Goodness was overflowing during the inaugural Greatest Good McDonogh Showcase and Reception on Tuesday, May 17 as student-philanthropists from all three divisions enthusiastically took the stage of Horn Theatre to share their efforts to help others in the local community.
In his opening remarks, Head of School Dave Farace ‘87 said, “I believe Greatest Good McDonogh is one of the most important programs ever to be created at our school. In a time when there are so many challenges in our world, our students remind us that we have the power to use our intellect, our talents, and our passion for good!”
Farace’s sentiments were echoed by special guest David Rothschild ‘82 who catalyzed the launch of the School’s signature impact program with an endowed commitment and partnership support. Addressing the students, he said, “Greatest Good McDonogh is about people. And understanding and caring for other people is every bit as important as anything else you will learn at McDonogh, in college, or anywhere else.” Rothschild also emphasized that helping people is fun, to which the young philanthropists in the audience affirmatively responded by cheering and waving orange pom-poms.
Making an Impact
Before turning the program over to students, Bridget Collins ‘90, DIrector of Greatest Good McDonogh, offered an impressive report highlighting how the McDonogh community has made a positive difference this year in addressing issues related to hunger, poverty, education, and health. Senior Chrystina Bennett followed with a recap of her favorite impact project: Stuff-a-Bus. She described how awesome it was to see the bus fill up with canned goods and how projects like this one have taught her leadership skills that will continue to help her make life better for others.
Sixth graders Grace K., Paula C., Rajan M., and Henry L. then told the audience about their efforts to help people experiencing homelessness through a club they founded called Youth Take a Stand in Baltimore. Fittingly, their prefirst teacher Mary Catherine Irving, who inspired them at a young age to care for others, is the advisor to the club.
Rajan eloquently summed up his feelings saying, “These service projects have changed my view on those in need because now I am starting to understand what they have to go through every day, just to survive. Now that I understand what they go through, it makes me want to help them even more.”
To her surprise, Irving was called to the stage to receive the first-ever Greatest Good McDonogh Impact Award established to recognize and honor a community member who has shown incredible commitment to doing the greatest good. The award included a donation to an organization Irving has passionately supported.
Kids for Kids
The evening culminated with fourth-grade philanthropists sharing their experience with the Kids for Kids Fund. To set the stage, Amy Neugebauer, Executive Director of The Giving Square, which manages the fund, said, “The Kids for Kids Fund focuses on giving context: an understanding of the challenges kids face in our community, the idea that everyone has a story, and that it is our responsibility to make life more fair for others. We humanize the needs of others and we learn about local non-profits.” She explained, “The Giving Square works with fourth graders because this is an age where students are particularly empathetic, optimistic, fluid thinking, and aware of injustice.”
As part of the Kids for Kid’s Fund, the Giving Square offered each fourth-grade homeroom $1,000 to donate to a charity of their choice. During the presentation of checks, the students made it clear that the process of choosing just one organization was very difficult. The following organizations were selected:
For their contribution to a signature Greatest Good McDonogh impact initiative, the fourth graders were presented with a 2021-2022 Social Impact Pin. Maya Okonski, Greatest Good McDonogh Program Director, said, “We hope that you will wear this pin proudly on your blazer to remind you to cultivate your courage, confidence, and character to do the greatest good in the world. May you continue to understand your civic responsibility to engage in this work to grow purpose, develop empathy, deepen your understanding of systems, build advocacy skills, and inspire innovation.”
In closing, Collins enthusiastically said, “There is a tremendous JOY that comes from serving others and lifting our voices for the things we believe in. Let’s go out into the world and do the greatest possible amount of good!”
Following the program, students, parents, teachers, and special guests enjoyed a dessert reception on the Ritter Terrace.
Watch the Showcase here.