Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

September 23, 2010

Goshen College choir uses annual service day to get Chamberlain students thinking about college

GOSHEN — Third graders at Chamberlain Elementary School got a taste of the college experience Wednesday afternoon with a visit to the Goshen College campus for Celebrate Service Day.

The campus-wide service event is held each year with the goal of putting the college motto, “Culture for Service”, into action in the community.

It featured numerous volunteerism opportunities such as preparing products at Soup of Success, building a new house with Habitat for Humanity, reading to students in the local library and helping elderly residents with a landscaping project.

For the students of Chamberlain, however, their introduction to Celebrate Service Day involved an afternoon of singing and sharing at the college Music Center with members of the Goshen College Chamber Choir.

“We are showing these kids the possibilities that exist for them, primarily opening their minds to the idea that they can go to college someday,” said Deb Brubaker, professor of music at GC. “But we’re also letting them know what is available here in Goshen for them to come to. We want them to know that they can come here, that this is not a foreign place and that they can be a part of the music that is going on here at Goshen College.”

Chamberlain third grade teacher Karen Graber-Roth agreed.

“We really felt like it was important for the kids to experience what college might be like and what they would need to learn to go to college,” Graber-Roth said. “I think it’s really important for kids to see the long-term picture and to see that their hard work in school now pays off in the long run.”

Throughout the afternoon, Chamberlain students were able to listen to and participate in a brief Chamber Choir concert, take a tour of the Music Center and talk with choir members about their college experience and what it takes to prepare for college.

In addition to the campus visit, students were able to invite their GC choir mentors back to Chamberlain later in the afternoon for a tour of their own classrooms.

“I think a lot of these kids are coming from lower-income households, so maybe they don’t have that idea in their heads yet that they can go to college,” said senior choir member Scott Kempf. “This is kind of getting the seed of that idea started.”

For Kempf, participating in service efforts such as Celebrate Service Day is the perfect embodiment of what it means to be a GC student.

“I think it’s a good way to put into practice what we preach here at GC, which is the power of service and the importance of being in the community and being a positive presence,” Kempf said. “GC students have a lot to give to the community, and while oftentimes we do get overwhelmed by our academics, and we are internally focused, this is an opportunity where we are very intentional about going out and giving back.”

In addition to the academic component of their Celebrate Service Day project, senior choir member Molly Kellog said she and her fellow choir members were thrilled to be a part of something that may result in encouraging more students to incorporate music into their futures.

“I really think it’s important to try and get kids excited about music,” Kellog said, “and really incorporate that into their schooling and get them interested at a young age.”

As for working with the kids themselves, Kellog said she couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

“It’s been so fun,” Kellog said. “At first I was a little intimidated ... but they’re very energetic and excited about learning, so I think it’s great.”

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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