Community Service is a main pillar of the BFCCPS mission. The school was founded on the ideas that participation in various community service activities fosters good character and self esteem in students. By involving families, and making connections to the curriculum, these activities will help develop responsible, respectful, confident and caring citizens. The BFCCPS Capstone Project serves as the culminating Community Service activity for our students. The Capstone process has grown into a multi-step, 14 month process where students reflect on past community service activities, brainstorm possible project ideas, research organizations that match their interests, plan, request approval for, and finally implement a project that will benefit the organization or issue they are interested in supporting. With the help and support of their parents and their academic advisors, as well as many other faculty and staff members, they successfully implement their projects, and present their experiences to the BFCCPS community.
During the first week of school, I received an invitation from Aaron Frongillo and Michael Katinas, two 8th grade boys. They were conducting a week-long soccer camp for students with disabilities. The camp ran the first week of school for our BFCCPS students, and consisted of two sessions, where children with various physical, emotional, and neurological disabilities were paired with current Franklin Youth Soccer students. Aaron and Michael ran soccer specific drills and games with their campers that allowed them to practice not only sport specific skills such as ball handling and passing, but sportsmanship and character skills as well.
To say that I was inspired by this project is an understatement. We ask the capstone students to not only provide a service to their community, but also to provide outreach to their community so that the community at large understands what their project is about, and how they can help to support the goals and objectives of their project. By involving Franklin Youth Soccer players in their project, they provided this outreach. These volunteers learned how to teach skills to students who have never played soccer before, and who sometimes learn best in unconventional ways. Michael and Aaron not only provided this opportunity for their campers, but also the students who volunteered their time to help make this project so successful.
The day I visited, I was introduced to a group of parents who were there with their campers. Michael and Aaron had advertised their program on a local SEPAC website, an organization dedicated to supporting parents of students with special needs. There were parents and campers from all over Massachusetts that signed up to attend one of their sessions. When speaking to these parents, two from Norton, they could not believe that this camp had been organized and run by two 8th grade boys. They mentioned that their children do not often have the opportunity to play in organized sports and to learn not only the sport-specific skills, but also the character and sportsmanship skills that were so well modeled by the group leaders and their staff of assistants.
Michael and Aaron worked hard on their project to make it successful. In the end, it didn’t matter how many students they were able to support (over 25), or what they needed to do in order secure a field, trophies, equipment and T-shirts, or that they learned how to use a T-shirt press. What mattered is that they made a significant impact on the campers who attended, their families and the student volunteers that helped them out. To see the students and their campers on the field, playing soccer themed games, and just having fun truly spoke to the spirit of Community Service at BFCCPS. This project is one example of the close to 40 projects that are currently being conducted by our 8th grade students. I can’t wait until January to hear about how the others turned out!