We recognize that children and adults at St. Patrick’s are blessed with a bounty of talents, gifts, and opportunities. The fullest expression of gratitude for these blessings is found not just as each child and adult strives for individual excellence and responsibility, but also as each individual learns to give back by serving others and striving to become an integral part of building a better world.
Service opportunities represent a vital part of the curriculum, teaching students to move from their own world into the larger world to explore how important, fulfilling, and life-giving the experience of helping others can be. While these opportunities are numerous and varied, they all serve one purpose: To inspire a spirit of compassion and understanding, not only of oneself, but of those we serve.
One lasting image that captures the importance of service activity at St. Patrick’s is the arrival at school of our youngest students, the three- and four-year-old Nursery and PK children, each clutching a vegetable in his/her hands on the one day each month they will scrub and chop the items to make soup that older students and their parents will serve to homeless people that evening. Even with children at such young ages, St. Patrick’s strives to find a way to have them understand a social issue in hopes that both their understanding and their response to the issue will grow over time. Our Grade 7 students participate in a service learning course each spring. The class enables students to complement classroom learning about social issues—including homelessness, poverty, and hunger—with experiential learning by providing them with opportunities to engage in service in the larger community at places such as DC Central Kitchen, So Others Might Eat, Iona Senior Service, and Capital Area Food Bank.
Across the grade levels, children collect clothing, school supplies, and scholarship funds for our sister school in Haiti; make sandwiches and collect toiletries and blankets to accompany the Nursery soup on its rounds with St. Patrick’s families as part of the Salvation Army Grate Patrol; and conduct book and video drives to supply Children’s Hospital with entertainment resources for patients. Most recently, our students have been the impetus for St. Patrick's reaching out in response to global crises. After the devastating earthquakes in both
, St. Patrick's students were moved to act. The Community Service club, in conjunction with the PE Department faculty, organized a "Jump for
" jumprope-a-thon to raise funds. The Community Service club was so inspired by the overwhelming support received, that they decided to continue "Jump for
" each year to commemorate their efforts and continue support for
's citizens. Students in Grades 7 and 8 learned of a Japanese tradition that folding a thousand paper cranes grants one wish and is symbolic of hope and growth. These students folded over a thousand cranes and presented the cranes to the Japanese Embassy. These and similar experiences cultivate in our students, and across all members of our community, looking beyond our own needs, taking thoughtful, positive action to improve our world, and habits of service.