As a Jesuit and IHM school, community service is ingrained in Gesu’s culture. In 2015-16, students participated in service projects during Catholic Schools Week, through the GEM (Gesu Extra Mile) Community Service Club, and several new initiatives.
Catholic Schools Week
During Catholic Schools Week, all Gesu students wrote notes to the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at Camilla Hall nursing home to thank the Sisters for their service and to share what they enjoy learning at Gesu.
Students exceeded their goal for Gesu’s 2016 Catholic Schools Week “Mission Mania” collection and raised $1,894.48 to benefit Maywood Rotary’s Kenya Project, specifically the Nkineji School Project, which helps to build classrooms, a medical clinic, and provide scholarships for students to attend high school. Mission Mania funds also supported Nyumbani Children’s Home in Kenya, which cares for children with HIV/AIDS, and Jesuit Relief Services to Syrian Refugee children in Lebanon.
School-Wide Service Initiatives
This year, we welcomed Community Service Coordinator and GEM Program Coordinator, Eric Jackman, through the ACE SJU program, to implement service initiatives school-wide. The 7th grade boys spent their Saturday at Gesu on Philly Spring Clean-Up Day to spruce up the block around Gesu. Gesu School’s Gospel Choir visited Manresa Hall at Saint Joseph's University in February to sing for the Jesuit retirement community. Students in Pre-K-8 also created cards for veterans at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center to commemorate Memorial Day and thank them for their service to our country.
Gesu 8th grade boys visited Women of Hope personal care home as part of their Boys to Men class with Rev. Stephen Thorne, Gesu Board Member and Pastor of St. Martin de Porres Church. The young men were excited to prepare and serve a meal for the women. After returning to school, the students discussed their experience in class “Jesuit reflection style” and through letters to their teachers.
GEM Community Service Club
The GEM Community Service Club, for grades 6-8, met weekly during the last trimester. Says Eric Jackman, the club “helps students process the idea that they have talents and abilities and can find ways to give back to their community.” Several faculty facilitated the projects and helped students understand the impact—Rufino de Santos, Grade 6 Teacher; Andrea Warner, Pre-K Teacher’s Aide; and Jonathan Pennacchia, n.S.J., former Math Teacher.
Students made colorful Easter baskets for 40 Gesu Kindergarteners. Among other projects, the club held a clean-up day to beautify the block surrounding their school and created artwork for Gesu School’s One Day Challenge. Says 7th grader, India, “My favorite service project was cleaning up around the school. I liked this one most because we got the opportunity to help out in our own community.”