Ask a middle schooler what they did in school on any given day and the likely response is a shrug and a one-word response, “nothing.”
But eighth-graders at Burr Ridge Middle School had plenty to talk about after a recent Friday spent packing meals for children a world away. All 70 eighth-graders spent Aug. 23 at Feed My Starving Children in Aurora. The experience, a first for Burr Ridge Middle School students, is one Principal Julie Bartell hopes will leave a lasting impression.
“I learned that little things can help a lot of people,” said eighth-grader Kurian Joy.
In just two hours, the students from Burr Ridge Middle School assembled meals that will feed 71 children for an entire year.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Jennifer Griffin, who as a result of the recent field trip hopes to serve in Africa one day.
Lashon McCullough wants to find more ways she and her classmates can help those in need. She is thinking of starting a club that would teach students about needs in the community, and how they can help.
The Burr Ridge Elementary District 180 schools and its students are themselves the beneficiaries of many acts of kindness and assistance. Students receive free breakfast and lunch. Each fall every student who needs clothes for winter is given a coat, hat and gloves.
“Our students don’t often have the opportunity to help others,” Bartell said.
Social worker Beth Reynolds said the project was a chance for students to give back and to experience giving from a new perspective.
Bartell said she hopes the trip to Feed My Starving Children is the first of many service projects at the school.
“Eventually, I would like to have a service day for the entire school,” she said.
Her message in sending this year’s graduating class on the trip was that, as leaders of the school, they need to set a good example.
“Leadership comes with expectations,” she said.
It also was a team-building exercise she hopes will bond the class throughout the coming year. People see each other differently after they have joined forces to do something important, she said.
And feeding 70-plus children for a year is important.
“It was such a powerful experience for our students,” Bartell said.