South Orangetown Central School District

Students across our District participate in community service through a variety of clubs, sports teams and school-wide initiatives each year. This fall, students and staff at Tappan Zee High School are supporting a variety of causes and organizations. 

Community engagement is a big part of our culture here at Tappan Zee High School and in our District. Our faculty members are always looking for opportunities that enable our students to contribute to our community,” said Principal Rudy Arietta, who introduced the high school’s first annual Volunteer Fair in September. “Not only are those opportunities helpful to those in need but they are also excellent learning opportunities that allow students to develop and demonstrate civic leadership.” 

Service learning can benefit students in other ways, as well. Through these experiences, students can gain career exposure, job training and interpersonal skills in the world outside of school. TZHS students may earn one elective credit for 100 hours of community service. “It’s an important aspect of a student’s high school journey. Through community service, students become active members of their community and that has a lasting impact on their overall self-esteem and wellbeing,” explained School Counseling Team Leader Kelly Keane. “In addition, we’ve heard from some colleges that a strong community service record can tip an admission decision in a student’s favor.”

For the past 10 years, the Boys Varsity Soccer team has worn awareness t-shirts before games and hosted a community-based fundraiser to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Earlier this month, team members collected donations in exchange for pink ribbon pins outside a local business. Head Coach Jon Jacobs, who began the annual tradition in honor of his mother, noted that many team members have a connection to breast cancer. “I tell my athletes, ‘People are going to want to talk with you about their experiences. Their stories are powerful. Just listen,’” he said.

“Participating in activities like this helps bring our teammates together,” noted team co-captain Aidan H. Co-captain Nick L. added, “We also had former players and their parents stop to talk to us and make donations. It puts a smile on your face when you see how you can bring the community together to support such a great cause.”

The TZHS Leo Club, which is sponsored by the Blauvelt Lions Club, is dedicated to volunteering for local organizations, such as Nyack Soup Angels, Keep Rockland Beautiful and Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and assisting at community events. Earlier this month, Leos cheered on participants and helped out at the Alzheimer’s Walk at Clover Stadium. 

On November 6, Arietta, Assistant Principal Melissa Luciano, Physical Education teacher Emily Donovan and English teacher Riley Chevrier will run in the New York City Marathon to raise funds for the Children’s Tumor Foundation and the JCK Foundation. “This is one of the ways that we model for our students the importance of helping others and that by working together, we can all make a difference,” Arietta explained. 

Participating together is part of the point, Donovan emphasized. “Since we’re doing this as a team and not by ourselves, we can support each other as we’re training,” added Donovan. And that support extends beyond the racers themselves: Leo Club members and advisor Patty Eyer will be encouraging and distributing fluids to runners as volunteers at Mile 16.

TZHS Boys Varsity Soccer team