At Shorecrest, the students, faculty/staff, parents, grandparents and alumni work to enrich the community through volunteerism, leadership and philanthropic giving. The Board of Trustees, with the encouragement of the Strategic Planning Committee, amended the School’s Mission Statement 13 years ago to include service - or “a commitment to social responsibility.”
For students, Service Learning is a key component of how the School works to instill these values and educate socially responsible citizens. The ability to take pressing community needs and combine it with curricular instruction leads to both effective learning outcomes and quality contributions to our communities—developing compassionate and empathetic students in the process. This work is led by Shorecrest’s Director of Service Learning Diego Duran-Medina, in close consultation with Shorecrest faculty and our partner organizations, whom we value for their knowledge as equal participants in service and learning.
In 2010, a group of seniors spearheaded the commitment to spending time during the school year as a Mission-focused service learning program. Since then, a week of the second semester in Upper School has been dedicated as Service Week, where projects serve those in need in our local, national and global communities. Our faculty leads Service Week programs and students choose from a wide array of options that fulfill their interests and passions. This year, the focus is on projects closer to home and includes a Virtual Service Week option for students who are a part of the Flexible Learning Program.
Today is the last day of this year’s Service Week, and I have been lucky to both observe and participate in a number of projects. So many opportunities abound! While always observing health and safety protocols, we had students who worked outdoors in a horse rescue and rehabilitation center; others cleared debris and rebuilt park benches at Fort De Soto. Keeping Pinellas Beautiful involved many hours of beach clean-up and restoration (and lots of sun) at multiple locations throughout Tampa Bay!
Other students headed off campus to work at food pantry Kind Mouse, where they sorted and dated food donations for hungry families and children, including contributions from the Shorecrest community’s recent Spring Food Drive. We also had an in-person program that focused on researching why hunger exists, determining how children are affected by hunger and proposing possible solutions.
Connection through the written word is another positive outcome of Service Week. Students were a part of letter-writing to senior residents at Westminster Palms in downtown St. Petersburg. Some of the Service Week letter writers were actually continuing their year-long correspondence with Westminster residents, having started last spring, reaching out to seniors and developing a wonderful connection. Other students sent notes to service veterans, as a part of A Million Thanks, an organization which provides support to our military and their families. Shorecrest Upper Schoolers wrote cards to first responders and sent letters to children who are hospitalized in the midst of medical treatment.
The creativity of our students was highlighted through their artwork. Art teacher Charla Gaglio worked with students on art that will be donated to CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse). Additional original artwork can be seen on the large mural right outside of Landy. Oral History and archiving skills were developed as students focused on the story-telling aspect through the Service Week Storytelling and Archiving Shorecrest History programs. Students interviewed their peers and faculty, took pictures, and wrote articles to document the Service Week experience while other students helped document the history and legacy of Shorecrest and St. Petersburg.
On campus, students sent thank you cards to Shorecrest faculty and staff, researching, writing and delivering uplifting messages to every staff and faculty member at Shorecrest. Another group of students created “Positivity Rocks” and painted positive messages on rocks and places around campus.
You can see some of the work done by students during Service Week on the School’s social media accounts and by following the hashtags #shorecrestserves and #serviceweek21.
On Thursday, April 15, we will be celebrating volunteerism and service learning in our community during our last Giving Day. Throughout next week, we will be recognizing those who enhance the Shorecrest experience for our students and community members by effecting change in their communities — locally and globally.
You can show your support by making a gift reflective of your student’s class year (i.e., 2021, $20.21) or in honor of someone that has positively impacted your Shorecrest experience.
Service is at the core of what it means to be a Shorecrest community member. Service Week is evidence of the time and commitment that the School devotes to this important aspect of our lives. Service is where compassion and responsibility meet, and we are proud to live our values and mission.
All the best,