Plenty of songs discuss the weather. Stormy Weather, Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain, Hurricane, and mixing similes, Rock You Like a Hurricane.
But what song was I thinking about on October 5th? No Rain.
This wasn’t just some meteorological curiosity to plan my wardrobe; this forecast was central to our school’s Service Day October 6th. A week of checking the weather and the forecast the night before concluded that it was only a 20% chance of rain.
Naturally then, it rained the whole day. We had twelve different locations that the Middle and Upper school students were to attend, see, and a third of them were outdoors.
If there’s one aspect of being the school’s Service Learning Coordinator I’ve learned is most valuable, it’s being flexible. Because something pops up – like when the rain comes again, there’s nothing we can do, except to let it rain.
The day went smoothly in spite of the random variables because of the trust I had in other faculty members and with the dedicated members of our Service Council.
A week before Service Day, for example, one of our locations cancelled on us. Why? Their warehouse was empty and they no longer had any work for us. Coupled with another snafu in scheduling, and another one with the rain that wouldn’t stop, we had to switch plans three separate times, and twice in the final week. The amount of texting, of calling, of others agreeing to help out at the last minute was remarkable.
Still, the logistics behind planning any event are probably better left unsaid. Suffice to say, our school did magnificently. Below are some of the highlights.
We went to Smith Village, spending time with the residents, making door decorations and playing Jeopardy.
We went to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, making lanterns (“thousands of them, several students claimed”).
We went to the Ronald McDonald House in Hyde Park and prepared a meal, and taught at least one student how to boil water.
We went to The Courage Program and organized toys and clothing; The Forest Preserve to remove invasive species with loppers and bow saws; Arts of Life to paint; The Dog District to also paint and to walk dogs; Burr Oak Academy as teacher aids for the lower school; The Talking Farm to prepare for an upcoming fundraiser; The Franciscan Outreach to better organize and to learn about their organization; helped clean up and beautify our own campus, making cards and Halloween-themed decorations, and learning different methods of conservation.
It’s always reassuring when students give positive feedback about their respective locations, particularly when they express a desire to return. For, after all, it’s not intended for Service Day to be merely a day out of class, a day to be “filled up” and forgotten. It’s part of our mission for MPA to stay active in and around the community, and I hope students will take the initiative, to build sustainable relationships with organizations on their own.
In short, MPA at every age group had an opportunity to give back on our Fall Service Day. The rain might have dampened the ground, but not our collective spirits. There will always be a thousand variables when trying to organize any event, but with last Thursday’s rain, MPA might as well have been singing in it.
By Derek Smith
Mr. Smith teaches Upper School Social Studies and English. He also is MPA’s Service Learning Coordinator.