The Schuler Program equips bright, motivated youth with the support they need to gain access to and succeed at highly selective colleges and beyond. Writing from thirteen schools located in the greater Chicago area in Lake and Cook Counties of Illinois, scholars reflect on their academic experiences, cultural exposures, college applications processes, and more.
One with Nature: Social Awareness and Action in Highland Park
by Nomin Jigd, Highland Park High School, Class of 2015
HPHS Scholars volunteer at the Heller Nature Center in Highland Park.
On a chilly Saturday in September, Schuler Scholars from
Highland Park High School received the opportunity to fulfill their service
hours in a fun and rewarding manner at the Heller Nature Center in Highland
Park. As part of our Social Action and Awareness initiative, Schuler Scholars
at Highland Park High School complete two service projects each semester. I
have never been to the Heller Nature Center before, but fall is a great time to
visit. They host a Harvest Festival, where numerous fall activities attract
nature lovers. At this event families can participate in pumpkin carving,
scarecrow-making, and hay rides.
Our task that day was to improve the safety of a park for the
young nature lovers. The children's playground needed fresh wood chips to
provide a more cushioned walk space. Initially, I thought the task was going to
be easy and wouldn't take too much time. My thoughts changed as my arms grew
tired from shoveling damp wood chips into wheelbarrows. It was hard work and it
did take a long time. Although I was physically tired, there was never a dull
moment during the service hours because of how engaged we Scholars were. Each
grade level learned something new about each other and some even bonded closely
over their mutual enthusiasm for the service project.
During the break, we played a fun game to get to know our fellow
Scholars, especially our newest class of freshmen. We learned each other's
names and shared laughter like a big family. I personally felt much closer to
my Schuler peers and Coaches. The
experience strengthened my idea of volunteering. Not only does volunteering
create good for the community, it gives volunteers the rewarding knowledge that
they completed generous acts of kindness. Volunteering also provides an
opportunity to bond with others. Forming these relationships and hobbies helps
strengthen the strong values that we embody as Schuler Scholars.