A key component to Character Education at Blue Ridge is community service. The School offers many opportunities both in the classroom and as an afternoon or weekend activity.
The Outdoor Program offers an Outdoor Service Learning course that examines the act of service and its impact on our world. In this class students are engaged in service projects on campus as well as in the surrounding community. Other classes incorporate some kind of community service projects as well. For example students in the Mountain Ecology class have volunteered with the American Chestnut Foundation. While the boys choir, the Barontones, have sung at the local senior center.
Every Tuesday, students and a faculty member deliver meals as part of the School’s Tuesday’s Table program which works with Meals on Wheels. A monthly Food Pantry is run by the students in the several Outdoor Program courses and is offered in conjunction with Buck Mountain Episcopal Church. Our students also help the church run a Sunday service at an area senior assisted living center twice a month.
School-wide service opportunities include:
• Apple Buttah – a week-long project that results in jars of old-fashioned homemade apple butter slow-cooked over a wood fire. The jars are sold at Parent Weekend and help raise money for Operation Smile.
• Shop-With-A-Baron – organized by the Parent Association, this activity raises money so that needy children can shop with Blue Ridge boys who help the children select and wrap holiday gifts for their families.
• Honor Council’s Christmas Fund – members of the Student Honor Council raise money for the Greene County Women’s Club’s holiday gifts for needy children.
• Stop Hunger Now – one Saturday each year the entire school gathers to pack 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. To pay for the meals, the students forego desserts for a week and have a lunch of only soup options one day.
In the spring of 2015, the School scheduled four Character Education trips with community service components.
• The senior class trip is the capstone event of the BRS Character Education and gives the seniors a chance to actively demonstrate that they have internalized the ideals of the BRS Code of Conduct. Each aspect of the Code will be tested during a very challenging four-day test.
• The junior class will travel to West Virginia and work with Appalachian Service Project (ASP), repairing homes in impoverished rural areas. They will conduct a college visit en route to West Virginia. After two days of service work, their trip culminates in a white water rafting trip on the New River in West Virginia. This trip gives the juniors a chance to work alongside people who are less materially fortunate than most of our students. The rafting portion of the trip gives them a chance to work as a team to overcome physical discomfort, physical challenges and fear itself.
• The sophomores will partner with the Youth Service Opportunities Project performing an urban service learning project in downtown Washington DC. This project gives our students a chance to experience and improve the lives of people living in urban poverty by preparing and serving meals, helping to plant community gardens and beautify neighborhoods, and spending time with senior citizens. Like the junior trip, sophomores will visit a college en route to their service project.
• The freshmen will travel to Eagle’s Landing for Wilderness Based Orientation (WBO). For the past several years our freshman class has gone to Eagle’s Landing for 5 days near the beginning of the school year. By moving this event to the spring we will ensure that more students get to experience the team-building, wilderness-based challenge that encourages teamwork, self-reliance, perseverance, and resilience.
The Groves Family Legacy Tuition Program honors Robert W. “Bobby” Groves III ’67 and his family. Bobby and his wife Anne were the first alumni parents to enroll a child at BRS. Their son Billy graduated in 1995 and their nephews Johnson and Robert Stevens were equally successful here, graduating in 2003 and 2006, respectively.
Blue Ridge is incredibly proud of this legacy and for the sterling example that Bobby and his family have set.