What Gives You Meaning and Purpose?

Why Community Service Matters
A high-quality education is a gift that not everyone receives. Those fortunate enough to be able to spend our high school years engaged in this kind of deep and rich learning have a responsibility to think about what such an experience means. One of the ways we ask our students to do that at Gann is by challenging students to engage in community service. 

In keeping with the fundamental Jewish values of gemilut hasadim (acts of loving kindness) and tikkun olam (improving the world), Gann Academy consciously strives to connect midrash (intellectual creativity) and ma'aseh (responsible action).

Gann Gets Out — Serving Community

Everyone at Gann—students and faculty—takes part in community service throughout the year. As a result, the school has special partnerships with many area service organizations. 

These organizations include nursing homes, food banks, soup kitchens, nursery schools, day care centers, community farms, and transitional homes. They look forward to our regular visits and appreciate what Gann's community contributes.

Ninth graders participate in one planned community service days, often with faculty and staff members. They prepare for these service days in their advisory groups and by researching a social or community issue. A typical service day may involve serving a meal at a soup kitchen, cleaning up a park, or speaking with homeless guests. We want our students to understand the complex social issues of the world.

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are required to spend 18 hours each year volunteering. They choose the organizations or issues that are most important to them and decide where they want to make a difference. 

Many students report becoming more deeply engaged in issues of social justice as a result of their service. Most also develop practical skills and gain some valuable work experience. And most will tell you that service has been a major influence on their life goals.

Glimpse of Gann

List of 5 news stories.

  • Exploring Diversity

    In December, a delegation from Gann joined more than 6,000 independent school students and educators at the 30th annual People of Color Conference and the Student Diversity Leadership Conference hosted in Anaheim, California. The conference, run by the National Association of Independent Schools, focused on improving the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate at schools across the country.

    "The conference was an outstanding experience," said sophomore Naomi Ravel, "You meet people and learn everything about them—from their name to how they were raised. The most meaningful part of the whole trip was knowing you're loved by everyone around you even if you [just met them]." Ravel described the content: "We learned about awareness, social justice, and human rights, and how to stand up for ourselves." Senior Alyssa Block said learning about others backgrounds and life experiences was "powerful and moving".

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  • Righting a Wrong: Waltham’s Forgotten Cemetery

    Righting a Wrong: Waltham’s Forgotten Cemetery

    Hodaya Propp, class of 2017, was recently featured on the front page of the Waltham News Tribune for a project she started at Gann. For her senior capstone, Hodaya used her community organizing skills to work with the local government and national stakeholders to right a wrong committed years ago in Waltham.

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  • Shelley Barron, Class of 2005

    Shelley Barron: Champion of Domestic Violence Survivors

    Gann nurtured Shelley Barron’s passion for social justice, taught her to think critically, and opened her mind to a diversity of thought and opinion that prepared her well for college, law school, and beyond.

    Today, Shelley Barron '05 is a staff attorney with Casa Myrna, a Boston-based non-profit that helps survivors of domestic violence rebuild their lives. She provides a range of legal services, representing people in matters ranging from abuse prevention to housing to custody to immigration status. She also manages Casa Myrna's medical-legal partnerships with Mass General and Beth Israel Deaconess— unique collaborations between legal experts and behavioral health clinicians, who together help patients who are domestic violence survivors.
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  • Ariana Abadian-Heifetz: Empowering Girls Through Knowledge

    Ariana Abadian-Heifetz, Class of 2008
    Gann alum Ariana Abadian-Heifetz '08 was working in rural India when she discovered how little knowledge young women had of their bodies – particularly when it came to menstruation. When she set out to find resources that spoke to the specific needs of rural communities and were engaging for young children, she came up empty-handed.
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  • Students visit Alabama lynching site to offer Jewish prayers at memorial

    Students visit Alabama lynching site to offer Jewish prayers at memorial

    For years, students from a Jewish high school in Massachusetts have been making annual pilgrimages to Alabama to learn about the civil rights movement.

    A group of 25 high school students from Gann Academy of Waltham, Mass., is in Birmingham today. They are touring the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Kelly Ingram Park.  

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