Today is the first of three of our Community Service Day’s at Hillside. Students will spend the morning working in small groups supervised by their Advisor, to improve our campus, our farm, and the local Marlborough community. The boys enjoy seeing the results that their actions have to improve our campus, and always enjoy the accolades they get from the various external groups they work with. Personally, I marvel at the amount of work we are able to accomplish when you put a large amount of motivated students and faculty to task on specific initiatives. I am similarly impressed each year at the lack of grumbling from our middle school boys, who are always happy to lend a hand to others and genuinely value the notion of working in service to others to improve our community. However, when I reflect on this, I realize that our school does value service, and that value is firmly woven into our curriculum and mission. The following are a few of the official programs and initiatives that occur each year that help build the value of service into the lives of our students:
9th Grade Community Work: Each morning, our 9th Grade boys have an AM chore that they are personally responsible for. They are dismissed from breakfast early and they handle tasks from outdoor trash pick up to lost and found. The 9th Grade role are excellent role models for the younger boys, doing their visible and important chores on a daily basis.
Kitchen: At each meal we “employ” up to 8 boys to work in the dish room. The boys covet these roles and are given both leadership development through this, and a heightened sense of esteem, all through their dedicated work to serve others.
Leadership: All students at Hillside have a Leadership class one term per year. A core aspect of this class is to build and maintain relationships with locals in elder care facilities. Students spend up to 2 hours per week playing games with seniors, singing songs, and sometimes doing work for them. The students value the relationships they build with these seniors and look forward to this ongoing tradition.
Campus Clean and Farm Chores: Each weekend a portion of Sunday is spent cleaning up our Campus and monitoring and feeding the animals at our Farm.
Global Learning: This year we are taking our passion to serve abroad with a trip for up to 12 students to the Bateyes, in the DR, to work with a local community for a week. Students who go on this trip will then report back on what they have learned at school, attempting to cultivate an ongoing relationship and connect our school to theirs.
It is one thing to espouse the value of community service, and another to build a structure of community service activities into the academic and residential curriculum. Through our intentional approach to cultivating the value of community service, we have successfully created a culture of students who care about service and embrace it regularly.