More Changes for Traditional Day of Service

Gioia Cumicek, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

For many years Notre Dame has been teaching students about service through a day called NDA Serves.  Thursday, April 25, is the event this spring.

“My favorite part is knowing students will know the feeling of helping someone in need. It also helps the people and agencies that are being served know that there are people out in the community who care,” said Jessica Sidon, personal assistant to the principal who organizes the service assignments for the event.

What has become NDA Serves began as a walkathon done by the school over 25 years ago. Back then all the students and staff walked a designated route in adjacent neighborhoods. The cross country team would set up water stations along the 6.2-mile walk.

Established as a fundraiser for the school, those who walked would have sponsors pledging money in support of their efforts.

“Somewhere along the way, the idea of collecting money changed to a time to just go out and do service for the community,” said staff Carolyn Brown, Student Government adviser at that time.

It was NDA President Mike Gross, said Brown, who suggested the idea of students going out into the community and doing service rather than just walking a six-mile route.  Student Government’s Outreach Branch arranged service outlets for 150 students, and the next year, the major shift to all NDA students and staff was made.

“I remember Tracie Van Gheem-Rottier doing the overwhelming task of finding service sites and arranging student sign-ups–all while still teaching her five or six classes,” said Brown. The Spanish teacher was the adviser for the Outreach/Service branch of Student Government.

The other transitional idea was making NDA Serves all about service, not about fundraising and financial support.  

Two years ago the sophomores had to do state testing, and Principal John Ravizza decided only freshmen, juniors and seniors would serve in the community. Last year NDA Serves fell on a weather cancellation day, which wreaked a little havoc for sites counting on students serving that day.

The traditional service day is once again in transition as this year only juniors and seniors will be participating. Freshmen will be taking a tour of St. Norbert College, and sophomores will be doing PSAT testing at NDA.

Signing up for sites is different too. No longer do students go to the gym or auditorium hallway during lunches. Sidon has sent out a list of sites via email to the juniors and seniors who can simply click their location of choice and submit.

Parents can also sign up as chaperones for the day, and after all the students are enrolled in sites, staff will make their site selections.

The goal of the day is to teach students the importance of community service. Helping others is what we are called to do and this is a great way to do that,” said Sidon.