Civic Engagement

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Day of Community Building, Service, and Reflection

Since 2001, Park has held an annual Day of Community Building, Service, and Reflection. Inspired by the need to respond to the events of 9/11/2001, The Park Service Committee came up with the idea of hosting a half-day of service activities for the entire school on the day before Thanksgiving.

Viva House

The Lower School has been involved for over 20 years supporting Viva House, a Mount Street soup kitchen, through food donations. The Fourth Grade takes responsibility for coordinating this effort, soliciting food, and packing bags. Upper and Middle School advisories often hold their own collection drives, and parent volunteers pitch in by driving the food bags to Viva House.

Habitat for Humanity

Park has been involved in a multi-faceted project with Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake since 2000. Started by Upper School faculty member Julie Rogers and Upper School student leaders, the project began as a commitment to building 10 houses in 10 years (raising the $50,000-$90,000 cost for a house each year and working on Habitat building sites). Park Habitat exceeded their goal by building 12 houses in a decade!

Service in Context

We have no service requirements at Park, no hours for our students to accumulate, so why do we promote and encourage service learning and community service? Park’s commitment to service and the culture it has created can be traced back to the active citizenship we try to foster among our students.

Upper School Student Leadership Retreat

Upper School students worked with Civic Works Community Lot Team as part of the US Student Leadership Retreat. Students planted and maintained community gardens in Waverly alongside AmeriCorps volunteers from Civic Works. Back at Park, students discussed what the experience taught them about leadership.

Summer Civic Engagement Corps

As part of the Park Summer Civic Engagement Corps program, 15 Upper School students contributed their time and energy to a number of hands-on service projects in the Baltimore community, and were able to build an understanding of the ways organizations work to address the needs of residents.

To achieve a richer understanding of the world, one must participate in it. Park strives to provide multiple opportunities for community members to identify and address issues of public concern, and to find ways to get involved.

Our Approach

ACTIVE CITZENSHIP

"It is the objective of the school, through its identity and history as a co-educational, pluralistic community, to prepare students to participate in the public life of a diverse and increasingly interconnected democratic society."

–From the Objectives of The Park School 

Guided by the school's objective of preparing students for active citizenship, the school seeks to connect students with Civic Engagement and Service Learning experiences. These opportunities link socially responsible action with academic learning and reflection in an effort to emphasize the importance of civic engagement and to give context to their work. In Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools, students are involved in a range of activities through class projects or extracurricular activities involving clubs or sports teams.

MINDFUL ACTION

As Park students and faculty members connect with communities beyond our campus, the school is committed to engaging in ways that promote mutual respect and understanding and personal growth for participants. With that in mind, the school seeks and develops relationships with community partners that acknowledge and promote their roles as educators of Park students. Moreover, faculty and students work to understand the needs of community partners before acting. The school also recognizes the importance of preparation of students for community work and the value of reflection in developing students who will continue to be engaged in this work in the future.

With that in mind, the school emphasizes the following considerations:

  • developing authentic reciprocal partnerships
  • thoroughly preparing students for community work
  • modeling respect for diversity
  • promoting safety and well-being of students
  • engaging in reflection and evaluation experiences
  • providing opportunities for students to learn about the root causes of issues 

The Work We Do

CONNECTED TO THE CURRICULUM

Park teachers actively seek opportunities to provide civic engagement experiences that are connected to the curriculum. Students in every division have connected classroom learning with service. A few examples follow.

In the Lower School, a third grade class studying survival connected with a local homeless shelter. The class traveled to Weinberg Housing and Resource Center to see how the shelter meets the needs of its residents and guests. Students also learned about ways that they could support WHRC. As a result, the class undertook several projects: making Valentines for residents, preparing meals, and collecting toiletries for the shelter. Park and Weinberg Housing Resource CenterAs part of the fourth grade curriculum, which studies power and civil rights, students take responsibility for food drives that support our longstanding partner, Viva House, a Baltimore soup kitchen. More information is available below.

All eighth grade students take part in the Advoc8 program, a multi-disciplinary project designed for students to use skills and knowledge developed during Middle School in order to take on roles as advocates for change. During Advoc8, students choose a topic about which they are passionate and, with faculty and peer collaboration, create an individual or group project, which culminates in the creation of authentic, innovative, solution-oriented advocacy. Recent projects included developing volunteer activities for the League for People with Disabilities, a documentary studying racial bias, and developing a campaign to increase the use of composting in the Middle School.

