Community Service at CLS
Community Service (CSO) is an important part of life at CLS. Pupils can choose where to volunteer their time and two important places that we are proud to partner with, are Aldgate Primary School and Maggie's Cancer Centre. Here you will find two articles by pupils Rupert, Aarav and Jonah, talking about their virtual volunteering experience this Autumn term.
Aldgate Primary School Reading Sessions (By Rupert, Year 10)
Every Thursday afternoon, I go to room 402 for CSO. I arrive early and help Mr Innes set up the laptops. I plug headphones into one of them, take out my borrowed copy of ‘Oliver and the Seawigs’, which, funnily enough, was written by Phillip Reeve, best known for the recently adapted ‘Mortal Engines’. I log onto Teams and click on the meeting to join. Immediately, a young, 8 year old’s face pops up on my screen. We say hello to each other and we begin to read.
CSO is the alternative option to CCF (Combined Cadet Force) at School. I volunteered to do reading with the local primary school, Aldgate Primary School. With many of the school’s students lacking reading role models, our job is to try to get the pupils to read regularly and, more importantly, to enjoy reading. Our first session was a group effort, with four of us crowded around a single screen reading to a group of 8 year olds. As you can imagine, it didn’t quite work. So the next week we all used different laptops to read along with individual children.
My reading buddy is called Thomas. He is very funny and imaginative, reads well and (I like to think!) we get on really well, though he is in slight awe of somebody who has lived a whole 14 years! Maybe my favourite bit of our weekly sessions is the voices. Occasionally a torment, but mostly pure comedy, in an inspired act of teacher-ism, for Thomas’s first piece of homework, I gave him the task of coming up with voices for the various characters, including the 9-year-old Oliver, the grumpy albatross Mr Culpepper, and the short-sighted mermaid, Iris.
Through the reading sessions, I feel I am learning skills in how to deal with younger children, though I do occasionally hear myself and worry how I am slowly metamorphosising into a teacher (“Come on Thomas, we’re nearly there, just 5 minutes left, keep focussed” or “I know it’s a big page, but you can do it, you’ve done longer pages before”). I also think that I am having a lot of fun with the sessions, whilst simultaneously, feeling the mental health benefits of helping others out. As a bonus, I have gained the impressive piece of knowledge that I am sure will come up at some point in my life - the scientific name of the wandering albatross. ‘Diomedea Exulans’ in case you were wondering. To conclude, CSO is lots of fun, and in amongst the hustle and bustle of the journey to School and lessons, I look forward to escaping reality in our weekly sessions every Thursday.
Maggie’s Cancer Centre (By Aarav and Jonah, Year 10)
I’m Aarav, a Yeat 10 pupil, who works with Maggie’s Cancer Centres alongside Jonah and a handful of other CLS pupils for CSO. Maggie’s is a charity organisation based in the UK (with a few centres in other countries) that focuses on providing free cancer support and information, both in their centres or online, to all who need it.
As you may have already noticed, our recent Mufti Day and Carol singing were both in support of Maggie’s. Our current aim is to raise awareness for Maggie’s. Sadly, they are unable to hold a Christmas fayre due to Covid-19, but this year they are holding a virtual one with lots of interaction and opportunities to source festive gifts for friends and family. It’s really important to be mindful of charities, now more than ever, because they are some of the organisations that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.
I’m Jonah, and I’ve been working alongside Aarav and other pupils to help raise money and awareness for Maggie’s Cancer Centre. I am a regular chorister in the School’s Chamber Choir and we were asked to record a selection of carols to be played at Maggie’s fundraising Christmas fayre. I enjoyed performing immensely, especially as it was for a cause that I had a connection with and that I am working to support. I was also given a spontaneous duet with a fellow chorister, which I hope will sound lovely for the recording! In the most recent CSO task, we have been asked to do the ‘paper clip challenge’ to provide a reward for the raffle in the upcoming fayre. The challenge is to trade up from a paper clip to another item, and on and on until we have something worthy of donating. Not keen to attempt this challenge by relying on the charity of suffering local businesses, I went to family and friends instead. With a little difficulty, I obtained two fictional books in good condition, which I hope will be a satisfactory prize for the raffle!
The CSO group has been working hard to raise money and awareness of Maggie’s. This year we have been completing these remote challenges and tasks set by the centre, however, in previous years, pupils would visit the centre and be more hands-on with their fund raising projects. From helping Maggie’s, we’ve learned about the dedication and perseverance required to successfully run a charity on such a large scale. We’d like to thank you all for your donations from our Maggie’s Mufti Day!
Here you can watch the Chamber Choir sing carols for Maggie's Christmas Fair:
I feel I am learning skills in how to deal with younger children.
Rupert, Year 10