Each year in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr, the School mobilizes to head off campus and serve many different communities. It’s an enormous undertaking, headed by Rachel Cantlay and Elizabeth Ferguson, Lawrenceville’s Director and Assistant Director of Community Service, respectively. They are getting wonderful assistance from numerous students and colleagues in this endeavor, but it’s their vision and diligence that makes it happen.
But as impressive as this singular event is (logistics, energy, and sincerity), Rachel and Elizabeth have worked well to build a culture of consistent service – proof of their success is found in the number of hours our students volunteer each year as expression of their identity.
High school students love to categorize themselves and construct identities. For better or worse, we have students who identify first as hockey players or artists or tri-House athletes or math kids (or not) or Clevies. We also have many students for whom service is core to their identities. Whether working twice a week with local elementary students who come to campus for tutoring in everything from math to riding bikes or dedicating weeks in the summer to counseling at The School Camp or the Performing Arts Camp, these are students who demonstrate varsity level commitment to others.
But unlike athletics and some other activities, nobody has a knack for service. It’s not a jump-shot, or slap shot, or ability to change a voice’s tone and accent. Service is a virtue that shows the integration of heart and action.
And while we broadcast our teams’ wins and losses and publish headlines about academic awards, let’s all remember that as many of our kids prove Dr. King right when he said:
"Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."
Note: Lawrenceville’s 2017 Martin Luther King Day of Service will be celebrated on January 18. All Lawrentians and faculty members will be volunteering that day at non-profit organizations throughout New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.