Instilling the lifelong value of service has long been a hallmark of a Shady Side Academy education. Students in grades PK-12 engage in service projects throughout the year that reach beyond our campuses to the greater Pittsburgh region and around the world.
SSA MLK Day of Service
At the annual SSA MLK Day of Service, hundreds of SSA students, parents, faculty and staff come together on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday in January to devote an entire day to serving others. On this day, the Academy partners with local nonprofits, and SSA volunteers perform hands-on service work all over the city. The inaugural MLK Day of Service was held in 2011.
School-Year Service Efforts
Every grade at the Junior School participates in an annual service project in addition to school-wide efforts. Class projects include: delivering flowers to neighbors in the community (PK); the Salvation Army's Bounce for Bundle-Up (K); the "Change for Haiti" fundraiser and planting spring bulbs (grade 1); a Thanksgiving food drive for a local food bank (grade 2); the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart (grade 3); the Animal Rescue League animal supply drive (grade 4); and playing holiday music at nursing homes (grade 5). School-wide projects include the annual Giving Tree and Holiday Toy Collection, where students purchase and donate toys for needy children during the holidays.
Middle School students participate annually in Global Action Conference Day, a comprehensive day of service learning for the entire school that includes educational sessions with local nonprofits and hands-on service projects. Each year GAC Day has a different theme, and each grade focuses on a different service effort related to that theme. As part of GAC Day, students meet in advisory groups to brainstorm additional service projects that they can carry out during the rest of the school year to continue supporting their cause.
A wide variety of service opportunities are available to Senior School students:
- Service Learning Club – Activities include volunteering at soup kitchens and food banks; hosting blood drives; restoring/rebuilding homes; mentoring through Big Brothers/Big Sisters; alternative spring break trips and more. Learn more.
- Weekend Tutoring – Students volunteer to tutor elementary students on Saturday mornings at Urban Pathways Charter School in downtown Pittsburgh. Learn more.
- Parkin Fellowships – Students may apply for summer fellowships to participate in service projects around the globe. Learn more.
- Untucked – This student organization puts on a music festival each spring to benefit a local charity, and volunteers with the charity all year long. Learn more.
- Student Clubs – A number of student clubs focus on service projects, such as the Environmental Club, Haitian Connection, Meals on Wheels and more. Learn more.