The Habit of Helping, the term employed by former headmaster Dan White in 1989 for the 25th anniversary, turned out to be more than a one-year emphasis, and the motto and inclination is still one practiced by the Country Day community today. Lower school head Christy Vail describes the Habit of Helping as what we, as a community, do to help others, from embracing a new student in the classroom to organizing a school-wide turkey drive to constructing a concrete floor at the Rulindo Schools in Rwanda.
During the last several decades, the Country Day community has volunteered and raised funds for an ever-changing, though sometimes constant, group of charities, including American River Parkway cleanup, Coats for Kids, Christmas Promise, supplies for Kosovo, visits to seniors at Sunrise Assisted Living of Sacramento, and collection of goods for the River City Food Bank and the Children’s Receiving Home.
Our students also act globally as active and engaged young people around many international issues, highlighted by our longstanding partnership and engagement with the Rulindo Schools in Rwanda. Our faculty and student-led fund-raisers for the Rulindo Schools have aided the community in Rwanda to repair school facilities, provide student scholarships, provide curriculum materials, fund uniform purchases, expand the school lunch program, install a clean water tap, and so much more.
High School advisories and the Student Council also consistently engage in local and international fund-raisers and charity groups, and each High School student must complete at least fifty hours of community service as a graduation requirement, although many students far exceed this threshold.
Ten years ago, the high school student council befriended students at the Dyer-Kelly elementary school and set up an annual breakfast and/or outing, as well as additional contacts throughout the school year.
The Leadership Lunch series invites students to share some of their outside-of-school experiences with their peers. Over the years, monthly topics have included building houses in Honduras, working at Pride Industries, fencing, ballet dancing, working for Breakthrough, and a panel on living in the Middle East.These luncheons allow students to practice their public-speaking skills, and provide a great opportunity for them to share their experiences of community service projects, exciting trips, their home cultures, and more.
Since 2006, Country Day’s Helping Hands program has partnered with the Rulindo Schools in Rwanda. Begun as a pen-pal letter exchange, the relationship has expanded to include fundraising; since 2009, funds raised during the annual Gerlinde Klauser play-a-thon, plus other fundraising efforts, have contributed over $90,000 to Rulindo, with donations going toward school facilities repair, student scholarships, curriculum materials, and uniform purchases.