The saying "charity begins at home" took on new meaning in the Upper School this year with the launch of its new Stewardship Program. The brainchild of Principal Steve McManus, who learned of a similar initiative at D.C.'s Sidwell Friends School, the program engages every 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade student in a range of activities – from sports photographer and library/archives assistant to Middle School recess monitor and Community Garden steward – once every ten days per semester. Depending on the activity, students may serve anywhere from 15 to 70 minutes, and seniors get first pick of offerings.
Some activities are more popular than others. “Nobody liked cleaning the buses, so we sunsetted that,” said McManus, who notes that Dining Hall duty offered another inflection moment for many students. “It made them see their own mess in a different way and I think they started becoming more sensitive to cleaning up after themselves and more respectful of the housekeeping employees who do clean up after them, which was one of the goals of the program.”
Students initially expressed concern that their newly assigned stewardship duties would cut into their school work and club activities but that has largely not been the case, according to McManus, who says that some students have included their stewardship experiences on summer job applications. “I have served as a reference for kids who have assisted Ms. Wilmoth in the Upper School Office. This is actually relevant work.” While he doesn’t see students “skipping off to do Dining Hall duty,” McManus and his Upper School colleagues view the addition to the school day as a positive experience. “it’s as if it has always existed. It has become an expectation. The students understand and they do it.”