Getting Closer on Community Day Makes all the Difference

Press play to watch boys and faculty discuss efforts to partake in a number of community service endeavors that benefited a local food pantry, under-served youth, and incarcerated book lovers, among others.

Browning’s second annual Community Day on December 17 was a celebration of the school community and an opportunity to take a closer look at the world outside its walls, according to Dr. Betty Noel, diversity coordinator and science teacher, who coordinated the event. The boys and faculty engaged with one another in a number of morning conversations and activities at Browning, including a shared Google Map with pins indicating the many places where the families of each group member hail from. A scavenger hunt and traditional intraschool games were also part of the agenda, followed by a community lunch. The members of Browning’s food services team were pleased to play their part. Faculty members commented on the fact that the younger boys looked up to the older ones, even holding hands with them as they participated in the day’s activities. The older boys were equally happy to be with the younger boys, taking their roles as models and mentors to heart. One Form VI boy documented the morning activities and produced a video that asked students and teachers what Community Day means to them.

With worldwide, national and local hunger a major focus of the day, the boys made sandwiches for the NY Common Pantry and discussed how to plan meals based on a fixed income and how to eliminate food waste in the cafeteria. In the afternoon, the boys and teachers left the School to partake in a number of community service endeavors that benefited Books Through Bars, Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Services food pantry, The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields, and the Jewish Association Serving the Aging.

During a faculty meeting presentation after this event, Dr. Noel noted that she was inspired by the Browning Mission and Diversity statements in her planning of the day; Browning strives to instill in its boys a sense of responsibility to the larger community as well as an aspiration to celebrate the differences among us all. Dr. Noel was also motivated by this year’s Common Book author, Bryan Stevenson, who was a special guest speaker in October. Mr. Stevenson asked that the boys “make a difference” and embrace the concept that “proximity is key.” Community Day successfully carried forth these principles, allowing the boys the opportunity to get closer to those within and outside the School. Indeed, to paraphrase Mr. Stevenson’s words, “As they got close to a situation, they discovered powers about themselves that they had not realized before.”

Dr. Noel thanks Division Heads Laurie Gruhn, Chris Dunham and Jim Reynolds, as well as the following faculty for their assistance in the planning of yet another successful Community Day: Laura Alterman, Rachel Gerber, Susan Kehoe, Julia Kingsdale, Susan Levine, Mary Bosworth, Zachary Davis, Dan Ragsdale, Zachary Williams, Emilie Wolf, Sam Keany, Saber Khan, Janet Lien, Sandra Martinez, Sarah Murphy and Melodie Ting.