Recently, students in an Upper School elective studied cardiovascular disease and linked it to a project at a local homeless shelter. The students were tasked with using their understanding of the risk factors of the disease and preparing materials and activities for residents and guests of WHRC. The project culminated with a health fair at WHRC, providing an authentic audience and valuable feedback for their work, while supporting the work of the shelter and the well-being of its residents and guests. Park at Weinberg Housing Resource Center In the past, a paired set of English and Spanish electives focused on immigration; students worked weekly with Latino immigrants at the Hispanic Apostolate. A science teacher offered a course on Learning and Teaching Science in Baltimore, designed to prepare students to work in Baltimore City schools during their Senior Projects. An English teacher has offered a course that focuses on realities of inner-city life, with volunteer work at the Stadium School in Baltimore City.

CLUBS, ACTIVITIES, AND ATHLETICS

Park students are active in the community in addition to their classroom work. Park does not require community service hours, but many students seek ways to connect with and support the Baltimore community. Many student clubs and teams partner with local organizations.

In the Upper School, the Park Habitat for Humanity Club has worked with the local Habitat affiliate for many years, sending volunteers to build houses, fundraising, and developing a coalition with local schools in support of Habitat (more information below). The Upper School Amnesty and International Aid club recently worked with the local International Rescue Committee, holding a winter clothing drive, to support the IRC's work resettling refugees in Baltimore. The Park and League Partnership (PAL) allows Park students and participants in the League for People with Disabilities Medical Day program to spend time together and to fundraise in support of the League. In addition, in the spring of 2015, a group of Upper School students seeking to demonstrate their commitment to the city in the wake of the Uprising, partnered for several sessions with the Civic Works Community Lot Team to help build and maintain community gardens in vacant lots throughout the city. Teams also have an opportunity to participate in service activities, allowing the team to work together in support of a local organization and also helping players to develop their understanding of responsibility to the community. 

Recently, Middle and Lower School students have worked to support various groups, including Habitat for Humanity, the Youth Empowered Society (YES) Drop-In Center for homeless youth, the Weinberg Housing and Resource Center, the International Rescue Committee, and education in Darfur.

FAMILIES

The Parents Association has hosted service opportunities for parents and families helping to build a culture of service in our community and reinforcing the value of this work. Through these events, families learn more about and contribute to the work of local organizations. Recent events have included a Family Day of Service at Real Food Farm in Baltimore City's Clifton Park and a service event in which parents supported the work of Art with a Heart, a Baltimore nonprofit focused on bringing art instruction to underserved groups. 

Community-wide Initiatives

The school often connects with programs and initiatives as a community.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

Park has been involved in a multi-faceted project with Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake since 2000. Started by Upper School faculty member Julie Rogers and Upper School student leaders, the project began as a commitment to building 10 houses in 10 years (raising the $50,000-$90,000 cost for a house each year and working on Habitat building sites). Park Habitat exceeded their goal by building 12 houses in a decade!

In 2010, Park partnered with local public and independent schools to pilot the Build-A-Block program. Students lead this group in sponsoring and building homes for Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake. Read more about Build-A-Block.

For more information about this program, please contact the Park Habitat’s Faculty Adviser Rommel Loria (rloria@parkschool.net).

PARK AND THE MIDDLE GRADES PARTNERSHIP

The Middle Grades Partnership (MGP) creates learning opportunities by bringing together independent and Baltimore City Public School students and teachers. The goal is for both communities to learn from each other through summer work, trips, and activities. Park’s partner school is Afya Public Charter School (www.afyabaltimore.org).

For more information about our program, contact co-director Sarah Howell. For more info about the MGP, please visit www.middlegradespartnership.org.

VIVA HOUSE

The Lower School has been involved for over 20 years supporting Viva House, a Mount Street soup kitchen, through food donations.

The fourth grade takes responsibility for coordinating this effort, soliciting food, and packing bags. Upper and Middle School advisories often hold their own collection drives, and parent volunteers pitch in by driving the food bags to Viva House. For more information, please contact Rommel Loria (rloria@parkschool.net).


