Regular Community Service connections have been central to the GFA Middle School experience since 1995. Last year, the program was reintroduced after a brief pause for the pandemic. The student work is an essential connection to the Mission Statement, readying Students for lives of purpose.
This year, student participation rates notably demonstrate the students' enthusiasm for community service. Over half of the seventh and eighth-grade students are committed to weekly service learning during their Friday Enrichment period. Furthermore, one-third of the sixth graders are already engaged with service learning projects, signifying an early induction to these important endeavors.
The students work across the various programs to translate the lessons they learn in school into action within the community. Some service initiatives include:
School Connections: Strengthened ties with local schools, New Beginnings, and Classical Studies present an opportunity for GFA students to connect with elementary school students through ongoing tutoring. From these weekly meetings, students develop authentic relationships and connections.
ASPIRE Partnership: GFA's collaboration with ASPIRE, an organization supporting autistic students, allows our eighth graders to work with the students by playing games sports, and working to support their growth and learning.
Elder House Visits: A group of seventh-grade students go off campus every week to connect with local residents who attend programs at Elder House. Through working every week with them, our students develop deep and meaningful relationships with these adults.
Connecticut Food Bank Collaboration: Every week, middle school students visit Connecticut Food Collaboration, where they help stock the pantry and work with the organization to support those community members who need assistance through the organization.
Yet, student involvement with these initiatives goes beyond the Enrichment period. The Community Service club at GFA showcases ten dedicated fifth through seventh graders who meet after school, coordinating community-centric projects. Their ventures include the Halloween Candy Drive and Thanksgiving Food Drive, among other noble initiatives that resonate with GFA's core values. Their work allows the entire community to connect with these important initiatives.
These programs allow middle school students to see the world outside GFA and connect to the broader community. It’s been exciting to see the growth of this initiative after the pandemic hiatus – not only has the middle school returned to their former work, but they have expanded on it.