Service Projects: Student Participation Increasing at Smith Elementary

Andrea Jordan, AmeriCorps member at Smith Renaissance Elementary School reporting in! A focus here at Smith over the past few months have been improving student participation in school activities. So far our students have proved that they are very interested in becoming more involved with their school through their participation in some new clubs, such as the Jaguar Book Club, Girls on the Run, and the Young Philanthropists Penny Harvest.

Every Thursday afternoon, I meet with fifteen students of the Jaguar Book club to have a group discussion about the book we are reading. During the first 15 minutes of book club, the students and I will discuss the book before doing a group exercise that allows them to interpret what they have read so far. For instance, during last week’s meeting, we wrapped up our last discussion on the book Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. The students created a clay model of what moment of the story was most memorable to them, and then presented to the rest of the group explaining why. I expect these students to gain literacy comprehension and public speaking skills while participating in the book club.

 Smith 1 5th grade students Aixa (left) and Alberto (right) create a clay sculptor of Ben Carson preparing to enter the operating room where he successfully separated conjoined twins.

After school on Mondays and Thursdays, 15 third, fourth, and fifth grade girls meet to participate in a service project I coordinate called Girls on the Run. This is an after school running program designed especially for young girls. Girls on the Run is a transformational physical activity based positive youth development program for girls in 3rd-5thgrade. They teach life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons, social emotional support and running games. The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5k running event. The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness. By the end of the program, the girls will be trained and ready to participate in the Girls on the Run 5K in City Park. So far all of the participants have been committed and have showed up for every practice prepared and ready to run!

The student participants of the Young Philanthropists Penny Harvest have participated since November and have convinced other students to support them. The Penny Harvest is an opportunity for students to give back to their community by raising money (pennies) in order to donate them to a non-profit organization of their choice. So far, the students on our Penny Harvest council (with donations also coming from Westminster High School) have collected over 275 dollars! Most of our Penny Harvest students have also decided they would like to donate our pennies to an organization that supports the homeless since this is a global issue that affects our community, including many of the Penny Harvest councils’ peers. We had our last Penny Harvest roundtable meeting upon returning from Spring Break, but many of the members have already expressed how they would still like to become more involved with our community during their summer break, such as cleaning trash in our neighborhood parks. By participating in our Penny Harvest program, these students have learned about some of the issues occurring in our community, but they have also gained the understanding that they need to be active in their community in order to rid of those issues.HH

By supporting these school activities through service projects, I have learned a lot about many of the students here at Smith Renaissance Elementary, including their appreciation for having the opportunity to be a part of something that allows them to share their ideas, and express themselves in an environment where they can be creative and collaborate with their peers… and the fact that we provide snacks doesn’t hurt either! I hope the student involvement here at Smith Renaissance Elementary will continue to grow, and the students who are transitioning to middle school will continue to participate and understand they can always make an impact on their community.

Smith 2

Students from the Penny Harvest Council meet to discuss non-profits and organizations that will donate their collected money to.

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