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NCDS News

Sacred Heart Network Provides Immersive Summer Service Experiences
For 30 years, Sacred Heart Schools throughout the United States and Canada have offered Network Summer Service Projects (NSSP), for rising 6th-12th grade students, that integrate community service, justice education, and meaningful community engagement on a particular theme. The projects deepen students’ understanding of service to others and the importance of practicing mutual respect for one another and with the earth.

“The Network Summer Service Projects is one of the unique opportunities where our students can get to know and work shoulder to shoulder with Sacred Heart students from other parts of the country,” said Chair of Religious Studies Department and Director of Community Service Dr. Mark Potter.

This year, there are two projects open to Middle School students, and eight projects open to Upper School students. Projects include Healthy Water and Ecological Sustainability in New Orleans, La., Mission Driven Music in Omaha, Neb., and Working with Developmentally Disabled Adults at the St. Madeleine Sophie Center in San Diego, Calif. In January, Upper School students who participated in a NSSP last summer shared their experiences with classmates.

“Going into the trip I was nervous that I would be the only one that had no prior knowledge of the juvenile justice system, other than seeing it portrayed in the media,” said M. Balboni ’24, who took part in the Juvenile Justice service project in Chicago, Ill.; a project focused on learning how the current justice system works and how people are proactively working to change the system. “I'm really happy that I participated because I made amazing friends from other Sacred Heart schools and also learned how I can help raise awareness about the connection of the juvenile system and systematic racism. The project is a really unique experience because you get to talk to probation officers and people working in the government who are trying to change the system. Outside of this project, I would never have had those conversations or met those kinds of people.”

H. Moriarty ’25 participated in H20:go! in New York City; a project that focused on the importance of learning how to swim and water safety.

“We visited public pools in New York City and discussed how there weren't enough lifeguards in order for some of the pools to run,” said Moriarty. “After learning about the different ways to teach a child how to swim, and getting our lifeguard certification, we were able to give free swim lessons to children that may not have had the opportunity to learn how to swim otherwise. Between seeing how happy these swim lessons made the kids, traveling around New York, and making great friendships with the teachers and students from other Sacred Heart schools, who I still talk to every week, I had a great experience.”

S. Arokiaraj ’24 and F. McCormick ’25 were a part of Mission Driven Music. The project focused on using music to bring people together and learn how students can spread the mission of the Sacred Heart through their own individual gifts and talents.

“One of the most memorable moments from the trip was playing drums and singing for residents at an elderly care home,” said McCormick. “After we finished our performance, we met and played with the residents, which everyone agreed was a highlight.

“Our group also took trips around the city to help in the kitchen at a non-profit organization and play songs at a ‘pay what you can’ cafe,” McCormack continued. “That experience was enriching and helped me get a better understanding of just how amazing our Sacred Heart network is. I met so many wonderful people, participated in meaningful service, and got to focus on something I am passionate about: music.”

“If anyone is considering doing a service project, my advice is to go into it with a positive attitude and not see it as work over the summer, but as something fun to do because you will make lasting memories,” concluded Balboni.