Service Day success

An idea for giving back to the community that first surfaced in 2019 has become a reality.
“Shaan Hooey ’20, the former Community Service Steward, had the idea of doing service with his friends as a way of jumpstarting this effort,” says current Community Service Steward Apostolos Zezos. 

Hooey surveyed the student body and discovered that doing service with friends was an added  motivator, notes Director of Community Service, Clubs and CAS Tom Babits.

“Apostolos pushed for a Service Day this year and created relationships with organizations to facilitate opportunities,” Babits says.

The goal of Service Day was to have students in the Upper School working together by year-level on a cleanup or sustainability project to benefit the larger community.  It took a lot of planning, says Zezos. The Service Council and Sustainability Council, headed by John Voudouris, worked in tandem with community organizations to find those who could accommodate a large number of volunteers at once.

“I remembered Shaan’s idea and wanted to do it with my class before we graduated,” says Zezos. “We missed out on so many things during the pandemic; I wanted more events we could do as an entire grade. I wanted it to be a special day for everyone at school.

“We planned it for Earth Week because it seemed to be simple to organize sustainability trips.”

Babits noted that it was a natural fit with Earth Week, as snow had melted and the garbage beneath had emerged, ripe for cleanup.

Each year’s students headed off in different directions for a cleanup. The Year 8 students travelled to the Norval Outdoor School. After being closed during the pandemic, Norval’s grounds needed to have fallen branches removed and invasive forest species cleared. The Year 10 students worked along the banks of the Don Valley Parkway in partnership with Don’t Mess with the Don, a community organization.

“Open garbage bins from apartments near the valley mean that garbage blows around,” says Babits. “They got a good haul.”

Year 11 students worked with One Piece a Day to clean up the Cedarvale Ravine and the Year 12 class worked with Toronto Nature Stewards to clear out the trash along Cherry Beach, in the dog park and in the marsh. A number of students from Lord Dufferin School who are participating in UCC’s Horizons program joined some of the cleanup efforts, too.

Meanwhile, Year 9 students took on a sustainability design challenge on campus, created by Ms. Triff and Mr. Archer. They had the entire Upper School to themselves as house teams brainstormed to design a sustainability event that could be run at the Upper School. The teams were required to pitch their idea to an expert judging panel and the winning team earned funds to put toward mounting the event next year.

Sufian Alawiye, the incoming Sustainability/Wellbeing Steward, is looking towards the next Service Day, too. 

“I think it’s so important for students to give back to the community,” he says. “We could also broaden the scope of the event to include nature walks and tree planting.”
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