This article first appeared in the Harker Magazine Commemorative Anniversary Issue, celebrating 125 years, published July 2018.
Harker’s historical commitment to developing students into compassionate human beings who make a difference in their communities is showcased in its many annual outreach programs. At any given time, individual students as well as student-run clubs are organizing drives and reaching out to help local and global organizations. Some of their efforts include sending thank you cards to active service members, adopting families at the holidays, spearheading blood drives, collecting items for the Humane Society, and so much more.
Cancer Walk and Kicks Against Cancer
Two fundraisers benefit cancer organizations. Since 2006, middle school students have participated in a Cancer Walk. They learn about different forms of cancer and prevention strategies, and then take part in the walk, each holding a flag honoring a person of his or her choice who has battled cancer. The students raised $14,000 in 2016. Upper school students host soccer games, sell T-shirts and baked goods, and plan other fun activities during Kicks Against Cancer to raise funds for Camp Okizu, a summer program that offers support and recreational activities for children with cancer. The event began in 2010 and raised $2,756 in 2018.
Lower school students collect nonperishable foodand other goods, supplying about 300 bags of food per year plus many thousands of dollars in cash to St. Justin’s Community Ministry Pantry over the 30-plus years the program has been going. Middle and upper school students collect canned goods at Thanksgiving in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank.
Freshman Service Day
Recent projects for grade 9 students have included trail cleanup at the Coyote Open Space Preserve and Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, and volunteering at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, San Jose Rose Garden, Sacred Heart Community Services and Sunrise Village Emergency Shelter, among other organizations.
Jump Rope for Heart
Each year, lower school students collect pledges fortheir Jump Rope for Heart activity, to benefit the American Heart Assocation. It’s a great effort for the students and they have raised nearly $200,000 since the activity started in 2000.
Along with its charitable outreach, Harker welcomes thosefrom its greater communities – the neighborhoods it shares, students and teachers from other schools, and fans of great speakers and music.
• In 1999, Harker initiated The Harker Invitational DebateTournament, the first Harker-sponsored event to draw upper school students from other schools. By its fifth year, the event drew teams from 20 schools from California, Oregon and Nevada.
• The middle school has held the Diana Nichols MathInvitational since 2001. In 2018, about 300 students from 13 schools attended.
• Each year, Harker hosts the Silicon Valley Computer-Using Educators conference on the upper school campus. Hundreds of teachers and administrators from all over Silicon Valley attend the conference. In addition, each summer, Harker’s technology department hosts teachers from around the Bay Area at the Harker Teacher Institute to hear speakers and attend workshops on classroom technology and other topics.
• In 2004, Harker joined Common Ground, a coalition ofBay Area schools working together to provide parent education to their communities, and hosts one or two speakers per year.
• In 2011, Harker students organized, promoted and hostedtheir first TEDx conference at Harker. This was the first student-organized and promoted conference and it was a resounding success, with speakers of world-class caliber. The event has been held every year since, and about 175 students attended in November 2017.
• The Harker Speaker Series launched in March 2008 andbrings leaders and visionaries from a wide variety of fields to share their expertise or unique experiences with both Harker and the greater community. Speakers have included author Khaled Hosseini, travel guru Rick Steves, Jill Tarter, director of Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence research at the SETI Institute, and astronaut Gregory Chamitoff.
• The Harker Concert Series began in 2011 with a concert by the Marc Olivia Duo. Other acts have included San Jose Opera, Taylor Eigsti, the Gerald Clayton Trio and Afiara String Quartet.
• While most Harker performances are open to the public,Harker musicians and performers also share their talents with the greater community with regular performances at senior centers, shopping centers and festivals.
Marla Holt is a freelance writer based in Minnesota