Students are educated about various community outreach projects through Chapel speakers, and new ideas are often suggested by Student Council representatives, faculty, and parents. The willingness to give is evident in the response throughout each year.
School wide service allows all members of the Middle School to participate in a service opportunity. These opportunities include our annual Special Olympics track meet and our grade level Days of Giving. For each Day of Giving, classmates join a project of their choosing including service at a medical supply warehouse, senior citizen center, clearinghouse for the homeless, daycare center, or a food bank. Age appropriate service opportunities are offered to each class level. These include planting trees with Trees for Houston, packaging toiletries for the homeless served at Palmer Way Station, and hosting a Halloween carnival for children with cancer in cooperation with Candlelighter’s Family Alliance. Students in each advisory, along with their advisor, plan and implement a project of their choosing at least once a year. The Middle School student will give of their time, heart, and self through our service program.
In Upper School where students have increasing opportunity to direct their own actions, more than 92% of our students participate in community service projects, accumulating over 36,000 hours of service each year. Projects can be individual, small or large group, whole class or whole school. They include local and international projects, some meeting once or twice annually while some projects meet monthly, weekly, or even daily. Typical large group projects include cleaning-up Galveston beach, volunteering at Houston’s annual Race for the Cure©, painting and landscaping an “Extreme Home Makeover,” joining Middle Schoolers with the Special Olympics track meet, serving dinners at the Ronald McDonald House, hosting birthday parties at the Star of Hope, Senior Citizen’s Prom, and an annual trip to teach English in rural Costa Rica.
One or two annual whole class projects, facilitated by parent co-chairs are always well subscribed and have included painting and landscaping projects for underprivileged homeowners and daycare centers, planting projects, bike building, working at a clearinghouse for the homeless, and many others.
Summer service is encouraged by bringing representatives from not-for-profit organizations to campus in the spring for a Volunteers Job Fair. About half of our Upper School students do additional service during the summer by volunteering at camps for disadvantaged individuals, the zoo, museums, hospitals, and other not-for-profit organizations. A summer school week is held for underprivileged elementary students with Upper School students as teachers and administrators.
While any Upper School community service is headed by the student Board of Officers, any Upper Schooler can lead a project, and significant leadership training and support is given each individual. If funds are needed to carryout the project, a student may apply for a Community Service Grant from the Grant Fund which is funded by the profits earned from student run, on-campus concessions.
Because St. John’s School encourages but does not require service, it is truly the hearts and hands of our students that reach out to others. The ultimate goal of the St. John’s Community Service program is to lay the foundation for a lifelong and consistent commitment to leadership in service.