As summer winds to a close, it is easy to get focused on what follows: backpacks, last minute reading assignments, new shoes and high hopes for the year to come. There is at least one summer item, however, that needs closure if your child has been doing some useful service commitments during the past few months. Not only do we need to verify and record the hours and site information—including an evaluation form from the agency attesting to your child's volunteer service—from summer work, but, even more importantly for your child, we are collecting their reflections on the service itself.
I have wonderful sabbatical memories of the volunteer hours I performed at the Lilla G. Frederick Middle School in Dorchester from September through January, and a few pictures on my phone of the students whom I came to love. But I have to admit, that I did not adequately note in words the feelings as they happened for me during this important experience. I regret it. I did better when I went to Louisiana to work in the Community Center of St. Bernard in the spring, and I noticed with pleasure when I talked about the Nobles NOLA trip experience with Linda Hurley that her admonition to her youngsters was to write about the moment while they still were in the moment before the details of each day slipped by. The other adults on the service trip kept the spirit of writing alive for themselves and, therefore, so did the Nobles kids. They will be able to share their weeks in New Orleans with specificity and depth, due in large part to the expectation that they needed to turn in sections of their journals.
This expectation extends to all service work for Nobles credit. During the course of the 80 hours of experiential learning on a service site, each student should be submitting six typed, double-spaced, two-page memoirs describing the type of agency for which they worked, how they felt about the assignment, and what they believe about this kind of volunteering. It can be honest; not all service work elicits rave reviews! But it should be an authentic set of thoughts from the student submitted before the experience fades in the fast pace of academic and athletic experiences.
We hope you will call or email us with any questions you might have about the work for which your child would like credit. We can discuss whether this particular service stint is the one that would best suit a set of journals and we can make sure to keep accurate data for your child as he/she pursues service credit. You can find the Community Service Form in the Parents Community Page of the website. Log in, and visit the "Odds & Ends" section under "Parents' Association." Your child also has access to this form in the Students Community Page. Questions or comments can be emailed to Sandra_MacQuinn@Nobles.edu or Linda_Hurley@Nobles.edu.
Remind your youngster that now is the time to get this done. Later, too much will be on the schedule, and it could get pushed to the "not now" category. The result will be less than satisfying for your child to write about, and surely less meaningful in terms of product. Norbet Platt said, "The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium." I think serving one's community does this too, but unexamined, the work itself cannot alter us much.
We look forward to reading your son's or daughter's reflections. Hopefully, soon!
Sandi MacQuinn and Linda Hurley