Service Day 2017 Reflection

Review

What does ‘Non Ut Sibi’ mean to you? “‘Non Ut Sibi’ means thinking about other perspectives and helping others by venturing out of your comfort zone for the betterment of the community,” says Emmett Berg ‘19.

Taft’s Community Service Day has taken place annually for more than 20 years. We as Taft students are encouraged daily by our school’s motto to think of serving others before ourselves. However, Taft students are challenged to balance incredulous amounts of work with after school activities, club participation, and staying healthy. The busy nature of our day-to-day life at Taft can make it difficult to find time to serve the community in ways that feel meaningful. The tradition of Community Service Day was set in place so that all students could participate; designating a day to serve each year allows students to take a break from the stress of school work and be reminded of how great it can feel to make a positive impact.

Community Service day promotes bonding between Tafties, as students work in groups and often are assigned a project with their fellow sports team members or classmates. This year, Varsity Field Hockey ventured to Flander’s Farm. Corinna Dorr ‘19 shared that they “stacked wood and cut wood so that [the farmers] could in the Spring make their maple syrup.” She said that the team “loved helping the community” and working with the farmers. While the Field Hockey team’s job this year entailed manual labor, many groups worked in classrooms or with children in the community.

Two of Ms. Chicadaunce’s art classes worked together on a Community Service Day initiative. Emma Cooney ‘19, a student in AP Studio Art, said that “all AP and advanced [art students] made colorful leaves with the kids at the Children’s Community School. It was really cute to see how into it they all got. They were really creative with their decorations. All of the leaves they made are going to be combined to make class trees, one for each classroom. It’s was a nice program because they don’t have an art program of their own at their school.” Emma’s experience exemplifies the positive impact Taft students can make if we choose to view service day as an opportunity to make others feel good.

Taft students had many options this year and–if you filled out the survey (!!)–could spend the day doing service in a personalized and enjoyable way. I spent the day on campus, touring a group of third graders from Polk Elementary around campus as they participated in various activities. Other Taft students led them in Science and English workshops and were coached them in sports such as Lacrosse, Squash, and Basketball. They were eager to share their acrostic poems in Ms. Hincker’s English workshop and were in awe as Mr. Norledge explained various optical illusions in their Science class. The kids hugged me goodbye at the end of the day before loading back onto yellow school buses, and it felt good to know that they had enjoyed their day.

This year, we served over 60 different groups and and organizations. The day was a great success and Taft students put in thousands of hours collectively to help with an array of projects. Many ventured out into nature to rake leaves, clean trails, and even work with horses. Others spent time in classrooms. Tafties worked with both young elementary students and the elderly. Ideally, the organizations we work with on Community Service day are groups that we return to and work with again in the future. Seniors participate in another service day in the Spring, living out ‘non ut sibi’ one last time before graduation from Taft. Often Seniors work with groups they are already familiar with from prior service days.

Mr. Mac’s statement that “Community Service Day is one of the most important events our calendar” is true. The day served as a reminder to me–and to other students–that giving back feels good. Mr. McCabe went even further by saying that “[service days] would be something I could see myself doing one, two, many a few times more a year, maybe in smaller groups so that I would have the opportunity to work with even more students and we could have the chance to have impact on a regular rather than a one-day-a-year basis.” He said that he loves “to work with and see the students who I otherwise don’t get to see working in a setting that is enjoyable to both of us.” In addition to fostering relationships between Taft and outside organisations, service day truly does promote bonding amongst Taft community members. We have an opportunity and an obligation to give back in whatever ways we can.

Our work this year was undoubtedly a success and an excellent reminder to all that service is a part of our duty as Taft students.