Community Service in the Upper School
Changes to the US Service Program
Last year, a group of students and faculty conducted surveys and facilitated discussions with the Upper School community to understand how we could improve the US Service program. Many felt that the service program was working for some students but not all and that we needed to make improvements in order to provide more opportunities for students to have meaningful service experiences. What has emerged is a program that we hope will provide students with lots of options so that they can connect to their interests, focus on learning about the Packer community as well as local and global issues and organizations and support our mission to build a community of empathetic, responsible, globally minded individuals. FAQ’s below.
Service Leadership Council
Service Leadership Council is the governing and guiding body of service in the upper school. The council has two coordinators and is divided into 5 committees that are responsible for programming on 5 different issues: Health, Global Response, Environmental Awareness, Poverty and Hunger, and Educational Equity. Each semester every committee with sponsor 1 educational workshop and 1 service project. They will also review proposals for projects by students who are not on the SLC.
ACES (Activism, Community Engagement and Service) Credits
Community service is a pass or fail graduation requirement. Students in 9th-11th grade must complete their fifteen ACES credits of service by the end of May. 9th Grade students also have the option of completing their requirement through 9th grade In-Service. Students receive ACES credits through implementing or participating in an ACES project. The projects give students an opportunity to learn through a range of volunteer opportunities, expand their knowledge about issues to educate their community and engage in activism around an issue in which they feel passionate.
ACES is a new concept, but we hope that it is flexible enough to allow students to do a range of activities in order to fulfill their requirement. Activism Projects might include- attending a conference on an important issue and then organizing a teach in about what you learned or lobbying elected officials about an important policy or law. Community Engagement: might include getting students involved in a fundraising run or sponsoring an awareness raising event on campus. Service: might include volunteering with a local non-profit or social service organization. ACES credits will be collected 4 times a year — October, January, March and May. You will receive an online form that will enable you to record what you did and reflect on the experience.
9th Grade In-Service
9th grade students can use their year to learn more about the Packer community and understand more deeply the ways in which we build community and affirm our mission and values as an organization. Students will be provided with a pre-approved list of in-service opportunities throughout the school.
FAR- Familiarization, Action and Reflection
All Packer projects will follow the familiarization, action and reflection model. If a project is happening on campus, there will be a workshop for you to learn about the issue and then you will be able to participate in the action that is taking place. Finally, there will be opportunities to reflect as well individually and with a larger group. Each stage of the process will earn you ACES credits.If you are doing ACES work off campus, then you will have to share what you learned and how you learned about the issue as well as what action you took and how you reflected on the online reflection form.
How do I record my hours?
Hours will be recorded electronically this year through an online form. The form will be sent out to students four times a year-- in October, January, March and May. Advisors, the Director of Global Outreach, Service and Sustainability and the Dean of Student Life and Leadership will be able to access the form in order to see whether the student is completing their service requirement.
What is the actual requirement?
We still have an ‘hour’ requirement of sorts, 1 ACES credit is equal to one hour.
How do I know how many ACES credits I will be getting if I participate in a project or volunteer?
This year, we will count ACES credits by hours. If you volunteer at a tutoring organization in your community for 5 hours you will receive 5 ACES credits. You will also receive ACES credits for attending workshops sponsored by the Service Leadership Council.
What if I want to propose a service project?
A project leader is a student who is not on the SLC, but who is interested in sponsoring a service related project at Packer. In order to receive the resources of the Packer US (ability to hang flyers and promote in chapel, ability to receive some funding, ability to fundraise on campus, ability to offer students credit for participating) project leaders must submit a proposal and receive approval. If a student wants to carry out a project, they are encouraged to join a committee. At the beginning of each semester, students will be able to apply as a project leader for a committee. As a project leader, the student will plan at least one service project within that committee’s topic. The project must include FAR (Familiarization, Action, Reflection) in order to be considered for approval. As a project leader, the student is required to attend all committee meetings during that semester.
What if I did my service over the summer?
If you completed a service project over the summer, you can fill out the online form in October, outlining what your project entailed. Students who have already completed service projects may be called on to share their experiences with others in order to inspire them.
Can I bake for service hours?
Baking for bake sales will no longer count towards students’ ACES credits. Students who are involved in a community engagement project that includes fundraising aspects such as bake sales may include the time that they spend organizing the fundraising activities as a part of their project hours.
If I run a club and I want to run a service related fundraiser, what do I do?
If your club would like to run a fundraiser for a non-profit or charity, you must submit a Fundraising Proposal to the SLC. The Fundraising Proposal will be an online form that will ask you to think about how you will share information about the organization you are raising funds for and publicize the fundraiser. With this information, SLC can support clubs in thinking about the best way to raise their funds and can connect the fundraiser to other service projects that might be happening simultaneously. We believe that having to think through your entire plan before committing to fundraising will help all projects to have more of an impact.
What if I still have questions?
Service Board in Humanities Quad
The SLC will maintain a service board in the humanities quad in order to advertise upcoming projects, share information with students and get access to inspiration for their own projects.
Open Office Hours with Ms. Howard
Ms. Howard will have open office hours available to students during community time in order to help students connect their interests and passions to service and community engagement programs.
Service Page on Student Portal
In order to support the transition to this new program, there will be a Service Page available on the student portal that will contain explanations of the program, FAQ’s and all forms students need to access. This page will be available to students by Saturday, October 1.