College Preparatory School for Girls Grades 3-12

Students Support Front-Line Workers, Community, One Another Through Array of Efforts, From Writing Encouraging Notes to Donating Blood
Mina Garavi '20 Donating Blood 2020

Like her classmates, Mina Garavi ’20 was disappointed to lose her much-anticipated senior spring on campus, teeming with the many milestones and traditions she’d long waited to experience firsthand. Rather than sitting around lamenting, though, she decided to get proactive about changing her perspective.

“I wanted to create something that would help me remember how privileged I was during this time,” she says. So she came up with a plan to cultivate positivity not just in her life, but also in others’: each day, she's been doing something uplifting to support an individual, a group, or the community. She is documenting these activities in a photo book with classmate Francesca Cetta '20 that will serve as their Senior Project.

So far, Mina's activities have included making cards for nurses, writing letters to Holton teachers, and even donating blood (pictured at right are Mina and friend Clare Flood '20).

“The Red Cross has experienced a decrease in donations by 86,000 blood samples,” Mina explains. “The shortage impacts hospitals’ ability to treat cancer, trauma, and general surgery patients. We want to encourage the community to donate blood if they can during this time, especially since young and healthy individuals make the best donors.”

Many other seniors are focusing their capstone projects on supporting the community, and Lower and Middle Schoolers are finding many ways to reach out as well.  

Nell Choi ’26 is among those leading the charge. A member of the Gr. 6 Community Service Committee, she helped organize a drive before Spring Break (and the School shutdown) to collect items grab-and-go bags for the Ronald McDonald House (RMH). The pandemic made assembly and delivery logistics more challenging, but Nell was able to pack the bags—full of snacks and handwritten notes of encouragement—and drop them off at RMH in mid-April. In fact, the drive was so successful that she had enough goody bags to donate a batch to local emergency room workers as well.

Nell RMH 2020

In recent weeks, Nell launched another Lower School initiative: creating thank-you signs for essential workers. Many of her classmates and even teachers were thrilled to take part in the worthwhile effort and have been sharing pictures with the School of signs on their doors and in their yards, and even a thank-you treat box for delivery workers.

Upper Schoolers have also making thank-you signs in Advisory groups and they’ve joined students and various groups in all three divisions in devising their own creative ways of spreading cheer. For example, the Lower and Upper School sisters who prepared meals for a food truck that feeds those in need, or the Gr. 6 Chorus creating a distance recording of an uplifting song for the Chevy Chase Nursing Home. The School also launched a pen pal program between grade 3 and 4 and grade 9 students to reinforce connection and community, and provide a special treat for Holton's youngest students, who don't yet have School email addresses. 

Alyssa DeSarbo ’23 found her own unique way to support those on the front lines of the Covid-19 fight. She calls it “Macarons for Miracles.” She bakes gourmet macarons, sells them to friends, then donates the profits to Children’s National Hospital. So far, she’s raised $500, which she learned will allow the hospital to purchase 595 masks and 555 face shields for the hospital’s workers. Alyssa was particularly inspired to support those in the health care industry and at Children’s because she aspires to be a pediatric neurosurgeon.

To Nell, helping others is a win-win. “Service is important to me because I believe that it is so beneficial to be helping others: beneficial to them, and to yourself,” she says.

She notes that Holton’s motto, I will find a way or make one, has always spoken to her. “It always gives me the hope and strength and perseverance I need to get though the obstacles I face. Right now, during the time of the virus, I have thought about how we as a greater community will find a way or make one to overcome this time, and I believe that we will come out on the other side with a greater compassion and strength than before.”