Students Complete Joe's Day of Service Projects

Students Complete Joe's Day of Service Projects
Students donating to a charity

Dr. Joe Rella, the late Superintendent of Schools of the Comsewogue School District, taught staff and students how to build a compassionate, strong community through service and philanthropy. In 2018, the year he retired, the District launched Joe’s Day of Service to honor his legacy by focusing on community service projects for at least one day of the school year. After he passed in 2020, Joe’s Day of Service took on an even stronger meaning. Now in its sixth year, staff and students recently completed several Joe’s Day of Service projects aimed at fostering community pride, alleviating food insecurity and spreading kindness, among other topics.

“The District’s administration, Board of Education, teachers, students and community members have done a tremendous job this year to bring our community together to promote charity work and service. Through their efforts, we have made significant achievements and strengthened our sense of community pride,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jennifer Quinn. “Whether it was volunteering at Sunshine Prevention Center or creating a school garden, each project for Joe’s Day of Service reminds us of why we started this initiative and how important it is for us to come together and give back.”

Fifth-grade students at Boyle Road Elementary School dedicated their Joe’s Day of Service project to volunteering at Sunshine Prevention Center, a community youth and family agency in Port Jefferson Station. They started their project last fall and spent their first visit to the facility decorating it for the holidays, raking the leaves outside and restocking its food pantry. Throughout the year, students who displayed good behavior in class would earn “kindness bucks” that they could use to purchase donations and gifts for the Sunshine Prevention Center. The fifth graders also worked with staff members at the facility to create and perform a puppet show for their fellow Boyle Road peers focused on teaching compassion and standing up to bullying. Through the puppet show, students practiced leadership skills, public speaking, intonation and inflection, eye contact and responding to an audience.

Other projects students engaged with for their Joe’s Day of Service involved beautifying their school by planting flowers and plants in gardens and along walkways. Fourth-grade students at Boyle Road Elementary School even met with a beekeeper to learn how they could support pollination by choosing the best pollinators to plant at their school. Students at JFK Middle School researched the best regional plants and flowers for a native plant garden at their school.
Another beneficiary of Joe’s Day of Service was the Ronald McDonald House. Fourth-grade students at Boyle Road Elementary School spearheaded a supplies drive and Comeswogue High School juniors designed plates with inspirational messages that they donated to the organization.

Meanwhile, Comsewogue High School sophomores led a food drive for AGAPE Meals for Kids, which provides students in need with a bag of healthy snacks and food each Friday.

Joe’s Day of Service began in 2018 when special education teacher Andrew Harris launched the initiative to honor Dr. Rella after he retired. Past year’s efforts included cleaning graves at Calverton National Cemetery, singing to residents of the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University and volunteering for a clean-up effort at local animal rescue shelters.

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