Across all four campuses, Shady Side Academy students, faculty, staff and parents engaged in service learning projects and celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 10th annual SSA MLK Days of Service in January 2020.
The format of the 2020 event was structured a bit differently than in years past, with the Country Day, Junior and Middle Schools engaging in MLK Days educational and service activities during school days in January, while the Senior School continued the tradition of volunteering at nonprofit organizations around Pittsburgh on the MLK Day holiday itself. The change was made to ensure that all PK-8 students could participate in service learning in honor of Dr. King.
On Monday, Jan. 20, six teams of approximately 70 Senior School volunteers - including students, faculty, staff and parents – set out across the city to volunteer at five locations, serving three different nonprofit organizations. Two teams of volunteers prepared breakfast and lunch, respectively, for residents at Ronald McDonald House in Lawrenceville, which provides housing and support to families traveling to Pittsburgh seeking medical care for their children at UPMC Children's Hospital. Another three teams of SSA volunteers were at Family House's Neville, Shadyside and University Place locations, preparing a delicious home-cooked meal for families of patients in nearby Pittsburgh hospitals who were staying there. The final team was in Greenfield volunteering with the Thomas Merton Center's Book 'Em project, which provides books to prisoners in Pennsylvania. Volunteers read letters from prisoners and then selected, packaged and mailed books fulfilling their requests. SSA also donated books to the project.
Earlier in January, Middle School students watched Dr. King's "I Have a Dream Speech" in advisory groups, discussing and reflecting on his legacy and message. Later they prepared creative responses to the speech, sharing their own dreams for the future through poetry, artwork, posters or music, which were shared at a break time concert during school on Tuesday morning, Jan. 21. A dress-down day and a donation drive in January collected funds as well as clothing (underwear, socks, hats, gloves and scarves) and toiletry items, which were donated to Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh. At an assembly on Jan. 23, students presented ways they want to help in the greater community in the future.The Junior School celebrated the MLK Days of Service in school on Thursday, Jan. 16. At an all-school assembly, students heard from a guest speaker from Team PSBG and met several displaced people of Pittsburgh who spoke about their experiences. Then students, teachers and parents worked in Shady Side Way teams to make fleece blankets that Team PSBG will provide to displaced people across the city. Senior School Service Learning Club students assisted in the activities. Students also heard a children's book about Dr. King, called Martin's Big Words, and heard his "I Have a Dream" speech read aloud.
Country Day School students studied civil rights heroes in January and created photo word cloud posters of them, which they shared at an MLK Days assembly on the morning of Friday, Jan. 17. Students also sang songs and learned more about Dr. King. Then students, teachers and parents worked together in classrooms to make fleece blankets for displaced people in Pittsburgh. Students also made cards for children who visit the Highmark Caring Place for support when they lose a loved one. Middle School Community Service Committee students assisted.
The MLK Days of Service is an annual community tradition at Shady Side Academy. SSA held its first MLK Day of Service in 2011, and each year since, students, parents, faculty and staff have come together to make an impact in the Pittsburgh community.
Watch the 2020 MLK Day of Service highlight video and photo slideshow below: