Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cookies for a Cause

Many schools in our area now include community service as a requirement for students. At some schools, community service is incorporated into the curriculum and at others, the onus is on the students to find a way to give back. No matter how you slice it, I'm in favor. Participating in and giving back to your community is critically important to both the participant and the community. The earlier you start thinking of community involvement as integral to your identity, the better off we will all be. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunities our children's schools give them to help others and I feel strongly that the modeling and opportunities should come from both the home and the school. The approach to community service taken by Riverdale Country School's Middle School is particularly impressive and should serve as a model for other schools. There are school-wide community service days. The school also mandates attendance at and participation in a middle school-wide community action program. In addition, each grade participates in their own program and each advisory group/homeroom/homebase is responsible for a separate program that they choose, develop and administer. Finally, each student is responsible for individual community service. This program considers the community in which the student is a member at different levels and expects involvement at every level. I love it!!!

Recently at a parent grade meeting, the seventh grade dean at Riverdale Country School described the multiple facets of the community service program in the seventh grade. She explained that at the homebase level, the smaller groups of kids would select and devise their activities and that she was hoping to steer them away from the traditional bake sale. Bake sales and lemonade stands are time-honored, tried-and-true traditions but this year's seventh grade is encouraged to think more broadly and consider programs that require some engagement in the community they are seeking to assist beyond presenting a check or an envelope with cash - like painting a school or community center or reading to younger children or donating books, toys and clothing. So much good work to be done!

Though off limits this year to our seventh-grader, the bake sale remains a favorite way for kids to raise money for a cause. Pick up a copy of Jarrett J. Krosoczka's Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit to read with your 3rd-5th grader and follow Lunch Lady and the Breakfast Bunch hot on the trail of missing goodies from the bake sale intended to raise money for an all-important field trip! And while you're at it, pick up a copy of Sara Varon's Bake Sale to enjoy with that same child and experience the life and dreams of bakery owner Cupcake who is in a baking slump and wants desperately to meet the famous pastry chef, Turkish Delight. These bake sale selections are both in the form of comic books/graphic novels and each goes well with a generous serving of fresh baked cookies!

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