Students and alumni around the globe worked on various community service projects on the fifth annual Non Sibi day on October 1.
The day, inspired by the school’s motto of “not-for-self,” featured 25 different student projects on campus and 95 projects organized by alumni around the world. Alumni participated in Non Sibi Day activities in 23 different states and across 10 countries.
Community service leaders aimed to find projects where students could be both helpful and learn about the wider community.
“We try to choose activities where our students can do good work and ones where they can engage in thinking about an issue. We pick things where they can also learn something and think about things in a different way,” said Silnutzer.
“It’s one thing to do community service for a day, but it’s better if there’s something that can make a longer lasting impact. If it’s a meal serving project, we don’t just go and serve meals, we also challenge students to think about what it really means.”
Though the majority of students participated on October 1, Silnutzer said that Non Sibi Day extends throughout the entire year because the community cannot complete all projects in one day. Students taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and sports teams competing on October 1 were excused from Service.
Sports teams and specific individuals will be completing their Non Sibi Day projects during the remainder of year.
Fuess House participates in Non Sibi Day as a dorm. Members of the dorm “dumpster dive” or sift through trash and perform a trash audit throughout the year.
“Fuess is really cool because they have their green initiative in their dorm and then they do the dumpster dive and the waste audit, so it’s a part of who they are, part of their identity is being green, and it’s nice that they know where their strengths are and how to use them,” Silnutzer said.
Thomas Beaton, member of the Non Sibi Day alumni council and the first Chairman of Non Sibi Day, organized an initiative at the Pine Tree Inn, a shelter that houses 500 homeless men and 200 homeless women every night.
The Inn also works with many satellite shelters in the area.
Students can continue their work at the Inn throughout the year by contributing vegetables to a food drive to help the inn prepare healthier food.
“One of the criticisms we have heard from students [about Non Sibi Day] is that it is not always clear how important their service project is, but at the Inn, they will truly understand,” said Beaton.
One project, focused on community building, was the “Addison Gallery” project, where Lawrence High School and Phillips Academy students told each other personal stories and recorded their favorite anecdotes.
Richard Gorham, an instructor in English at Lawrence High School and a wrestling coach at Phillips Academy, helped design the project.
Gorham said, “When Non Sibi Day was created, we had worked on a number of projects involving PA and Lawrence High. We decided to bring one of these activities to bridge the gap between Lawrence and PA. I’m a firm believer that the best community service one can do is build communities.”
Efforts for community building, rather than pure service, was also featured on Non Sibi Day.
“What happens often in community service is we go into Lawrence, Lowell, or Boston, but we never really think about [or interact with] the people who we are serving,” said Silnutzer.
Community building projects that encourage community engagement can be more helpful to the students and communities, added Silnutzer.
Non Sibi Day began in 2006. Beaton said that they aimed to engage over 20,000 alumni, faculty, staff, parents, friends of the Academy and all of the students in a united effort to give back the community “in the spirit of the school’s motto, Non Sibi.”
Debby Murphy, Director of Alumni affairs, said, “The whole coming together around service has great meaning and real value. Particularly for those who are away from campus, it is a really nice way for them to come together and actually do something. A lot of alumni really support the initiative.”