Items Needed for Food Bags

We welcome anything from our list, from one item to a fully loaded bag.

  • 1 jar peanut butter
  • 1 jar of jelly
  • 1 box cereal (Cheerios, please)
  • 2 cans beans
  • 1 can green vegetable
  • 2 cans soup
  • 1 can or jar spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cans canned meat (ex: chicken, chili, etc.—please, no tuna!)
  • 1 box pasta
  • 2 boxes macaroni and cheese
  • 1 can of fruit
  • toilet paper (single rolls)
  • 1 reusable bag

Day of Community Building, Service, and Reflection

Since 2001, Park has held an annual Day of Community Building, Service, and Reflection. Inspired by the need to respond to the events of 9/11/2001, The Park Service Committee came up with the idea of hosting a half-day of service activities for the entire school on the day before Thanksgiving. Middle and Upper School students have opportunities to go off campus to help in soup kitchens, retirement communities, shelters, or urban farms. Or they can choose to work around campus helping the Facilities staff, making sandwiches for local soup kitchens, soup bowls for the “Empty Bowls” project, or gift bags for NIH pediatric patients…the list goes on and on. Lower School students join in these activities or work on their own projects with classmates.

Our Community Partners


AFYA / Middle Grades Partnership

2800 Brendan Ave
Baltimore, MD 21213

Focus of Organization: Education
Who was involved?: Park faculty and students
Type of Volunteer Work: Summer learning partnership for Baltimore City public school students and Park students


Art with a Heart

3355 Keswick Rd. #104
Baltimore, MD 21211
Phone Number: 410-366-8886

Focus of Organization: Art
Who was involved?: Parents Association, 8th grade (Advoc8)
Type of Volunteer Work: community art projects, making goods for sale in support of art programs


Baltimore Humane Soceity

1601 Nicodemus Rd
Baltimore, MD 21136
Phone Number: 410-833-8848

Focus of Organization: Animal Welfare
Who was involved?: 8th grade (Advoc8)
Type of Volunteer Work: maintenance


Beans and Bread

400 South Bond Street
Baltimore, MD 21231
Phone Number: 410-732-1892

Focus of Organization: Food Bank/Soup Kitchen
Who was involved?: Upper School students (Park Service Club)
Type of Volunteer Work: making meals for soup kitchen


Boone Street Farm

2100 Boone Street
Baltimore, MD 21218

Focus of Organization: Urban Farm
Who was involved?: Upper School students (Summer Civic Engagement Corps)
Type of Volunteer Work: Farm work


Charm City Farms - Clifton Park Food Forest

Hilltop Drive
Baltimore, MD 21213
Phone Number: 443-824-5340

Focus of Organization: Urban Farm
Who was involved?: Upper School students (Summer Civic Engagement Corps)
Type of Volunteer Work: Food forest work


Civic Works Community Lot Team (32nd Street Farrmers Market (Waverly))

E. 32nd and Barclay Streets
Baltimore, MD 21218

Focus of Organization: Housing/Neighborhoods
Who was involved?: Upper School students
Type of Volunteer Work: planting and garden maintenance


Civic Works Community Lot Team (Dayspring Programs - Housing and Head Start)

1125 N. Patterson Park Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21213

Focus of Organization: Housing/Neighborhoods
Who was involved?: Upper School students; 8th grade students (Advoc8)
Type of Volunteer Work: planting and garden maintenance


Civic Works Community Lot Team (near Moveable Feast)

N. Milton and E. Eager Streets
Baltimore, MD 21205

Focus of Organization: Housing/Neighborhoods
Who was involved?: Upper School students
Type of Volunteer Work: planting and garden maintenance


Computers for Kids

2425 Old Court Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21208

Focus of Organization: Technology
Who was involved?: Upper School student club
Type of Volunteer Work: Refurbished and donated computers to children and families


GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network)

1111 North Charles Street, 4th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21201

Focus of Organization: GLBTQ Issues
Who was involved?: 8th grade (Advoc8)
Type of Volunteer Work: preparation for Day of Silence


Habitat for Humanity - Brooklyn Park

807 Jeffrey Street
Baltimore, MD 21225

Focus of Organization: Housing/Neighborhoods
Who was involved?: Upper School student club
Type of Volunteer Work: building houses


