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Community Council

By Carolina ’21

The purpose of Community Council is to set up events for students at the upper school to get involved in. Upper school students must earn 12 hours of community service through hands-on activities. At the middle school, students also need 12 hours, however that can include a variety of different activities like walks to raise money for a specific charity. I joined the Community Council because I like to help others and help show Harvard-Westlake students how they can become involved in various organizations. In the past, I have led many community service activities, all resulting in very positive outcomes for the organizations and everyone involved. Witnessing the impact of what we do for people in need of assistance as well as for the people who are helping is very inspiring. Seeing the positive reactions on people’s faces when they are giving back is rewarding and has inspired me to do more to help.

Community Council is something you can run for 10th grade. If you are elected, you remain on the Council for 11th and 12th grades. The Council consists of about 25 students from the upper school along with two faculty members, the head dean and an upper school counselor. There is a retreat at the beginning of the school year to help build camaraderie among Council members but also to discuss goals and events we would like to hold during the school year. The Council meets during the directed study periods, which is twice within six days for 45 minutes; last year we only met once, however the new schedule allows us to meet twice.  During the year, we break into four different sub-groups of about five people so that each group can plan different events and we can engage as many organizations and students as possible. During each meeting, we all come together as a group and share updates of any projects each group is working on or any upcoming events that a group needs help with and then we split up into sub-groups to continue planning.

Each year, we do two big events and various smaller events such as bake sales, packing lunches, bringing in speakers, etc. My all-time favorite event was the Special Olympics one we held at the upper school. Harvard-Westlake Community Council hosted a day of play for Special Olympics Southern California: The Help Group. The Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. We were so excited to be hosting them! Before we played with the students, Lucy Meyer, a former Special Olympic athlete and Ambassador, spoke to the Sophomores about her experience as a Special Olympics athlete. HW Students played soccer & basketball, ran track, and danced with the Special Olympic athletes. Furthermore, last year we organized Community Council’s first ever drive-in movie in the parking lot for HW students to attend. We donated the funds raised to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization we work with every other year.  Beyond our big events, we also set up community service events during 10th, 11th, 12th grade class meetings such as making lunches or making hygiene kids. For example, last year in our community service week (which happens once a year) different grades assembled Hygiene Kits for Upward Bound House, made Sandwiches for North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry, and lastly packaged meals for Rise Against Hunger. In addition, we have done bake sales and toy drives throughout the year and donated the money to charities such as Connect for Cancer and Fire Relief.

Though it has been hard with the pandemic, we have been able to continue to help various organizations. Community Council made 500 hygiene kits for Valley Inter Community Council. Students were able to drop off items and Community Council members assembled and delivered the kits.  Currently, we are working on a clothing drive and making baskets for kids at CHLA.

Overall, Community Council has been an extremely rewarding experience just seeing kids get involved and working with these organizations. I hope that kids stay connected with these organizations! I mentioned just a few events we hold each year for the students. I could go on since we plan events every week, but these were just some of my favorites!

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Tags: , Last modified: August 30, 2021