When thinking about how our school can tie ongoing initiatives to #2019Schools for the commemorative year, I immediately thought of the work our Student Government Association (SGA) does throughout the year. Each year in early December, students in the Cumberland County School Division perform acts of service in the community and district schools to commemorate the late Betty G. Scales, a former educator in Cumberland County. Her dedication and service to our community was immeasurable, and, upon her passing, the county decided to dedicate a day of service to commemorate her importance to our small, but amazing community. Betty Scales was the definition of a changemaker! Acts of service around Cumberland County in her honor have ranged from beautification of the school grounds, assisting and playing bingo at the local nursing home, and delivering a lunch of homemade chili to teachers and local police officers. From mid-November to early-December, the Cumberland County High School (CHS) SGA collected canned food from fellow classmates for Delma’s Pantry, a local food bank. The SGA decided to do this during the holiday season so that families could have food on the table to celebrate with the ones they love, and it also worked out perfectly for our school to participate in the Week of Thanks initiative for #2019Schools.
Getting in the Spirit through Collaboration
Each year, the SGA at CHS also puts on Spirit Week and a Homecoming Dance for the school community, as well as create Pre-K Summer Reading Packs for Cumberland County students to practice their reading skills over the summer with an interactive pack. Homecoming and Spirit Week are always wonderful and exciting times for CHS students to express their school spirit. This week always promotes a healthy class competition during the Pep Rally, school unity at the football game, and a great time at the dance. Each year, the SGA enjoys putting on these events for their fellow classmates as well bringing a sense of pride and community to their school.
During the spring semester, the major task for the SGA is to collaborate and create a Pre-K children’s book with a central theme and activities so that students can practice their reading skills over the summer before they begin kindergarten. The SGA officers get really into this service project. In the past, the officers wrote and illustrated the book themselves and handmade the activities to go with it. Handing out these packets is always a fun experience, and I always love seeing the smiles on every student’s face in that classroom, from Pre-K’ers to high school seniors.
The Power of Kindness and Generosity
As the SGA advisor and a history and government teacher, I am always amazed at the kindness and generosity of my students. As an American and a history and government teacher, I am reminded of the thankfulness, gratitude, and community of historical events that have inspired Americans to not only pause and be thankful for what we have today, but also how we, in Cumberland County, can pause and make a difference in our own community, like donating canned food to those in need, bringing some spirit to school, or providing reading packs to rising kindergarteners. I hope these acts of service by Cumberland County students remind and inspire all of us of the importance of caring for one another.
I also hope these acts of service serve as examples of how Virginia continues to define the spirit of America and the 2019 Commemoration themes of Democracy, Diversity, Opportunity, Innovation, and Collaboration. I’m excited to join with educators and students across Virginia during the commemorative year as a part of #2019Schools. These are just some examples of practical ways service learning projects can be tied to #2019Schools initiatives. What are you doing in your school community for #2019Schools?
You can follow Courteney on Twitter @taylorck26.