Senior year of high school is a time of contemplation, excitement, reflection, and transition. And in the case of Ms. Morris’ seniors at the UMFS Charterhouse School in Richmond, senior year is also a time for generosity. “A lot of the seniors are at a point they don’t need full class schedules,” Ms. Morris explained. But rather than sit idly by during their daily one-hour resource period, Ms. Morris’ seniors asked if they could help out around campus. “It’s so great, because they could just choose to sit here in class. Instead, they took an opportunity to contribute and to model for younger students by helping to take care of campus.”
Each week, seniors take turns pairing up with a peer to collect recycling from buildings around UMFS’ sprawling campus in Richmond. They check-in with UMFS Maintenance Supervisor Richard, who gives them keys to a golf cart and an ID card to access buildings. Then they’re off. Seniors Jaedyn and Sam look forward to their weekly recycling run and say it’s time well spent. “My favorite part of it all is meeting different people and just helping out,” Sam said. “Taking a few minutes out of our day to help other people, it gives them time to do something else,” Jaedyn added. That sentiment is absolutely true, and Richard said the support is invaluable. “It frees us up and allows us to focus on other tasks,” he said. “I really appreciate having their help. These kids are an asset to maintenance.” But the endeavor is so much more than just collecting recycling. “They’re learning to use access badges appropriately, keys appropriately, and they’re learning customer service,” Ms. Morris said. “It’s great for the kids,” Richard added. “I think it gives them a lot of pride. It gets them out of the classroom, and they’re doing something very productive.”
Jaedyn said collaborating with maintenance is just one of the many reasons Charterhouse School is such a great fit for her. “This is a hands-on experience,” she said. “I enjoy the independence, and I have space to make my own decisions. The staff and the people here really help you out.” Ms. Morris beams when she speaks about her seniors, but she reminds us that when students first come to Charterhouse School, they’re not always quite so motivated. “They’re often determined not to do any work,” Ms. Morris said with a smile. “But once they start building relationships and they see that everyone’s rooting for them, that’s when they realize we want them to be successful.”
Sam couldn’t agree more. The level of support and trust she’s experienced in her two years at Charterhouse School has been phenomenal, she said. “The teachers know what’s tough for us, but it’s easy to communicate with them. I’ll miss that.” And for Jaedyn, the four years she’s been at Charterhouse School have provided a high school experience that exceeded her greatest expectations. “It’s more like a family than a school,” Jaedyn said.
UMFS serves students with behavioral, emotional, and developmental challenges at our Charterhouse School locations in Edinburg and Richmond. We help students achieve their full potential through a curriculum that balances academics with the development of critical behavioral and social skills. Learn more here.