The Woodhall School Community Service Program invites thoughtful action and reflection through service to celebrate the common good. The program aims to develop ethical and mindful gentlemen who connect with others through the practice of volunteerism, philanthropy, service learning, sustainability, social justice, and multiculturalism.
All students and faculty are immersed in the various programs of the Community Service program all year long. To serve and work towards the common good is not a section of the day or weekly time commitment, it is the fabric of The School.
Please explore the five core areas of Woodhall’s Community Service Program below.
Social Justice & Multiculturalism
Giving back and helping others through one’s times and talents occurs frequently among students and faculty. During each term through the co-curricular programs (i.e., athletics and drama), groups participate in 3 service projects per season with various community organizations and non-profits.
Organizations that we have volunteered with in the past include:
• The Abbey of Regina Laudis
• Ability Beyond Disability
• The American Place/Hartford Public Library
• Bethlehem Christmas Town Festival
• Bethlehem Land Trust
• Bristol Public Library
• CT Veteran’s History Project
• Family Services of Greater Waterbury: Chapman House
• Flanders Nature Center
• Gunn Memorial Museum
• Home for the Brave
• IRIS: Integrated Refugee & Immigration Services
• Oak Hill: New England Assistive Technology (NEAT) Center
• Torrington Soup Kitchen
• VA: Veterans Justice Outreach
Senior Day of Service. A special opportunity is given for the graduating seniors to participate in a service project a few weeks before graduation, as they become alumni of The Woodhall School. The experience encourages reflection on the importance of mindfulness for others, a theme that permeated countless discussions, conversations, programs, and events during their Woodhall years.
We understand that the existing needs of the organization we serve go beyond volunteering and donating our time and talents to include financial donations. Often these donations provide support that could not otherwise be attained. The Woodhall School has a number of initiatives to introduce students the importance of philanthropy.
Our major philanthropic initiative that occurs each school year is our Hunger Relief Lunch. Following the news of Haiti’s 2010 7.0 earthquake, an idea from The Woodhall School’s Chef and Food Service Manager, Chris Giffith, gained the support of the entire Woodhall School community. For lunch each Thursday, instead of our regular meal we would substitute a simple dish of rice, beans, and water. The money saved, would go towards the humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti. Since then, the meal has continued each Thursday and the money saved continues to go into the Hunger Relief Fund where the school community proposes and selects an organization or charity to donate towards. Since June 2013, nearly three years after our first donation, The Woodhall School has donated over $6,000 from this program.
Our Earth is in peril. The rising generation demands individuals to rise as stewards of our environment. Engaging in sustainable practices, as a young adult will ensure a future filled with environmental conscious citizens. At The Woodhall School, we see these environmental issues also as social justice issues. We have a responsibility to foster gentlemen that care for the environment and the health of others for generations to come.
Not only on campus, but our commitment to sustainability extends in partnership with our community. The Woodhall School was a founding volunteer with the Sam & Dot Swendsen Community Garden at the Swendsen Farm Preserve located in our town. Several times a year we volunteer at the community garden, which provides fresh produce for a senior living home and our local food bank.
Think Green and Give
One of several initiatives that is jointly supported by Residential Life, this program is a charitable collection event in which gently used, clean clothing and small household items are collected at the end of the school year when students move out of the dormitory for the summer. During move-out a significant amount of additional trash is generated and much of it can be donated and reused by others in need. Donations last year were donated to Goodwill.
Dining Hall Composting
Food waste from the dining hall is regularly collected and added to our campus compost. The compost in return provides enriched soil for our campus flower and vegetable gardens. Using compost also reduces the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides; thereby going a bit greener!
Established by a group of students in November 2012, the Sustainability Fund was established to support initiatives to build a sustainable campus and create a culture of environmental stewardship. A primary source of funding comes from the collected redeemable glass and plastic recyclables on campus.
Days of Service
The adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” runs true through many experiences at The Woodhall School. Service Learning integrates meaningful community service with reflection, which enhances the learning experience for the students. Through the various service learning experiences, students participate more meaningfully with the community and civic organizations. Not only are the academic learning experiences engaged, but students may learn and practice other valuable skills such as communication skills, presentation skills, organization management, and event planning.
The Winter Term Community Service co-curricular offering is specifically developed around the model of service learning. Students both have individual and group projects for the entire term. Each project has a component to give back to either the community the organization serves, or the Woodhall community.
The Woodhall School has developed a unique model for our Days of Service. Each Day of Service is centered on a differ theme that frames the day. The day begins with a presentation in the morning about the historical, social, and current perspectives around the theme. Following the presentation, students and faculty engage with one of a diverse selection of immersion sites that relate to the theme in different ways. Reflections with small groups eventually culminate with the whole school. The effects and conversations about the day extended well beyond for the rest of the school year.
Social Justice and Multiculturalism
Perhaps the iconic image of Lady Justice fills the mind at the mention of justice. This moral force behind our judicial system is seen blindfolded, carrying a sword, and holding a scale. It purports that justice is blind and impartial. Yet this is far from reality.
In realizing social justice, we must be open in our experiences, judgments, and actions. The pursuit of justice is an enterprise for all. The issues of social justice and multiculturalism often do not stand alone; rather is imbedded into culture and fabric of our school community. Notable programs include the Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly and an Interfaith Holiday Assembly – During the holiday season, before departing campus to be with our families, as a school community we reflect, centered around the symbolism of light.
In January 2013, The Woodhall School hosted a public screening of the new documentary “Home of the Brave: When Southbury Said No to the Nazis” in the Abigail J. Woodhall Performing Arts Center. The film covers the events of 1937 when the townspeople of Southbury stood up against the American Nazi movement, who wanted to establish a training camp. The filmmaker Scott Sniffen and First Selectman Ed Edelson of Southbury offered a Q&A after the intimate screening.
The “Choosing to Participate” exhibit also opened in the Poole Gallery the same day of the screening. The Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the educational organization Facing History and Ourselves produced a poster exhibit that Woodhall acquired, aimed to encourage dialogue, engagement, respect and participation in classrooms and communities. The posters are intended to inspire people of all ages to create positive social change. They present the experiences of individuals and communities, explore the impact of cultural differences, and encourage viewers to consider the consequences of everyday choices—to discover how “little things are big”—and to make a difference in their own communities.
One of many integral goals of the Service Program is to create a sense of community. We continually seek the support of area businesses to join our efforts through support and partnership. A collection of voices allows us to makes a greater impact in our shared community. In return it also empowers the gentlemen of Woodhall in their commitment to do good for others.
“[Your example] has served as an inspiration to myself and my store executives, who have used The Woodhall School example to raise funds and supplies for local shelters here in Waterbury this holiday season. Thank you … for making giving as part of your school culture.”
– Alex Mastroianni, MACY*s
For more information about the Community Service Program at The Woodhall School or if you are interested in partnering or support the program in any way, please contact Vince B. Vincent, Dean of Students, at firstname.lastname@example.org