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In the summer of 2001, a new program called Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth (SEAD) brought ninth graders from urban high schools in Boston and Philadelphia and from rural Canaan, N.H., to spend a week at Dartmouth learning skills in leadership, scholarship and community service.
In addition to a new group of ninth graders who completed participation in the program this summer, SEAD II - an extension of SEAD - brought most of last year's participants back to campus for another week, this time to develop and apply their individual skills toward service to others.
Twenty-six of the original 29 participants from last summer attended the program, which began July 22 and ran through July 30. Their time was divided between participating in community service projects in the Upper Valley, writing a research paper on leadership, and engaging in various "perspective shifting" activities, which include discussions with noted speakers.
The SEAD program is a joint venture of Dartmouth's Tucker Foundation and the Education Department, and also receives assistance from the Barnet Family Fund and a dozen alumni organizations.
"The high rate of return this year speaks to the powerful learning experiences the students had and to the close relationships they developed with mentors and SEAD staff," said Andrew Garrod, Professor of Education and an Executive Director for SEAD.
Tucker Foundation Dean Stuart Lord, the program's other Executive Director, observed that SEAD II "offers students the opportunity to help another community meet its needs while also learning how to improve their own communities upon their return home."
"We felt strongly that we needed repeated contact with these students," added Jay Davis, a 1990 Dartmouth graduate and Instructor in Education, who is Program Director of both SEAD programs. "Having them back for another year allowed us to further hone and develop skills they learned during their first SEAD summer."
SEAD II students spent three days participating in a variety of community service projects. They assisted with construction as part of the Corps of Volunteers Effecting Repair (COVER) program, sewed blankets as part of the Blankets for Bangladesh project, and served as mentors during an outdoor trip to Storrs Pond for children in association with the Lebanon Housing Authority. Setting the foundation for these community services projects was a panel discussion with Upper Valley community members that explored issues of affordable housing, emergency relief efforts, community-based mentoring, and domestic violence prevention. Capstone community service experiences included "Introduction to Community Disasters" training with the Red Cross and a "Civic Engagement" forum with the New Hampshire chapter of City Year, a national service organization that unites diverse leaders, ages 17 to 24, for a year of service.
Lynn White Cloud, Assistant Dean and Director of Special programs at the Tucker Foundation, spearheaded the service portion of the program. "We wanted the students to have a variety of experiences - one that is very hands on, one that is more removed from their local community but has a global orientation, and one that helps each SEAD II student recognize that he or she can make a difference in another person's life, even if it is a one-time encounter. We would like them to feel empowered to effect positive change within themselves and the world."
Davis said the SEAD II students are in the process of planning a service project to be carried out in their own communities during the next school year. Through the Tucker Foundation, Davis hopes to send Dartmouth students to work with the SEAD II students in their communities this winter.
SEAD II participants also prepared research papers focused on heroes. They made use of both live discussions and library research to complete the project. The research skills touch on another central tenet of the SEAD program: preparation for college.
"Learning to research well is a step toward understanding the kinds of challenges students face in college," said Mark Kissling '02, who coordinated this portion of the program. "It's a perfect way to introduce students to concepts like utilizing sources, writing incisively, working independently and developing their own ideas."
Students participated in a variety of activities designed to provoke discussion and thought about the world both within and outside their communities. Speakers included National Spoken Word (poetry) champion Roger Bonair-Agard, Hip Hop performer/instructor Clyde Evans and Dartmouth alumna and surgeon Lori Alvord.
More than 150 Dartmouth students volunteered this summer in both the SEAD I and SEAD II programs. They served as mentors, activity leaders, residential advisors and teachers. Fifteen fraternities and sororities provided meals to the students and a number of Dartmouth offices and local business provided various learning opportunities.
"SEAD relies extensively on the support of volunteers," said Davis. "Without the participation and assistance of the Dartmouth and Upper Valley communities, it could not happen."
The core group of SEAD participants and Dartmouth students, alumni and faculty continue to build on relationships developed during the first SEAD summer and strengthened during the second.
"I can't help but laugh, cry and smile at how attached we grew to each other and how much we shared our hearts," said Damaris, a participant from Philadelphia.
Davis notes that plans are underway for SEAD III, which will bring participants back for a third summer, this time to focus on college preparation. Though plans are still tentative, Davis says that continued contact and support with SEAD participants will help them during the difficult transition from high school to college.
"I want to say how much it meant to me to be a part of this program. I am now considering becoming a teacher of American history, maybe even become a professor. I can't wait until next year," said Mark, a Philadelphia student.
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