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The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

A Quarterly Spotlight For Outstanding Community Service

For over a decade, Bishop’s School’s Community Service Initiative club has spotlighted students’ efforts quarterly
Courtesy of Naveen Vemulapalli (‘25)
Naveen Vemulapalli (‘25) performed a piece on the violin for the Melodies For Remedies club. This act of service alongside his participation at the United States Adaptive Recreation Center (USARC) was a major reason why he won the spotlight. He said, “I was pretty surprised. I was like wait, ‘What is this? What just happened?’ I didn’t realize what was going on for a second. Then I connected the dots and realized what it was about and I was happy because it meant something.”

The 20-hour service requirement for all high school students is “an amazing opportunity to create a habit of giving back to others,” said Director of Community Service & Social Innovation Ms. Jacqueline Gomez regarding the Quarterly Super Service Spotlight.

In ninth grade, I honestly did community service just to fulfill the 20-hour requirement. Later on, I realized the true meaning of community service: to give back to the community that helps me every day. This experience with community service and leading a summer project on the impacts of organic waste led me to win the Third Quarter’s Super Service Spotlight alongside Naveen Vemulapalli (‘25).

When I read the emails about the Quarterly Super Service Awards, I never really paid much attention to them, but when I saw that I won it, it sparked my interest in reporting on it. I wanted to highlight students’ contributions to their community while also ensuring that more students and parents are not like my former self and actually know about this important award. 

Bishop’s has the Community Service Initiative (CSI) club, which collaborates closely with Ms. Gomez on community service-related events. For over a decade, Bishop’s has spotlighted outstanding students every quarter. 

Ms. Gomez explained that the former Community Service Director Ms. Joan Heylman implemented this award. Ms. Heylman wanted to “give students in our community inspiration by showcasing students that were going above and beyond in their service,” said Ms. Gomez. Furthermore, according to Ms. Gomez, the Quarterly Super Service Award was established to highlight students who made meaningful contributions to their community. 

With so many students to choose from, Ms. Gomez has specific criteria for the winners of this spotlight. She explained, “I look for students connecting their interests, passions, and hobbies to service. I also look for consistency in their service activities.” Not only did she mention students who go back more than once and make true connections and relationships to their service but also how “it is not about the number of hours but the consistency and depth of their efforts and reflections,” she said.

 Ms. Gomez has to choose from a wide array of students. 11th-grade CSI representatives Angelina Kim (‘25) and Shyla Gupta (‘25) mentioned the most memorable students who were featured on the Quarterly Super Service Spotlight. 

Shyla said, “For the Quarter one Super Service Award, Gabby Anderson (‘25) devoted so much time to her leadership at the Period Poverty Project with Alex Pfister (‘25) (who hasn’t won a spotlight yet). She also participated in numerous service opportunities, from volunteering at The Evans School with Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten students to assisting The Lucky Duck Foundation’s food packing and card-making service project. I was truly inspired by Gabby’s project to volunteer at more service organizations.” 

For Ms. Gomez, Gabby’s constant desire to serve her community made her the one to win the spotlight. Ms. Gomez said, “If you look at her [Gabby’s] logged hours, she’s doing Lucky Ducklings, Period Poverty Project, she’s a head ambassador, she does the Evans summer camp, she’s done feeding San Diego, and soccer. She has a lot of consistent service opportunities and passions.” She added, “So for her, I’m like ‘wow’ she’s really spreading herself into certain aspects that she likes to do.”

Her co-representative Angelina said, “Nirvana Shiwmangal’s (‘25) service project was so inspiring! As the Key Club leader, Nirvana initiated a project to collect and donate uniforms to a school in need. The project, which began in her freshman year, addressed the issue of uniform waste after seniors graduated, aiming to repurpose these uniforms rather than dispose of them.”

Angelina added, “Nirvana and the Key Club collected, cleaned, and sorted hundreds of uniforms, eventually partnering with Unity 4 Orphans to distribute them to schools in Mexico.”

For Nirvana, who won the Quarter Two Super Service spotlight, this project is one of her most memorable projects. She said, “We’re giving those uniforms another life… They end up going into the landfill because there’s not enough room to re-sell them or there’s not enough room for Dean of Students Ms. Melissa Kirchberg to have extras on hand. They just end up getting thrown away and that’s a lot of clothing waste being generated.”

