Senior Outreach at Episcopal High School
Returning from winter break, students at Episcopal High School have another two weeks before the start of second semester. Freshmen, sophomores and juniors take new and educational classes on subjects not taught in high school, and seniors volunteer at sites all around Houston helping the homeless, special need schools and low-income schools.
Most students volunteered at schools with young children, where they helped the teachers and got to know the kids at the same time. Sarah Venker volunteered at Small Steps Nurturing Center, where she spent time playing and working with 2-3 year olds. Small Steps is located in the Fifth Ward, and all students at this school live in the surrounding zip codes. Sarah spent a lot of her time “playing with play-doh, building trains, and making huge towers out of Lego blocks.” She also went outside and played tag and ring-around the Rosie. At Small Steps, Sarah said most of her kids “just wanted someone to play with and talk to.” Sarah tried to make them “feel special every day.” She thought that it was “inspiring to see them so happy every day. All of these kids have strength and bravery way beyond their years.”
One thing that Sarah will never forget is a little boy who never spoke a word or participated in class. Sarah said “his two teachers tried everyday to engage him in activities, but he wanted nothing to do with it. However, on the second to last day, he walked over and stood by me. He looked up at me, grabbed my hand, and started singing along with the rest of his class.” It rewarded Sarah to know that “I helped him get out of his quiet comfort zone and join in with his friends. This is a moment I will never forget.”
Some students also volunteered at schools for special needs. Jordan Lang was one of those students. She volunteered at The Arbor School, where she assisted the teachers in their classroom and worked with the kids. Jordan taught the kids certain tasks, which they call goals, such as turning their heads when they hear their name and placing the correct puzzle piece in the correct space. She also helped the kids eat lunch and played with them. Jordan’s favorite part of this experience was “being able to spend time with the kids. I love kids and it was really inspiring to see how strong and driven these kids are.”
Jordan hopes that she impacted these kids by showing them that “anything is possible and that there are people who want these kids to succeed.” The most memorable moment for Jordan was her last day, when “one of the boys who never hugged anyone before came over and hugged me before I left.” This moment proved to her that she had made an impact in his life.
Both Sarah and Jordan wish to continue volunteering at these schools. In fact, Sarah has already been back to Small Steps. She watched some of the kids for a few hours while her parents attended an educational event at the school. Jordan “will never forget this experience,” and wishes to “go back to see the progress that the kids have made.” Senior Outreach was an eye-opening experience for every student at Episcopal High School, and it left a special and personal impact on everyone.
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