St. Thomas Community Christian School is making efforts to choose community service activities that flow naturally out of what the students are working on and learning in the classroom.
“We really want to look for ways for us to not only be good neighbours but also that have on emphasis on things that we’re trying to teach kids, so that (the activities) are connected with our school as well,” says principal Janet Baird.
The school has linked with a local retirement centre, Metcalfe Gardens, to create more opportunities for community service and student-senior interactions.
Various grade levels have and will be doing activities throughout the school year at the centre.
Dec. 4 the Junior Kindergarten class presented a Christmas play at the retirement residence.
The JK students produced the play as part of an in-class theme. “We thought why not also brighten some elderly person’s day by performing it (at the retirement residence)?” says Baird. “It’s not a separate thing but goes with what we’re doing.”
It’s not always possible to link the activities directly to classroom work. In November a class planted tulips at the retirement residence.
However, the activity was tied to the school’s theme of God’s willing workers, as students were encouraged to be cheerful and diligent in all they do.
Other planned activities include the distribution of carnations by students to seniors in the month of February. Next spring the school will be running an art contest, which will be housed in the intergenerational room at Metcalfe Gardens. Students will create artwork around the theme of intergenerational connections.
The winning piece will be professionally framed and then presented to Metcalfe Gardens.
Baird says providing students with opportunities for community service is important for helping them learn about citizenship, “that they are part of this place and they have a role in it.
“It gets them thinking about something besides their own little world and thinking, ‘Oh, yeah, there are elderly people out there who need encouragement.’”
The school is also planning to distribute thank-you cards and small gifts to the houses in the neighbourhood.
Baird points out that the homes bordering the school property have to deal with everything from hearing a school bell every few hours to balls landing in their backyards.
Acknowledging and thanking the neighbours is important and at the same time, it teaches the students involved in the process to be sensitive and others-centred.