Students volunteer while visiting colleges

Sarah Koller

While many students spent their MEA break surfing Facebook and watching Friends reruns, a group of BSM students had the opportunity to spend a day in Chicago, visit prestigious colleges, and perform quality service work.

Throughout the course of four days, 15 BSM students joined several other schools for a total of about 250 students. They got to tour the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Notre Dame and perform various service projects.

The trip, organized and led by college students, including BSM alum Kari Foley (06’), was promoted by the program Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF). STFL’s goal was to help students through this trip with three things: the college search, service opportunities, and leadership experience.

The group’s first stop was a formal tour of the Wisconsin-Madison campus, followed by a visit to a nursing home. There, the students spent time playing bingo, talking, and painting the nails of the residents of the home. “It was fun playing bingo with an alzheimer’s resident, and listening to the stories of a 97 year-old man, things someone doesn’t take the time to do too often,” said Gabrielle Mgeni.

Following the trip to the nursing home was a stop through South Bend, Indiana for a visit to Notre Dame and then another service project at a developmentally disabled kids camp. The students spent the day cleaning the campsite, overwhelming the camp directors with their generosity. “[The students] accomplished work in a few hours that would’ve taken the three hired camp staff days to complete,” said BSM trip chaperone Mr. Fran Roby.

While the days were centered around college visits and service projects, the nights were all about learning leadership. In large group and small group activities, the college students led the high schoolers in self-esteem building activities, all while instilling in them the importance of being a good leader.

The trip concluded with a service project to help restore the plants at a nature center near Chicago, and then a final “free day” in downtown Chicago for shopping, eating, and sightseeing.

From strolling college campuses to serving the community, this trip “was an amazing experience overall,” said Mgeni.

Yet it wasn’t all about the tours and community work, but rather the friendships gained and the lessons learned. “[From this trip] the students were able to meet people from other places, get to know BSM students better, learn life values, all while having a great time,” said Mr. Roby. Due to its success this year, the STLF trip will be again open to students next year.