Students learn to help others

— Ser­vice learn­ing pro­jects have be­come a part of the mis­sion at North­wood Academy Charter School.

Daniel Echeverry, 7, sits by the school’s pro­ject at North­wood Academy Charter School. The pro­ject show stu­dents’ in­ter­ac­tion with clean­ing the en­vir­on­ment and put­ting to­geth­er art with re­cycled ma­ter­i­al, Fri­day, May 4, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)


At the North­wood Academy Charter School, stu­dents and teach­ers take ser­vice learn­ing pretty ser­i­ously.

The school edu­cates 780 kids in kinder­garten through eighth grade. The main cam­pus, at 4621 Castor Ave., is home to kinder­garten through fourth grade. Fifth- through eighth-graders at­tend classes at the former St. Joachim School.

Last week, they all came to­geth­er at the Castor Av­en­ue loc­a­tion to show off their ser­vice-learn­ing pro­jects.

“Ser­vice learn­ing has evolved for us,” ex­plained CEO Amy Hol­lister. “We’ve had a shift. We’ve al­ways had a char­it­able spir­it, but there wasn’t this help­ing people com­pon­ent.”

The stu­dents are grate­ful for the op­por­tun­ity to at­tend a school that is grow­ing. While the en­roll­ment will stay the same, an ad­di­tion is be­ing built to house a gym, cafet­er­ia and classrooms for kinder­gart­ners through third-graders. Fourth- through eighth-graders will learn in the ex­ist­ing build­ing. The pro­ject should be com­pleted by Janu­ary 2013.

In the past, stu­dents simply raised money for their pro­jects. Now they are much more in­tim­ately in­volved in the pro­ject de­tails.

“It’s not just a fund-raiser. I think they get a sense of com­munity,” said prin­cip­al Pa­tri­cia My­chack.

The stu­dents spend much of the school year talk­ing about and de­vel­op­ing their pro­jects. The brain­storm­ing be­gins each Oc­to­ber.

Teach­er Amy Kelly, co­ordin­at­or of the ser­vice-learn­ing pro­gram, said the school’s com­mit­ment began one year with a be­ne­fit for Alex’s Lem­on­ade Stand. The lem­on­ade kept selling out, and or­gan­izers had to re­peatedly go back to stores to buy more.

Ser­vice learn­ing is now in the school’s mis­sion state­ment. The pro­jects are dis­played at a fair, with the chil­dren ex­plain­ing them to vis­it­ors.

“This is stu­dent-run,” Kelly said.

Kinder­garten stu­dents cre­ated a flower pot and step­ping­stones that can be used as a path to the school ad­di­tion.

ldquo;We made step­ping­stones to make our school look pretty,” said Ella Eaton.

First-graders fo­cused on re­cyc­ling. They used re­cyc­ling ma­ter­i­als to build a bull­dog (the school mas­cot) and “Re­cycle Dog,” made of cans, bottles and oth­er items.

Second-graders read books to the res­id­ents of the States­man Woods and La­fay­ette-Re­deem­er re­tire­ment com­munit­ies.

Third-graders went all out. Some held a Dance-A-Thon that raised $489 for the Quilts for Kids child­hood-can­cer char­ity.

Oth­er third-graders asked for dona­tions of loose change as part of their “Pen­nies for Pa­tients” cam­paign. In the end, they col­lec­ted a whop­ping $2,235.44 for the Leuk­emia & Lymph­oma So­ci­ety.

Fourth-graders had sev­er­al pro­jects. Some held a snack and drink sale to raise money to de­liv­er quilts, gift cards, flowers, greet­ing cards, slip­pers, tooth­paste, bingo games and blankets to pa­tients at the nearby Can­cer Treat­ment Cen­ters of Amer­ica. They also sang Lean on Me and We Are the World to the pa­tients.

Oth­er fourth-graders offered a laptop present­a­tion to show how they col­lec­ted more than 30 pounds of soda-can tabs for dona­tion to the Ron­ald Mc­Don­ald House. They also made fleece hats for pa­tients and held a Math-A-Thon and raised $615 for the St. Jude Chil­dren’s Re­search Hos­pit­al.

Oth­ers sold candy and raised $300 for people who have can­cer.

Fifth-graders con­duc­ted a few dif­fer­ent pro­jects. Some col­lec­ted tow­els, blankets, col­lars, leashes and clean­ing sup­plies for the no-kill Street Tails An­im­al Res­cue in North­ern Liber­ties. They are pro­mot­ing Su­per Ad­op­tion Day, sched­uled for June 16 from noon to 4 p.m., at the Piazza at Schmidt’s.

Oth­er fifth-graders traveled to the Moth­er Goose & Friends Academy day-care cen­ter in Rhawn­hurst to read books to the young­sters and help them with math skills.

The fifth-graders also helped second-graders at their own school de­vel­op their read­ing, writ­ing and math skills.

“We wanted to be good role mod­els for when they get older,” said fifth-grader Day­anie Fa­vors.

Sixth-graders had a couple of themes. Some de­signed col­or­ing and activ­ity books and per­formed skits to bring aware­ness to the is­sue of miss­ing and ex­ploited chil­dren.

Mark Jones, Alec Borschell and Ceone Wil­li­ams rep­res­en­ted a sixth-grade class that had a re­cyc­ling mes­sage. They used re­cyc­ling ma­ter­i­als to cre­ate pup­pets, a wish­ing well and a sink, and also de­signed a big dis­play board with in­form­a­tion and pic­tures. A sur­vey of staff mem­bers in­dic­ated that, while most re­cycle at home, the ma­jor­ity do not re­cycle at school. The ma­ter­i­als were col­lec­ted around the peri­met­er of the school.

“We found a lot of wa­ter and soda bottles, light­ers and trash around the school,” Mark said. “Every­body needs to re­cycle.”

Sev­enth-graders chose an­im­al cruelty as their is­sue. They worked with first-graders to make cat­nip toys to donate to the Pennsylvania SPCA.

Eighth-graders missed the fair be­cause they were on a class trip to Her­shey­park. They held a bake sale to make care pack­ages for the home­less. The pack­ages in­cluded tis­sues, wa­ter, lo­tion, soap, tooth­paste, tooth­brushes and crack­ers. ••


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