After challenging 2020, Totino-Grace High School is working to build community |

After challenging 2020, Totino-Grace High School is working to build community

Jessica Miles
Updated: September 15, 2021 06:30 PM
Created: September 15, 2021 04:44 PM

From salsa dancing inside the school dance studio to making infant care kits, complete with cloth diapers and onesies, and having lunch outside with food trucks and games to enjoy, it's not your typical Wednesday in high school.

It's the first of five community development days at Totino-Grace High School this year, days that evolved out of a difficult school year last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Education is so much more than just the classroom, so how do we bring more experiences to our students?" Totino-Grace math teacher Deb Fagan said.

Fagan, along with activities director and instrumental music teacher Tim Hoffman, realized they needed to think outside the box and do something different to engage students.

"This is a day for students to experience what they wouldn't learn in the classroom, so we have basic car care, ultimate frisbee, tortilla making and salsa dancing," Fagan shared.

Bringing back that sense of school and community pride was also essential.

"It was really an effort to try to engage an entire community in one day," Hoffman added.

One group picked weeds and freshened up the playground at Al-Amal School across the street from Totino-Grace. Another group put together infant care kits for new mothers in need. Senior Caleb Thom explained the supply packages include bath towels, washcloths and diapers — two per kid.

"It makes me feel happy," Thom said. "Instead of doing homework, I feel like I am doing something and giving back."

The day was created around service, but also fun.

"I think it's really fun, I think it's cool we get the opportunity to do this," Rachel, another senior, added.

It's an opportunity to learn and grow, both academically and socially, despite challenging circumstances.

"Coming off the year we had last year, not that we're out of it, but it's nice to see kids relaxing and connecting with each other again," Hoffman said.

The school is planning four more community development days throughout the school year.

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