Nativity School of Worcester supplements our school year’s education with a mandatory summer session. During the month of July, Nativity Worcester faculty, staff, and students return for three weeks of classes, field trips, and a comprehensive service-learning program. During service-learning, students reach out into the city and surrounding area through an integrated academic and community-service-oriented program. Nativity Worcester purposely plans our Summer of Service session to expose students to a wider variety of experiences than the traditional school year allows.
The mornings begin with language arts and math classes, which help our students improve and excel in core academic subjects before the traditional school year begins. Students that are struggling in language arts and math are able to make significant improvements as a result of additional time spent in the classroom and personalized instruction from our faculty. The faculty is also able to challenge students that are excelling in these subject areas to ensure they reach their full potential.
Students also participate in an integrated academic and community-service-oriented program. Students take a service-learning class where they learn about current and local issues affecting our community. In the afternoons, students and faculty volunteer at local organizations related to the topics they are learning about in the service-learning class. The goal of the service-based learning is to engage students in projects that not only teach them valuable, curriculum-linked lessons, but also empower them to recognize the ways they can improve their community.
For 5-7th graders, students rotate through three service-learning sites, while the 8th graders take part in their own program, the Youth Philanthropy Initiative (which is detailed below). In 2016, these 5-7th graders' sites included The Mustard Seed, a food pantry where students learned about food insecurity, hunger, and the importance of a healthy diet. Our students painted the back porch and basement walls of the pantry building, along with benches outside. The students also had the opportunity to visit the Community Harvest Project, where they learned how volunteers grow fresh fruits and vegetables to provide to those experiencing hunger in Worcester. The students helped harvest vegetables, and washed and packaged the food. At the third site, Worcester Common Ground, the students learned about the importance of community, improving neighborhoods, and affordable housing. The Nativity Men cleaned the grounds of their Tot Lot playground, Fatty Jenkins basketball court, Peace Park, and Castle Street Gardens, and added artwork and murals to surrounding neighborhoods.
For the eighth consecutive year, the eighth grade students had the opportunity to work on the Highland Street Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Initiative. Students working on this project learn about philanthropy and nonprofit organizations in their service learning classes. They reflect on their own personal values to determine what community services they deem most important for the people within Worcester. The students then choose how to disburse the $5,000 of grant funds to four organizations. In 2016, the eighth graders worked specifically with: Friends of the Worcester Public Libarary, Ascentria New Lands Farm, Why Me & Sherry's House, and Salvation Army Citadel - Sally’s Place. Over the course of the Summer of Service 2016, the Nativity Worcester community completed over 1,350 hours of service in the greater Worcester community.