She added, “Uniforms are kind of a one-time use, but we give them to other people who need it and who are going to cherish that stuff, [which] is a wonderful thing.” 

Ms. Gomez said that Nirvana won because “she does Key Club and their goal is a bunch of different service activities and how to help our community in general. She does a cove swim, basketball camp, half-marathon, Junior Olympics, and sage tutoring.” 

She later said, “She is working on the formal dress drive and helped organize the blood drive, [it’s] really just like a lot of involvement [with the community].” Nirvana mentioned that the purpose of the formal dress drive was to “donate prom dresses and formal wear like suits and ties to people who maybe can’t afford that kind of stuff.” 

Nirvana said that Key Club, which is a community service organization under Kiwanis means a lot to her because “our club overall has very different focuses and not just one focus. We are not immigration club or homelessness club [since] we try to tackle all of those things through the different service projects that we organize. We also go out into the community and help put on community events with Kiwanis.”

Quarter Three Super Service Spotlight winner, Naveen said, “This winter I volunteered at the United States Adaptive Recreation Center (USARC), and while I was there I served as a guide for students with disabilities whether they be physical or mental disabilities so I got to guide and in some cases [I got to] teach them how to ski.”

For Naveen, community service means “doing something to be purposeful to your community, and when I do community service, I like to think about what I have to offer to people and what my passions are and incorporate that into community service.” He added, “I do community service because there are things that I care very much about that I ultimately want to share with people.”

Furthermore, for Nirvana, community service meant “being able to go out into the community and to do good for others. At times with some of the service events, we can see how we make other people in our community feel happy and empowered.”

She also said, “Whenever I’m volunteering at Concerts by the Sea or pancake breakfast, I get a lot of feedback from people (members of the community) who are just so happy to be able to go out and engage with the community, talk to other people, meet new people, and have that closeness [with their community].”

Shyla mentioned that the Super Service Award is an “awesome way to share one’s service projects with their grade.” Angelina agreed, “It’s also very encouraging and inspiring to hear about the organizations and movements students are spearheading to make our community a better place.”

Ms. Gomez added, “I personally love to spotlight students who are going above and beyond in their service to others. I think it is great for our community to see examples of student projects. We hope that this inspires others to find something that connects them to service and something greater than themselves.”

Moreover, Angelina said, “I am encouraged to be more like the inspiring leaders my peers are whenever I hear about the service activities they are doing. The awardees are truly propelling the next generation of service and alleviating societal problems with their endless creativity and perseverance.”

On the idea of the future of this spotlight, Angelina said, “We will see, however, I do sincerely hope that we can spread [the] word about the Quarterly Super Service Award!  I am so excited to see the amazing service projects our grade (and the school!) will lead in the future.”

Further mentioning the future, Ms. Gomez said, “We put this in our quarterly newsletter and post on our Instagram. We hope more people can follow us at @tbserve.” She also said that she hopes this award injects this sense of wanting to do more community service in students. 

Shyla said, “In my opinion, the award makes people want to do more community service. When we send out the Super Service Award emails, we hope people learn about their classmates’ projects and are motivated to start something of their own or volunteer at a service organization where they share interests.”

In the end, Nirvana said, “I was really happy that I won it but mostly I was happy that our project was getting recognition. I think there’s a lot of work that goes into what we do and sometimes there are so many service clubs on campus that you just don’t get to hear about them.”

Naveen reflected, “I was just really happy to win this award, I think it’s more the activity that should earn the award, less of myself like yeah I did a lot of the work and stuff but I really just am amazed at what USARC has done and it enabled me to provide a good experience to the people whom I worked with.” 

Both Naveen and Nirvana’s selflessness and constant urge to serve their community are exactly what Ms. Gomez looks for when she is deciding who deserves the Quarterly Super Service Spotlight.

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About the Contributor
David Lai
David Lai, Staff Writer
David Lai, the only returning staff writer, is a junior who loves playing soccer. No matter if he sleeps one hour or 10 hours, he always has a full tank of energy.  He loves MUN, speech and debate, and knows how to speak four languages. Whether he is hanging out with friends, talking to his siblings, doing homework, playing video games or soccer, David is always energetic. He loves writing about sports, politics, MUN, Nobel Peace Prize winners, and more. 

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