The Bolles WayPursuing excellence through courage, integrity, and compassion.
Character development initiatives are an important focus to the growth and development of Bolles students and a key part of the School's mission. Bolles students understand the importance of giving back and getting involved in a purpose. They are involved because they want to help, not because it is a school requirement. From local nonprofit groups to individual student clubs, Bolles students, along with parents, faculty, and alumni, make helping others a priority.
Planting Seeds of Goodness
A spirit of philanthropy begins early and is cultivated often at The Bolles School. On both lower school campuses, students develop a better sense of compassion – and the courage and integrity they will need to make servant leadership a foundation of their character. This begins each and every day with students reciting the Bolles motto. Students also attend character classes throughout the school year.
Individual grades and classes often participate in various service initiatives, particularly during the holidays. The C.H.A.M.P.S. (Children Helping and Making Positive Strides) club provides students a first-time opportunity to join a group on their own volition to pursue service projects. Campus-wide service projects generate a larger volume of activity. On the Whitehurst Campus, students join middle and upper school peers in a food drive for Woodland Acres Elementary School. Lower School Ponte Vedra Beach Campus students engage in an annual, all-grade physical challenge that makes food and can collection a competitive giving lesson. Students’ families and friends pledge donations for the number of laps students are able to run in P.E. The collected food students generate goes to the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation – in recent years, students have collected more than 10,000 cans!
On the Lower School Whitehurst Campus, an important rite of passage is the fifth graders’ annual Dreams Come True fundraiser and party. During the year, students stage fundraisers and prepare gifts for an ill child served by the organization. Toward the end of the school year, the “dreamers” and their families come to a special party hosted by the fifth graders. Bolles students regale their special friend with games, food and gifts – in addition to the trip or experience they have helped sponsor. In lower school, Bolles students begin to understand that serving others is the best way to help themselves.
Springing Up, Reaching Out
On the Middle School Bartram Campus, students begin to develop skills in applying structure to their philanthropy. While there are some annual campus-wide community service efforts – such as the Woodland Acres food drive and a book drive for West Riverside Elementary School – much of the philanthropy excitement is generated by the School’s service clubs. Students who want to help must sign up to be part of the club and attend planning meetings. These groups -- including the Animal Lovers Club, the Angels for Allison Club, the McKenzie Club and others – stage fundraisers throughout the year and are managed by students and faculty sponsors.
Middle School also is the first time students have the opportunity to achieve a President’s List award. Each quarter, the Head of School selects worthy students who demonstrate The Bolles Way “above and beyond” what is expected of them as a Bolles student. By recognizing students who have dedicated themselves to serving others and letting the school community know about their work, school leaders hold President’s List winners up examples of The Bolles Way: Pursuing excellence through courage, integrity and compassion.
As these life lessons in effective community service and servant leadership progress, a beautiful trend begins. In middle school, there is a marked increase in students who are developing the courage to participate in or plan charitable events on their own time. Many middle school students assist on the Community Hospice PedsCare teen board and others support groups or events that touch their lives in some personal way. This trend takes a skyward trajectory as students make their way to the Upper School San Jose Campus. As students mature in their servant leadership development, it becomes easier – and more rewarding – to make a difference in the lives of others. The Bolles Way becomes students’ personal way.
Flourishing Thriving, Serving Others
Courage, integrity and compassion converge powerfully on the upper school campus, where students learn to apply the servant leadership skills they have been honing since their earliest lower school years. All freshmen participate in Make a Difference Day, a daylong course in community volunteerism. Students break into groups and spend the morning working at one of more than a dozen nonprofit agencies in Northeast Florida. In the afternoon, students hear testimonials on the importance of service from senior peers or alumni who have garnered huge life takeaways from their servant leadership experiences. This message is reinforced by the Head of School who reminds students of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous words, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’”
In the first few weeks of school, upper school students are encouraged to attend Club Day – where more than 80 student clubs and activity groups are represented. Once they have aligned with clubs or initiatives, students spend the rest of the year in meetings and fundraising events for their causes. One of the biggest annual events is the Halloween Carnival, an event that seasonally entertains low-income students from a nearby community. More than 100 students representing the school’s 80 clubs set up booths and receive guests with joy and compassion.
As they progress through upper school, students learn about club leadership and management. These interests may change as they progress through their upper school careers. But community service work always maintains prominence in the lives of upper school students. Unlike any other time in their education, an unprecedented number of students take the initiative to support charitable work that is important to them personally.
In upper school, students also broaden their sense of community service – and learn how they can use their talents and interests to support the community. Visual art students, for example, frequently exhibit their work in Art Walk events in support of art in Northeast Florida. Art students have also enjoyed opportunities to participate in public art projects and murals. Bolles choral students perform in community events and sing each year in the popular “Candlelight Christmas” performance at Disney World. Some share their work on local stages – others have lent their voices to singing the National Anthem at fundraisers or citizenship ceremonies. That passion also extends to global community service opportunities. Each year, upper school students may sign up for a community service trip during Spring Break – which has taken Bolles students to charitable work from Costa Rica to the Florida Keys. And because Bolles is a community of students from all over the world, many community service projects and trips serve special friends, families and communities around the globe. Like their middle school peers, students who take The Bolles Way to its highest level are rewarded with President’s List medallions.
As President and Head of School Dave Farace likes to remind students, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”