Community Service at Princeton Day School

Life’s most urgent question is what are you doing for others?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
LS Bulb PlantingThe Princeton Day School mission statement notes, “In academics, athletics, the arts and service, we celebrate the pursuit of individual excellence and the spirit of collaboration that binds us together as a community.” Community service has been at the heart of this school since its inception; a tradition that stretches back to Miss Fine’s School and Princeton Country Day School.

The goal for the Community Service program at Princeton Day School is to engage our students in thoughtful, intentional and purposeful ways as they become responsible citizens—helping neighbors locally and globally. As we participate in community outreach and connect with underserved organizations or groups, we guide our students to solve problems creatively and find the best way to truly make a difference. At Princeton Day School, our aim is not to find a quick “fix,” but instead to lead our students to the root of an issue; to help them gain a deeper understanding of the problem and, ultimately, identify paths to a lasting solution.

Community Service in the Lower School

Lower School students engage in several different projects throughout the year, which are chosen based on their accessibility to our younger students. Each project benefits a sector of our greater community with which our students identify.

Some examples include:
  • The Wrap-In: a children’s gift drive benefitting the One Simple Wish Foundation, a local organization that enriches the lives of foster children. Students wrap new donated presents in creative and sustainable ways with recycled materials.
  • Winter Woolies: a mitten, hat and scarf drive benefitting the Children’s Home Society of NJ, a local organization which “helps at risk infants, youths, and families achieve their potential.”
  • 2nd grade student-created calendar sale, with proceeds benefitting an agreed-upon organization
  • Annual bulb planting
Lower School students also participate in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Morning of Service, when each LS grade develops a unique hands-on community service project benefitting a sampling of constituents. This morning of service usually takes place on the Friday prior to the national holiday honoring Dr. King.

Community Service in the Middle School

Middle School students participate in projects that have been decided upon collectively by each grade level. Once the organization has been identified, the year is devoted to learning about the organization, planning the most effective means to help the organization, and finally carrying through with several solutions.

Here are some additional examples of Community Service in the MS:
  • Loaves and Fishes bagged lunch project; MS students gather together to make hundreds of bagged lunches to benefit Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, an organization that feeds the hungry in the Trenton area
  • Skating Party “Tickets” with proceeds donated to local organizations
  • Book drives to ensure books are in the hands of children who may not have access to them
  • Bake sales and clothing drives proposed by individual students and student groups to help local organizations

Community Service in the Upper School

Upper School students are required to complete 50 hours of Community Service prior to graduation. These 50 hours may be completed at any time over the course of their four years in the US, and may be completed within the school community, as well as outside of school.

A Community Service Committee with co-heads, grade level representatives, and a faculty advisor are responsible for overseeing US projects. Community Service projects are developed primarily through student clubs, advisory groups, and by individual students. Students respond to current events and identify programs or organizations which are in need of assistance. They develop a plan for hands-on help—organizing a drive for essentials or a sale to raise funds as financial support. Periodically, informed speakers are brought to campus to raise awareness about the issues that are being addressed.

Community Service Verification Form

School-wide Community Service

The entire Princeton Day School community comes together across divisions on several Community Service projects, including:
  • Thanksgiving Basket Food Drive: Baskets including each part of a Thanksgiving meal are collected and donated to HomeFront, a local organization addressing homelessness in Central New Jersey
  • The Great Giveaway: gently used school supplies are collected and sent to organizations that work with students who are in need of these essentials
  • Ongoing clothing drive: four times a year, the school’s lost and found bins are donated to The Nearly New Shop, a thrift store supporting our local community
  • A spontaneous fall food drive, which collected more than 1,300 pounds of food to benefit the Crisis Ministry, a local organization that provides food and financial assistance to low income individuals
  • American Red Cross Blood Drive: An annual drive for PDS students, faculty, and parents to donate blood at an on-campus location

Class of 2020 Community Service Project

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Community Service News

Renita Zaparde '18 Receives Prudential Spirit of Community Award

Rising senior Renita Zaparde '18 was honored with a bronze medallion for being named a Distinguished Finalist in the 2017 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for her work with Pedal2Prosperity, a nonprofit that she founded that has provided 510 bicycles to orphaned girls in Africa and India to help them stay in school. As the Prudential website notes, "Inspired by a girl she met in India who had to walk three miles each way to get to school, Renita is also working to raise awareness amongst U.S. high school students about the struggles orphans face in developing countries; so far, her group has conducted more than 140 school Skype sessions." Click the headline to read more.

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The Second Grade Class Adopts 3 Zoo Animals!

Second grade teacher Susan Ferguson announced that the proceeds from this year's calendar sale would be used to adopt three animals at the Philadelphia Zoo: a polar bear, a jaguar, and a king cobra. The calendar sale is an annual community service project for the second grade: they create the calendars by hand, using their own original artwork, and sell the calendars to faculty, staff, and parents to raise money for a worthy cause.

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Spotlight on the PDS Garden: Seedlings & Community Service

Spring is in full swing, and that means that the Princeton Day School organic garden is starting to sprout its bountiful harvest. This week, the 7th annual seedling sale takes place each afternoon after school outside the Campus Center. Garden Coordinator Pam Flory shared, "This year, our 4th graders have been involved in potting and caring for our seedlings and will be on hand to sell during the week."

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