Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Aug
  • 9

Summer lessons in and out of classroom

Posted By August 9, 2012 | 1:16 pm | Lead Story #1
When students go back to school they will likely be asked what they did for the summer. “I went back to school,” students at Nativity School of Worcester could say. “And out into the community to help people in need.” They’re in need themselves. That’s why they can attend a tuition-free private school. And that’s a reason for teaching them to give back, according to Alex Zequeira, founding principal and now president. “We often talk with our boys: ‘To whom much is given, much is expected,’” he said, quoting Luke 12:48. “It’s part of our Jesuit identity of being a man for others.”

By Tanya Connor

When students go back to school they will likely be asked what they did for the summer.
“I went back to school,” students at Nativity School of Worcester could say. “And out into the community to help people in need.”
They’re in need themselves. That’s why they can attend a tuition-free private school. And that’s a reason for teaching them to give back, according to Alex Zequeira, founding principal and now president.
“We often talk with our boys: ‘To whom much is given, much is expected,’” he said, quoting Luke 12:48. “It’s part of our Jesuit identity of being a man for others.”
They go back to school – in the summer – to learn this.
On July 9 the school kicked off its 10th year with “Summer of Service,” says the website www.nativityworcester.org.
Since 2004 the school has had a summer program, and for the past six years has been doing it in this form, according to Mr. Zequeira and Patrick Maloney, director of advancement.
For three weeks, students study reading and math.
Students in grades 5 through 7 also learn about local social issues and serve at places that address those issues.
Eighth-graders learn about six local agencies and work at those agencies. At the end of the program they vote on how much each agency should receive of a $5,000 grant from the Highland Street Foundation. The money, given for the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, is parceled out in one $2,000 grant, one $1,000 grant and four $500 grants.
Last year a faculty member running the program was disappointed to hear a student say that, if he had $5,000, he would keep it, because he and his family are in need, Mr. Zequeira said. The president said the teacher felt the student wasn’t getting the point of the Philanthropy Initiative.
“It’s important that they struggle with these types of questions,” he said of students.
He said fifth-graders experienced a different kind of giving away: they picked blueberries, made pies and gave them to a homeless shelter, without getting to eat any of them.
The summer program isn’t all work and giving to others, however. Mr. Zequeira said grades 7 and 8 go to Maine, grades 5 and 6 do community-building activities and the whole school takes local field trips. AIso, the College of the Holy Cross hosts a field day for them, featuring a variety of sports.
“Nativity Worcester purposely plans our Summer of Service session to expose students to a wider variety of experiences than the traditional school year allows,” says the website. “Last year, our school community completed over 1,500 of service hours in the Worcester area and we saw a significant increase in students’ academic growth through MAP testing data in the fall – highlighting the success of the goals established for the session…”
“I think it’s making a tremendous difference,” Mr. Zequeira said of the program. “I think it’s opening their eyes to what’s out there.”