The holidays had a rousing beginning with our 5th grade class hosting the annual Breakfast with Santa celebration!
Lower School Service Learning
Rooted in the Dominican tradition (see story of St. Dominic*) that the goal of learning is not learning alone, but to become better people and create a better world, San Domenico encourages students to become good samaritans as well as academic achievers. Students apply these values within the school community, in our local community, and in the wider world through participation in many Service Learning projects.
Random Acts of Kindness Campaign
For their service learning project the K students will spread love and joy on campus by making thank you cards and treats to deliver to different community members on campus (maintenance, the Sisters, administration, dining hall staff, etc).
Aldersley Retirement Home
Four times throughout the year, our littlest students bring joy and connection to the elderly residents at Aldersley Retirement Home in San Rafael. Many of the residents at Aldersly are unable to get out into the wider world very often, so visiting with our sweet, young children brings happiness to them and the opportunity for our kindergarteners to benefit from the attention and kindness of the elderly.
Warm Wishes Cards
Our Upper School students participate in the Warm Wishes campaign, which collects, assembles and distributes 5,000 “Street Packs,” or backpacks, stuffed with new, warm gloves, scarves, hats, wool socks and rain ponchos to homeless men, women, and children, living on the streets of the Bay Area. The winter accessories, manufactured under the direction of and funded by Warm Wishes, help them survive the difficult weather months. The Kindergarteners will help to create cards to include in each individual back pack.
The first grade students service learning project benefits the children at our sister school, Colona Esperanza, in Tijuana. It began with students and parents agreeing upon chores to earn money for small gifts; students brought their earnings along with a wrapped shoe box and note to the child receiving the gift. Our parent volunteer team purchased fun items for the children to fill their shoe boxes and send to Colona Esperanza.
There is nothing sweeter than the connection between the elderly and young children. With that in mind, we are hoping to take the 1st graders to visit the elderly Dominican sisters at Lourdes Convent in San Rafael. They would make cards and drawings for them and bring their favorite books to share.
2nd & 3rd Grade
Cedars of Marin, Hands & Earth Day Program (NEW)
The students will visit Cedars of Marin - an organization that provides programs for people with developmental disabilities at their nearby site in the hills of San Anselmo. More specifically, the 2nd and 3rd graders will be visiting the Hands & Earth Day Program - an incredible little haven with farm animals, an organic garden, art studios, and a big beautiful handloom workshop.
The students will tour the site and learn all about where natural fibers come from - meeting the alpacas, angora rabbits, goats and sheep - and then visit the handloom workshop where Cedars residents weave the different materials to create beautiful textiles that they sell at their studio on San Anselmo Avenue – The Artist Within.
The very best part is that in addition to learning about textiles from raw materials to a local business’ finished product sales, the students will be interacting with the special needs individuals in the Hands & Earth Day Program, breaking down the barriers between young children and the special needs community.
The third grade collects snacks and personal items to send care packages to our troops abroad. Prior to the collection, a speaker from the military talks to the students about what it's like serving in a foreign country.
Through the Personal Challenge program, we encourage our students to find a way that they can make a difference in the world-no matter how small. Examples include cutting hair for Locks of Love, collecting used soccer cleats to send to children in need in the third world and many more.
4th & 5th Grade
Adopting Homeward Bound Family Center
Our 4th and 5th graders adopt Homeward Bound’s Family Center for the Holidays. The Family Center (where our 4th graders go monthly to make meals for the residents) provides short-term, emergency shelter for nine homeless families. Those families include 18 children and our Lower School adopts all of them for the holidays. All proceeds for the project are raised by the students - 5th Grade’s Breakfast with Santa and 4th Grade’s Business Day.
A group of 4th and 5th graders go shopping for the nine families’ holiday gifts. Last year those included warm winter coats and mittens. In addition, they bought many different craft kits for the children to use to make gifts for their parents. They also purchased wrapping paper, bows, and decorations for the Family Center. Another group of 4th and 5th graders wrapped all the gifts and, finally, a different group of 4th and 5th graders delivered the gifts and decorated the house for the holidays.
Meals for Families at Homeward Bound’s Family Center
Each month, six or seven fourth grade students go to the Homeward Bound Family Center (FC) in San Rafael, and make a meal for the residents – nine homeless families.
In preparation for the visit, a DVD is shown early in the school year about Homeward Bound and its mission to fight homelessness in Marin and a speaker from HB comes to address the students and answer any questions. To deepen their understanding of homelessness the 4th graders will read and discuss realistic fiction in both literacy and religion class on the subject - Last Stop on Market Street, Tiger Rising and Crenshaw.
On the day a specific group is going to the FC to cook, each child brings an ingredient for the meal and the group visits the SD garden first to gather fresh vegetables to include as well. The students leave personal notes to the children at the FC as well as a self addressed stamped envelope for the FC children to send drawings or letters back if they’d like.
The fourth graders are paired up in teams to create mini businesses. From selling lotions and dogtreats, to shoot-a-hoop, the class hosts the rest of the Lower School to raise money for charities they choose.
Fireside Food Pantry
The 5th grade leadership teams take turns going to HB's Fireside Apartments for low-income seniors. The students manage Fireside's Food Pantry, which is fully stocked by the Marin Food Bank for the elderly residents. Not only do they receive, sort and bag the food, but also distribute and hand deliver it to the seniors, some of whom are housebound. To promote real connection, the students also bring breakfast for and play games with the elderly residents.
To introduce the program, Micha Berman, Director of Programs at Fireside, speaks to the 5th graders at school, giving a presentation about Fireside and its residents to prepare them for their visits.
All Lower School
Pennies for Patients & Money for Medicine for the Esperanza Mission
Twice a year - first during Advent and then again during Lent - each grade works to fill their class collection jars to contribute to the children at our sister school, Colona Esperanza in Tijuana. To raise the money, students do chores and collect spare change around the house. Pennies for Patients are donated directly to the health clinic while Money for Medicine is donated to provide preventive vaccines and antibiotics.
Marin Food Bank
Every year, the entire school comes together to fight hunger in Marin County by donating the Marin Food Bank’s Thanksgiving food drive. We have consistently been one of the largest donor to the county-wide drive, collecting 1000s of cans. Just last year we filled two entire trucks with cans and dried food, providing 18,000 food items for families in the Bay Area.
St. Dominic was from a privileged family and was passionate about learning. He loved reading from his collection of rare annotated books. But in 1191, a terrible famine ravished Spain and St. Dominic felt compelled to help. When he saw the terrible suffering around him, he sold all of his clothes, his furniture, and even his beloved books to feed his neighbors. As St. Dominic went out to serve in his community, he encountered people from many different backgrounds and traditions. While helping them, he listened to their stories - sitting for hours in conversation. It was through these connections that St. Dominic realized that the truth is not found in books. The truth is found in the human heart and in the human experience.
Please contact Gail McCallister email@example.com, San Domenico Service Learning Project Coordinator, if you would like to know more about these projects or have new ideas for other ways our students can engage in Service Learning in our community and the wider world.
Interested in learning more?
We once again invite you to attend a Gather at Grand event with the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, on Wednesday, November 29 from 7:00 - 8:30 pm.
A big thank you to Team WindChime for your efforts and leadership in organizing our service learning club trip to WindChime, a local senior living facility for those with memory loss.
San Domenico Middle School's Video Blog The PAWcast, Season 2, Episode 1
What a beautiful day we had at Muir Beach and Green Gulch Farm with our sixth graders.