Dedicated Days of Service
Daily life at Taft is filled with opportunities to live the school motto, not to be served, but to served. More formal opportunities with a broader reach come through our dedicated days of service: a schoolwide Community Service Day in October; Senior Community Service Day, part of Senior Week every spring; and the Lower Mid Service Initiative, part of our end-of-year programming.
Community Service Day
Established in 1995, Community Service Day is the embodiment of our school motto. For one day in October, members of the Taft community set aside lessons, homework, and daily academic life and dedicate themselves in full to serving the greater Watertown community. More than 700 strong, Tafties lead projects both on and off campus, serving more than 70 individual constituent groups and organizations in at least a dozen area towns. Students may opt for manual labor—clearing brush and trash to prepare the site of Watertown’s new Greenway, or splitting and stacking wood from fallen trees at one of the local nature centers—or inspire young learners in the classroom, teaching physics, chemistry, or a foreign language to local students. Tafties host sports clinics, paint murals, serve at food kitchens and food banks, and repair and renovate buildings. In short, if there is work to be done, Taft students lend a hand, while building relationships.
“The day is an embodiment of our motto, ‘Not to be served, but to serve,’” notes MacMullen. “Service happens at Taft in countless ways and every week, and we should remember that, but a public day—where we stop our normal business of academics—provides a different kind of affirmation of what we believe in as a school.”
Senior Community Service Day
On the eve of graduation, Taft seniors embark on a Senior Community Service Day, when they return one more time to serve the organizations they have come to know well during their time at Taft. Often their work is a continuation of ongoing service projects, or new initiatives with longtime service partners. It is at once an opportunity to serve the community, and a final salute to service as a Taft student.
Lower Mid Service Initiative
Taft recently introduced an End-of-Year “Crash*,” a multi-day exploration of concepts, ideas, themes, and activities that typically fall outside of the academic year curriculum. (*Did you know that a group of Rhinos is called a crash?) For lower mids—our freshmen—one full day during that program is dedicated to service. In the morning, they work exclusively for partners in Watertown, the place we call home. In the afternoon, they work on campus, primarily supporting our year-end Green Rhino Initiative. At the end of each school year, students are invited to donate their unused, unwanted, or unpackable items to benefit local nonprofits and service providers. Lower mids help with the sorting and distribution of those items, which in recent years have been delivered to a local homeless shelter, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, organizations supporting families in financial distress, a nonprofit helping refugees start new lives in Connecticut, and a group helping those transitioning from homelessness to first homes.