Sarah Metz '15 and Mia Voevodsky '14 pose by the tractor at Help of Ojai's Honor Farm site.
Sarah Metz ’15 and Mia Voevodsky ’14 pose by the tractor at Help of Ojai’s Honor Farm site. Several Thacher students helped pick vegetables for the organization. Photo: Sydney Wilder ’15

Wednesday, January 22, was the second annual Community Service Day at Thacher.  Continuing the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Dr. King’s years of service, Thacher students embarked on a variety of community service projects within our small Thacher community, the Ojai Valley, and the Ventura County at large.

The fact that this year’s Community Service Day fell on a Wednesday, instead of a Saturday as it did last year, meant that classes were canceled and it was a mandatory event rather than an optional one.  Thus, the numbers of those involved increased from around sixty participants to more than 250.  “I am thrilled to think that every Thacher student will be able to spend the day making a difference in our community,” commented Community Service Head, Annie LeFevre ‘14, prior to the event.

In addition to these changes, Ms. Molly Perry and the Community Service Heads worked diligently to expand the list of opportunities and contact new organizations to support this year.

One of these unique opportunities was a chance to visit a local farm called Chivas Goat Farm.  Chivas is run by a mother-daughter duo that handcrafts artisan goat milk soaps made from goat milk they harvest two times a day.  It is no wonder that they would benefit from a few extra hands at the farm.

Another unusual opportunity this year was a visit to a turtle sanctuary located in Ojai’s East-End.  Krista Cabrera ’16 was one of the few to partake in this great experience.

I was able to feed and play with many turtles from different countries and habitats.  It was a great experience and I was able to help out a local organization while still having fun. Community Service Day was a great idea because it really helped to remind us of the little things that each and everyone of us can do that make a difference.

Some of the most popular activities this year were trips to local beaches for beach clean-up.  There were a total of three trips to the beach this year, comprised of ten students each, led by Dr. Chris Vyhnal, Ms. Heather Grant, and Mr. William Okin.

As a marine biology teacher, Ms. Grant was inspired to organize a beach clean-up trip.

The only real ways to minimize the human impact on the oceans is to reduce the use and production of plastics and prevent the plastics we do create from getting into the ocean.

Lexi Wachtell ’15 explained some of the highlights of her beach clean-up trip.

We had a lot of fun!  As we came across different forms of marine life while picking up trash, Ms. Grant taught us some marine biology.  We even had a chance to take a dip in the ocean.

Other off-campus volunteer opportunities for Thacher students included helping out local farmers, such as BD Dautch of Earthtrine Farm and also Steve Sprinkel, who plays the role of “farmer” at the popular Ojai restaurant, The Farmer and the Cook.

Thacher students help plant vegetables for Earthtrine Farm. Photo: Colly Smith '16
Thacher students help plant vegetables for Earthtrine Farm. Photo: Colly Smith ’16

In the words of Kipper Berven ’15, his time at Earthtrine Farm was simply “awesome.”

In addition, students had the opportunity to volunteer at a variety of local schools including Monica Ros, Topa Topa, San Antonio, and A Place to Grow.

For example, Charlotte Driscoll ’16 spent the morning interacting with Monica Ros kindergarten students.

I had a lot of fun helping the kindergarteners make treasure chests.

LeFevre also explained that a lot of the ideas for Community Service Day came directly from students.

Student groups on campus (such as PTS, Japan Club, and the EAC) came up with activities that reflected the goals of the individual clubs as well as the goal of serving our community.

The Japan Club sponsored a trash pick-up throughout the streets of Ojai, and PTS led a group who rode and cared for horses.

In order to help out freshman riders, PTS member, Owen Yager ’15, for example, rode “problem horses” with Mr. Schryver to get them back in riding shape.

In addition, the EAC sponsored three different activities.  Mr. Meyer’s group planted a dorm garden for Middle School, Mrs. Meyer’s group cleaned out the garden in front of the dining hall and prepared it for future use, and Mr. Sanchez led a group to take a census of light bulbs in faculty homes to help reduce future energy use by installing new LED bulbs.

Other on-campus activities included opportunities to to help out maintenance with certain projects and also to harvest some campus citrus trees dispersed throughout Thacher grounds.

Sienna Currie ’15 helped with painting projects around campus.

Painting fences around campus really made me appreciate all of the hard work that goes into making Thacher’s campus so beautiful.

large_photo303515_4036221Bailey Cypheridge ’15, who helped to pick fruit around campus, explained how rewarding the experience was.

We picked like 900 pounds of fruit and brought it to HELP of Ojai.  It was awesome to get out of class and give back to the community.

Cypheridge’s thoughts reflected the entire student body’s reaction to Service Day this year.  Yes, it was nice to have a break from classes, but more importantly, it was a great way to reach outside the “Thacher Bubble” to make a major impact in our community and have fun at the same time.

Community Service Day was a major success this year, and the whole Thacher Community will undoubtedly look forward to its return next winter.

Posted by:Kevin Griffee

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