Following the AmeriCorps Swearing In Ceremony, 40 Mass Promise Fellows visited the Blackstone School for an afternoon of service. This was the first service event B-PEACE has sponsored this school year! School partnerships and service are the primary way B-PEACE works toward its goal of academic excellence in public schools.
The event began with an address to the volunteers at the school’s library from Lisa Lineweaver, representing the school’s Executive Leadership Team. Lisa spoke about the school’s turnaround story and the students the Blackstone serves. The school is one of the only BPS schools to serve students with multiple disabilities, and therefore draws students from all around Boston. Lisa also spoke about the school’s motto, Ubuntu, meaning, “we are because of each other”, and the school’s core values: respect, unity, and excellence. The presence of the volunteers that afternoon, said Lisa, was a way of showing, and not just telling, the students that the school community strives to live its motto.
Following Lisa’s introduction to the school, Tim Crellin, the founder and Executive Director of St. Stephen’s Youth Programs, spoke about the South End community that surrounds the Blackstone and the flourishing relationship between the Blackstone and St. Stephen’s. In addition to facilitating service days like this one, St. Stephen’s runs the Blackstone Library, coordinates Support-A-Classroom, and oversees classroom aids from Wellesley College.
After the orientation in the library, volunteers joined students in their classrooms for an afternoon of reading! A teacher hosting volunteers said he was delighted by his students’ enthusiasm to read with the volunteers. Several teachers expressed interest in hosting similar events to empower students and foster a love for reading.
After school was dismissed, the Mass Promise volunteers and St. Stephen’s after-school students and staff spent the sunny afternoon at the Blackstone Park and Ramsay Park weeding the garden, planting daffodil bulbs, and playing kickball.