At Palos Verdes’ Chadwick School, the development of good character is as important as academics. Chadwick provides a wide variety of community service opportunities for its students. It is not a requirement for students to volunteer, but 80% of the high schoolers choose to do so.
Chadwick’s volunteer opportunities vary from weekly, monthly, and annual services. An example of a weekly service takes place each Thursday, when volunteers leave for about an hour during lunch to tutor developmentally-disabled students at Park Western Elementary School. While spending time with these kids, students not only develop patience but the ability to empathize with and respect people from each and every background.
“Seeing how happy the kids are that their tutors are here really excites me. It makes me look forward to my service day, and most importantly, these students [have] helped me realize how grateful I should be [for my own fortunes],” said Macy Dimson, a current freshman who volunteers at Park Western.
One of the main monthly activities is the beach cleanup. During this service, students volunteer at the beach from 10 am to 3 pm to clean up trash, help any wounded marine mammals, and have fun.
“It feels good to know that at least one life will be saved because I removed some hazards from the beach,” freshman Lauren Thomson said. “Because of me, the beach got cleaner, and the ocean will be less polluted. Knowing the impact you [have] made gives you a good feeling.”
Overall, Chadwick’s community service impacts both the volunteers and those who receive their service. Those who help are able to experience the feeling of accomplishment and can leave with the satisfaction of knowing that lives have been changed because of them. Those who receive the help are able to understand that there are people who care for them and want to help them, and are put in a situation where they feel loved and embraced.
Becky Noble, who has been the head of the school’s community service department for 15 years, told JSR why she thinks the program works so well.
“Chadwick embeds the service hours into the academic hours,” she said, “so that students don’t have to take time out of their day and can freely participate within our program.”
She continued, “We expect our students to be consistent; the goal of our program is to change the students’ spirit and minds and allow them to bond with the people they are serving. We don’t want students to forcefully do this just for the sake of getting hours done and looking good for colleges, which is why community service is not required. Since 80% of our high schoolers choose to serve, however, this really says something about our school community.”