The Service Learning Program at Stuart is guided by Sacred Heart Goal 3: “A Social Awareness Which Impels to Action.” The goals of the program are to raise students’ consciousness about the poor and underserved communities, connect what they learn in the classroom to current world issues, empower students to promote social justice and social responsibility through their own actions, and develop their leadership skills. Students in all divisions — from EC through grade 12 — take part in service activities during the school year, and in the summer we have opportunities for our older students. The three service immersion trips are Urban Challenge (Upper School), Belize (Middle School), and ASP (Upper School, alumnae, faculty). Many students, faculty and alumnae will say how the summer experiences have been truly life-changing. We asked students who participated in the programs to share reflections on their trips. Below are their testimonies along with photos and more information about the trips.
The Urban Challenge Program is an urban, service-learning, immersion experience rooted in the Catholic faith tradition. Offering a point of access to the lives and stories of the people of Camden, NJ, and its surrounding communities, the Urban Challenge Program is a unique educational and retreat opportunity that serves mainly suburban high school and college-aged students
“Over the summer I was fortunate enough to participate in the Urban Challenge service trip. I can honestly say, Urban Challenge was one of the best experiences I’ve ever been apart of. The trip took place in Camden, New Jersey, and I went with five of my peers. We stayed at a Catholic retreat center with six other schools from all over the country. Staying with the other schools was really fun because we got to meet other students our age and become friends with them. While on the trip, we traveled around Camden and Philadelphia to serve the communities in need. One of my favorite moments, was serving at a home for quadriplegics. Even though the residents were not mobile, they were so positive, uplifting and lively. They truly made me feel grateful for the life I have, and I learned to always be kind to others because the kindness of others can genuinely impact ones life.” - Morgan
This past summer was Stuart’s 40th year making homes "warmer, safer, and drier” with Appalachia Service Project. Every year, a group of students, faculty, and alumnae depart for two weeks of service work helping families in need. During the trip to Kentucky this past summer, the Stuart team was presented with a certificate from Jim Powell, ASP senior development officer, to honor our years of service. With the longevity of the ASP program at Stuart, the impact crosses generations as alumnae can now share the experience with their children. Stuart ninth grader Anna shares her family connection below.
“Every time any service trip was mentioned around my family, my parents began their personal stories about their ASP trips. My mom was apart of ASP the summer after her junior year and had an incredible experience. Later on, both my parents attended the trip as chaperones. Since I was moving up to the Upper Schoo, I wanted to participate in this amazing opportunity. When I found out I could go as a rising ninth-grader I was ecstatic. The sooner I could go the better! ASP is a life-changing trip. It improved my teamwork skills and heightened my compassion for others. I witnessed firsthand the love these people have for one another and their land. It was humbling and gratifying being able to help the way we did in such a short period of time. At the end of the week, we were all being thanked for the work we had completed, when all I wanted to do was thank them for providing me with this remarkable experience.” - Anna
This Middle School service trip to Belize is with World Leadership School. The mission of World Leadership School is to empower young leaders to find innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.
“Belize trip: only ten days, but memories and learning experiences that last a lifetime. I wanted to do this trip since the beginning of seventh grade, and I was thrilled when I was able to attend this trip in the summer of eighth grade. This summer experience stood out to me, because it involved getting on a plane (without your parents!) to a different country, learning and experiencing Belize's culture, doing service, trying new foods, unleashing our leadership skills, and having some fun. We worked at the Holy Cross School, in Calla Creek. Our service project was to paint classrooms in the school. Most of us never learned how to paint a classroom, but we worked through how to prepare the walls, paint with different brushes, and other skills while doing this service. Another thing that truly stuck with me, was speaking to the kids there. As my friends an I (who could speak Spanish) spoke to the students, we were able to connect and talk about our days and school. This specific experience inspired me to learn more Spanish and to overall connect with people. Later in the trip, we snorkeled in many different parts of the reef, learned how to grow Mayan chocolate, tubed down a river, had a tour of the Mayan ruins, met families in Belize, ate delicious food, and had leadership classes. We had so much fun with these activities and tied important leadership concepts into each day. I took all of the things that I learned, and applied them to different aspects of my life. For example, I was able to connect with the new students at our school. I am learning to believe in myself, try new things, and embrace my strengths and weaknesses. I am so grateful for this opportunity.” - Mia