Following the AmeriCorp Swearing In Ceremony, 40 Mass Promise Fellows visited the Blackstone School for an afternoon of service. This Service Day was the first B-PEACE sponsored service event of the school year! School partnerships and related service is the primary way B-PEACE upholds its pillar of Academic Excellence In Public Schools.
The event began with an address to the volunteers in the school’s library. Lisa Lineweaver represented the school’s Executive Leadership Team and spoke about the school’s turnaround story and the students the Blackstone serves. The school is one of the only BPS schools to serve students with multiple disabilities, and therefore draws students from all around Boston. Lisa also spoke about the school’s motto, Ubuntu, meaning we are because of each other, and the school’s core values, respect, unity, and excellence. The presence of the volunteers that afternoon, said Lisa, was a way of showing, and not just telling, the students that the school community strives to live its motto.
Following Lisa’s introduction to the school, Tim Crellin, the founder and Executive Director of St. Stephen’s Youth Programs, spoke about the South End community outside the doors of the Blackstone. He also discussed the flourishing relationship between the Blackstone and St. Stephen’s. In addition to facilitating service days like this one, St. Stephen’s also runs the Blackstone Library, coordinates Support A Classroom, and oversees classroom aids from Wellesley College.
After the orientation in the library, volunteers joined students in their classrooms for an afternoon of reading! A teacher hosting volunteers was delighted by his students’ enthusiasm to read with the volunteers. The volunteers not only read to the students, but the students were excited to read with their visiting reading buddies. Teachers expressed interest in hosting similar events that empowered students and focused on fostering a love for reading.
After school was dismissed, the Mass Promise volunteers and St. Stephen’s after- school spent the sunny afternoon at the Blackstone Park and Ramsay Park weeding the garden, planting tulip bulbs, and playing kickball.