On posters and flyers around campus, the rallying message was: “There’s no telling how much we can accomplish in just one weekend!”
Indeed, we can — and did — accomplish a great deal together during our second annual weekend devoted to service! Over 170 Dwight Lions of all ages lent a helping paw to a variety of activities designed for the greater good of our local and global communities. Embodying the IB’s commitment to service, creativity, and action, volunteers put their full hearts and creative minds into the two-day event.
This year, Kate Zolotkovsky, Director of Service Learning, passed the torch to student organizations to help lead activities and create a combined Service-Spirit Weekend. “One of my favorite things about Dwight is that our ‘spark of genius’ philosophy doesn’t end at 3 pm. The ethos of passionate, personalized learning continues after school with our clubs, arts, athletics, and definitely in service work,” she says. “Our students are deeply involved with many wonderful organizations and Dwight’s Service-Spirit Weekend is a great way for them to engage others, celebrate their work, and spread Lion cheer!"
Leading up to the weekend, Upper School students heard from some community members about the organizations that they’re personally connected to, ranging from the Special Olympics and the Good+ Foundation to Fridays for Future, the Phelps House and Star Learning Programs, and The Dwight School Foundation. When Saturday arrived, Publicolor was in the spotlight, as Dwight volunteers traveled to collaborate on a popular painting project. They joined Publicolor students to transform an underserved public school — Bronx Park Middle School — while informally sharing insights about their own educational and career choices. Through creative endeavors like this, Publicolor engages high-risk students, encourages them to stay in school, and helps them build career and life skills.
On Sunday, hands-on activities continued on campus, coordinated by our:
- Upper School Outreach Club, which creates student-initiated service activities, and the New York Common Pantry: Volunteers assembled 250 brown bag lunches — 259 pounds of food — for distribution to hungry and homeless New Yorkers through the Pantry’s Help 365 Program. They also collected three boxes of toiletry supplies for the Pantry’s Project Dignity.
- National Honor Society Chapter: Creative Lions decorated 50 seasonal tote bags for the Pantry, and festive paper jack-o-lanterns for our neighbors at Phelps House.
- Parents Association: With fellow community members, the PA crafted 50 Thanksgiving cards for New York Common Pantry as well.
- Lower School Caring Coalition, which engages students in meaningful and fun service experiences, and the Wild Bird Fund: Volunteers made six cozy blankets for injured or sick feathery friends being cared for by our neighbors before returning to the wild.
- Fan-tasy Club and the Lumos Foundation: Upper School students with a shared passion for fantasy fiction hosted a character-themed face painting session and shared information about Lumos, an NGO founded by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling that helps unite children from orphanages with loving families.
- WISER Club: The Upper School Club that raises awareness and funds for the WISER Secondary School for Girls in Muhuru Bay, Kenya, which our students will visit again this spring, made bracelets with those who wanted to learn more.
- Spark Tank: Dwight’s incubator hosted Design Thinking in Service sessions, sharing how students develop empathy, better understand the needs of others, and design solutions through the process taught in both the IB curriculum and Spark Tank after school.
There was more! Dwight’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee gathered to discuss its mission to actively establish and foster a culture of inclusivity throughout our community; and Elise Bare, Upper School Computer Science and Design teacher, led a voter registration training session and drive on Central Park West. “From providing direct support to advocacy, and from brainstorming innovative solutions to tough problems to making crafts to brighten someone’s day, our community really did it all,” Ms. Zolotkovsky reports proudly.
Not to be outdone, Augustus, the Dwight Lion, was there to greet and cheer on volunteers — and even made a fellow-furry friend!
As the weekend came to a close, Ms. Zolotkovsky reflected, “It takes a unique, mission-driven place of learning like Dwight to sustain a series of meaningful events, which are fun and inclusive for all ages and that partner with such a wide variety of established community partners. This event is a great example of the power of positive service and action, and I hope that the tradition will continue to grow each year as a memorable part of the Dwight experience!”