Service is a pillar of The Oakwood School.
Oakwood’s mission clearly states that the School endeavors to teach its students that human beings have an obligation to make the world a better place: The Oakwood School seeks to instill in its students the strength of character, the creativity, and the wisdom to make a difference in the world.
Part of Oakwood’s Philosophy Statement reiterates that our students will learn to value contributing to the world around them: The Oakwood School exists to help our students to learn and to love learning, to value themselves and others, and to become contributing members of ever-larger communities.
Finally, one of Oakwood’s Belief Statements beautifully explains the value of community service: We believe that both within and beyond the school walls, students learn that service to others is one of the deepest satisfactions the human spirit can know.
Our goal is to integrate knowledge and understanding with compassion and social responsibility, while we strive to promote empathy for others through diversity of ideas and experiences. Each division of the School has developed age-appropriate community service programs to nurture in our students a concern for the communities and world at large.
The faculty members of the Lower School are committed to helping their students understand the benefits of service to others and this is part of the everyday language of our students and teachers in the Lower School.
Students provide visits and participate in activities with the residents of The Golden Living Center, a retirement and nursing home facility.
The Kindergarten students, in conjunction with their unit on “Stone Soup,” collect cans of soup for the North Carolina Food Bank. These students also support residents of Spring Arbor Nursing Home by participating in activities with the residents.
First graders support the Ronald McDonald House by collecting pantry items twice each school year, creating seasonal door decorations and providing a basket of candy to share at the house at Halloween to list a few projects.
Second graders choose their charity each year according to pertinent need, usually relating to some form of nature and wildlife. The annual bake sale which integrates classroom learning concepts into the entire project typically raises about $1500 annually. The bake sale has raised over $10,000 throughout the previous eight years.
Members of the third grade join The Good Deeds Club which meets twice a month. The goal of the group is to promote kindness and good citizenship within our school, within the family, and as part of the community at large. Members of the club are responsible for collecting the recycling from classrooms as well as maintaining the recycling containers which are picked up once a week at the school.
To help students learn how they can make a difference in the world outside of Oakwood, students engage in service projects each year, including collecting canned food and clothing for those in need, packing boxes of food at a local food bank, visiting with and reading poetry to residents at a senior living center, and mentoring younger children on campus.
The specific projects described are predetermined and recurring, but purposely leave time open for projects that students create themselves when they see a need that touches them. Our Middle School Student Government Association and sometimes individual Middle School students, will be inspired by an event, a project completed in the classroom, or something they learn about outside of school, and will lead a student-initiated, student-driven community service effort to help those in need. Whether it is our annual efforts or an impromptu spirited drive to bring about change, the students and faculty of The Oakwood Middle School live the school's mission and are committed to service projects throughout the year.
Community Service is an integral part of The Oakwood School Upper School. By teaching through example, students are exposed to and shown a path of service to the greater world. Because true altruism comes from the individual and community service has been a significant part of every student’s existence at Oakwood since Lower School, Upper School community service is directed through school clubs and through individual participation. Many clubs are civic or service oriented already and others typically incorporate one or more philanthropic projects in their school year agenda.
The Upper School Faculty and Administration has assessed the Upper School Community Service program and in doing so, does not require a specific amount of time to be logged. Rather, students indicate their service through leadership opportunities and on their advanced education resumes. A required amount of service seems counter-productive to the service atmosphere instilled in earlier years. The Oakwood Upper School firmly believes in and teaches students to give of themselves as a part of their education and in making a difference in the world. (Note: Candidacy for National Honor Society does carry a 20 hour minimum of community service per year prior to the year of eligibility.)