Discovering personal greatness in pre-school through grade 8 students - Burlington, Vermont

Celebrating 20 Years of Reaching Out Program

April 15, 2015

Reachingout from COTS (2)In 1995, Mater Christi School initiated a service learning program for grades 7 and 8 called “Reaching Out.” Accompanied by a teacher, each student, as part of a group of five or six classmates, is involved in a volunteer experience at two non-profit, service agencies. This year’s annual Reaching Out experience for the 7th graders took place on April 9. Each group left for its first site around 9:00 a.m. returning to school in time for lunch. After lunch, the students and teachers left school to do work at another site returning in time for dismissal.

For the past twenty years, a number of non-profit agencies in the Burlington area have generously provided service learning sites for the MCS middle school students. This enables the students to learn the kind of support offered by the Burlington community to those who would profit from extra help at a particular phase in their lives. The experience also teaches the 7th and 8th graders how to interact appropriately in a variety of circumstances, plus, frequently, the students have even picked up some skills such as cooking and gardening.

Some of the non-profit agencies that have made their places available as Reaching Out sites for the Mater Christi School students and teachers are the King Street Youth Center, Salvation Army, St. Joseph’s Home, Ronald McDonald House, Joseph’s House, Spectrum, Day Station, The Burlington Boys and Girls Club, COTS, the Sisters of Mercy and Mater Christi School. MCS is always looking for additional sites since about 80 individual placements, within walking distance, are needed on each Reaching Out Day.

The directors and volunteer coordinators of these agencies frequently express their gratitude to the school for offering this type of learning activity to the MCS 7th and 8th graders. As 8th graders these current 7th graders will be doing the second phase of their Reaching Out program in October.

Sister Joanne LaFreniere, RSM
Director of Public Relations and Spiritual Life