Freshmen, in their mentor groups, will band together to create and seed a new fund to help people in distress. The pandemic has made us acutely aware that so many of our sisters and brothers live on the brink of catastrophe, lacking the support systems and safety nets that most of us take for granted. Freshmen will be introduced to a number of agencies, including POTS, that provide emergency relief to people who are one setback away from dire straits. They will hear stories about people who could have been spared a devastating turn if short-term assistance had been available. The service efforts of our freshmen to collect funds and materials will represent a “bridge over troubled waters” for our neighbors.
Sophomores will also serve through their mentor groups. They will gain an understanding of some of the systemic causes of human suffering and begin to appreciate that lasting solutions to many problems will require changes to economic, social, educational, medical, and legal structures. Our second-year students will be inspired to support in remote ways local, regional, national, and international social justice causes that share Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision that “the moral arc of the universe is long, but bends toward justice."
Juniors will continue to be the main providers of service needed within the Prep’s walls. We will call upon them to continue to support Prep events that require student presence in accordance with current health guidelines. Juniors will take an active, though remote, role in responding to needs in our neighborhood (Community Board 6) and in their home communities. They will be invited to build on the great work the entire Prep community did this summer in writing letters, creating entertaining videos, and collecting essential items for our agency partners. Their traditional 15-hour requirement will be re-evaluated and adjusted as needed as the year unfolds.
Seniors will still be required to complete a major capstone service project for graduation. They will be enrolled in a service class that meets once per cycle under the supervision of a faculty/staff member. For as long as direct service at our partner agencies is not an option, we will pivot to remote service and a new curriculum designed to be a “deeper dive” into the call to serve and to live in kinship with others, particularly people who have been marginalized. That revised curriculum will be grounded in the four weeks of the Spiritual Exercises and integrate elements of Ignatian pedagogy and the Jesuit Universal Apostolic Preferences. In lieu of the traditional 70-hour requirement, each senior, in collaboration with his service teacher, will develop and carry out a substantive project of his own design or with a small group of other seniors to help an organization whose mission is aligned with our Catholic identity and values and to bring that cause to the attention of the entire Prep community.
These transitions will not be easy for anyone and will surely involve some missteps. We will strive to be patient, constructive in our feedback, open to change, always trusting that Providence smiles upon the good works of our young men. Thanks in advance for your understanding and please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or suggestions for ways in which we can live out our call to be a community “for and with others.”