The dynamic Social Awareness Program at Duchesne seeks to provide a variety of service opportunities, educate to a greater understanding of social problems, encourage reflection and personal growth, build community, and nurture a life-long commitment to service. Through our service learning, we promote resilience, empowerment, prosocial behaviors, motivation for learning, and engagement.
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The social awareness program is a major part of the Upper School experience. In total, our freshmen and sophomores serve more than 1,000 hours per year, while juniors and seniors serve more than 4,500 hours per year. We work with approximately 50 different agencies and causes throughout the local region and beyond.
- Freshmen and sophomores participate in four service projects throughout the year ranging from from visiting the sick to feeding the poor.
- In January, the freshman class participates in a Service Day where they volunteer at nursing homes, soup kitchens, and schools.
- Every Wednesday, sophomores attend a Social Awareness course, which provides an overview of the program and its philosophy.
- Juniors and seniors leave campus every Wednesday to volunteer for at least two hours at sites across the Houston community.
- All Upper School students keep a journal as a tool used to increase their awareness of how God is moving in their lives and how their experience serving others has influenced their lives.
Once a quarter, each grade level dedicates a full day to social awareness. The mornings are dedicated to serving in our local community and the afternoons are dedicated to reflection, discussion, and project-based learning based. Each grade has a theme for the year that their service projects focus on.
- 8th grade students learn about national and local homelessness among adults, families, and teens
- 7th grade students learn about issues surrounding hunger and poverty on a global, national, and local level
- 6th grade students learn about human dignity and issues surrounding tolerance and stereotypes
- 5th grade students learn about environmentalism and how to protect the earth. They do a school-wide recycling program and are involved in the Harris-Galveston Water Detective Program
- Other Middle School service projects include “Hearts for Haiti” and a Lenten Market which both raise funds to support international Sacred Heart schools
- In conjunction with Catholic Charities, each Middle School advisory class adopts a family during Thanksgiving and Christmas. The students donate food and gifts to the each family.
Our youngest students, starting with Pre-K, are also involved in social awareness and service projects. In classrooms, our teachers emphasize participation in our society through works of charity. Each class chooses a project that will help support our community, our environment, or the world at large. Along with individual classroom projects, we also participate in division projects as well as school-wide projects. The goal of the social awareness program is to create aware human beings who are life-long participants in society. Projects include:
- 100 days of school celebration where the students collect 100 items to donate to charity
- Partnership with residents at a retirement home where the residents visit and read to the kids, and the kids visit the home at Christmastime to sing songs
- Food, book, and pet supply collections to donate to charity
- Bake sales and craft sales where students make crafts, such as Christmas cards, bracelets, and dolls to raise money to donate to charity
- Volunteering at Houston Food Bank
In addition to offering numerous service projects, Duchesne instills a sense of global awareness by offering exchange programs for our students.
We are part of a network of 22 Sacred Heart schools in the United States, which makes it possible for us to offer our students an exchange program at those schools. Currently, we offer this opportunity to all eighth graders and 10th–12th graders. This enables our girls to become independent and self-directed in an environment that is different, yet familiar. They will live with a host family, meet other Sacred Heart students, get to experience another Sacred Heart school environment, and make lifelong friends. We also encourage our Duchesne families to be host families.
A Sacred Heart education is beneficial to me because it teaches me how to be a strong, independent woman who is able to instill her faith and good works in all that she does.