Our first-year students perform service with their mentor groups in order to build a sense of community. The theme of freshman year service is charity. Each mentor group designs and implements its own service project. In addition, all freshmen mentor groups make crafts under the supervision of the Fine Arts Department that are distributed to elderly persons during Christmas. Also at Christmas, mentor groups participate in a toy drive for youngsters at a Catholic elementary school in the South Bronx. In February, underclassmen participate in a Valentine’s Day card project, sending personal notes to residents of local nursing homes where our seniors are doing their service projects.
Our sophomores also perform service through their mentor groups, reinforcing the idea that service is a communal responsibility. The theme of sophomore year service is justice and Catholic social teaching. Sophomores participate in some of the same annual projects as the freshmen, including the Christmas toy drive and Valentine’s Day card project. Sophomore mentor groups also design and implement their own projects, and are asked to focus their efforts on an issue or agency that seeks to promote social justice. Recent projects have sought to aid refugees, immigrants and sweatshop laborers.
The upperclassmen fulfill individual service requirements. Our juniors are primarily responsible for responding to the needs that exist within our school. They are required to give 15 hours of their own time to a service activity or club, such as tutoring peers who are struggling academically, raising awareness and funds for a medical mission program founded by a Prep alumnus, directing underclassman retreats and hosting visitors to the Prep. Eight of the 15 hours may be performed at an outside agency approved by Fordham Prep.
In their final year, students are expected to have developed the maturity, knowledge, social skills and judgment that will enable them to go out into the world to provide direct service to people in need. Seniors give 70 hours of their own time to approved service projects as part of their graduation requirement. All seniors are enrolled in a service course that offers reflection, discussion and instruction on issues of faith and justice. Seniors can be found comforting the sick and dying in hospitals and hospices. They visit the elderly and people who need assistance and companionship at nursing homes. They pair up with persons who have disabilities in therapeutic programs. Our seniors feed and provide clothing to persons who are poor and homeless at shelters and feeding programs. They also teach children in after-school tutoring and CCD programs.