Habitat for Humanity - Orchard Ridge

4015 St. Clair Crossing
Baltimore, MD 21213

Focus of Organization: Housing/Neighborhoods
Who was involved?: Upper School student club
Type of Volunteer Work: building houses


Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake (Various sites)

3741 Commerce Drive, #309
Halethorpe, MD 21227
Phone Number: 410-366-1250

Focus of Organization: Housing/Neighborhoods
Who was involved?: Upper School student club, Middle School club, Lower School students
Type of Volunteer Work: building houses, fundraising


Helping Up Mission

1029 E. Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone Number: 410-675-7500

Focus of Organization: Addiction Recovery
Who was involved?: Upper School students (Summer Civic Engagement Corps)
Type of Volunteer Work: Served food


Hidden Harvest

1825 N. Calvert St.
Baltimore, MD 21202

Focus of Organization: Urban Farm
Who was involved?: Upper School students (Summer Civic Engagement Corps)
Type of Volunteer Work: farm work


International Rescue Committee

3516 Eastern Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21224
Phone Number: 410-327-1885

Focus of Organization: Refugees
Who was involved?: US Amnesty and International Aid club; 3rd Grade
Type of Volunteer Work: Clothing drive; art gifts welcoming clients


KIPP Ujima Village Academy

4701 Greenspring Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21209
Phone Number: 410.367.0807

Focus of Organization: Education
Who was involved?: Upper School student club
Type of Volunteer Work: tutoring


League for People with Disabilities

1111 E. Coldspring Ln.
Baltimore, MD 21239
Phone Number: 410-323-0500

Focus of Organization: Homelessness
Who was involved?: Upper School student club; 8th grade (Advoc8)
Type of Volunteer Work: Activities with clients of Adult Medical Day program, fundraising


Maryland Food Bank

2200 Halethorpe Farms Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21227
Phone Number: 410-737-8282

Focus of Organization: Food Bank/Soup Kitchen
Who was involved?: 8th grade students (Advoc8); Upper School students (Summer Civic Engagement Corps)
Type of Volunteer Work: food preparation; packing food


Moveable Feast

901 N Milton Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21205
Phone Number: 410-327-3420

Focus of Organization: Food Bank/Soup Kitchen
Who was involved?: Upper School students
Type of Volunteer Work: delivered meals


Paul's Place

1118 Ward St.
Baltimore, MD 21230
Phone Number: 410-625-0775

Focus of Organization: Food Bank/Soup Kitchen
Who was involved?: Upper School students (Summer Civic Engagement Corps); 8th grade (Advoc8)
Type of Volunteer Work: Served food; worked in clothing shop


Real Food Farm

2801 St. Lo Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21213
Phone Number: 443-531-8346

Focus of Organization: Urban Farm
Who was involved?: Upper School students (Summer Civic Engagement Corps); 11th grade students; Park Family Service Day; 8th grade (Advoc8)
Type of Volunteer Work: farm work


Rockrose City Farm

3800 Clipper Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21211

Focus of Organization: Urban Farm
Who was involved?: Upper School students (Summer Civic Engagement Corps)
Type of Volunteer Work: Farm work


Viva House

26 S. Mount St.
Baltimore, MD 21223
Phone Number: 410-233-0488

Focus of Organization: Food Bank/Soup Kitchen
Who was involved?: 4th grade; Park Community; all divisions
Type of Volunteer Work: Food drive


Weinberg Housing and Resource Center

620 Fallwsay
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone Number: 443-478-3777

Focus of Organization: Homelessness
Who was involved?: Lower School Day of Service; 3rd grade students; Upper School students (class); Park community (MLK Day activity)
Type of Volunteer Work: Art gifts for residents, making meals, fundraising, toiletry drives, health fair


Westside Elementary School

2235 North Fulton Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21217
Phone Number: 410-396-0628

Focus of Organization: Education
Who was involved?: Upper School students
Type of Volunteer Work: Senior Project, field day, holiday bazaar, Upper School Club


Youth Empowered Society (YES) Drop-In Center

2315 N Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21218
Phone Number: 410-235-7744

Focus of Organization: Homelessness
Who was involved?: Middle School student club; 8th grade (Advoc8)
Type of Volunteer Work: maintenance of drop-in center