SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Saratoga Independent School (SIS) has a new community service program called SIS CARES (Community and Real-world Experiences for Students).
The school motto, “We take care of ourselves, of others, of our school and of our community,” is the foundation of a school culture that recognizes and honors the importance of caring for others.
“At SIS, benevolence rhymes with action. SIS students learn to value and demonstrate the qualities of integrity, kindness, respect and empathy. Service learning is the motto, mission and philosophy of SIS, ”a press release from the school said. “SIS CARES will provide students with more service learning opportunities than ever before. Teaching students that caring for others outside of our school community enables them to see that they have the ability to use critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork to make a difference on a larger scale.
The goals of SIS CARES, a program for students in grades five to eight, are for students to learn more about the Saratoga community, gain experience working with different organizations, inquire about the resources available to help people in different situations and build the skills needed to be active citizens in their community.
In September, SIS invited representatives from five local service organizations – Franklin Community Center, Saratoga Bridges, The Children’s Museum at Saratoga, The Saratoga Senior Center, and SNACpack – to attend a community day. The students spent time learning about each organization and decided where they would like to volunteer.
Then, in late October, the students made the first of three trips to the organization for a day of service. Projects ranged from organizing food donations, gardening and fieldwork, creating educational kits, interacting with consumers and more.
“We were delighted to have such an energetic and creative group of students from Saratoga Independent School,” Mary Beth McGarrahan, director of development at the Franklin Community Center, said in the statement. “They assisted our staff in the daily sorting and organization of merchandise, food and products received. During this task, they learned which items are most urgent and that a “pantry” does not only provide food for members of our community. I am very grateful to be a part of this program and to be able to offer the experience of volunteering in a community organization. It is certainly the one these students will remember for years to come.
Many SIS students have had enriching experiences on their first day of service and are delighted with the next. After her volunteering experience with SNACpack, a seventh grader said, “My reaction to this service project has been wow! Look at all this food! It was really surprising how much food was needed to feed these children who are not as fortunate as the rest. I hope more people get involved in a cause like this because I think it is important for people to know and understand that not everyone can open their pantry and be able to have a snack.
After each volunteering session, students will have the opportunity to reflect on their experience in their digital journal and at the end of the year, students will put together a final project to share their experiences with the rest of the school. Eighth grade students will also be required to complete a wrap-up project to highlight their four years of experience as a volunteer.
More information about the inclusive program for students at Saratoga Independent School, including SIS CARES, is available online at https://www.siskids.org/student-life/community-service.cfm .