Grade 4 Fosters Culture of Service Through Ongoing Partnership with Florence Fuller

Saint Andrew's School provides countless opportunities for students at all levels to participate in community service programs as a way of fostering leadership and promoting positive relationships with local, regional, and international service organizations. Nothing says “Honor Above All” like the grade 4 “Adopt a Classroom” partnership and service project with the Florence Fuller Child Development Center of East Boca, now in its 10th year.

This social justice and community service project is designed to teach students the importance of responding to the needs of others. Through this project, grade 4 students have the opportunity to meet a “buddy” from the Florence Fuller Center and develop a meaningful and genuine relationship with that child. This relationship is built up through a series of different activities, events, and even visits throughout the school year. With these interactions, students learn that service is more than just donations of food and clothing, it is also acted out through friendship and togetherness.

“I have found that grade 4 students are the perfect age to engage with their four-year-old buddies. At this age, students are becoming true nurturers, and it is such a delight to watch the interactions with their newfound friends,” said Chaplain Faye Somers, coordinator of the grade 4 service project.

One of the greatest of these moments is the annual Breakfast with Santa event that is hosted at Saint Andrew’s School. On Friday, December 7, this special moment took place once again in the Lower School. At the breakfast, the class of 2027 came together with their buddies from Florence Fuller to celebrate the holiday season.

At the start of the event, a sea of smiles and excitement could be seen around the room as Scots awaited the arrival of their buddy. As each buddy entered the Weprin Family Student Center, Scots walked up to the front, greeted their friend with a hug or high-five, and walked them to their table, excited to start the day.

As the morning continued and students dined with one another over eggs, pancakes and hot chocolate, small moments of kindness and warmth could be seen all around the room. While some grade 4 students engaged in conversation and laughed along with their buddies, others guided their buddy by the hand through the busy room and even took the time to neatly cut pancakes for their new pal.

One of the most special of moments, however, came with the arrival of one man in a big red suit: Santa. Yelling “Ho, Ho, Ho” and “Happy Holidays,” both Mr. and Mrs. Claus entered the festive room with greetings and cheer for the excited students. Together, the pair walked around and took the time to greet each child individually. Smiles spread from ear to ear as Santa told all who listened that there was something special in store for them...and he was right.

As Santa made his way around the room, waiting in nearby classrooms were personalized teddy bears, patiently sitting on desks. As each student and their buddy entered the class hand-in-hand, grade 4 students gifted the teddy bears to their buddies, causing cheers of joy from the children of Florence Fuller.

Prior to the event, grade 4 students had raised enough funds through bake sales to purchase the batch of teddy bears. Each teddy bear was then individually decorated by each Scot with clothing and accessories that reflect the interests and personality of their new friend.

This decorating and giving of the teddy bear signifies more than a simple holiday tradition of gift-giving. It also reflects the caring and compassionate traits that are instilled in SA students through the direct alignment of the school’s Episcopal identity, Honor Code, and Primary Years Programme (PYP).

One of the ways SA lives out their Episcopal identity is through social justice, defined by the National Association of Episcopal Schools as, “the integration of the ideas and concepts of equity, justice, and a just society throughout the life of the school... and the inclusion of community service and service-learning as an integral part of the school.”

“This project allows students to get out of their comfort zone and is an opportunity to broaden their horizons in a way that begins in their backyard,” said Chaplain Somers. “As we mold the leaders of tomorrow, we have a responsibility to expose our students to real life experiences with neighbors near and far.”

In grade 4, this commitment to service and positive change becomes realized and internalized by students as they take active roles in the Florence Fuller service project. Older Scots still recall the many special moments that sprout from this service project and the Breakfast with Santa event as they go on to Middle and Upper School, a fact that shows the true depth of what this project means for Scots in grade 4.

“I remember my buddy spoke just a little bit of English, but mostly Spanish. I remember thinking, ‘oh no, this might not work out,’ but I still wanted to try. So throughout our time together reading, coloring, and meeting Santa, he got more comfortable with me and using some English words,” said Ava Zoberg, a grade 6 student. “I am glad that I made him feel good and helped him learn.”

As a school that focuses greatly on enriching and shaping the lives of its students, Saint Andrew’s School knows that teaching social responsibility is the key to developing students in mind, body, and spirit; a key that even the youngest of Scots use to open the door to meaningful and moral lives.

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A non-profit, independent, co-educational school for grades Pre-K - 12, Saint Andrew's School is a private day and boarding school located in Boca Raton, educating the best students from across Palm Beach County, Florida, the United States, and throughout the world in the Episcopal tradition.
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