Upper School Participates in "All In" Week of Service

Last week, the Upper School participated in its first ever "All In" Week of Service, giving US students and WA Serves members the opportunity to experience what the Upper School's service learning and community engagement program has to offer. Each day, the Service Leaders created experiences that directly aligned with their respective community partners, including The Jesse Draper Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, and Love Beyond Walls.

"This year, the Service Leadership Board (SLB) had the creativity and ambition to take the kick-off assembly/service fair outside of the walls of Champions Gym and into the communities where our students serve throughout the year," Upper School assistant principal Ronda Zents said. "The mission of WA Serves is to connect students to other students who care about real needs in our community and then set them up to go do something about better understanding those needs and offer empathy and practical solutions."

While certain programs lend themselves to Upper School-wide engagement, others can sometimes be age-restrictive, such as Habitat for Humanity. In line with our school's mission of inclusivity, the SLB members created a Habitat for Humanity Bird House Building experience to allow younger students in 9th and 10th grades to engage in a similar home-building experience. 

"I really enjoyed seeing everyone working hard and engaging in the building process," SLB member and junior Walker Boswell said. "It was a really great way to introduce the 9th and 10th graders to Habitat for Humanity. It was a basic project that still managed to capture the essence of what Habitat is like."

Students also had the opportunity to attend events that are staples of our Upper School program, including BINGO! at the local senior center after school, food packing with our Blessings in a Backpack, and tutoring at The Main Street Academy during a lunch and AAAA period.

"This year we are being intentional about our programming, recognizing the importance of getting proximate with our community and with the partners we serve," Service Learning Coordinator David-Aaron Roth said. "Our students want to create lasting and sustainable impacts on the local community of College Park and the surrounding community of Metro Atlanta. While service can be global, our students recognize the importance and value of being local, too. They get to see the immediacy of their work come to fruition by walking down the street, something that no other school in the Metro-Atlanta area can offer. Fortunately, we have a community that wants our students to engage, so our work is not simply an opportunity but a responsibility as well."

As well, one of the newest organizations to be led through SLB is WA Grows, which is taking to the greenhouse and gardens at Woodward for a more civically responsible view of gardening. With fresh produce already underway, such as squash and tomatoes, it is the hope that this program's efforts go beyond our school community and into the College Park community.

"If we could get this produce to really grow in a sustainable way, we are hoping to donate all of it regularly to Love Beyond Walls during their Love Feeds evenings," Upper School service sponsor and math teacher Marianne Lecesne said. "We go down to help them pack every other Wednesday after school, so to bring produce that is fresh and healthy could really make a difference in the lives of those Love Beyond Walls is serving."

Maya Mitchell, a member of SLB and a senior, said it best: "Our "All In" Week of Service is so important to the Upper School because it gives students a chance to engage in service and find their passion for helping others. Having a student body that is all in for service learning helps our Upper School be a more compassionate and inclusive place in the Woodward community."

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