With Dwight’s pillar of community front and center, we strive to make a difference, help others, and build a better world.
Amid the ongoing pandemic, our Dwight family’s continued commitment to community service made us quite proud. Many students, from cubs to lions, were eager to lend a helping paw and demonstrate the power and impact of taking action and volunteerism during our fourth annual Service Week!
Students participated in a range of projects, including some they founded themselves through our Spark Tank incubator, designed to aid our local and global communities. By bringing to life the IB's commitment to service, creativity, and action, they put their full hearts and energy into helping our neighbors, fellow New Yorkers, and students on the other side of the globe.
Prior to kicking off Service Week, Kate Zolotkovsky, Director of Service Learning, worked with students to identify and organize activities that they, together with faculty, staff, and families, could participate in to give back. Due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, some activities were held virtually or were limited in capacity, but that did not diminish students’ lion-sized enthusiasm. "Service Week has become a strong tradition at Dwight,” Ms. Zolotkovsky says. “It is so inspiring to me to see the community come together in this way early in the school year to meaningfully give back and make a positive difference. Our students lead the way with their great ideas and initiatives to make New York and the world a more peaceful, welcoming, inclusive, and just place."
Thank you to everyone who participated in the following Service Week activities:
Forming Futures: Assembling Kits for Fellow Students
A non-profit founded by Victoria Buendia-Serrano ’23, Forming Futures is dedicated to helping New Yorkers with low income recover from the effects of the pandemic by packaging and distributing school supplies and hygiene kits. Victoria developed Forming Futures through Spark Tank, and together with fellow Dwight students began distributing kits last spring. During Service Week, they joined with faculty and staff to package 500 kits and backpacks, which included hand-written notes of encouragement wishing every student a great school year ahead!
New York Common Pantry: Making Brown Bag Lunches to Help Feed New Yorkers
This volunteer activity is a staple during Service Week, and this year, Dwight families made and delivered 276 complete lunches for the New York Common Pantry’s Help 365 Program, which provides food to New Yorkers who are homeless and hungry. Together, we exceeded our target goal of lunches by 138%!
Cleaning up Litter to Protect Our Environment
Project leaders Emma Brandon ’23, Nina Hissnauer ’23, Jonah Saltzman ’23, and Jacobo Bustos ’23 invited fellow Dwight students and families to pitch in and pick up litter because “what’s on the ground is ocean-bound.” This year, they removed more than 25 bags of ocean-bound trash from Riverside Park!
“It was an amazing experience to be able to organize an in-person event that can help not only keep trash out of bodies of water, but also keep Riverside Park clean,” reports Emma. “As people walked by and saw what we were doing, they thanked us, which was amazing because it felt good that other people care about the importance of keeping our parks and bodies of water clean.”
Raising Awareness and Funds for WISER
The Dwight WISER Club, which has long supported the mission of the WISER School for Girls in Muhuru Bay, Kenya, was positioned just outside our entrance to help raise awareness of the boarding School, which is funded entirely by generous donations. The Women’s Institute for Secondary Education and Research (WISER) is dedicated to advancing the education of girls and women in an impoverished area of Kenya; and to providing them with everything they need to succeed, go on to higher education, and become agents of change in their own community. During Service Week, club members shared the WISER message and raised nearly $500 by selling t-shirts and sweatshirts for the School!
Sustainable Start: Helping New Yorkers Who Are Homeless
Founded by Dwight students Chloe Trujillo ’21 and Victoria Buendia-Serrano ’23 through Spark Tank, SustainABLE Start is a non-profit that distributes sustainably produced hygiene products to people who are homeless in New York and now several other major cities in the U.S. The current New York City leaders are Dwight students Albert Randsborg ’22 and Nina Hissnauer ’23. This year, they together with SustainABLE Start volunteers packaged 200 kits in only an hour and a half!
Autism Awareness Training with Luv Michael
During Service Week, Dwight students and families were introduced via Zoom to the work of Luv Michael, a non-profit organization that offers a virtual volunteer program designed to educate people about autism, advocate for autism acceptance, and provide meaningful employment and on-the-job training for adults with autism.
Learning About the Central Park Conservancy
In addition, our sixth graders connected some service learning to their Central Park unit through a Zoom visit with Dwight parent Aileen Bruner (Jake ’23) who is an active leader in the Central Park Conservancy. She shared a wonderful presentation about the history of Central Park and how social action formed the Conservancy and saved the Park!
During this year’s Service Week, we saw again that there is virtually no limit to what the Dwight community can accomplish together while focusing on the greater good!
- Community Service