The holidays are a time of giving and receiving, but Crofton House students experience that joy year-round through the service-learning component of the Ivy Compass program. Reciprocity makes the program unique. The school community gives its time and talents while also receiving experience, widened worldviews, and greater understanding of others.
The focus for service learning differs in each of the senior years. Grade 8s concentrate on school service, Grade 9s on the local community, Grade 10s on the provincial and national community, Grade 11 on the global community, and Grade 12s on the Crofton House neighbourhood. On Ivy Days, students are pulled from class and spend the day with the Ivy Compass team learning and serving.
The program was recently redeveloped based on staff and student feedback pointing to interest in learning about SOGI, mental health, reconciliation, advancing human rights, and engaging in meaningful service opportunities.
This year, Ivy Compass supported girls and women in Afghanistan and local refugee families through care packages, a jacket drive, and staff tutoring Afghan women and girls. In addition, an ongoing partnership with KidSafe includes an annual backpack drive and KidSafe’s use of the school kitchen during school breaks.
Ms. Kady Huhn, a Senior School teacher who began leading the program this year, noted the students’ drive and how they’re always asking, “What’s next?,” often continuing to volunteer once a program initiative has wrapped. “We've got a generous community in heart and spirit and a real love to serve and give back. We know how lucky we are at CHS and take that very, very seriously,” Huhn shared. “We want people to know that year in and year out, you can count on Crofton House School. If we're helping you this year, we'd love to help you next year, and the year after that.”
Huhn offers this advice for students to succeed in the program. “We ask them to come with an open heart and mind, grapple with complexity and nuance thoughtfully and carefully, and really dive in with two feet.”
In terms of preparing students for life after graduation, Huhn says the opportunities provided through Ivy Compass and experiential education is “one of the most powerful tools CHS has to immerse students in real-world experiences, to help them understand the unique perspectives of others, and to demonstrate the social skills, emotional intelligence, and empathy to make meaningful connections with people from all different walks. Our hope is they become lifelong servers to their community at their post-secondary institutions and in the workforce.”
Huhn says she’s most proud of how students, staff, and parents serve side by side and how all Ivy Compass initiatives are brought to the attention of the entire CHS community. “Community is incredibly important to me, and it's incredibly important to the Ivy Compass program,” Huhn elaborated. That spirit of community and all it can achieve through intentional partnerships is another precious gift to celebrate this holiday season, with more opportunity to give and receive in the New Year.