This year, the Community Service Program at Hebron Academy has been involved with the Hebron Station School after-school program, the Depot. There, we work with children ranging from kindergartners to sixth graders. Each Tuesday, six to ten of us take a short bus trip to the school where we are met with familiar faces and smiles. We usually catch the children just as they are zipping up their jackets and heading out the door to the playground. Our community service begins with such activities as a game of Jolly Green Giant, tetherball, swinging, or climbing the monkey bars. This winter, sledding proved to be one of the favorite activities with everyone. On a small hill, there would be eight children sledding at once, some aiming toward the makeshift jump, some tipping over halfway down, packed three to a sled.
After expending a great deal of energy outside, we are ready to settle down with a few snacks and to get started on schoolwork. Often times we high school students will work one-on-one with students, listening to them read or quizzing them on spelling words. Occasionally during this time, there will be activities such as coloring, craft making, or scrap booking. When it’s time to go, we say our good-byes and promise to return the following week.
Donna Inglehart, coordinator of Hebron Academy’s Community Service Program, says that she is very pleased with the growing relationship between the two schools. “Our students love going to the Depot. They are already very busy with other commitments – sports, theater, academics – but they look forward to the time they spend each week with the children. Since we began working at the Depot, our pool of volunteers has grown from five to sixteen.” The feeling is mutual. Ms. Cushman, activities coordinator at the Depot, says, “I think [the relationship] is the best in the world! Wonderful mentoring-good for the kids and the Academy’s kids.” Nancy Lee Piper, director, agrees. “I feel it is a reflection to my students that older students, too, need to follow directions and rules, as well as act on a schedule. Hebron Academy students also demonstrate that all ages can work together and support one another. Friendships have flourished among everyone, and Hebron Academy has been a true asset to the [Depot] program.”
For what remains of the school year, the Community Service Program will continue to visit the Hebron Station School, but we are also involved with other projects. The entire school community, for example, is invited to participate in a Walk-A-Thon to raise money for Littlefield Orphanage in Malawi, Africa, named in honor of Janet Littlefield, a Hebron teacher who founded it after her work with the Peace Corps. Hebron students believe that our program continues to play an important role in the lives of others. Most of us volunteer students just enjoy the chance to make a difference.