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

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Community Service News

Two New Roles in Service Learning and Admission

Head of School Paul Stellato announced that two long-serving members of the Princeton Day School community will take on new roles this year. Third Grade teacher Margie Gibson '84, who was previously the Lower School Community Service Coordinator, will now take on the newly created role of Director of Service Learning, overseeing community service and service learning in all three divisions. In the Admission Office, Jeanne Crowell, who has served many roles in the office, most recently as Assistant Director of Admission for grades PreK-8, has now been appointed Associate Director of Admission. Please click the headline to read more.

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Upper School Gathering: Focus on Service & Puerto Rico

Last week, the Upper School Gathering was devoted to highlighting two large-scale service learning projects. First, the 10th grade class reported on the trail clearing they completed as a grade during the day of service and bonding on September 28. Aaron Razi Baseman '20 and Evan Dries '20 shared a video they created capturing the day. Next, Upper School Spanish teacher and 9th Grade Dean Michelle Simonds set the context for Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place from September 15 through October 15, and introduced Upper School history teacher and Global Studies Coordinator Maria Shepard, who delivered a personal narrative about her childhood in Puerto Rico and the recent hurricane that ravaged the island (read Ms. Shepard's remarks here). To read more, click the headline.

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A Day of Service and Bonding in the Upper School

On Thursday, September 28, the Upper School community participated in a day of special programming focused on service to the community and bonding with each other outside of the classroom. The 9th grade students gathered with their Peer Group triads and boarded a bus for the Princeton Battlefield where they spent the day. The 10th graders spent the morning cleaning and clearing the section of the Princeton Green Trail that goes through our campus. The 11th grade students met and boarded a bus for the Washington Crossing Park for activities in the morning. And the 12th grade students stayed on campus to assemble donations and decorate lunches for the Loaves & Fishes' Annual Thanksgiving Lunch. For more, click the headline.

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