Pacelli Column: Learning, Love of Community Service Instilled in Each Child
By Ellen Lopas
Principal, Pacelli Catholic Elementary School-St. Bronislava & Pacelli Catholic Middle School
Service is an important component of a Pacelli Catholic Schools education. Our mission and vision for our students and staff is to provide assistance in many different aspects of our community.
At the high school level there are many ways we help the students to find the value of helping their community. Each year the entire senior class has a service day in which students go to various community agencies, neighbors and our local parishes to perform acts of service. During the eight-hour event, students helped rake lawns, move mulch, paint stairs, tear down a fence, and detail a number of cars for the Sisters of St. Joseph.
The high school also requires that each student document 15 hours of community service over the course of the school year. So far this semester, our high school students have served the community by recording over 1,800 hours of service outside the school day. Many of our high schoolers volunteer at local agencies, nursing homes, parishes, and more, often reporting that by serving the community they feel a stronger commitment to others and start to see their community through a bigger lens.
National Honor Society is another avenue that the high school students are a part of that requires service hours in the community — about 40 percent of our junior and senior classes participate. The students are required to model the pillars of academic excellence, leadership, high moral character and service to others. By the end of the year, each NHS student is required to log 50 hours of community service and leadership. As a school, this one club with just over 40 students will log over 2,000 hours of service.
At the middle school level the students are required to give three hours per quarter in service. There are many different types of service and we want the children to learn what kind of service is good for them. We want this to become a life skill and the students will learn how good it feels to help others.
Pacelli Catholic Middle School is also once again embarking on an international outreach project for Christmas with Casa Hogar, the orphanage that our Diocese founded in Lima, Peru. Our entire middle school is going to be putting together Christmas gift bags, which will be brought to Peru by students from Wisconsin Rapids who are going on a mission trip there this year.
Next year, Pacelli High School students will again take their mission trip to Peru taking gift bags with them, too. We have a chance to demonstrate faith in action, and that is what being a Catholic is all about. We have seen first-hand the priceless reactions and smiling faces on the children of Casa Hogar when they receive gifts from us which truly makes our service worthwhile.
At the elementary level, all three of our schools do canned food drives, coat collections, money drives, and creation of gifts and caroling for nursing homes and the cancer center, among many other community projects. Even our early childhood center contributes to many of the same services in our community as well as collecting necessities for military veterans stationed overseas and cards for home-bound people through meals on wheels.
Service learning helps young men and women to become members of their community who are caring and supportive of everyone. Pacelli Catholic Schools are committed to service and preparing our next generation of adults to care for and support all those in the community they live in and beyond.