Community service in the middle school has many faces. Inspired by the needs of our own St. Stephen’s community, needs in Austin, or pressing global concerns, our students respond in a variety of ways. Some service projects are built into our curriculum such as the eighth grade D-term which addresses social concerns in Austin or student- initiated projects in sixth grade’s Global Connections course. Although the middle school sets aside one specific day for service work, there is an underlying, ongoing focus which supports students in their desire to serve others.
D-Term is an interdisciplinary and experiential service-learning project for the 8th grade class. Reflecting the strategic priorities set by the school, the goal and purpose for the course is to create responsible global citizens who value social justice. The Middle School faculty believes that developing informed global citizens begins with learning how to be a good local citizen.
Students are organized in small groups and spend a semester in research through reading and personal interviews. A speaker series brings community leaders and activists who share their experiences and service philosophies with regards to our theme. Following the research portion of the project, students spend two days volunteering with local non-profit organizations. Eighth grade faculty integrates the topic into the disciplines of math, English, science, anthropology and foreign language. Presentations allow students to share their new knowledge and ideas for improving the community with classmates.
This year’s class will focus on environmental issues affecting the residents of Austin. Students will split into sub groups that will focus on the challenges the city faces and the organizations that help address them. The class will develop a community awareness plan as well as volunteer two days in the Austin community. The 8th graders will learn about Austin’s local government and the services that they provide as well as Austin’s non-governmental organizations.
St. Stephen’s students have access to over 140 computers across campus in labs, classrooms, and the library. Additionally, students with laptops may access wireless computing zones in all campus academic buildings and Becker Library. The signal may be picked up in many of the outdoor recreation and study areas near these buildings.
All residence hall dorm rooms and common areas have access to the wireless network and almost all rooms have an additional Ethernet connection. Web access is monitored through campus-wide, content-filtering software. Computer use and Internet access are restricted at certain times.
The boarding program is open to students in grades 8-12. Boarding students at St. Stephen’s live under the supervision of duty administrators, house leaders, and dorm parents. Dorms include Freeman/Wycliff, Marshall House, Towner House, the Greggs, Sage, and Allen House. Students are responsible for keeping their personal possessions and rooms in order. Rooms are routinely inspected for neatness and cleanliness. Freeman/Wycliff, a new dormitory housing 60 students, opened Fall 2012.
Students supply their own linens, blankets, pillows, and towels. Room decorations are permitted within reason and the bounds of good taste. Computers, iPods and cell phones are permitted. Student rooms are furnished with beds, mattresses, desks, desk chairs, dressers, and locking doors.Common rooms feature a television and living room furniture. Each dorm also has a small kitchen and laundry machines for student use.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal School is a caring, diverse community, inclusive of all faiths and grounded in the Christian tradition. Through daily chapel services and a theology course capping the Middle School and Upper School experience, the school nurtures the inner life of all students.
Interfaith and international, the St. Stephen’s student body learns respect and appreciation for other religions and perspectives. Students exposed to diverse belief systems develop tolerance for divergent points of view, an understanding