Seniors serve community

Class volunteers, gains experience during school day


Michael Ceron-Icabalzeta | With Permission

Senior Molly Brown tutors a student at the Spring Valley Science Academy during her B Period Social Awareness & Action class. Students volunteered at organizations of their choosing and completed written reflections on their experience for the class.

Gabriella Vulakh, Web Editor

Instead of sitting in a classroom during B Period on Red Days, senior Jessica Louie leads routine stretches and reviews vowels and numbers in the memory care unit for residents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia

Louie says that after physical and mental exercises, she either dances with residents to music from around the world or runs basketball and volleyball games as part of her Social Awareness & Action class at Coventry Place, an independent and assisted living facility for adults.

“My grandmother has dementia so this opportunity is something personal for me,” Louie said. “This work has helped me realize that I cannot always do something in the moment to help, but I can create personal connections that go a long way for the residents.”

The Social Awareness & Action class provides seniors time during the school day to volunteer at organizations of their choosing. Students convene every other Friday with Service Learning Director Ray O’Connor to read articles or watch videos pertaining to service and relate the material to their individual endeavors through written reflections, according to Louie.

“Volunteer work is exposure to real life,” Theresa Markham, Coventry Place Activity Director said. “Volunteering can also help people choose a career they may be passionate about while also giving them opportunities for personal development.”

Students choose an organization at the beginning of the semester based on their personal interests or skills and worked with O’Connor to contact the organization.

Senior Molly Brown says she chose to work as an unpaid intern as a teacher’s assistant and tutor for Spanish-speaking third graders at Spring Valley Science Academy because she speaks Spanish and enjoys working with children.

“I either help the students with their math skills or work on English development, like the ABCs — really going back to the basics,” Brown said. “I have always been passionate about working with kids, and it is the greatest feeling when they get that ‘Aha’ moment.”

Senior Kate Etter, who works in the Ambulatory Care Unit at California Pacific Medical Center, said that the real-life experience component is what compelled her to take the semester-long class.

“I was interested in interning at CPMC before I heard about this class, and since the hospital requires that interns commit to 100 hours of service, it is nice having time dedicated to it during the school day,” Etter said. “This work has opened my eyes to other people’s life experiences and has taught me how to interact with others.”

The course fulfills theology requirements and can be used as the service hour graduation requirement. Seniors currently enrolled in the class plan to finish their volunteer work in December and a new group of seniors will commence the class and chose their organizations in January after break.

“Already in this short time that I have worked with the students, I have seen them learn new skills and grow in their English development,” Brown said. “It makes me really happy to know that I am helping them be able to communicate with their greater community.”