The FWSU Story: Hiram Bellows Community Service Day

On October 17th, BFA high school students engaged in a day of community service to honor our benefactor, Hiram Bellows. BFA has been participating in Hiram Bellows Community Service Day for the past two years with our 9th grade students, but this year the entire high school was involved in service projects. Since the 17th was an “early release day” for students, the high school faculty decided to make the day a special event rather than just having a condensed version of a regular school day.

The day began with a brief lesson about Mr. Bellow’s gift to the Town of Fairfax to build a “fine school” for the students of Fairfax. The students enjoyed donuts and apples which were funded by the BFA Trustees as they heard about Mr. Bellows donation of railroad stocks to fund and build a school with the “means and facilities as the times demand”. 

Students then broke into their selected groups to begin work. Some students boarded buses to perform service at Georgia Elementary and Middle School, Fletcher Elementary School and the 100 Acre Woods in North Fairfax. Others worked outside cleaning up trash and debris from the roads surrounding the school. A group worked to clear the courtyard outside the cafeteria as part of a student generated plan to make the space usable. 

“They did amazing things @gemsvt today! Thank you @BFAFairfaxHS students for service to our school and community. Making @FWSU proud”

– Julie Conrad Georgia Middle School Principal (via Twitter)

Students cleaned the Multi Purpose Room,organized trophy cases and read to BFA Elementary students. A small group created some artwork for a stairwell and another documented the work for a presentation. 

Outside of the FWSU school system, students worked with Fairfax Recreation Director to provide input into the uses for a community center, worked with Fire and Rescue personnel, and prepared baked goods for nearby seniors.

“What an amazing conversation and overall exercise I just had with the students at the Community Center!  It is so valuable to have their input and to be able to hear the youth perspective on some of the bigger issues that we all deal with. I would absolutely want to do this again and look forward to another opportunity to work with the BFA community.” 

– Brad Docheff, Fairfax Town Manager

At 11:30 students returned to school energized and excited by the work done and connections made. They grabbed a quick lunch before heading off to their buses (which some of our students spent the morning cleaning!) with the pride of having given back to their community in the spirit of Hiram Bellows.

This day would not have been possible without the organizational efforts of Jensen Welch, Katherine McElroy, and Lisa Koval, the flexibility of our teachers and paraprofessionals (who worked alongside the students), and the financial support of the BFA Trustees. Special thanks to Fairfax Town Manager Brad Docheff, Recreation Director Brian LaClair, Principals Chris Dodge of Fletcher, Julie Conrad and Steve Emery of GEMS, and Tom Walsh of BFA Elementary for working with our students.

We know that this day will be an annual event and are planning similar activities for our remaining release days in January and March. Students and staff were excited to perform service that, in the words of Mr Bellows, “may be a lasting benefit to rising generations”.

John Tague is the Principal of BFA Fairfax High School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him @jtague252

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