A Precedent of Service
When Edward Hopkins founded our school in 1660, he did so with a mission of the “Breeding up of hopeful youths. . . for the public service of the country in future times.” As a student looking around at our community, it is clear that the school still strives to serve the public today.
As hopeful youths, we are required to fulfill community service hours with our classmates. Each fall, the Freshman Class spends a day doing different activities relating to service; my classmates and I cleaned a greenhouse for Roses for Autism, a non-profit organization that aims to decrease unemployment within the autistic community. In the spring, each member of the Senior Class participates in Community Service Week, which includes projects that range from cleaning up a Girl Scout site to tutoring local elementary schoolers. These required days provide perspective for students; we are reminded that we are very privileged to go to such a school while our neighbors may not be so fortunate.
In addition to scheduled community service, Hopkins teaches students to serve others. In the classroom, teachers encourage us to go beyond a basic understanding of material. They push us to think outside of the box and test our problem-solving skills by presenting us with situations in which we may find ourselves outside of the classroom. This is true in classes such as math, where we commonly encounter word problems, and English, where we try to apply certain themes in novels to the real world.
This style of learning has a clear impact on what Hopkins students choose to do during their time at the school. Every year, we pour our hearts and souls into raising money for the Connecticut Food Bank, an event we have dubbed the Canned Food Drive. We treat the fundraiser as a competition, but sitting out in the cold asking for money brings us closer as grades, and presenting the Food Bank with the giant check each December brings us together as a school. We can all rally around helping those who are less fortunate in our state. In addition to the Canned Food Drive, Hopkins gathers around a different cause during the month of December. Each year, students and faculty pick paper ornaments off of the bulletin board in Heath and buy a holiday gift for a child from St. Luke’s in New Haven. The growing gift pile outside the Community Service office is representative of our unifying spirit. Hopkins students also participate in a number of student-run service clubs, such as Maroon Key, Habitat for Humanity, Read to Grow, Peer Tutoring, and Pie in the Sky.
The spirit of service fostered at Hopkins seems to follow students throughout their lives. An overwhelming number of alumni go into fields that help the public. Hopkins students, like most high-schoolers, pursue college majors and careers in many different subjects, but it seems that each Hilltopper’s job can be linked to the others’ by its service aspect. This holds true for many graduates who are becoming politicians, environmentalists, and teachers. It is also true for many of the older alumni who come and inspire us with assembly speeches.
While Hopkins has changed over the last 356 years, its mission has remained the same. The teaching and the activities that the school provides link students and alumni to respect towards public service.
While we are certainly about to experience some big changes on the Hill, I am hopeful that the tradition of service will stay important to our school throughout future generations.