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Upper School Community Service Trip

By Owen Reid '22

This summer, 18 Boys’ Latin upper school students embarked on a week-long community service trip to Maricao, Puerto Rico. This year’s trip marks the third service opportunity that Boys’ Latin has sponsored for students to go to Puerto Rico, dating back to the summer of 2018. 

Mr. Mac McDonald, upper school dean of students, initiated the first trip in response to several hurricanes that ravaged the islands of Puerto Rico in 2018.  He spearheads all the planning and organizing, and with his wife, Jennifer, who is the School’s accounting manager and serves as a dorm parent in the boarding program, chaperones the now-annual trips. Mr. McDonald has a personal connection to the island, which is where his grandmother is from, and describes the purpose of the experience: “The goal is centered around service to others, exposing our students to new opportunities, and instilling in them a drive to be compassionate and contributing members of a global society. At its core, that’s what this is about.”

Logistically speaking, the students journey for one week in June to a location in Puerto Rico. The trip is facilitated by Walking Tree Travel, a school travel organization that coordinates the experience and connects the group to the service opportunities. This year, students spent their time rebuilding and renovating a family’s house in Maricao; the family had been displaced multiple times in the last four years due to both hurricanes and earthquakes and had recently settled in a house without electricity, running water and proper structural integrity. The Lakers dedicated time to renovating their kitchen, securing the roof and structure, repainting much of the house and renovating the home to be more hurricane resistant. Thanks to the volunteer effort, the family now plans to install a solar power system and will have electricity for the first time in their new home. Rising sophomore Tyler Slowikowski participated in the service project this summer. Tyler comments, “Doing service in a community that isn’t as fortunate as mine was one of the most enlightening and eye-opening experiences of my life. I feel like I can appreciate all the blessings in my life a little more now. Throughout the trip, the rest of the 17 boys and I grew closer and made memories that I won’t ever forget.”

Like Tyler, Boys’ Latin students thoroughly enjoy the Puerto Rico trip both for the valuable time spent with friends and for the humbling, powerful, grounding experience of community service. Mr. McDonald remarks, “This trip is one of those formative experiences. At first, our students’ perspectives might be superficial, but as they move forward, they gain a deeper appreciation for our values, for the community they served, and more broadly for humanity.” Boys’ Latin and the McDonalds plan to continue this now-annual tradition for years to come. 

To learn more about the boys' experience, click here to view their blog.