New Levels of Collaboration

Community Service Day 2016

NHSW Youth Council members work with Taft students to plan a Community Service Day urban art installation.

Community Service Day 2016 brings new service partners and exciting new projects to the 22-year old tradition that celebrates the Taft School motto, Non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret, not to be served, but to serve.

            “This year we want students to think not only about the idea of service, but also about the idea of community,” said French Teacher Sarah Gray, who is coordinating the October 24 event. “There will be posters outside the dining halls in the days surrounding Community Service Day that ask, ‘What is community?’, with space for students to share their thoughts.” 

            Gray has worked to broaden the idea of community by reaching out to new service organizations and creating new service opportunities for Taft students.

            “We have not worked inside a library before,” said Gray. “We have not worked with disabled adults. And in this election year, I had hoped to offer students the opportunity to work with the registrar of voters.”

            And while members of the Girls’ Cross Country Team will work to make a dent in the 150,000 books that need cleaning and sorting in Waterbury’s Silas Bronson Library, and other students will read books and create art with disabled adults at Oak Hill, the registrar of voters had a different idea: she directed Gray to Neighborhood Housing Services of Waterbury, Inc. (NHSW).

            NHSW is a non-profit, HUD certified organization that works to revitalize neighborhoods and create home-ownership opportunities throughout the city of Waterbury. They offer a broad range of programs and services designed to both boost the vitality of community and empower its residents economically, including courses in financial literacy, homeowner education, and youth education. They also sponsor a youth council.

            Taft students have been meeting with the members of the NHSW Youth Council to design and build a fall-themed, urban art installation. On Community Service Day, a vacant lot in Waterbury’s busy North End will be transformed into a collaborative art space. Billed as a "spooky stroll" though seasonal scenes, cornstalks, cauldrons, and hanging ghosts will surround a pathway lit by solar lanterns. Taft teachers Dan Calore and Kevin Danaher are building some of the wooden structures in advance, and will be on hand Monday to oversee the site work. Gray expects this to be a permanent, seasonal installation that will remain in place as long as weather allows, then returns to the space every fall.

             “This project in particular reflects the sense of community and the level of collaboration that is at the heart of Community Service Day,” says Gray. “We share our time and talents because we value both the community that surrounds us, and our relationships with its members.”

Established in 1995, Community Service Day is an opportunity for students to live Taft’s motto, non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret, not to be served but to serve.  More than 700 Taft students, faculty, and staff members will travel to approximately 50 locations across New Haven and Litchfield counties this year to lend their support to a wide variety of service projects, from fall cleanup and routine maintenance, to teaching athletics, science and art to area youth. For a look at some of the local organizations Taft partners with, both on Community Service Day and throughout the year, visit the Who We Work With section of our website.

THE TAFT SCHOOL  | 110 Woodbury Road | Watertown, Connecticut 06795 | 860-945-7777 |