Norwood-Fontbonne Academy hosted its Martin Luther King Day of Service on Friday, January 14, 2022 on campus where all students, faculty, and staff participated in a number of different service projects, which benefited local organizations.
"The overarching goal of the day was to reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and highlight shared principals between the Sisters of St. Joseph and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—our interconnectedness and our call to love our neighbor without distinction," said Ally Monteiro, Director of Mission and Formation. "Through the service projects, engagement with guest speakers, and lastly, in the space dedicated to personal reflection, students were able to actively participate in and contribute to these two legacies."
Students in the Montessori Preschool and Pre-Primary/Kindergarten houses on campus made placemats for St. Francis Inn Ministries. On the Fontbonne Campus, Junior Level Montessori students and Primary (1st-3rd grade) students made butterfly cards for The Villa and hygiene kits for Cradles to Crayons. Down the hall, fourth and fifth grade students made centerpieces for Cathedral Kitchen and wrote messages of hope for Project HOME.
Up on the Norwood Campus, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students made blizzard bags for The Welcome Center, reusable grocery bags for The Neighborhood Center, no sew blankets for Project Linus and The Neighborhood Center. Eighth grade students and NFA staff also pitched in to make sandwiches for Cathedral Kitchen.
"As a sponsored work of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, each day we renew our mission that ‘All May be One,' " said NFA President Dr. Ryan Killeen. "Today was a blessing and a joy to see our whole community rally and embrace the call to be in relationship with these incredible partner ministries. Our students love to dig into service and put faith into action. There has been a buzz of excitement preparing for today and all of our learners from our three year olds through eighth grade accomplished so much, authentically living the gospel of Jesus Christ."
In addition to community service, students and faculty also had a chance to hear virtually from the Sisters of Saint Joseph, who touched on themes that ranged from belonging to resilience to social action to justice to treasuring self, others, and the Earth.
“There were two reasons for including virtual guest speakers on this day," said Monteiro. "The first reason being it was an opportunity for our students to build relationships with Sisters and Associates beyond those they interact with on a daily basis. The second being that in talking with these speakers, and hearing how their work responds to the needs of our day, our students were able to grow in their understanding of the scope and depth of the SSJ Mission and its legacy."
Students also took the time to write personal reflections, share those reflections, and connect with prayer partners.
As a sponsored work of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, everything at NFA flows from the belief that “all may be one.” The students feel connected—to God, the school, teachers, and peers—which leads to a strong sense of solidarity within the community and a united commitment to serving others.
Service learning is an active experience at NFA where students gain a deep understanding of service through pre-education, face-to-face interaction, and post-reflection. Integrated with religious education, service learning connects back to the Gospel values, which results in a truly meaningful experience for students.
Students are thoughtful and compassionate inside and outside of the classroom, a result of learning to love inclusively from the earliest of ages. With a deep respect for faith, students are not afraid to take risks. They put their faith into action by participating in service, promoting social justice, and being civically engaged.
“Ms. Monterio’s leadership today is quintessential of the passion she brings to Mission and Formation at NFA!" noted Killeen. "Today marked a big hopeful next step reigniting our 20 plus year legacy of service learning at NFA and leveraging the two years of planning of the Identity & Relationship Committee implementing our Strategic Plan, Directed Toward Tomorrow."