According to Storm King’s Director of Service Learning Ben Harnick, a critical component of growth for a young person is engaging in volunteerism. With this in mind, he is finalizing the details of the School’s Service Learning Program for the upcoming school year. Participation in Service Learning, or community service, is a hallmark of the Storm King experience, and a requirement for graduation at The Storm King School.
With the depth and breadth of the program continuing to grow, Storm King’s reputation as a valued community service partner has also grown exponentially. When students return later this month, several local organizations will be ready and waiting for their service with open doors. “Our partners have learned that SKS students are a valuable resource and can contribute to meaningful causes that improve the community. Word gets around. It is recognized throughout our area that SKS students are helping to make their world a better place,” explains Mr. Harnick.
“Following our efforts last year, we’ve received very positive feedback from the town and village of Cornwall, the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum (HHNM), Black Rock Forest, the Newburgh Armory, the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, and many others regarding our student-volunteers. Our local community recognizes SKS’ greatness in this area.” The success of the program is great news, especially for our student volunteers. “Success builds on success, and will result in more diverse and engaging service opportunities as the program continues to develop,” continues Mr. Harnick.
The program’s goal for the new school year is to further increase Storm King’s contributions to the local community. “We will be striving to get our students involved in even more town and village events, local library events, and in other organizations that benefit our greater community. We are also exploring ways to do even more for our longstanding service partners including the Newburgh Armory, HHNM, and Habitat for Humanity. Another goal is further to strengthen our partnership with our neighbor, Black Rock Forest. Whether it be fundraising, trail clearing, erosion control, or helping with plant and animal population studies, our students will be ready to volunteer. We will also continue to find ways for students who prefer to remain on campus to better their immediate environment,” explained Mr. Harnick.
Along with increasing and diversifying service opportunities, Mr. Harnick wishes to change the way students perceive community service. “Our goal is to take service from being a requirement to something that students want to participate in. Volunteering provides students with new experiences and creates opportunities to gain insight into themselves and the world around them. This facilitates personal growth. It also builds intangible skills like leadership, communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and time management. At the same time, students can learn concrete skills such as using tools, measuring, building, and many others. Most importantly, students experience the personal empowerment that comes from making a difference in the lives of others, and the joy of knowing they did something good. That is what will keep them coming back and make them life-long servers of their communities,” continues Mr. Harnick.