Students participate in Saxon Service and other acts of community service for various reasons. While some aim solely to give back to the community, others hope to wear the illustrious Service Learning Cord at graduation.
“Cords are considered ‘bling’ at graduation and are a point of pride for students who earn them,” Langley’s Service Learning Liaison Betsy Shomaker said.
This high honor exhibits students’ devotion to community service and is known for being the most easily attainable cord. Because of this, it is a practical and popular option for students at Langley.
“[It] is the only graduation cord available that is not dependent on grades, skills, or ability, but simply on a commitment to service,” Shomaker said.
Students gain community service hours in many ways, one of the most common and accessible being Saxon Service. This convenient program started during the 2015-2016 school year and has only increased in popularity since then.
“It has become part of the high school experience at Langley…participation averages between 250-300 students each month,” Shomaker said. “[We have] logged more than 8,000 student hours.”
Often times, the obstacle preventing many high schoolers from participating in community service is the lack of convenient opportunities. However, Saxon Service solves this dilemma.
“It’s a good opportunity for students…[who] are busy on the weekends and can’t go out of their way to [get] service hours,” freshman Jenna Sangid said. “It’s in school, the activities are very easy, and you’re only working for thirty minutes, but you get [to log] an hour of service.”
Students have the unique opportunity to participate in any activity that appeals to them– regardless of skill–without scheduling time outside of school. Projects vary from making lunches for the homeless to assembling reusable feminine products for women in developing countries.
Operation Smile, a popular option to participate in during Saxon Service, provides free facial surgeries to less-fortunate children around with world, with conditions such as cleft lip and cleft palate. At the Operation Smile station at Saxon Service, students make blankets that the children wrap around them during surgery, and they eventually get to take the blanket home with them.
“Oftentimes, that is the first blanket that child has ever owned,” Operation Smile Senior Student Program Associate Pete Hansen said.
According to Hansen, Saxon Service is a mutually beneficial activity; the advantages are relentless on both ends. Community service not only helps people in need, but it can also be a feel-good activity.
“[Students are] providing a gift to a child that doesn’t have much in life…[it’s] going to change [the child’s life],” Hansen said. “At the end of the day, if you get really involved in [community service] it will change your life [too]. It will change your heart. It will change your soul. [You’re] able to help other people, and…have a hands on experience [in] changing people’s lives.”
The benefits don’t end there, however. Shomaker believes Saxon Service can also be an excellent social opportunity.
“It…creates a sense of community, connects students with other students and the outside community, and fosters relationships outside ‘usual’ friend groups,” Shomaker said.
Students such as Sangid typically participate in Saxon Service activities with friends. However, many, including Sangid, also have the opportunity to work with fellow Saxons that they may not know very well.
“It’s a good way to interact with people…[while] trying to help the community,” Sangid said. “A lot of people I was working with [during] Saxon Service I didn’t necessarily know, but we worked together to help make sandwiches for people in our community, so it’s a good way to unite people together.”
In addition, the repetitive actions and simple activities offered at Saxon Service can be found therapeutic and meditative, and can offer mental health benefits, according to Shomaker.
“[It] encourages thinking beyond yourself [and] caring for others, [and] promotes self-esteem, [a] sense of pride, and confidence,” Shomaker said.
Overall, Saxon Service is a convenient program that benefits Langley students while simultaneously helping the community and people who are less fortunate.
“Some of our…activities have been initiated by students and faculty,” Shomaker said. “We always welcome new ideas and activities.”
Anyone looking to add a project to Saxon Service should see Mrs. Shomaker in Student Services.