The purpose of Middle Division community service is to provide opportunities for students to learn about themselves and their community. The program cultivates a spirit of social responsibility and encourages students to contemplate and appreciate the rewards of a lifelong commitment to contributing to their community. Our ultimate goal as human beings should be to weave service into our daily routine and not as a separate act preformed solely to satisfy a requirement. Middle Division’s community service program is one that seeks to instill a sincere feeling of social responsibility and appreciation within our students. Grade 6
On community service days, grade 6 service happens in the afternoon, after abbreviated morning classes. In convocation groups, and under the direction of their convo teachers, sixth graders travel on foot or by bus to one of seven service sites: Sweetwater Park, Perrone Park, Berkeley’s Environmental Learning Center (on Bray Road), Change Makers (an on-campus venue), Sweetwater Organic Community Farm, the Florida Learning Garden, and Water Testing (also on campus). Groups rotate through these venues, one venue per service outing. Grade 7
On service mornings, grade 7 students attend scheduled classes. Following lunch, they gather in convocation groups and each group travels by bus to its assigned venue. Six venues comprise the grade seven service program: Just Elementary School, Feeding America of Tampa Bay, Dover Exceptional Center, Dickenson Elementary, Metropolitan Ministries, and Arbor Terrace (an assisted-living facility). Groups rotate through these venues, one venue per service outing. Grade 8
Each grade 8 student selects from a list of several service sites at the beginning of the year and serves at that site during each service outing. A chaperone and classmates who have also chosen that venue accompany him or her. Grade 8 students serve in the morning. Following lunch, they attend scheduled classes. The eighth-grade venues are Hudson Manor Assisted Living Facility, Hope Children’s Home, Bay Crest Elementary, Dickenson Elementary, Dover Exceptional Center, Inspired Living Memory Care Center, and three Hillsborough Head Start centers. Dominican Republic Service Learning
Each February 35-40 Berkeley eighth graders and their Berkeley chaperones spend five days in the Dominican Republic, performing community service at the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation School. The school, near Bonao, DR, educates impoverished children from surrounding villages. Our students interact with these children, learning about their lives during supervised school activities. In addition, Berkeley students spend an afternoon in one of the villages, building and dispensing water filters.Bahama Books
Each February, 15 grade 8 students, joined by Upper Division student leaders and teacher chaperones, travel to Nassau, Bahamas, for the Bahama Books service project. There the group establishes a library at a Nassau public elementary school, shelving and digitally cataloging approximately 2,500 fiction and nonfiction titles collected prior to the trip. Berkeley participants also teach library-use lessons to the Bahamian students.
Former Upper Division student, Elias Tsavoussis ’16, started this service initiative as a recipient of Berkeley’s 50th Anniversary Service Scholar Award. Elias planted the first library at Nassau’s Columbus Primary School. Sandilands Primary and Yellow Elder Primary have been subsequent Bahama Books program recipients.
Many of the books are sourced from the Berkeley Parents Club Share the Love of Reading annual book drive. Prior to the trip, grade 8 students sort, label, and catalog these book donations. Upper Division students plan the library-use activities. Middle Division and Upper Division librarians supervise this on-campus work, and they subsequently guide student shelving and teaching in Nassau. Bahama Books, a cross-divisional and collaborative service project, exemplifies the school’s vision statement: “Berkeley puts people in the world who make a positive difference.”