CCVA hosts first virtual all-school Service Learning Day


Mia Calzolaio, Staff Writer

This past Saturday, the Center for Community Values and Action (CCVA) hosted the first virtual all-school Service Learning Day with the help of the Service Learning Committee. The event ran for two hours and focused on “Exploring Justice, Hope, and Healing through Community Partnerships,” with community partner organizations, service learning fellows, and members of the school community hosting a range of workshops for all grade levels, according to its website. 

The CCVA also coordinated with the Cancer Awareness Club, which led part of their annual Relay for Life event — a conversation with oncologist Dr. Emily Slotkin — during the closing remarks of the day, Cancer Awareness Club President Maurice Campbell (12) said.

Presentations included a workshop on designing equitable spaces in one’s own neighborhood, a chance to raise awareness for food insecurity by making cards for older adults at Meals on Wheels, and an overview of the New Community English Class’ yearlong project with an environmentally-focused nonprofit, Director of the CCVA Dr. Kimberly Joyce-Bernard wrote. “There were opportunities to explore relevant topics that influence our everyday landscape that include: educational equity, electoral and legislative advocacy, environmental justice, community building, and the opportunity gap.”

“This day centered a conversation and learning about the ways in which social justice can be applied intentionally to service-learning through collaboration with different stakeholders in the community,” Joyce-Bernard wrote in an email.

The committee also planned a book drive and bookmark decoration activity in the days leading up to the event to garner support, Service Learning Committee member Laine Goldmacher (9) said.

The Relay for Life portion of the event raised awareness about cancer, an action that helps the process for finding a cure, Campbell said. In addition to hosting a talk, the club organized a virtual walking event that took place from May 16th to May 23rd during which paired groups of grades tallied their steps with the hopes of winning a prize.

Because of the pandemic, the Service Learning team reconsidered how they could continue to strengthen their relationships with their community partners, a theme that played out during the virtual event, Service Learning Committee member Rachel Fearon (11) said. “There was a strong emphasis placed on community and justice and how to create a more equitable society for everyone.” 

Sunshine Quinones (11), who led a workshop for Middle Division students on storytelling through digital photography, enjoyed the event because it allowed her to interact with students whose perspectives she does not normally hear, she said. “Being able to let the students be taught and know that their perspectives matter, and also that there’s a way for them to express their feelings, perspective, cultures, anything like that, is what we wanted to promote to them.”

Ahaana Shrivastava (12), who is part of the New Community Project English class, and her classmates showed part of a video that they had made in which members of the community answered questions about their involvement in climate activism, she said. 

The event gave members of the community the chance to see how students and faculty are forming partnerships with people in surrounding communities, Shrivastava said. “Service learning as a whole is all about connecting with our community — and not just servicing our community in a one sided way, but creating mutually beneficial relationships that can be sustainable and long lasting.”

Since the Relay for Life event was held online, engagement dwindled, Campbell said. During events in previous years, it was empowering to see people walking laps around the field. Still, the event was rewarding, he said. “When we opened [the talk session] up to the audience and the audience was engaged, so they asked questions, that’s when I knew I felt some sort of success.”

After attending the event, Shrivastava hopes that audience members take time to reflect on the bubble of privilege in which the school exists. “It is our responsibility to interact with that larger community [outside of the school], we don’t exist in a bubble, we don’t exist in isolation.”