During last week’s Service Symposium, SLS students embodied the school motto, “Enter to learn and go forth to serve,” by learning about local organizations and how to expand their volunteer options.
Representatives from twenty different service groups in the area were invited to talk to Upper School students and faculty for the afternoon.
This year, Susanna Montgomery ‘19 and Cate Mathews ‘21 organized the Service Symposium and worked hard on establishing connections with the organizations.
“My experience with organizing the Service Symposium has been really great. We started work in the summer and carried it through until just the day before the Symposium, trying to make everything perfect for the event,” Susanna said.
The format of the symposium was different from that of previous years. Students were grouped by broader categories such as sports, health, and immigration. Then, they attended smaller break-out sessions with organization representatives.
Following those sessions, students and faculty headed to the Seldin Performing Arts Center to listen to a talk with Peter Gray ‘93. Mr. Gray emphasized the importance of service, not as a graduation requirement, but as a source of fulfillment and happiness and an opportunity to positively influence others. He explained how his work at New Covenant House in Stamford, a soup kitchen, brought him to the realization that the people to whom he served meals were just like him.
After hearing from Mr. Gray, students returned to their advisories for a debrief.
“Organizations leave a lot of information. After that, it is up to the student to reach out to these organizations,” Susanna emphasized.
Sometimes, it is difficult to reach out to service groups because you might have other conflicting time commitments or you may feel afraid to start something new. One way to get involved with service is by reaching out to Mr. Parker-Burgard or Mrs. Blanton about the weekly trips to Inspirica.
Inspirica is a homeless shelter in Stamford that focuses on breaking the cycle of homelessness; they offer shelter, food, and programs that help the adults and children who are temporarily taking shelter there.
Every Thursday after school, Ms. Parker-Burgard and Ms. Blanton take students to Inspirica to help with homework until 5:30pm.
Another service opportunity that SLS students and faculty are involved with is the New Canaan Emergency Medical Service. Mr. Haynie, the Director of Safety & Security, is a member of the group. Dylan Antonioli ‘19 started volunteering there this year.
He recommends the experience to all St. Luke’s students: “It is a hands-on way to learn about new skills and new people. I am enjoying the experience, and I love the way that I get to reach out to the community in this way.”
Dylan is only one example of the many SLS students – and alumni – who have grown to see service as more than just a graduation requirement.