The Lower School is well-known for its active participation in community service. While the students understand the importance of neighbor helping neighbor, they are also are guided by Cornelia Connelly’s words, “I am cosmopolitan, the whole world is my country; and heaven is my home.”
Regarding our local neighbors, the Lower School is uniquely concerned with food insecurity issues. Each month the children support St. Joseph’s Parish in Jersey City with homemade lunches they have prepared and packed inside white paper lunch bags, which they have brightly decorated. A culminating project for St. Joseph’s each year takes place on Field Day, when a “Prayer Family Food Brigade” is activated. From their earliest years at school the children learn that helping our neighbors is a way we practice Jesus’ teachings to love one another — and it’s fun when everyone lends a hand!
In addition, our families help the Sacred Heart parishioners who look forward to our Food Basket meals at Christmastime.
In fifth grade we learn about food insecurity when the class travels to the Morris County Interfaith Food Pantry. There, students and teachers roll up their sleeves and help, while gaining more knowledge about food insecurity — experienced in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States.
While we are very concerned about our local neighbors, we also show compassion for those in need outside of our vicinity. One of our annual projects is our “Soldier Project.” During one of our Prayer Family meetings, the entire Lower School community assembles Oak Knoll Cares packages for American soldiers serving overseas. Children include handwritten letters and notes, as well as items the soldiers may need or want, such as sunscreen, absorbent socks, handwipes, and delicious snacks.