Our Community Commitment to Service: The Jesse Draper Fall Halloween Festival

Article by David-Aaron Roth, '10, Service Learning Coordinator

This past Wednesday, approximately 25 students from the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools along with five members of the faculty traveled to the Jesse Draper Boys and Girls Club for a Fall Festival celebrating Halloween. Woodward students had the opportunity to engage wholeheartedly with members of the club in activities ranging from pumpkin sack races to face-painting to mummy wrapping races to Halloween cookie and mask decorating. This afternoon was filled with excitement, energy, and a lot of empathy building. 

"It was an important experience for our Middle School Service Scholars," Middle School Principal Dee Koscik said. "They had an opportunity to be mentored by our Upper School Service Leaders and partner with our Lower School Service Scouts to build community right within our Academy. The team building activities encouraged engagement in our local community, fostering their learning and civic engagement skills."

Seeing as the Jesse Draper Club resides directly on our campus, our Woodward community knows how important it is to create connections between our students and members of the club, forming a community of "We" rather than "Us" and "Them." As this organization is one of our school's three school-wide fundraisers, we want to find connections through each of our schools, and for many Lower School students, this was their first experience with the Jesse Draper Club. 

"This Festival was a fantastic experience for Lower School students as they begin their journey in serving others," said Lower School Assistant Principal Elaine Carroll. "It is so important that children understand that the foundation of service to others is having a good relationship with those whom you serve. Through games and competitions at the festival, all barriers were broken down as the students worked together and had fun at the same time."

When the students arrived at the Jesse Draper Club, the intention was for the Lower and Middle School students to find new connections through play, while the Service Leaders helped facilitate each of the different experiences.

Upper School Assistant Principal Ronda Zents, a fervent advocate for our school's initiatives with Jesse Draper, was recently appointed as a Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta Fulton County Board member and knows how important this connection is between our communities.

"Woodward's relationship with the Jesse Draper Boys and Girls Club is a unique part of our school's ethos," says Zents. "Our Upper School Service Leaders were very excited to introduce the Middle and Lower School students to this special place to begin forming bonds that they can strengthen as Upper School students."

For our Upper School Service Leaders, this was yet another moment in their careers as servant leaders to flex those muscles so necessary for success beyond our Academy, including those boundary breaking experiences and relationship building opportunities that Koscik, Carroll and Zents mentioned above.

"We were inspired by our Spring Fling Experience that has taken place at the Club over the last two years," says Service Leadership Board member and senior Katie Berkowitz. "We wanted to create a similar experience in the fall that could be impactful for both the members of the club and students at our school. It helped our younger students at Woodward to understand what it means to be of service to others."

As we continue finding new and innovative ways to connect each of our schools to the Jesse Draper Boys and Girls Club, we know that our Service Leaders, Scholars, and Scouts will lead the way in these endeavors.

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