The senior class will depart from Loyola High School to begin the 36th annual Senior Service Project on Monday, Jan. 8. Seniors will spend three weeks and a minimum of 78 hours at service sites throughout Los Angeles.
According to Director of Community Service Tom Zeko, many seniors will go to special-ed schools, homeless shelters, Skid Row missions and schools that lack funding and need extra support. Most students start at 7:30 a.m. and will stay at their sites until 2:30-3 p.m.
The Senior Service Project was created by former principal of Loyola High School Bishop Gordon Bennett in 1981. He got the idea when he was doing an educational administrative internship in St. Louis at another Jesuit High School, St. Louis University High School, where he had a chance to see their service project for Seniors.
Zeko said, “The Senior Service project is about service with a population that’s poor, needy or marginalized. It’s a different level of intensity, and it’s different than if you’re just going in for an hour a couple days a week or once a week.”
For his service project, Senior Alex Kang will be going to the Braille Institute, a site that helps people visually impaired.
He said, “The Braille Institute gives blind people the resources that they need to fulfill themselves and succeed in life because a disability like blindness is not easy to live. We are there to help them in whatever way we can.”
Seniors had to meet several requirements before beginning their work at their service sites such as completing their Sophomore and Junior community service hours, having their proposals approved and registering at their service sites.
Senior Kevin Kim will be working at the activities Recreation Center North Hollywood with elders with Down Syndrome. He said, “I have always been pretty interested in a healthcare profession in the medical field, caring for patients and whatnot, and I have also been involved in hospital volunteering, so I just wanted a similar work environment where I can be helping these kind of people.”
Senior Odie Deocariza will be working at Our Lady of Talpa Elementary and Middle School. “There,” Deocariza says, “I will be teaching 8th graders, 4th graders, 1st graders, and kindergarteners. I picked this project because it was the closest thing to my house, basically.”
The Community Service Department is in contact with the service sites at which students work year after year.
Community Service assistant director Angela Moran said, “We have been in a relationship with these service sites over the course of the entire Senior Project program, and they look forward to receiving our students. It’s such a unique program, and we are very proud of it.”
Kim said, “Doing a Senior Service Project, rather than just community service hours, really just focuses on the Loyola Mission and the Jesuit philosophies of giving back to your community, commitment to Justice and the common good. Since we are Seniors, it’s right before the time we head out into the real world. It’s a good chance for us to foster the Jesuit philosophies and take that into the society that we’re going to be in in a couple of months.”
The Senior Service Project gives an avenue for Seniors to forge relationships with people whom they may not have interacted before.
Moran said, “Pretty soon the Seniors forget that this is their Senior Project and this is more about them creating this relationship. There’s something that is really sparked in their hearts and their minds through that continuous interaction over those three continuous weeks of experience.”
The Senior Service Project Closing Ceremony and reflections are on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, with parents, grandparents and siblings. The final day at their service sites will be on Friday, Jan. 26.
Zeko said, “The Senior Service Project is the capstone of Senior’s whole four years of service and academics that they do it Loyola. The idea is that the Seniors will be pushed and encouraged to go beyond their comfort zone to try something new and different.”