Service Learning Program at St Columba School: Building Empathy and Responsibility

St Columba Anglican School (SCAS) in Port Macquarie is committed to cultivating a strong sense of community and responsibility in its students. Central to this mission is their Year 9 Service Learning Program, introduced in 2024, which offers students meaningful community service opportunities, shaping them into responsible and positive contributors to society.

The program began with a profound trip to Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton, NSW. This full-day pilgrimage immersed students in the rich traditions of the School’s Christian culture, providing a chance to engage deeply with their spiritual journeys and learn about the Anglican tradition of service. The day was filled with relationship-building, reflection, worship, and valuable insights from guest speakers, setting a meaningful tone for the year ahead.

Service learning at SCAS transcends traditional volunteerism by combining community service with personal growth, academic learning, and civic responsibility. This structured approach encourages students to reflect on their experiences, connect real-world service with classroom knowledge, and foster a sense of social responsibility.

The Year 9 Service Learning Program runs throughout the academic year, with students dedicating every second Thursday afternoon for three hours to various service activities. These activities span a wide range of community needs, allowing students to choose an area of service that resonates with them. Activities include visits to aged care facilities, educating the community about textile waste culminating in a clothes swap event, planting koala feed trees, volunteering at St Thomas’ Anglican Church in Port Macquarie, and cleaning up local waterways.

Service learning offers numerous benefits, including:

Developing Empathy: Engaging with diverse community members helps students gain a deeper understanding of different life experiences.
Building Character: Facing real-world challenges, often outside their comfort zones, strengthens students’ character.
Fostering Responsibility: Encourages social responsibility, empowering students to impact their communities positively.
Strengthening Collaboration: Emphasizes teamwork as students work together to address community needs.

Through these diverse activities, SCAS Year 9 students contribute to their communities and also grow personally and academically, embodying the core values of St Columba Anglican School. Their dedication to making a difference is a testament to the power of education in fostering empathy, responsibility, and civic engagement.