On Thursday, September 15, 49 advisories from Hawken School, grades 9-12, spent their academic day off campus doing service for over 40 different types of organizations all around the greater Cleveland area.
“I think it helps students learn more about the world and their place in the world,” said Daniel Mesh, Science Teacher and Director of Service Learning at Hawken School. “It helps students develop a sense of gratitude for life that they probably did nothing to earn. It gives everyone a sense that small things matter and anyone at any age can have an impact on people’s lives.”
According to Mesh, it took approximately $2,000 and well over 100 hours for him to organize and implement Thursday’s service day for the faculty and students.
Unlike many schools in America, Hawken does not require a certain amount of service hours in order to graduate.
Mesh and Director of Information Management and Research, Dave Gillespie, have differing opinions regarding the nature of an effective school service learning program.
“I hope that it inspires students to do more, like volunteer,” Mesh said. He believes that it is important for students “to do some of the after school service hours that Hawken has or get involved in service activities outside of school, whether it is a project that their sports team takes on, through church, a summer trip, or even through the new integrated service learning program that Mr. Harris has developed last year.”
Gillespie disagrees with Mesh. “I think all students should have to do service hours on their own,” he said. “I think they should find a partner, they should establish a relationship something that is practically meaningful to them individually and then repeat that each year.”
Regardless of the disagreement, students still got a lot out of the day. Mason Goldberg, an 11th grader at Hawken School, spent Thursday at Magnolia Clubhouse, a mental health service organization located in University Circle.
Goldberg and fellow students helped cook, produce an in-house promotional video, and assist clients with creating a monthly newsletter.
“Service to me means helping others,” said Goldberg. “I think that we all can give something back. In high school we spend so much time focused on our own lives and accomplishments but through service work, our eyes are opened to the needs of others in our community. I can see how much it changes the world.”
Not only do students benefit from the Hawken Service Learning Program, it also gives the employees at Magnolia Clubhouse a feeling of hope for the future.
“I feel like nowadays young people are only focused on themselves and technology,” said Whitney Bohan, Director of Communications at Magnolia Clubhouse. “I’m always heartened when young people like Hawken Students learn something about mental illness and how to help those in need. It gives them an understanding or a sensitivity about people and life. Seeing students here today gives me hope that there’s still goodness out there in the world and people that do still care about others.”
Member of Magnolia Clubhouse, Dana Bowles, agrees with Bohan. She is happy when volunteers help out at the organization. “It brings young and vitality and energy into the community,” said Bowles.