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Periods of Purpose

Turning Free Time into Acts of Service
Periods+of+Purpose

 

Service is one of the fundamental pillars of Greenhills culture. From integrating more services into classes like FRESH to creating a new pathway system, which allows students to focus on specialized areas. This year is no different. The service department has added many new opportunities and changed old systems to adapt to make sure students are giving back in the most meaningful ways possible. 

In her 13 years as the Head of Service, Alyssa Friendly works to ensure Greenhills is doing its job giving back to the community. Friendly is dedicated to creating a culture of service for students that instills a sense of giving back that lasts long after they graduate. 

“My main goal is trying to find ways for kids to give back,” says Friendly. “There’s all this evidence that shows if you start volunteering at a young age, you’re going to continue throughout your life. When they start young, kids often realize how easy it is to wrap service into their lives and grow their passion.”

New this year is an update to service hour requirements. In previous years, students could fulfill service requirements in school through many different volunteering opportunities such as Gryphon Ambassadors or peer tutoring. 

“It had been 10 years since we sat down with a group of students and created the service hour requirements,” said Friendly. “I wanted to revisit them because I wanted to make sure they were still relevant. When I looked into them, I realized that there are a lot of opportunities for kids to get involved within the school. Of course, I want kids to continue to stay active in our community, but the purpose of the requirements was to get kids to find ways to interact with the greater community.”

With the change in requirements, Friendly and the SLICE team have found a way to make sure students don’t have problems finding opportunities. Last year, Friendly received feedback from students that they wanted volunteer opportunities during free periods, and she delivered. 

“It kind of just came up last year,” said Friendly. “Looking back at it I don’t know why we haven’t done this all along. The students had been asking about if we could do service during the day, and we figured out a way! Using lunch, the last class of the day, and C and C time, we get a really big chunk of time.”

Logistically, this hasn’t been easy to organize. Friendly credits the success of the program to the Student Leaders in Civic Engagement (SLICE). 

“It’s been a huge undertaking,” said Friendly. “And I have to give all the props to the SLICE kids because they are the ones reaching out. SLICE officers are each in a pathway and each pathway has set up all the excursions. They have been the ones emailing organizations and communicating with them constantly over the summer. It’s completely student-run.”

However, while complicated to organize, there are short-term and long-term benefits to this new program. Friendly hopes that when kids utilize these occasions, they can build that sense of service in themselves.

“Logistically it’s going to help a lot of our kids get their service hours done,” said Friendly. “Since they are all off campus, all these outings are counted for the requirement. Another benefit is that since it is all local, we’re building relationships with these organizations so that kids who want to volunteer outside of school have an easier time finding organizations to work with.” 

Service lead Amanda Chen ‘24 has high hopes for the new program. She is most excited about the King Elementary School opportunity.

“I think it’s going to be really useful for underclassmen,” said Chen. “Freshmen and Sophomores who can’t drive can really take advantage of this opportunity. I think it will really help incentivize kids since a lot of the time, we don’t know what to do during our free periods.”

SLICE lead Etienne Rouillard ‘25 shares a similar feeling about the new program. He guides students through the steps to get involved and sign up.

“It’s really simple,” said Rouillard. “All you have to do is sign up on the pathways doc, which you can find on Gryphon or in your email. After that, all you have to do is sign a couple of permission slips and show up during lunch at the designated meeting spot, and you’ll all walk together.”

The importance of giving back to the community is widely acknowledged, with an emphasis on how such activities can promote values such as compassion, responsibility, and awareness. 

“Just do it,” said Friendly. “If you’re on the fence, just do it. There is truly nothing better than that feeling of giving back, and I can’t wait to see all the amazing things we accomplish this year.”

 

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