Community Involvement

In keeping with the school’s mission to “embrace the city,” we hope to guide each student in exploring the many facets of urban life through their educational experience at GFS. The aim of the Community Involvement program is to provide opportunities for students to have meaningful interactions with the people, places, and resources which make up the neighborhood of Germantown and the city at large.

"Within blocks of the school, you find a stop on the Underground Railroad and the temporary White House George Washington chose when yellow fever hit Philadelphia. You find the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, where our students learn about deaf culture and sign language, and you find the heart of Germantown, a fascinating place and the focus of our Germantown Seminar."

To this end we begin with teacher-directed projects in grades K-6. In grades 7-10, student projects are mainly organized by the director of Community Involvement and led by teachers and parent volunteers. In grades 11 and 12, student projects are mainly initiated and organized by the students themselves, with support from teachers and the director of Community Involvement. Ultimately we hope that Community Involvement becomes a part of students’ lives beyond graduation from GFS.

In 1997, we intentionally changed the name of our program from Community Service to Community Involvement, in an attempt to emphasize the reciprocal nature of our relationships in the community: to see the community as an intricate educational resource instead of simply a collection of sites which need our “help.” We are continually learning how to articulate and understand this reciprocity. The Community Involvement program serves as a clearing house for students, parents, staff and teachers from other schools seeking contacts and ideas for volunteer projects.
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We want each student entering the outside community with the best possible attitude toward volunteering. A true volunteer spirit bridges gaps between people, and it is the relationships which develop between our students and our hosts which are the core of our program and can be anywhere from interesting to life-changing.


We want students to develop a sense of responsibility for choosing to volunteer: they learn to weigh their priorities and their commitments, a beneficial life skill which will help them even after they graduate from GFS. We are concerned about students’ social and spiritual development as well as their intellectual development. When students truly volunteer, they willingly develop an awareness of social issues, empathy for others, and a better sense of their role in the “Big Picture” of the world.

Ultimately the Community Involvement program is a spiritually based program. As a Friends School we strive to meet that of God in each person. The Community Involvement program exposes students to people whose backgrounds, abilities, or physiques differ from their own. Through discussion and shared time together, students experience the commonality of people and come to understand differences in context. Such an understanding cannot be rushed in an effort to fulfill a certain number of required hours or forced by matching students with organizations with whom they are unlikely to engage. These are the reasons why our program is primarily voluntary after grade 6.

Community Involvement News

Events

Thursday1218

Stenton Shelter Dinner

SR/CR/Kitchen
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Monday119

ML King Jr. Day of Service & Luncheon

Sharpless/Yarnall/Social Room
8:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Monday46

Fetterman Class Clothing Drive Begins

Friday424

Embrace the City Week

Thru: 5/2/2015

Upper School Embrace the City Day