This article originally appeared in the winter 2013 Harker Quarterly.
Fundraiser Lets Dancers Shine
Grade 6 students Aarzu Gupta and Radhika Jain took first place for one of their dances in the Bollywood category at a fundraising competition held at Chabot College in Hayward. The competition was sponsored by the Charitable Care Foundation (CCF).
Founded in October 1991, the CCF aims to help needy people become healthy, productive and self-reliant. Their efforts and resources are focused on local and international needs, particularly in the Bay Area and India.
The girls regularly attend a Bollywood dance class together in San Jose.
Canned Food Drive Helps Ease Hunger
The middle school’s annual canned food drive took place in mid- November. The drive was hosted by Harker’s advisories in conjunction with the Second Harvest Food Bank. Many canned and non-perishable food items were collected in containers, which were located in classrooms throughout the campus.
Last year, almost 50 million Americans lived in homes without enough food to eat. Harker is proud to have collected 2,632 pounds of food in this year’s drive.
DECA Chapter and Red Cross Club Sponsor Event
In early November, Harker’s DECA chapter and Red Cross Club hosted a lunchtime community service event in front of Nichols Hall. Students placed granola bars, batteries, Band-Aids, hand sanitizers and toothbrushes into kits that may be sent to disaster victims overseas. They also made cards for Veterans Day.
The event was run in accordance with the community-oriented pillar of the national DECA organization. Creating disaster kits for those who can’t afford them illustrated “the type of community involvement crucial to building a foundation for community-oriented entrepreneurs,” according to California DECA’s press release.
Hot Chocolate Sale to Aid Typhoon Haiyan Victims
The week after Thanksgiving break, the lower school’s student council sponsored a hot chocolate sale to raise money for relief efforts in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
The funds raised by the hot chocolate sale were then combined with funds collected by the middle school for donation to Habitat for Humanity, which will help typhoon victims rebuild their homes. Faculty and staff also pitched in by donating money to offset the cost of supplies. The hot chocolate was sold for $1 a cup.
Colorful Painted Pumpkins Delivered to Neighbors
In a show of neighborly good will, this past fall grade 2 students painted and hand delivered pumpkins to residents living near the lower school campus.
The annual outreach and community service project took place in late October, just in time for Halloween.
After decorating the pumpkins and allowing them to dry, the students walked around the neighborhood leaving them on porches, along with cards.
“This was their annual service project to say ‘thank you’ to the local residents for being such good neighbors,” reported art teacher Gerry-louise Robinson, who facilitated the painting portion of the activity. Students painted in her room during their health education classes (one class at a time) with members of the BEST staff on hand to assist in the effort.
For student Kabir Ramzan, the biggest challenge was to “make the pumpkins really colorful.” Working in small groups, he and his classmates succeeded by painting in various hues of blue, green, yellow and red. They also gave each pumpkin its own special smile.
“It was action-packed and nonstop. … Utilizing the art room helped to make the event more meaningful and fun!” said Robinson, adding that the students really embraced drawing faces on the pumpkins; the facial expressions and details made each one a unique gift.
“It was marvelous how the children carefully chose colors and applied them,” she added. “The pumpkins all lined up ready to be delivered looked very charming indeed.”
“This is a really good project. I think it’s something the neighbors will like!” enthused student Aeliya Grover.
Club Plans Coastal Cleanup
In the fall, grades 4 and 5 held their first Spirit/Service Club meeting of the year, playing fun activities in advance of the Harker Harvest Festival.
“Our first club meeting was great. We had over a dozen fourth and fifth graders sign up. Fun was had by all!” reported Mel Robinson, a grade 5 P.E. teacher who helps coordinate the club.
In addition to playing spirited games, the Spirit/Service Club implements important outreach activities. For example, the club aids California coastal cleanup efforts and has a Green Committee charged with decreasing food waste in the lunchroom.
Students Donate to Emergency Shelter
Prior to her retirement, former middle school history teacher Pat White passed along her advisory project, which involves collecting toiletries for women and children at a local emergency shelter. Middle school math instructor Leah Moll took over the project, which benefits the Georgia Travis Center in San Jose.
“This year my seventh grade advisory, along with Kathy Pazirandeh’s advisory, have made and donated 85 personal kits to the center,” reported Moll.
The shelter is sponsored by the Inn-Vision Shelter Network, one of the leading shelter/housing and supportive service providers in Northern California. It aids more than 20,000 homeless men, women and children each year.
Middle School Holiday Drive Helps Fulfill Wish Lists
In an effort to serve people in need during the holiday season, Harker’s middle school community took on a project to help fulfill the “wish lists” of people living in low-income neighborhoods. After obtaining the names and wishes of individuals from an organization called Family Giving Tree, middle school families, faculty and staff set to work on fulfilling as many wishes as possible. Nearly 500 holiday wishes were granted to children, the elderly and physically disabled individuals in need, with gifts averaging about $20-$30.
Gift of Song, Carriage Rides and Wreath to Local Communities When the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce put out a call for wreaths to help decorate Blaney Plaza for the holiday season, the Awasthi family (Shivani, grade 9; Mohan, grade 6; and parents Anupam and Aarti) generously offered to create and donate one on behalf of Harker. The beautiful wreath, illuminated by LED lights, was clearly a labor of love.
And in a show of support for the Los Gatos community, Harker also helped sponsor carriage rides in the downtown area. For more than 30 years, the stately horse-drawn carriages, which meander through downtown, have attracted thousands of residents and visitors during the holiday season.
The upper school’s show choir, Downbeat, added to the cheer by caroling one night in downtown Los Gatos.
Upper School Holiday Volunteering at Harvest Food Bank
Kerry Enzensperger, the upper school’s director of community service and activities, reported that her advisory volunteered at the Second Harvest Food Bank the first night of Thanksgiving break. “We did a food sort at the Cypress Center in San Jose. Along with other volunteers we sorted carrots into boxes that weighed 25 pounds. By the end of our shift we had sorted 770 boxes of carrots equaling nine tons! We had a great time working together,” she said.