MLK Day 2017 @ CDS
Instead of taking the day off, students at Community Day School took on the essential themes of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 16 together with the broader Pittsburgh community in a day of learning, service, and reflection. MLK Day truly was a day set apart from “business as usual” at CDS, with a social justice curriculum developed in partnership with Repair the World Pittsburgh and the Facing History and Ourselves Innovative Schools Network. The guiding theme was “Women in Civil Rights” focused on continuing the vital work of achieving equality in our country.
The morning began with an inspirational address from award-winning author Dr. Bettina Love followed by a discussion panel of female professionals. Lessons and activities about social justice and civil rights continued throughout the day in all grades. For example, students in Grades 4-8 enjoyed a mini-conference experience with “seminars” on women muckrakers, “Notorious RBG” (Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg), Women in STEM, the history of hip hop, borders and boundaries, and more (click here for a schedule). Our younger students even learned how to get into what Dr. King called “good trouble—necessary trouble” by holding the first-ever CDS Peace Rally.
From our 3-year-old classroom to 8th Grade, all of our hearts were stretched, our eyes were opened, and children and adults were touched by the life and legacy of Dr. King (photos here). As Dr. Love reminded us, our work must continue to build on the day’s conversations and lessons throughout the year on our journey to creating a more just world.
Tzedakah and Gemilut Hasadim
Our goal is for students to become accustomed to tzedakah (charitable giving) and gemilut hasadim (acts of kindness) as a way of life. Our graduates are known for their engagement in tikkun olam (repairing the world), and an awareness of the world around us and our responsibility to do our part to make a difference is one of the key outcomes of a Jewish day school education.
In the younger grades, these values are promoted through acts of consideration toward classmates and family members. As students mature, the circle of concern is extended to help those in need in our local community and beyond. In Middle School, students have a required number of community service hours to complete as a condition of graduation.
In addition, Middle School students from CDS are building meaningful relationships with senior residents of the Jewish Association on Aging through the two-year Better Together program. The intergenerational visitation program allows approximately 20 CDS students to travel once a month to Charles M. Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where they engage with the elderly in a hands-on fashion by enjoying meals, activities, and shared learning projects together. The visits contribute greatly to meeting the mission of the JAA to enhance quality of life for its residents, while providing the students with the opportunity to fulfill the Jewish mitzvah (commandment) to honor the elders in our community.
In preparation for their Bat or Bat Mitzvah, 6th Grade students research various charities and nonprofit organizations and present their findings to their class. This information is then used to help them chose a tzedakah project that they want to work on during their 7th Grade year in connection with their upcoming simcha. In their Language Arts class, students are required to mail a cover letter to the charity they have selected to support through their B'nai Mitzvah project in a graded assignment that also reinforces their writing skills.