College Preparatory School for Girls Grades 3-12

LW3 CORNER: Taking Action for Positive Change - Highlights from Holton's Community Engagement Program

When you truly know yourself, you can best contribute to your community, and make a vital impact in the world. 

At Holton, we encourage students to use critical thinking skills to creatively solve problems. We cultivate curiosity, examine injustices, and leverage students' knowledge so that they can actively engage in their communities with empathy, courage, and shared responsibility. By applying classroom knowledge and content to meet authentic community needs, our students become knowledgeable, willing, and eager participants in our social fabric. We ask students to collaborate with communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

Amidst the pandemic, Holton has continued to work hard to help students develop a deeper understanding of local, national, and global issues and examine the impact of their actions—both through classroom and co-curricular work—and our students have risen to the challenge. Below, we highlight a few of the opportunities that the School has provided this year to help students continue engaging with, partnering with, and learning from our local community.

In Lower School: 

  • Veteran’s Day Cards
  • Cupid’s Kids Campaign
    • Students participated in the annual Cupid’s Kids Campaign to help lift spirits of homebound seniors during Valentine’s Day and create cross-generational connections. Students created handmade Valentine’s Day cards for isolated seniors in D.C. through the Department of Aging and Community Living. 
  • Community Engagement Fair 
    • Every year, Lower School students put together an event now called the Helen Poon Lower School Community Engagement Fair, which was held virtually this year! Students worked in small groups to address a community need and find a local organization that addressed this need. Check out their projects here
  • Holiday Toy Drive
    • Students and families participated in a holiday toy drive for A Wider Circle, an organization located in Silver Spring, Md., that works to end poverty. 

In Middle School:

  • The Middle School Community Engagement Committee, a group of 20 passionate students, worked together to create monthly themes and projects open to all Middle School students: 
    • Sunshine Boxes
      • Students collected cheerful yellow snacks and items to donate to frontline workers to show their appreciation, and Middle School Advisory Groups decorated yellow cards.
    • International Day of Peace
      • Students participated in the United Nations International Day of Peace project and recorded peace pledges
    • Adopt-A-Family Holiday Giving
      • Students purchased holiday gift cards and created holiday greeting cards for families in need at The Dwelling Place. The Dwelling Place “helps homeless families with their pursuit of self-sufficiency by providing housing, education, financial and life skills, and career enhancement opportunities.”
    • Families4Families Food Drive
      • Students organized a food collection drive for Families4Families. The organization “pairs student-led clubs in local schools and neighborhoods with carefully vetted nonprofit partners to deliver groceries and other essential items monthly to families hit the hardest by the pandemic.” Families4Families partnered us with DASH DC, a domestic violence shelter, and we delivered Holton’s collected bags of food and groceries.

In Upper School:

  • Seminar Curriculum 
    • Social Justice units were enhanced in both 9th and 10th grade. Students explored one specific social justice issue and came up with a way to take action. In 9th grade, students created a Community Action Plan and in 10th grade, students created a mock Instagram account to practice using social media as a platform to bring awareness to important social issues.  
  • MLK Week of Service
    • Students participated in a virtual community engagement learning opportunity to honor Dr. King’s legacy. Coretta Scott King proclaimed, “The greatest gift Martin could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrate the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others.” To that end, we asked students to “make it a day on, not a day off.” Students explored local engagement opportunities with Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection and Recreation Department.
  • Annual Thanksgiving Baskets
    • The entire Holton community collected and organized 47 complete Thanksgiving Day Baskets, $1,585 in gift cards and $500 of additional food items for Community Reach of Montgomery County. 
  • Upper School Assemblies 
    • Students shared ways they are getting involved in the community and offered suggestions to their peers (see below).
  • May Experiential Learning Opportunities (MELO)
    • This year’s 9th and 10th grade MELO are focused on community engagement! The 9th grade will be learning more about local engagement and the 10th grade will focus on civic engagement.
  • Upper School Clubs
    • The Environmental Awareness Club, Blue/White Club, and Holton Athletic Association worked together to collect shoes for Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe Program, which repurposes shoes to create materials used to upgrade community athletic  spaces such as basketball courts, playgrounds, and tracks. 

Additionally, students all across campus (and at home!) showed exceptional initiative and leadership, building on others’ ideas and adding new ideas of their own to innovate and solve problems. Below are just some of the student-led projects and initiatives. Go Blue and White—you make us proud!

  • Middle School Student Shout-outs:
    • Rachel Spencer ’25, Sophie Famili ’25, Sophia Kearney ’25 - Sunshine Boxes
    • Maddy Kavounas ’26 & Liv Hoffman ’26 - Families4Families 
  • Upper School Student Shout-outs (read about many of the below student projects here!):
    • Alyssa Wang ’21 - Young Golfers Care
    • Ema Nakayama ’21 - Storytelling STEAM
    • Emma Scielzo ’21 - Congressional Award recipient 
    • Maya Lall ’23 - Supporting Seniors
    • Ava Risser ’21- Grassroot Soccer fundraising
    • Alyssa DeSarbo ’23 - Dance Marathon for Children’s Miracle Network
    • Maya Grewbowsky ’22 & Luisa Guzman ’22- The Janie Foundation 

For more information regarding Holton’s Community Engagement Program, please visit our website or Upper School course page. If you have any questions, please contact Emily Wilde (MS/US) or Cynthia Weinberg (LS).