Upper School Transitions Advisor Erin McNicholas and her freshman transitions class support Covington First Food Pantry in distributing food to residents of Newton County. 
Photo: @pace_icgl on Instagram

Last year, there were several changes to student life because of COVID-19, including Community Engagement Day for the freshmen. However, Associate Director of Isdell Center for Global Leadership Ted Ward was excited to share that this year, Community Engagement Day will be close to returning to the pre-COVID-19 norm. “We will be off site,” said Mr. Ward. “Obviously, even though we are not on Pace’s campus, we will operate mask-mandatory, and when we are doing outdoor events, they will be mask-optional, of course based on comfort. It will be like 2019 with a hint of 2020.” 

Community Engagement Day took place on Oct. 13th, the same day the sophomores and juniors took the PSAT. It is a day dedicated to freshmen working across the state on different community service projects. The students will be working with “local partners in Atlanta and some that are pretty far away,” according to Mr. Ward. “We have a group that is going about an hour north, a group going an hour west into Paulding County, and another group going an hour east into Covington. We actually get to diversify the communities that we work with beyond the perimeter of Atlanta.” US Transitions Coordinator Tiger Brown, said that “because of COVID-19, it will be more spread out than usual.” 

Community Engagement Day is a way for freshmen to bond and become closer with one another. “This year will be more of an internal community engagement, so the ninth grade class can engage with each other and build a community,” said Mr. Brown. “It is a great way for them to build more relationships doing something outside of school.”

For years, Community Engagement Day was organized by transitions classes. “This is because the ninth graders are the only grade that will be there, and transitions is already a way that the freshman class is split up and given a faculty supervisor who takes care of them, so it is the easiest way to break up that big group of ninth graders for the day,” said Mr. Brown. 

Each group will go to one of eleven different sites. Some of these are long-standing partners, such as Meals on Wheels Atlanta, Books for Africa and Helping Mamas. “These are three long-standing partnerships that we have and will be very typical of what we always do with them,” said Mr. Ward.

However, there are other engagement projects that freshmen will work with. “We are really supporting a lot more food banks and ministries this Community Engagement Day, while also getting into some partnerships with outdoor entities that will be a lot more of the focus,” said Mr. Ward. “We will be working with the nature preserve at Arabia Mountain, Trees Atlanta and Lifeline Animal Project, which is a new one we are working with.”

“We get to spread out across the city and suggest how important this is to us as an institution,” said Mr. Ward. “Here at Pace we actually say we are going to take one of your school days, and we are going to send you out to do this work, so you see what it looks like and see what we mean by community engagement. It is time, not money, that they are investing, and I think that is a really great experience for our new students and also our returning students.”

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