Article by: Razel S.
Photo by: Sofia B.
ISM is endowed with a well-developed service program that offers a plethora of service opportunities for each student to immerse themselves in. Though the ISM community continually hears about the causes that individual service clubs advocate for, grade level service learning is not often discussed. However, staying aware of grade level service learning is vital as some characteristics differentiate the experience that one has when dealing with individual service clubs and when dealing with grade level service partners.
The grade level service partner system aims to connect students of a certain grade level to one partner in particular. This entails several service trips with the partner annually. Junior council president Pari P. states that through this system, “connections with the service partners just grow deeper and deeper over time and by working on so many different service trips and fundraisers with Papaya, [she’s] become close with the teacher and principal of the school.” This may serve as evidence that through the grade level service partner system, students are not only able to connect with the children of that service partner, but also with the whole community that allows for the children to thrive.
The senior council takes a different approach to the grade level service partner system by establishing a service committee which is in charge of establishing lesson plans for Saturday service trips. Senior Jayne R., a member of that service committee, states that this allows students to “have more of a hand in shaping the activities that are being done as compared to club service.” This is said to foster a sense of inclusion within the grade level. Jayne further states that in grade level service, “everyone’s opinion is taken on what is working and what members want to contribute.”
Jayne further reiterates Pari’s previous statement about forming a strong bond with one service partner in particular. “We get a four year relationship with the same kids, which you might have in other service clubs, but it is really noticeable as we have a lot of services throughout the year where people can really make connections with the kids over the years,” Jayne enthuses.
Though the wide array of service opportunities that clubs provide in ISM leave many in awe, it must also be worth looking into the service opportunities and connections that the grade level partner system provides. If one is looking to have a deeper connection with a specific service partner and have more of a say when dealing with service activities, the utilization of the grade level partner system is definitely recommended.