Service is right up there with reading, writing, and math at our Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools, which is why every elementary and preschool classroom participates in service-learning projects.
“We are called to be charitable,” St. Joseph School principal Sara Myers said. “That is one of our values here – to do for others.”
Service-learning combines traditional academic skills with the Corporal Works of Mercy. Some projects benefit the greater community, like when the fourth-graders helped make mats for the homeless. Other projects benefit our BCACS community, like when the TK and preschool raised money for a student battling Leukemia by selling lemonade and lollipops.
“It is important to reach out to those around us, but also those outside our immediate community, too,” Mrs. Myers said. “That is part of sharing the faith and living the faith.”
These group service projects prepare students for the self-directed service hours they will contribute in middle school, high school, and hopefully all their lives.
“[Service-learning] is more than a lesson plan where you pull objectives and standards together,” Mrs. Myers said. “These are life lessons our students can take from our schools, which make us stand out.”
The following are just a few of this year’s projects:
Our tiniest Tigers made cards for veterans as well as elderly St. Joseph parishioners. This spring they will raise money to purchase books and stuffed animals for our police department to give to children involved with trauma.
“With the younger kiddos we truly feel that it is important for them to be involved with random acts of kindness,” TK and preschool teacher Amiee Downey said. “We teach the kids that we need to serve all people, and sometimes, people just need a little pick me up.”
Our first-graders are collecting donations for Our Lady of Angels in Chicago, a charity run by the Sisters of the Franciscans of the Eucharist, of which BCACS alumni Sister Laura Toth is a member.
“We are blessed with Christ’s love, but also by so much abundance, and to share our abundance with others is to be the heart and hands of Christ,” first-grade teacher Amy Doyle said.
Our second-graders will be selling their homemade goods at the annual Second Grade Supermarket to benefit the St. Joseph Food Bank.
“This wonderful project incorporates social studies, math, and theology,” second-grade teacher Barbie Carrier said.
Our third-graders are raising money for St. Jude’s Hospital during their annual math-a-thon.
“We love to support St. Jude’s because parents are never asked to pay for treating children with childhood diseases,” third-grade teacher Patti Kuenzel said. “We have supported St. Jude’s for many years and have donated over $40,000.”
The third/fourth-grade split class will work with the Sisters of St. Joseph on Mission Haiti, which will send ten girls to school.
“I am so excited to work with them on this project,” third/fourth-grade teacher Rachel Anderson said. “It’s so important for students to do these learning projects. It helps to build their character and their Catholic identity.”
One of our fifth-graders’ projects is helping the Legion of Mary send cards and small gifts to homebound parishioners.
“The importance of class service projects is to help students connect with the community, to develop compassion for others, and to work together for a common goal,” fifth-grade teacher Linda Hamel said.