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Hawthorn Academy Students Help Community, World Through Service

Jan 26, 2016 01:47PM ● Published by Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | Julie@mycityjournals.com

South Jordan - More than 630 Hawthorn Academy students gave a helping hand last month, trading in traditional class holiday parties for the opportunity to help others in the community as well as in the world.

“Our teachers talked to the students and learned their interests in helping others,” Marie Steffensen, Hawthorn Academy International Baccalaureate curriculum coordinator, said. “Students share their reflections of their service projects and how it has made a difference in their lives.”

Hawthorn Academy is an International Baccalaureate school that offers the primary years program for its kindergartners through fifth-grade students. As part of the program, voluntary, meaningful student action is expected as a result of student learning, Steffensen said

“Many students are involved in service projects that help our community all the time,” she said.

The students’ service may be done individual or in groups, on their own or at school or in the community.

“Through action, students are able to grow socially and personally, developing skills such as cooperation, problem solving, conflict resolution and critical thinking,” she said.

Many students seek the IB Leadership Award, which is awarded at the end of the school year. For the award, students can help with service in their community, city, state, country or even on an international level as one student’s soccer team plans to travel to Africa and spend an afternoon volunteering. A brother and sister made and donated crafts for the Festival of Trees and another student volunteered with an international religious conference involving her heritage. 

Students need to pre-approve their service project and it must meet the grade-level number of hours of service, Steffensen said.

However, in December, it wasn’t an award, but an opportunity to give to others that motivated students, she said. Kindergarteners and second-graders were studying needs versus wants and realized that everyone needs a safe living area and wanted to supply people in need with blankets and school supplies. So the kindergartners teamed up with Bikers Against Child Abuse and donated 110 gently used blankets, and wrote letters to tell them why the blanket was special to them. They also gave 50 packages of crayons. Second-graders tied fleece blankets and donated those for the second year in a row, donating about 200 blankets.

As a surprise to their schoolmates, first graders cleaned and sanitized desks and left a holiday card with a small candy cane for every student at the school. 

Third-grade students used beads to create 400 geckos that were donated to Humanitized Expeditions who will take them to schools in the Mayan Highlands in Guatemala this spring. These beaded gecko crafts will reach children in village schools, as well as be used to entertain the children during exams or when they have to take medication at medical clinics.

Fourth graders made about 100 school bag kits that were donated to the Refugee and Immigrant Center of the Asian Association of Utah. These bags include school supplies that will help refugee and immigrant children have necessary items to aid in their success at school, Steffensen said. In addition, some students also collected coats, shoes, socks and toys for a shelter.

Both fifth- and sixth-grade students tied about 90 quilts. Fifth graders donated them to The Road Home. The Road Home assists individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Salt Lake County and along the Wasatch Front. The Road Home also provides emergency services such as basic personal items, including hygiene kits and clothing, as well as emergency shelter. The Road Home’s mission also extends to help people step out of homelessness and back into the community.

The sixth-grade quilts were donated to Primary Children’s Medical Center. The quilts are given out as needed to help young patients feel more comfortable and brave while staying at the hospital, Steffensen said.

“We want our students to learn to think about the bigger world and know that their actions help those around them,” she said. 

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