On the Darryl J. Ford Middle School Day of Service, students and teachers at Penn Charter embraced the words of William Penn and the theme of the current school year: “Do good with what thou hast.”
The day opened with Head of School Darryl J. Ford speaking about the meaning and value of service to him. Seniors Jessie Levin, clerk of the Service Learning Council, and Dan Zager, ambassador for the People of Color conference, reflected on their service experiences. Levin spoke of the effect that performing community service has had on her, opening her eyes to the realities of the world around her.
Zager encouraged students to “have one thing in mind: stewardship.”
“Leave the world in better shape than we found it,” he said. “Whether it’s painting benches or cleaning up gardens or working to upend the societal hierarchy that exists today, our one job is just to leave the world in better shape than we found it. Everything we do should be to build up to that one goal.”
“It was an inspiring way to kick off our day,” said Jim Pilkington, Middle School service learning coordinator and English teacher.
Out in the world, the entire sixth grade class went to Widener Memorial School to participate in that school’s annual field day. They helped the students, who have physical disabilities, with indoor and outdoor events, sports and games, including swimming.
Seventh- and eighth-grade students also traveled off campus to work with PC’s service partners. Sites included RittenhouseTown, Chamounix Stables, the Falls at Schuylkill Library, Aid for Friends, Whosoever Gospel Mission, Maxwell Mansion, the Horizon House, Philabundance, the Simpson House and the Red Cross House.
Students performed a wide range of activities at those sites – preparing food, creating garden beds at a senior center, outdoor cleanup, sorting donated goods at a thrift shop, sorting and packaging donated food at a warehouse, and creating disaster preparedness kits.
“The Day of Service provided Middle School students with the opportunity to get off campus to engage in serving the various needs of others, living out the charge to ‘do good with what thou hast,'” Pilkington said.
After Middle Schoolers returned to campus, many Upper School students led diversity workshops that centered on identity and the eight social identifiers (ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status). They ended the day together, sharing reflections on the service and workshops.