Woodlands Academy students help those who help others

Service is an integral part of a Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart education. Goal III of all Sacred Heart schools is "to educate to a social awareness which impels to action." With this commitment in mind, Woodlands Academy held its annual Service Day Feb. 28. Students from the all-girls college-preparatory day-and-boarding high school departed their Lake Forest campus to lend a helping hand at a variety of area service organizations.

“We are very excited for the students to get off campus and into their surrounding communities,” said Brynna Sherony, Woodlands Academy service coordinator. “It’s done each year with the hope that the girls gain a greater understanding of themselves and see the difference they can make in the lives of others.”

Freshmen spent the first half of their day at the school learning about what it means to do service and why the school emphasizes in hopes of getting these first-year students excited about performing service during their four years at Woodlands Academy. They then spent the rest of their day at Feed My Starving Children in Libertyville, where they helped package 41,904 meals that will feed 114 needy children for a year.                                                         

Sophomores began Service Day at Family Services of Lake County’s Nuestro Centro in Highwood, which hosts after-school and summer activities to help build students' math and reading skills. The Woodlands Academy students helped facilitate a process that aids children in selecting appropriate books based on their reading level when visiting the center’s library. After lunch they joined the freshmen at Feed My Starving Children and spent the remainder of the day helping pack food there.

Members of Woodlands Academy’s junior class spent their morning volunteering at Cradles to Crayons in Chicago where they sorted, organized, and quality-checked donated items that will be given to children from either low-income or homeless families. To more fully participate, Woodlands students were encouraged to donate items such as books, toys and children’s clothing prior to the Feb. 28 event. The junior-class delegation spent its Service Day afternoon helping sort, sticker and package children's books at Bernie's Book Bank. 

Four groups of seniors helped at a variety of service agencies in Chicago. At Misericordia, which supports children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, one group worked alongside residents in such areas as the art department, bakery and recycling program. Meanwhile the Woodlands students at Centro Romero, a small social services agency, worked to support its Youth Learning and Leadership Program as well as various tasks at its far North Side facility needed to keep the agency’s offices functioning. A third group from Woodlands Academy worked at Evangeline Booth Lodge, a temporary family shelter, where they helped prepare a meal for the residents there. The fourth group of seniors started their day at Chicago sister school Sacred Heart Schools/ Sheridan Road where they helped the preschoolers write short stories about how students there experience the Goals and Criteria of a Sacred Heart education in their classes. To enhance their experience, Woodlands seniors were encouraged to donate school supplies and books for the children at Evangeline Booth Lodge and Centro Romero.

Woodlands Academy’s service program is designed to raise students’ consciousness about the poor, the marginalized and the disadvantaged while encouraging them to promote social justice and social responsibility. Woodlands students need to perform at least 70 hours of community service to graduate. Many of them become passionate about service and far exceed the required minimum hours.