Last Wednesday, the Middle School division gathered in the Commons for an annual tradition; the Thanksgiving Assembly. The program offered time for student leaders and teachers to share reflections on holiday traditions and experiences, but perhaps more importantly, to celebrate the communal effort and positive outcomes from the service focus of the week of Thanksgiving. Before heading outside to enjoy a fun hour of tacocat competition, we took the time to recognize the power of the individual to make a difference and the value, both to the individual and the community, of our efforts to serve.
The middle school years are an ideal time to teach the positive power of "one"
The adolescent years can be chaotic, as young men and women struggle to construct a more defined sense of self. It is during these years that students begin to recognize their role in an ever-enlarging circle of personal connections. They are members of families, peer groups, academic classes, sports teams, neighborhoods, and even community citizens. Service opportunities offer middle schoolers the chance to develop and use relationships in a positive way. They understand that their individual actions can have value and impact, though they can also collaborate with others to bring about even greater outcomes. They begin to understand the challenges that exist in our society and the responsibility they hold in helping others overcome such challenges. By acting on this growing sense of civic responsibility and witnessing the fruits of their efforts, they develop confidence and self-esteem, while feeding their very natural hunger for connections and significance.In the hands of an adolescent, this realization has the potential for great power. Fortunately for all of us, Fredericksburg Academy is well equipped to unlock this potential and channel it toward a greater good for our community.
At FA, service opportunities connect the dots between classroom learning and the real world all around us
Encouraging community service work with our middle school students also yields additional benefit in the classroom, as such activities provide pathways for teachers and students to connect classroom experience to the world right outside the window. Stories they read in English class, global issues of adversity they learn about in Geography or Science, difficult times and events they read and discuss in History class—these experiences frequently play out in small though meaningful ways in our own community. Connecting lessons learned in school to the real world on our doorstep makes new knowledge a living, breathing thing that is naturally linked to a student's daily life—both the one that exists in the classroom and school hallways, and the one lived in one's town, on one's street, or in one's home. It connects intangible words and ideas to real people and real challenges that can be seen and experienced all around us. In many ways, service activity in our community gives meaning to learning and draws students in for more.
This time of year provides a wonderful opportunity to bring real world, recognizable community challenges to the the attention of Middle School students. Not only can they empathize with those in our community who deal with the many kinds of adversity existing all around us, but every student, even in very small ways, can have a tangible and positive impact.
The Fredericksburg area, and Fredericksburg Academy alike, is fortunate to have organizations such as the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank to partner with in seeking solutions to diminish need in our community. The power of such community connections is immeasurable, impacting not only the learning of a child in the classroom, but also the many lives of those around us challenged by need. By actively seeking connections with such community organizations in our area, Fredericksburg Academy fulfills a promise of true learning to our students, but also establishes a commitment for positive change in our area. We know the commitment is real, because Fredericksburg Academy is lucky to have the most enthusiastic and energetic volunteers available -- our students.