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.
"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
Park’s Civic Engagement and Service Learning program supports the development of students as they grow into active citizens. Through service experiences, students exercise their ability to advocate for communities and organizations and develop an understanding of ways to responsibly and respectfully contribute to the improvement of their communities. Many service projects connect directly to curriculum, enhancing the classroom experience.
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. The school seeks and develops relationships with community partners that acknowledge and promote their roles as educators of Park students. 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:
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. The following are just a few examples of Park School programs that support the development of students into active citizens.
The Lower School has been involved for over 20 years supporting Viva House, a Mount Street soup kitchen and food pantry, 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. Click here for a list of items needed for food bag donations. Visit our blog to learn more about Park's long-standing relationship with Viva House.
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.
The Neighborhood Revitalization Club (NRC) is an Upper School club that was founded with a mission to support the development of healthy communities in Baltimore. With a focus on the creation of green spaces, students volunteer with the Community Lot Team of Civic Works, a community service organization, as well as a coalition of nonprofits and community members to address urban blight.
Click here to read more about the NRC and previous community projects in Baltimore.
In recent years, Upper School students have participated in the Day of Civic Engagement, a full day event, which includes opportunities to go off campus to volunteer with local organizations working to improve the community or engage in an experience that highlights a social issue and related advocacy. Opportunities have included volunteering at soup kitchens, shelters, retirement communities, schools, urban farms, and organizations addressing domestic violence. The Day of Civic Engagement ends with an assembly in which alumni describe their professional paths related to the support of communities in Baltimore and around the world. Upper School students share in the planning of the Day.
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.
For more information about any of Park's programs, contact Segun Olagunju, Director of Civic Engagement and Service Learning.