Ninth and Fourth Grade MLK Service Day

Summer Crown Last Tuesday, while the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders sat in classes, the 9th graders accompanied their 4th grade buddies on a service trip in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Half of the 9th graders ventured with their buddies to the Greater Chicago Food Depository while the others did service at the Cornerstone Homeless shelter. Having the 4th graders accompany the 9th grade was an unexpected addition to the service day and being their mentor made the experience even more enjoyable.   From previous experience, 9th graders (and other high-schoolers) have little motivation be engaged during service days. Whether they are mulching, organizing clothes at Cornerstone, or labeling cans at the food depository, students always find ways to get distracted, which usually results in not much work getting done. With the 4th graders looking up to us, however, we were forced to set a good example, which is why many students expressed that having the 4th graders around made the day more fun.   9th grade mentor Cameron Cozzi recalls her experience by saying, “I thought that it was really cool to be able to do service with our 4th grade buddies and to spend time with them outside of our school.” She went on to mention that they made the service trip more meaningful than she had expected. Another 9th grade student and Cornerstone volunteer, Natalie Wexler, agrees by stating, “I thought that the day of service was really valuable because it allowed our grade to bond with each other through the common goal of being good mentors to our buddies and helping the residents at Cornerstone”. Not only did the 9th graders’ efforts set a moral example for their younger companions, but it also allowed them to find new ways to enjoy a day of service. My buddy and I were a part of the group of volunteers at the Greater Chicago Food Depository. We both agreed that the best part of our day was the competition between different groups that labeled and packaged cans of sweet peas. When we were first assigned this job we did not expect anything special, as you might imagine; however, the determination of the 4th graders to package as many sweet peas as humanly possible was contagious. At the end of the day, we had sent out more than 10,000 boxes of sweet peas to soup kitchens around Chicago. The Cornerstone group also exceeded their expectations by an incredible amount, packaging hundreds of bagged lunches in a very short amount of time. There is no way that we would have had the same results had the 9th grade students not been encouraged by their buddies. Not only did the 4th graders make the service day more fun, but they reminded us how good it feels to help others, especially on the day that commemorates the selfless efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.]]>