Student-led CommServe projects positively impact community

Student-led CommServe projects positively impact community
Books and Breakfast
Books and Breakfast

Books and Breakfast, led by sophomore Riya Nimmagadda and juniors William Baker and Maxwell Gross, presents Upper School students with the opportunity to discuss a variety of books with fourth and fifth grade students. 

Gross was a member of Books and Breakfast when he was in Lower School, and he took over the project after his freshman year. He says that the reason he leads the project is because he loves interacting with the Lower School students.

“When you’re at St. John’s, there’s so little connection between Upper School and Lower School. I like that Books and Breakfast is able to project that,” Gross said. 

Project leaders assign books and send out reminders to Upper School volunteers through GroupMe.  The group meets every morning from 7:30–8:30 in the Lower School library. A complimentary breakfast is provided for everyone to enjoy. Prior to the meetings, both Upper School and Lower School students are required to read a number of pages so that they are prepared to discuss the book. so that they are prepared to discuss the book. 

After going over the assigned pages, volunteers ask the Lower School students questions aimed at getting to know them better or they play a game.

“It’s really important for fostering the community within St. John’s,” Gross said.

Math and Munchies
Math and Munchies

Some Upper School students wake up  an hour earlier on day three mornings to volunteer for the Math and Munchies project before school. Their goal is to teach math to second and third grade students while munching on complimentary breakfast. 

Junior leaders Benji Adachi, Cate Adams and David Schaefer work with current Lower School Math and Science Coordinator Shelly Chandra to ensure that each session runs as smoothly as possible. Project leaders give out activity packets to the second and third graders based on their level of math.

“We try to build up these students’ enjoyment of math and inspire them to continue their love for it,” Adachi said. 

Leaders send packets on the GroupMe a couple days before each session so volunteers have a chance to come up with ways to teach the kids in a way that they will understand and enjoy.

“It is really rewarding to see the improvement of the kids as we work with them throughout the year,” Adams said. “I love seeing them excited to be there in the morning.” 

The process allows volunteers to grow closer with the children as they swap names and ask them a few background questions. 

“It’s fun to take my passion for math and share it with the kids,” freshman Mira Pemmanda said. “I love seeing the smile on their faces every morning when I come to teach them.

Slammin Sandwiches
Slammin’ Sandwiches

In 2009, current Upper School Service Learning Coordinator Claire Nuchtern (‘11) created Slammin Sandwiches as a student. Fifteen years later, Nuchtern is ecstatic to see that the project is still alive.

Every Thursday at 7:45 AM students gather in Flores Hall to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which are then stored and chilled in the cafeteria for at least 24 hours. On Friday, Second Servings, a non-profit organization that serves food to the unhoused, collects the sandwiches and distributes them.

“It’s great that so many people participate every week,” Nuchtern said. “It’s really rewarding to see that something I started when I was in high school still exists.”

Slammin’ Sandwiches is run by senior Janie Boom, juniors Samantha Anaipakos and Edwin Rodriguez and sophomore Raka Agrawal.

  Volunteers make about 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches a week, and around 3000 sandwiches in a school year.

During the week, the project leaders coordinate with the cafeteria staff to supply the ingredients needed to make the sandwiches, while Nuchtern supplies the gloves, table clothes and utensils. 

Rodriguez says the project typically uses two tables, with students assembling the sandwiches on one, and passing it on to the other for packaging. 

“We get a bunch of people to work in an assembly line,” he said.

Rodriguez says that  Slammin’ Sandwiches is currently working towards making more sandwiches and encouraging more volunteers to attend.

“We really are trying to get more underclassmen involved, so we can have enough volunteers each week to make more sandwiches in the future,” Rodriguez said.

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About the Contributors
Isabella Adachi, Staff Writer
Isabella Adachi ('27) joined The Review in 2023. She has watched Gilmore Girls all the way through three times.
William Liang, Staff Writer
William Liang ('27) joined The Review in 2023 as a freshman. He is Richard's brother. He likes ice cream and, for his first job, he wants to work at Baskin-Robbins.
Annie Li, Staff Writer
Annie Li ('27) loves chewing ice and playing competitive field hockey. She joined Review in 2023.
Kenzie Chu, Staff Writer
Kenzie Chu ('26) joined The Review in 2022 as a freshman. Her favorite cereal is honey bunches of oats with strawberries. She actually did like the summer reading book this year.

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