Students Lend A Helping Hand
The ancient Greek, Dionysius of Syracuse, once recounted of how plain and unseasoned the food of the Spartans was compared to the food found in other of the Greek city-states. He would go on to explain that the Spartans required no seasoning for their food, often pain broth and porridge, because they would work so hard during the day and always push themselves to the limit with “hard-hunting, labor, sprinting, and sweating” that they would build up such a hunger and thirst, so any food would taste like a banquet. Unlike the ancient Spartans, we don’t push our students to hunger and thirst however, we do encourage a strong sense or responsibility and work-ethic.
“Hard work can be a virtue unto itself” stated Mr. Alec Lawlor, SJN’s History and Humanities teacher and the organizer of the weekend service project. “We want our students to learn that problem solving, and ‘stick-to-itiveness’ are helpful skills in coping with and overcoming each challenge they may face in life.”
Students were invited to the school on a Friday off to help teachers clean-out classrooms and move materials to get ready for the 4th and Final Quarter of the school year. This involved hauling boxes and books and tossing out some old and broken school equipment from years past. “I enjoy helping. Working hard to achieve something feels good and I’m proud to help others” mused Bishop Elie – 6th Grade Student, when asked how felt about giving up a day off.
“Selfless actions, like this, show that their hearts are truly in the spirit of what we do at SJN.” observed Kaitlin Streb, SJN’s Science and Art instructor. “Our students could be doing a billion other things at home and yet they came here to help their teachers. That speaks volumes about their character and who they want to be.”
The volunteers were rewarded for their hard work with pizza and some fun play time in the gym with Gershwin, SJN’s unofficial School Dog. (There was even word of one teacher handing out Homework passes to the volunteers. “Not that the volunteers need them. Because they don’t” the Anonymous teacher was reported in saying.
When asked what lessons can be learned by moving boxes around, Mr. Lawlor commented, “Vocation is central to what I was taught while being brought-up in a Lutheran School.” He went on to explain, “It’s [vocation] the idea that we, as Christians, best serve God by serving our neighbor. By serving the world.”
Martin Luther’s Doctrine of Vocation, to love and serve our neighbors, has been central to Luther teachings for the past 500 years. It is central to what we teach and instill in our students at SJN. The concept of vocation or service is important in teaching skills that help students, not only learn, but to resist narcissism and selfishness. Vocation is also important in teaching students empathy and kindness. Or, as Theologian Uwe Siemon-Netto put it, “The doctrine of vocation endeavors to turn the human mind away from the self and toward the neighbor.”
Principal of St. John Nottingham Lutheran School