At Millennium High School, each school year starts with an all-school retreat. This year’s day-long retreat, held at Juaquin Miller Park, included community-building activities designed to build relationships and break down barriers among MHS students and teachers. The retreat also built on the service learning curriculum developed last year concerning economic disparity in the Bay Area. The group discussed the reality that many students in nearby Bay Area communities lack basic school supplies, and that this lack of basic supplies can make it more difficult for those students to succeed academically.
Following this discussion about income disparity, the group of 70 students and nine teachers packed 350 new backpacks with school supplies for students at the International Community School (ICS), a bilingual elementary school in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood. The MHS students also wrote notes to the ICS students. At the end of the day, the MHS students visited ICS to deliver the backpacks in person. MHS teacher Marcela Privat Gilman said, “The school was thrilled and extremely grateful,” to receive these back-to-school essentials for its students. Reflecting on their experience, the MHS students also described feeling “humbled,” “grateful” and “inspired.”
This donation of backpacks continues a relationship between PUSD and ICS that started several years ago, when ICS welcomed PUSD’s summer service learning program (AISCE) onto its campus to assist with its own summer school programs. AISCE students worked in ICS’s bilingual Kindergarten and First Grade classrooms to support students in reading and math. Last year, building on connections developed during the AISCE program, Privat Gilman’s Spanish 3 class collected art supplies for ICS and then helped in ICS classrooms after delivering these supplies. The relationship will continue later this school year when MHS students help assist in ICS’ literacy programs.