SERVICE LEARNING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL
The goal of a Dominican education is not just learning for the sake of learning (see the story of St. Dominic*). Rather it is to inspire our students to correct injustice, to spread peace, to respect and protect all people and all beings, to uphold the values of truth and compassion. To realize that goal our students actively participate in many Service Learning projects throughout the year on and off campus. All of the efforts listed below support our goal of empowering our students to be agents of positive change in their community and their world.
Paradise Valley Organic Farm & Bolinas Agricultural History Museum
We are launching a new Service Learning project for 6th grade this year. They will be spending a full morning in Bolinas learning about organic farming and lending a hand on a local farm. Half the morning will be spent at Paradise Valley Organic Farm, where students will learn about sustainable agriculture and water conservation and gleaning some of the crops on the farm. The other half of the time, the 6th graders will visit the brand new Bolinas Museum, which showcases the history of agriculture and organic farming in western Marin. Exhibits include old farming tools, historical photos and a display about human impact on the Bolinas Lagoon over time.
Homeward Bound of Marin’s Organic Garden
Each Spring, our 7th graders visit Homeward Bound, Marin County’s largest provider of housing and support services to the homeless. They spend an entire morning working in the agency’s organic garden - harvesting, weeding and planting lettuce. In preparation for the visit, the 7th graders grow lettuce starts in San Domenico’s own organic garden to transfer to the garden at Homeward bound. The garden not only feeds the residents at Homeward Bound, but also provides fresh vegetables for the Fresh Starts Culinary Academy, a vocational training program run by Homeward Bound.
Each year, our 8th graders spend one day of their graduation week giving back to the community. Their project changes from year to year. Last year they conducted a beach clean up at Stinson and in a previous year the 8th grade class spent the day at Homeward Bound's Novato site, working in the garden and painting and planting colorful herb pots to be distributed to other Homeward Bound programs. The day ended with a speaker from Homeward Bound who graciously shared her story in to and out of homelessness.
Middle School Service Club
Many of the students are active participants in the Service Learning Club, which undertakes many projects throughout the year on and off campus. They raise money to support causes the care about, take responsibility for educating the rest of the middle school students about important issues, and go on field trips to local non-profit organizations to volunteer. Most recently the Service Club:
- Raised money for and visited Jessica’s Haven http://jessicashaven.com a small dog rescue that also serves as a therapeutic program for special needs people.
- Conducted a beach clean up in Sausalito with All One Ocean, http://alloneocean.org an organization dedicated to cleaning our oceans.
- Visited Windchime, http://windchimeofmarin.com, an Alzheimer's and memory care facility, to work one on one to make personal collages with some of the residents.
- Raised money with a Candy Gram Campaign for Valentine’s Day - The club sold lollipops with personal messages to students and then delivered them around campus. Each year they choose a nonprofit organization to donate the Candy Gram proceeds to. Last year, the club provided chewable vitamins to children in Guatemala who do not have access to clean drinking water.
- Organized Coins for Kids, a coin competition among student advisory groups to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Pennies for Patients, (http://www.lls.org) which helps children with blood cancers. Last year the club raised over $900!
Middle School Eco-Club
Students work to make a difference in our school and community by promoting sustainability and eco-literacy through educating others about sustainable practices. The committee takes the lead in creating a "greener" campus community—like holding bake sales to raise funds for our faculty to switch over to reusable, non-toxic dry erase pens.
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.
*The Story of St. Dominic
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.