By Selina Kim ’19 and Jennifer Prince ’19
Archbishop Mitty High School has been instilling the values of social justice in its students since 1964 through numerous social justice classes and a commitment to serving the community through volunteer work. However, the spirit of serving does not stop in the classroom. Students and teachers at Archbishop Mitty never fail to find opportunities to help those around them, whether in the field of robotics or in legislative advocacy.
Since November, Cathy Leather and a handful of students from the robotics team, including freshmen Owen Leather and Stella Park, sophomore Wonjin Lee, junior Kelly Choate, and seniors Jennifer Prince and Natalie Moss, volunteered to help middle school students build VEX robots every Wednesday at Sacred Heart Nativity School. Mrs. Leather, a mentor for Archbishop Mitty’s robotics team, saw an opportunity to serve and worked tirelessly to fulfill it.
Exposing the middle-school students to the field of Science,Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through the creation of robots has been very rewarding for Archbishop Mitty students, as they learn how to work with younger children and explain engineering concepts to them. The students got to know each other through the program and formed a bond rooted in their shared love for robotics. Though the program ended last month, Mrs. Leather and the robotics team hope that they can continue their relationship with Sacred Heart Nativity School by letting the middle school students visit Archbishop Mitty’s robotics lab on campus in the future.
This is not the first time Archbishop Mitty has formed close ties with the students at Sacred Heart Nativity School. In the spring of 2018, administrators of the K-12 school requested that the Mitty Advocacy Project (MAP), Archbishop Mitty’s resident legislative advocacy program, help the school develop a junior MAP project. Five MAP student leaders — then high school seniors Catherine Peterson and Timothy Simka and juniors Aditi Chatradhi, Vedya Konda, and Selina Kim — traveled to the school in order to help lead the first meeting and to discuss ways that Sacred Heart students could advocate for issues in their community. In small groups facilitated by Archbishop Mitty High School students, middle schoolers at Sacred Heart discussed local issues impacting their community. One issue brought up was the reckless driving on roads near Sacred Heart. In response, students suggested speed bumps be implemented near campus. The middle schoolers also considered ways to bring together the school community.
“It was powerful to see how each student was passionate about a certain issue,” said Timothy Simka, a MAP leader who helped guide Sacred Heart students at the meeting last year and is now a freshman at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Whether it was sexism, racism, or even immigration… the amount of reflection they conducted was apparent through our conversations. This trip for me was sweeter than all the other MAP trips I’ve gone on because it highlighted that the endeavor for social justice is universal. If middle schoolers can advocate for justice, anyone can.”
With younger students so passionate about learning about advocacy and technology, Archbishop Mitty High School students felt the desire to respond and support them in their endeavors. Community engagement and understanding are at the heart of every act of service. By teaching middle schoolers, AMHS students were able to discover the core value of discipleship at the margins.