Community Engagement Day
By KENDELLE GRUBS ‘20
On Wednesday, October 10, juniors and sophomores who repeated a year took the PSAT while seniors spent the day focusing on college applications. While the upperclassmen were away, the underclassmen participated in Milton’s Community Engagement Day.
Every year, Milton takes a Wednesday off to focus on underrepresented communities in the Boston area. Students spend their day engaging in projects ranging from visiting the elderly to preparing breakfasts for homeless shelters. This special day allows underclassmen to take a break from the monotony of the school day and immerse themselves in volunteer work.
Community Engagement day started in 2001 after the Self Governing Association (SGA) worked for two years to have it approved by faculty. According to Andrea Geyling-Moore, Director of Community Engagement, the students at the time wanted something that was “hands on” to alternate with seminar day. Thus Community Engagement day was established.
Underclassmen started off the day with an assembly in King Theater, where the Community Engagement board gave a run down on the events ahead. Kayla Mathieu ’21 explained that sophomores on the board lead the conversation by speaking about the “historical significance” of the day and the “reciprocal joy” that comes from serving others. Mr. Bland then finished the assembly by emphasising the importance of continuing community service outside of one day. Milton builds strong, lasting relationships with the communities it works with by helping them year after year. Kayla explains the service trips are not just for show but instead are a way to give back to the underserved.
After the assembly, students left campus and headed towards various work sites from Boston to Mattapan. The work differed for each location. Autumn Gay ’22 spent time with her advisory in a library at Winter Valley, an elderly community only three minutes away from campus. She recalled that her advisory split into groups and moved books from one building to another. Though the task was laborious, Autumn felt that day was fun and a way to bond with her advisory.
While the day might seem insignificant to some, the impact spreads ten fold. The sites students volunteer at are in need of help and even one day of service produces substantial accomplishments. After students leave, the work sites usually send messages of gratitude. Ms. Geyling-Moore states, “Most often I’ll get emails the same day after the group has left or the days following thanking for everything they did.” Whether it be Urban Farming or working with children, every group appreciates the help they receive.
After the day finishes, students reflect on their experiences with their advisories. This time allows for them to share funny and introspective stories about their volunteering. Year after year, students continue to enjoy the day and further community service into their daily lives. After her day bagging lunches for Father Bill’s Place, a homeless shelter, Chiemerie Akunyili ‘21 now wants to sign up for Community Engagement during the year. She says, “I feel like this experience has helped me realize that we as Milton Academy students are in such a position of privilege and need to give back.”