Before NSCDS students graduate, their final requirement exemplifies how they embody the “Live and Serve” motto during their time at North Shore.
Each senior chooses a cause and an organization that he or she is inspired by and dedicates at least 60 hours volunteering there. Before they set out for the hands-on work, the students write extensive research papers to understand the issues their organizations face. This year’s 52 seniors volunteered at a total of 31 organizations. Their projects included the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Jewish Committee, Bernie’s Book Bank, SCA medical missions, Children’s Home + Aid and more. The two weeks of volunteership is followed by a final reflection, presentation and celebration evening attended by the students, their parents and their organizations’ supervisors.
Wishing to interact with many people for his Senior Service project, Dylan Bercu ’17 chose to volunteer for the American Jewish Committee (AJC). Here, Dylan recruited students from synagogues around the Chicagoland for the AJC’s youth program, LYFT. Additionally, he wrote speeches for the employees, created spreadsheets, and participated in meetings about the importance of interfaith dialogue. While he enjoyed writing speeches and attending meetings, “the best thing about working with the AJC is that they treated me as an employee and entrusted be with tasks that are important to them.”
The opportunity for global service was incredibly exciting to Katie Abrams ’17 and Lauren Kaplinsky ’17. The seniors traveled internationally to Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA) medical missions, a surgical center located on a ranch in Honduras. There, Katie and Lauren observed surgeries and interacted with the children on site. Lauren believes the experiences were meaningful. “The balance of both tasks was very rewarding because we had an immediate impact on the patients and a long-term impact on the kids.” The Senior Service weeks allowed the girls to visit a foreign country and learn about a new culture while simultaneously exploring their general interest in medicine.
Grace Miller ’17, continued her work with animals while exploring the possibility of becoming a veterinarian. Grace is, “very interested in studying to become a veterinarian therefore I wanted to do something for I Senior Service that was related to this interest.” By volunteering at BluePearl animal hospital, she helped with pre-op care, calculated drug amounts, set up IVs, prepped animals for surgery, assisted in the operating room and helped with post-op care. Senior Service gave Grace the opportunity to delve into being a veterinarian. “Senior Service really pushed me to explore different parts of my passion for animals; these have been a very rewarding two weeks,” she says.
Having participated in many sports throughout their lives, Frannie Block ’17, Katie Glew ’17 and Emily Lubin ’17 wished to volunteer at an organization that values physical activity, so they chose Urban Initiatives. This utilizes the power of sports to teach kids crucial life skills such as healthy living, leadership, and teamwork. The seniors “ wanted to support an organization that is so passionate about improving the lives of children from all diverse backgrounds,” says Frannie. During their two weeks of Senior Service, they assisted the organization in recruiting new students, coached soccer teams and worked as recess attendants at various schools in Chicago. While they enjoyed playing with the children, “the most rewarding experience was when the students called us Coach and asked us how they can be a better teammate and player on and off the field,” shares Frannie. Although their Senior Service has concluded, the girls look forward to continuing to help more children through sports.
When thinking about their Senior Service project, Zeke Edwards-Mizel ’17 and Roy Walker ’17 selected to volunteer at Rebuilding Together because they wished to help others while doing manual labor. Rebuilding Together is an organization working to change the lives of underprivileged individuals by reconstructing their homes. The seniors spent two weeks traveling around the Chicagoland area stripping, painting, and fixing houses. They enjoyed seeing the progress made on homes each day, as well as the feeling of satisfaction derived from knowing a family would directly benefit from their work.
Samantha Weinberg ’17 chose to volunteer at Baby Toddler Nursery, a child care center in Evanston, to explore pediatrics and spend time assisting children from varying socioeconomic backgrounds. While volunteering at the Nursery, Samantha assisted the children in preschool. She enjoyed interacting and playing with the children however, she feels the most valuable lesson she learned is, “that one of the most crucial aspects of teaching in preschool is promoting autonomy and independence in even the simplest tasks.” Although her Senior Service weeks have concluded Samantha, “absolutely loves working with kids and if I end up going into medicine, pediatrics would be something I would definitely consider!”
North Shore Country Day School is a junior kindergarten through 12th grade, college-preparatory school founded in Winnetka, Illinois in 1919. With rigorous academic pursuit as the cornerstone, North Shore provides many opportunities for all students to excel – in the classroom and the laboratory, on the stage and the playing field, in their communities and beyond.