Kindness, compassion, respect, and empathy: four virtues that make up who we are as Christians and reinforce the Principles of Catholic Social Teaching, the Beatitudes, and the Works of Mercy. Catholic social justice teaching encourages the faithful to serve one another, especially those in greatest need. Catholic schools have long embraced this, and Saint Simon Parish School in Los Altos is no exception.
Saint Simon strives to develop and teach its students how to be SAINTS – Spiritual, Academically Prepared, Inquisitive, Neighborly, Trustworthy, and Strong. A key component to achieving this is service to the community. “At Saint Simon we feel so strongly about service learning that we have a dedicated Outreach and Social Justice Coordinator,” stated Michelle Nealon, Vice Principal.
“Our future is dependent on citizens who understand the meaning of the Gospel of Luke,” according to Ryan Roth, principal. ‘For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.’ We expect our students to learn to live with grateful hearts and give of themselves for the greater good,” he added.
Each month, the Saint Simon students meet either as a class or within their “school families” (made up of students in grades 1-8) to work on service projects. “I really enjoy working with the lower grade students in my school family on these service learning events,” said one eighth grader. “It gives me the opportunity to be a leader and help the younger kids understand the importance of helping the poor, the environment, and those in need here and in faraway places.”
These projects serve multiple communities including the Parish, those in Santa Clara County, and the less fortunate world-wide. Not only do the Saint Simon students learn about the people they are serving, but they are able to serve those in need through “hands on” activities. This includes providing lunches for the homeless each month, making placemats and cards for the elderly, collecting donations for Veterans, supporting Catholic Relief Services through Operation Rice Bowl, monthly food drives, donating backpacks for school children, and supporting the Kinship Center of San Jose.
This school year Saint Simon has more than 50 service learning activities scheduled. During Catholic Schools Week, every student will be involved in a community service project ranging from native habitat restoration to packing food for the needy.
“Our goal is to lead by example and inspire others to do the same,” said Roth.