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Service to Others

Steward's service learning efforts ramp up under the lead of Coordinator of Campus Life and Community Stewardship Rashad Lowery.
Coordinator of Campus Life and Community Stewardship Rashad Lowery has spent a lot of time thinking about how partnership forms a cornerstone of the Steward experience. It manifests in one of the five pillars of Steward's strategic plan, "Steward for the Community," which prepares our students to be active citizens not only in an increasingly globalized society, but in the regional world surrounding us as well. Mr. Lowery knows that by serving the local community, students can learn about themselves, their course material, and the world they inhabit in purposeful, engaging ways.

"Service is a part of academic life, a part of community life, a part of the entire Steward experience," he said. "It touches all aspects of what it means to be a Spartan."

Whether strengthening existing relationships within the local community, or finding new partnership opportunities for Steward's students, Mr. Lowery has helped plan and take part in several service learning projects and initiatives this year that intentionally express his vision for the school's service learning philosophy. 

In the Lower School, the Fifth Grade Community Stewards Leadership Committee organized a Halloween Candy Give-Back Campaign in partnership with Operation Gratitude to benefit military and first responder heroes. They encouraged Lower School families to share a portion of their individually-wrapped Halloween candy in safe, sealed containers. Together, the project resulted in a donation of more than 250 pounds of Halloween candy, all of which was delivered to the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center as well as a local chapter of Veterans Outreach.

Middle Schoolers connected with Daily Planet Health Services to address the impact of homelessness. In a virtual chat with CEO Anita Bennett during community time, students discussed how homelessness can look different from the way it's commonly portrayed in the media, as well as what Spartans can do to help. The talk culminated in students bringing in items like bandages, toothbrushes, snacks, and clothing to fill supply bags that were then distributed to the region's homeless population.

"It was really exciting to make these bags because I knew I would be helping someone in need," Claire Dougherty '27 said. "Unfortunately, homeless people often don't have access to basic necessities, and I'm very happy that we could put together this project to help brighten somebody's day."

To cut down on plastic waste associated with single-use coffee pods, seventh-grade students in Middle School science teacher Betsy Orgain's and Middle School social studies teacher Wallace Inge's community service classes teamed up with the K-Cycle™ program to ensure our campus' Keurig coffee containers are being recycled instead of thrown away. Students placed special boxes near Keurig coffee makers across campus prompting people to throw pods into them instead of the trash. When the boxes are full, students ship the boxes back for the plastics to be recycled and the coffee grounds to be composted.

"This is a great way for us to offset some of our environmental impact by keeping materials in a closed loop system," Mr. Lowery said.

Upper School has also been looking to the local community with a service-learning mindset. In Upper School English teacher Jessica Conley's tenth-grade research writing seminar, students collaborated with the Enrichmond Foundation, a local nonprofit whose goal is "to serve the people, parks, and public space of the City of Richmond," to contribute to the betterment of historic Evergreen Cemetery. Mrs. Conley's sophomores researched organizations and topics related to those buried in Evergreen and synthesized the research they found to help build the historical record and honor the people interred at Evergreen.

Upper School world languages teacher Amy Cooper's AP Spanish class leveraged their Spanish-speaking skills into a service project benefitting the Chesterfield Food Bank. Under their pilot program, small groups of 2-4 students plan to take turns assisting the food bank's Spanish-speaking clients on-site during school hours. The partnership allows Steward's students to practice their Spanish communication prowess in a real-world application that also gives back to the community at large.

It has already been an inspiring year of service learning across all three divisions. While this is just a small snapshot of the service learning experiences happening around campus, we expect many more exciting projects to come in the future!
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