By Sophia Grifferty
The year 2014 has been a great year of giving at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi (ACS). Over 150 people attended the Celebration of Service held at the close of the school year, which applauded the accomplishments of the academic year.
The inspiring event highlighted the 18 service groups active in the high school: Habitat for Humanity, Médécin Sans Frontiers, Operation Smile, Green Team (Environmental Action Group), National Honor Society, Enterprise Club, Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, Athletics and Activities Council, Human Rights Club, Circle of Life, Kenya Desk Initiative, Jambo Tuleni Tanzania Initiative, Animal Action, Haiti: Hands On, Refugee Project – Jordon Visits, Tri-M (Honor Music Society), 30 Hour Famine, and GINergy (Community Action Conference) . High school student officers who hold weekly meetings and organize fundraising and awareness events throughout the year lead each service group.
Each group made a bulletin board and leaders in each group were able to summarize the year’s successes, thank the departing officers, and welcome the new officers. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and every group felt accomplished with what they had achieved.
Anne Russell, the high school’s passionate service coordinator, organized the celebratory event with the help of her “Global Connection Service Class.”
An active service group at the school is Habitat for Humanity, which organizes service trips for 30 students who spend 10 days building houses for poor families. Past countries include India, Kenya, and Sri Lanka. This academic year, the Habitat for Humanity trip was to Cluj-Napoca, Romania, where students helped build a multi-family home for four families. The service club raised AED 40,000 throughout the year to cover costs of the trip and make a donation to the families in need.
Another service group is for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), a non-political service organization that raises funds to medically aid children in the Middle East. The group successfully raised AED 60,000 by organizing fundraising events including a dinner for Cleanco workers, an indoor soccer tournament, and Valentine’s Day candy-grams. The funds raised were given to PCRF in support of doctors and surgeons working at a hospital in Gaza, to the Healing Hearts Campaign, and to children who needed surgeries.
The Green Team, an environmental action group, recycled the equivalent of seven kilometers worth of plastic bottles over the year. The group recycled plastic, paper, and cans around the high school every week. In addition, they also eliminated plastic water bottles from the high school, by stopping the sale of plastic water bottles in the school and encouraging the use of reusable water bottles. This made a huge difference in not only plastic consumption but also the sustainable culture at ACS. The Green Team also organized Earth Week to spread awareness, which included an energy blackout day at school and a beach clean up on Yas Island.
The fourth service group served Médécin Sans Frontier (MSF),which is more commonly known as Doctors Without Borders. This is an independent organization that provides medical humanitarian aid to places in crisis including epidemics, armed conflicts, natural disasters, and famines. The school’s main events of the year included MSF’s Dirham Jar Awareness Week, a Middle School Social, and Holiday Candy Grams sales. In total the group raised AED 12,687 with AED 3,486 going to the Amman Project, which aims to build an educational program for the MSF facility in Amman and AED 9,201 to the Syrian Refugees Project to help those who are wounded or need medical attention.
ACS High School Service Program: acs.sch.ae