Tabor Academy is committed to teaching students how to be committed citizens, principally engaged in the world around them. Through this we want them to learn to be empathetic and share their skills to help and empower others. Of course, there are many ways to accomplish these goals, but regular community service is one of the major avenues our students have to learn the power they have to do good and make a difference in the lives of others.
While you may have read in our news articles about our twice-annual Service Mornings, or our annual effort with Holiday Hope, many students are committed to regular weekly service with a particular organization where they get to know the population they are partnering with, as well as build relationships with specific individuals. This is powerful work for our students.
There are several student-run boards that work to provide weekly programming for people: The Special Olympics Club, Juntos, and You & Me. These boards have been effective in providing successive leadership to these efforts over several years: Seniors teaching juniors and sophomores and bringing in Freshman each and every year into their important work.
The Special Olympics Club has several projects that engage our students year-round. Students plan our service morning of School Day Games, our annual integrated basketball tournament, and the R-Word Campaign. They engage students in the fun and fundraising of the Polar Plunge, and the weekly winter Young Athletes program. Our students have been recognized by Special Olympics for their passion and effectiveness in these activities. Sami Quackenbush ’20 shared her motivation for her leadership role in the Special Olympics Club: “Getting to work with special needs students is always the highlight of my day. I feel as though I learn just as much, if not more, from them as they do from me. Seeing smiles appear on their faces as I interact with them brings me so much joy and I feel lucky to be even a part of their happiness.”
You & Me is a mentoring program where our students join weekly with middle-schoolers in New Bedford to provide a fun activity and a chance to make a positive impact through friendship and conversation with youngsters in need of strong peer role models. One of the volunteers, Aidan Jackovicz ’21, said: “It’s a great environment. We hang out with the kids and both the younger kids and Tabor students benefit from the experience. It’s very worthwhile and fulfilling to the point that I honestly look forward to visiting them every Thursday.”
Juntos is a very committed group of students and faculty who travel to New Bedford in shifts, serving two nights a week at Global Learning Charter Public School, in partnership with the Community Economic Development Center, to teach new immigrants English. This is both a labor of love and friendship, as well as a great chance to connect with a more global community and learn from their experiences as newcomers to our country. Georgia Toland ’20 shared, “Juntos is a very fulfilling experience that I look forward to. We get to make an immediate difference in people’s lives, which in itself is very rewarding to us and to the friends we make through the program.”
By all accounts, our students couldn’t be more pleased to engage in regular service. It is part of their Tabor experience and it is impacting the people they are becoming: committed citizens, principally engaged in the world around them.