For one day each year, the Upper School Community at Making Waves Academy puts down our textbooks, calculators, and pencils and replaces them with shovels, paints, and gloves. On our annual Community Service Day, the student body, faculty, and staff join together to give back to the great city of Richmond. We set aside this day to serve because it’s a powerful expression of our community’s values and because we know that service provides students with unique and important opportunities for introspection, growth, collaboration, and connection.
This year, our school was divided between eight different service sites, all of which provided meaningful projects for our students, who were excited to contribute. As Wave-Maker Jackelyn Ledesma (15th Wave) explained, “The Community Service Day is a good opportunity for us to give back to our community and help others… it’s a step forward to bettering the community.” Here are just a few examples of what our students accomplished on their service day:
- In partnership with the Watershed Project, Wave-Makers created a park in a previously-barren area of the Richmond Greenway called Carlson Meadow. They planted 20 trees and created a swale to increase water runoff to the area.
- At the RYSE Center, Wave-Makers broke ground on a new plot of land that the RYSE Center has obtained, which will allow them to provide even more Richmond youth a safe space to learn, educate, and create. Our Wave-Makers significantly accelerated the clean-up process for the site and prepared it for cultivation or construction.
- Through Love your Block, Wave-Makers learned about the causes and effects of illegal dumping in Richmond and what can be done to reduce it. The students created anti-dumping banners that will be posted at illegal dumping “hot spots” around the city to discourage potential dumpers.
- With Urban Tilth, Wave-Makers cultivated the land and created artwork at two urban farms. With their planting and gardening, they helped to provide fresh, organic produce to the local community.
When the day was over, students returned to campus exhausted and proud of the work that they had completed. They reflected on their projects, and were able to articulate the impressive impact of having 350 people devote three hours to their community—that’s over 1000 hours of service in a single day!
I Am A Wave-Maker
In the Wave-Maker affirmation, the students promise, “I will help rebuild my community.” Making Waves Academy sets aside a day of service because we know that we must practice all of the skills—not just the academic ones—that we want our students to have when they graduate. If we want giving back to be as reflexive to our students as multiplying integers or conjugating verbs, we must give them the chance to practice this skill while they are here on campus.
We also know that Richmond has incredible resources to offer our students and their families. Our students have attended RYSE Center programs and participated in summer internships with Urban Tilth, and we hope they will take advantage of new opportunities to connect with our partner organizations in the future.
We are privileged and proud to have the opportunity to put down our pencils to practice service, and we know our Wave-Makers are incredible people who have the abilities and the desire to rebuild Richmond and the other communities they encounter through their lives. Our annual community service day is just the beginning.
Jessie Weiser is Director of Student Activities at Making Waves Academy.