Civic Engagement and Service Learning opportunities in the Upper School seek to support students as they develop into active citizens. Upper school students participate in opportunities that arise out of classes that link academic content with service, service-oriented clubs, and dedicated Civic Engagement days when students volunteer with, and learn from, organizations that support the Baltimore community. The following list includes examples of Civic Engagement opportunities in the Upper School.
In recent years, students in this Upper School science elective studied cardiovascular disease and linked it to a project at a local homeless shelter, Weinberg Housing and Resource Center (WHRC). 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. To prepare for their work and to better understand their audience, the course included volunteer opportunities at WHRC and Paul’s Place, a soup kitchen and outreach center in Southwest Baltimore.
Students in this Upper School visual arts elective created art objects that re-envisioned and revitalized vacant lots in the Baltimore area. Working in partnership with Baltimore-based community organizations, the “Build A LOT” course required students to negotiate some of the many challenging aspects of creating and doing work with members of a larger community. Site visits and interviews throughout the semester allowed students to listen to resident feedback and requests as they developed their designs. The course has grown out of the school’s connection with Civic Works and its Community Lot Team, which focuses on the transformation of vacant lots into vibrant green space. Recently, Build A LOT students created artful play elements and seating for a community garden.
Upper School drawing classes have developed a relationship with the League for People with Disabilities Medical Day program for clients with cognitive and physical disabilities. Students in this course visit the League several times throughout the semester. Drawing alongside League clients, this service project allows students to practice their craft while also providing a valuable art activity for the League program.
Students use the engineering design process to solve authentic student-selected problems focused on equity and fairness. Through an in-depth evaluation of local social justice issues and application of the engineering design process, students will solve problems that they identify as a hindrance to access and opportunity for people either in the Park community or beyond.
In recent years, Park athletes have supported developing athletics programs at other schools. The Southwest Baltimore Charter School’s middle school lacrosse team, for example, has participated in clinics hosted by Park lacrosse players on our turf field.
For many years, Park students have worked with KIPP, a local charter school, to support students' academic achievement. Park students travel to KIPP after school on a weekly basis to tutor fifth graders in a program that balances play and academic growth.
With a focus on supporting the development of strong neighborhood communities, this Upper School club has recently supported the Central Baltimore neighborhood of Barclay. The students have participated in a multi-year project to revitalize a series of vacant lots that formed a large space at the center of a city block that had proved troublesome to residents because of illegal dumping. Students have been involved as part of a coalition of residents and nonprofits in the planning, design, and implementation of the project. Read more about the project here.
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 activities. Read more here.
Students in the Park Service Club engage in activities in the school community and beyond. Club members have volunteered and made meals for local soup kitchens, worked at community gardens, and supported the Viva House food drive.
Members recently worked with the local International Rescue Committee (IRC), holding a winter clothing drive, to support the IRC's work resettling refugees in Baltimore. Students have made efforts to make connections to organizations internationally with a focus on supporting refugees.
Student-led groups have participated in national marches in Washington, D.C., including the Climate March and the Native Nations March in 2017.