article featuring local schools.

The Crefeld School

Tucked away on Crefeld Street in the historic Highfields Mansion, The Crefeld School hosts 100 students in grades 7 through 12 and provides a challenging, individualized educational program and environment for bright, sensitive and creative students.

This fall, middle- and high-school students at Crefeld are preparing for another year of weekly community service projects. Since the school’s founding in 1970, Crefeld prepares its students to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens by making citizenship development an integral part of each student’s learning experience.

The entire school community – students, faculty and staff – commits to meeting this goal by participating in a weekly course called Community Service Learning (CSL). It focuses on pressing local, national and world issues. The individual CSLs address many issues, including preserving the natural environment, elder services, urban education, animal rights, global warming, and hunger. Students are called to perform concrete service in the community to address these issues.

The action that each group takes may include direct service to the community, writing to and lobbying elected officials, persuading Crefeld families to become more conscious of issues, or petitioning the school administration to alter programs or practices.

Students also engage in ongoing outdoor, direct-service CSLs in partnership with the Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW), Awbury Arboretum and Weavers Way Co-op Farm. In total, 51 percent of the student body participates in an outdoor program that benefits the greater community. The remaining students help tutor younger students at J.S. Jenks Elementary School, spend time at Senior Care or participate in an independent community service placement.

“Giving back to the community is an integral part of Crefeld’s curriculum,” said George Zeleznik, head of school. “Our students learn how to be critically-engaged citizens in a community of individuals.”

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