Citizenship within the WMA community comes with enormous opportunities and responsibilities. Upon matriculation, each student agrees to adopt the Academy’s belief in broad intellectual development, good physical health, personal accountability, mutual respect and commitment to service.
Service to others is an opportunity to support our community and fulfill a personal sense of social responsibility.
The Service Team is offered to all Upper School students. There is an application process and students are notified when they are accepted. Due to the small size, six students per trimester, priority is given to those who demonstrate a true commitment to service.
Activities vary per trimester, given the season and weather parameters. Students generally leave campus driven in a WMA vehicle by the Coach to their afternoon destination.
The outcome of the program is to provide assistance and awareness to the community around us and also learn valuable life skills.
Past locations and activities include:
- Food Pantry - deliver and sort non-perishable food items that will be distributed to local community members who are food insecure
- Soup Kitchen - prepare and serve meals to men, women and children who are in need of a healthy meal
- Thrift Store - deliver and sort clothing and household goods
- Elder Home - play games and spend quality time with men and women who reside in assisted living homes
- Support Community Events - attend and serve hot chocolate to runners in the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passages
- Global Dialogue - Skype with Commander Kasper Moghaddam '86, a Staff Director for the intelligence directive for the U.S. Naval Forces in Japan
- Fundraisers - sell Pulsera bracelets to provide economic opportunities for young Nicaraguans
- Awareness - collect dog items for the Dakin Humane Society, present a Trashion Show to demonstrate sustainability
- Film Screenings - premier films to the WMA community: Waste Land, Water for Haiti, The Cove
- Teen Parent Center - assist teen parents with their children by playing and reading together
- Kids Club - assist at-risk children with their homework
A new Service Team is formed each trimester. It meets at the end of each day and is offered as a required afternoon activity. There is a minimum of five Saturday meetings per trimester. The time commitment at least two hours and occurs between 3:30 and 7:30 PM.
Students who participate in the Community Service afternoon program will gain skills in public, media, and community relations, event planning and global economics, all while helping others in need.
The Grow Food Northampton garden was one of my favorite sites to help out at. The food grown there is 100% organic and nutritional. Once the crops are ready to be picked, they distribute them to local soup kitchens. They also discount the annual price of the plots of land in the garden based on people in need so they can grow their own healthy food. We created some fun memories at the Garden.
- Mariam Abramian '17
I love talking to the residents at Keystone and also helping them out. They are amazing people with so much personality. It is so easy to connect over conversation which can go in any and every direction. I may find myself helping someone who wants to download music from their favorite musical or talking with someone who has travelled the world. It is inspiring to learn about their experiences and passions and see how they
connect with my own.
- Emily Dromgold '17
One of my favorite sites we go to is Lorraine's Soup Kitchen. One day, we made Rice Crispy Treats and I had a great time. It was really fun cooking the treat with the team and I was happy knowing that it would be served as dessert to those in the community that needed food. We also got to eat the Rice Crispy Treats when they were done, and they were good.
- Christine Ochola '18
The Service Team had the opportunity to go to a popular thrift store, Savers, in an underserved community. We were able to walk through and some students chose to buy different articles of clothing. It was an experience that put us in a position that none of us were familiar with. The Service Team has exposed us to poverty and understanding the needs of
different groups of people.
- Oron Steingrub '18
The idea of ‘social entrepreneurship’ is evolving on the WMA campus. Mengdie Melody Liu '12 submitted a proposal as her final project in the fall Entrepreneurship class that has earned her a nod of approval from our administrators and an endorsement from Andreas Widmer, author of The Pope & The CEO and co-founder of SEVEN Fund, a philanthropic organization run by entrepreneurs who support enterprises that further solutions to poverty.
The Yunnan Ethnic Minority School Project (YEMS) is a cross-cultural volunteer program. During ten days’ volunteering, Melody and her group of volunteers teach English, make friends and donate books, supplies, and needed resources to the ethnic-minority students in an under-privileged village in Yunnan Province, China. The volunteers have the opportunity to teach and inspire these students through games, stories, and cross-cultural exchanges. The underlying purpose is to give the children of Yunnan Province hope.
Each year, the Academy, in coordination with local boutique So Cool, hosts an annual shopping event with all proceeds going toward purchasing cows for the Xavante Indians of Brazil.
The Xavante tribe were driven from their homeland of Mato Grosso in the 1960s. They returned some 40 years later, however, 70% of the tribe died and much of the land had been destroyed. The Xavante rely on cattle to survive.
Students and faculty visit the Xavante Indians during the Academy’s trips to the Amazon. WMA has bought more than 14 cows for the Xavante.
Proceeds for the event will go toward orphans in Rwanda.
Global Awareness Through Community Service Travel
Andrew Faulstich '15
Since I returned from China two years ago, people have constantly asked me the question, “Why would you prefer to go to the middle of nowhere where there’s no internet, proper toilets, or hotels without proper beds?” This question, which I myself would have asked before I returned from China, is an indicator that the asker does not have a proper global competency or global awareness, therefore the asker is not a global citizen. So what does it mean to be a global citizen? Ron Israel, founder of The Global Citizens’ Initiative says that “A global citizen is someone who identifies with being part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices.” In my thesis, I will be delving further into global competency and awareness, specifically the development of global awareness through community service travel.
During the WMA Middle School Penny Wars challenge each grade competes to determine who can accumulate the most pennies over a two-week time period. Each grade can accumulate pennies in one of two ways. One way is to donate pennies to their grade's jar. The second way is to contribute some denomination other than a penny to a competing grade's jar. A quarter would win in battle 25 pennies from a rival grade's jar into your grade's jar, a dollar, 100 pennies, and so on.
Through Penny Wars, the WMA Middle School has raised more than $10,000 and supported The Heifer Project, The Conductor of Terezin, Life Connection Mission in Haiti, Jambo Tanzania, trees for Wilbraham through the Rotary Club, Water for Sudan and the Dakin and T.J. O'Connor Animal Shelters.