Cleaning, labeling and organizing. This was the task placed before a group of Episcopal ninth graders who recently spent part of their Upper School retreat time volunteering at Melrose Elementary on Valcour Drive in Baton Rouge. Their work is part of a much bigger effort – bringing together children from different areas of our city to help them find common ground and connect in meaningful ways.
The Episcopal School of Baton Rouge/Melrose Elementary School partnership has encouraged camaraderie between students and teachers from the two institutions for many years now. While the partnership initially included only the Episcopal Lower School, it quickly morphed into a service learning opportunity for the other divisions as well. Children from both schools enjoy the opportunity to interact with their peers, whether it’s through school supply drives, planned sharing times or even providing assistance with school work.
One of the most exciting projects is the annual Easter egg hunt that is organized by Episcopal Lower School students for Melrose Pre-K and Kindergarten students. In advance of the event, our students collect hundreds of eggs, organize and deliver them to Melrose where they hide them for the younger children. The egg hunt has a lasting impact on the students, with this year’s ninth grade volunteers recounting memories of their own involvement with the project when they were younger.
I have had the fortunate and unique experience of being an Episcopal student, a Melrose staff member and now the Episcopal Lower School Counselor. During my time at Melrose, I remember seeing my Episcopal friends on campus. Now that I am here at Episcopal, it is especially meaningful for me to team up with Lower School Religion Teachers Laura Portwood and Sam Oakley on this partnership. It is a significant growth opportunity for everyone to connect and share. All involved have found the partnership invaluable.
Currently, Lower School is collecting school supplies to help our Melrose friends get off to a great start this year. If you would like to donate, please send supplies to school with your child. Students will have the opportunity to present their contributions at Morning Meeting. At the beginning of September, Mrs. Oakley’s fifth graders will load the supplies and hand deliver them to Melrose. This is usually a great experience for our students, who later reflect on and share how this act of kindness impacted them.
Sharing, mentoring and growing. While the ninth grade retreat day volunteers may have thought they were only doing a little, there was so much more taking place. We look forward to another year of continued partnership with Melrose.
Thank you for your support! #StrongeruKnighted
Sara is a licensed clinical social worker. Before joining the Episcopal community as the Lower School Counselor, she was a School Based Therapist with Capital Area Human Services District. She worked at Melrose for seven years. This is her seventh year at Episcopal.