Dec. 21 was a special day for students at Skyview Upper Elementary, as they celebrated the school’s second-annual Community Service Day.
“It’s structured to give back, and to learn something about the charities,” Melissa Gorla, Skyview Upper Elementary School principal, said.
According to Gorla, teams of Skyview students choose local charities to support by collecting items they needed. In return, the charities stop by the school on Community Service Day, not only to receive the items, but also to share a little bit about what they do in a fun-filled and casual setting.
This year, the students supported the following charities:
- The American Red Cross – collected change
- The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – collected arts and craft supplies, playing cards, crossword puzzles and word searches.
- The Elmwood Park Zoo – collected brown paper bags, batteries and dried fruit
- Manna on Main – collected canned goods
- The Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House – collected paper towels, Ziploc bags, hand soap
According to fifth grade teacher Nan Davis, there are over 800 students at Skyview. She said each student has done their part to make the Community Service Day very popular.
“We had about 100 percent participation,” Davis said of the students in her class, as well as throughout the school. “It’s fantastic.”
Christopher Callanan, Ronald McDonald House communications manager, said he was grateful that the Skyview students chose his charity as part of their annual Community Service Day.
“Every single item they brought in does help us,” Callanan said.
According to Callanan, students helped collect some of the requested Ronald McDonald House items, as listed from off its website.
The Ronald McDonald House offers a respit space and support for families of children that are seriously ill or receiving care at local hospitals.
Callanan said that he was impressed with the large amount of donations the students had gathered for his and his fellow charities.
“I would have brought a bigger car,” Callanan said. “It’s unbelievable, the kids did a great job.”
Many of the Skyview’s fifth-and sixth-grade students expressed enthusiasm at being able to meet representatives of their chosen charities, and especially at hearing first-hand how their efforts will be helping those in need.
“It’s good to do this, because it shows what kind of character you are,” Catherine Hayward, Skyview fifth-grade student, whose cousin directly benefitted from the Ronald McDonald House, said.
She added that the Community Service Day is all about the six pillars of Character, as taught to students at the school:
“You need these six things to be a happy person,” Skyview School counselor Beth VanBuren said of the pillars with a smile.
Van Buren explained that the pillars are part of the school’s Positive Behavior Support system, known to students through the school’s motto: “Character Counts at Skyview."
“Character Counts is not a program,” VanBuren said. “It’s a way of life.”
According to VanBuren, the six pillars are not only integrated into the student’s curriculum as part of their character education, but also with their daily interactions between peers and teachers.
“Kids hear it in the daily announcements, are evaluated by the six pillars on their report cards,” VanBuren said. “When their conduct is questioned, they are asked if they are following the six pillars.”
In addition to collecting for the five charities, Skyview students also demonstrated their support of the six pillars by taking a portion of their Community Service Day to write get-well cards to local hospitals, including Einstein, Mercy Suburban and Abington. The students also participated in Project Snowflake, in which the students helped craft paper snowflakes to be sent in support of the Sandy Hook Elementary School community.
After lunch, Skyview students were treated to educational games as a reward for their efforts.
Just prior lunch, high administrators from Methacton School District visited the school, in order to read DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan’s book “City Green,” about improving one's neighborhood.
Among the administrators from the districts central office was superintendent Dr. Timothy Quinn.
“I think it’s wonderful for our students to see adults reading and hear good literature,” Quinn said.