Germantown Academy's three divisions, along with faculty and staff, came together on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 for the annual Community Service Organization Holiday Program, which took place in the Field House this year and also featured some new elements to the program, including special musical performances and an all-faculty sled race.
"As a whole school we gather together just three times each year: Flag Raising, the GA-PC Pep Rally, and today, the Holiday Program, when we reaffirm our community's commitment to being compassionate in spirit, to helping those in need, to giving of ourselves in order to make the world a better place, and in so doing to become better people through selfless acts of kindness. It matters," said Head of School Rich Schellhas. "This year we celebrated our Holiday Program with two distinct yet intertwined themes: Joy and Giving. As we communed in a new space this year to hear fantastic music, be inspired by the work of tireless charities, and to cheer our loudest as our teachers 'sled raced' their hearts out to prove that you're never too old to have a little fun, we remembered that there is pure joy in the simple act of giving."
Per tradition, students brought in gifts for children at Carson Valley Children's Aid, No More Xcuses Ministries, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Silver Springs Martin Luther School, and Southwest Community Center, which created an inspiring backdrop for the program.
Following Mr. Schellhas' remarks, CSO senior leader Isabelle McFadden '18 took the podium and presented a holiday gift on behalf of GA to Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post – 9/11 Veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives.
Upper School Physical Education and Health & Wellness Teacher Jeff Preston, who served with the U.S. Marines from 1990-1996, accepted GA's gift on behalf of Homes for Our Troops.
Following the singing of "Winter Fantasy" came the highly anticipated faculty sled race, in which teachers, racing in groups of three, represented their "team," which was made up of a Lower School grade, Middle School advisories, and an Upper School House. Each team was competing for a charity, including No Kid Hungry, St. John's Hospice, Nothing But Nets, Ronald McDonald House, City Year, Cradles to Crayons, and For Pete's Sake. Winning the grand prize of $500 for their charity was the Osbourn House squad made up of Upper School Classics Department Chair Adam Leven, Middle School/Upper School Science Teacher Rachel Kloecker, and Fifth Grade Teacher Kurt Wetzel '88, who represented the Ronald McDonald House.
Following the sled race, a cross-divisional musical group absolutely dazzled the GA community with renditions of some classic tunes.
A special shout out to CSO senior leaders Madison Press '18, Isabelle McFadden '18, Avery Wezner '18, Mackenzie Pluck '18, and Katie Kramp '18 as well as Colleen Carrigan '18, Derek Walkush '19, Jin Han '18, Owen McKenna '19, Olivia Doody '19, Olivia Negro '19, Pooja Anand '19, Priya Dudhat '19, and many other Middle and Upper School volunteers for all their efforts. A special thank you to All-School Community Service Coordinator Anthony Commale, Upper School CSO Advisors Yvette Marquez–Pribitkin and Marcia Wexler 1760, Upper School Performing Arts Department Head Charlie Masters, Lower School Music Specialist Maggie Kelly, and All School Technical Theatre Director and Production Manager Paul Moffitt for their contributions and leadership.
"As Mr. McVeigh, the inspiration for our Holiday Program, taught us, know that just when you think you have nothing left to give, you must dig deeper, you must look harder, and you must find a way to give just a little bit more," said Mr. Schellhas. "The world is depending on you. That person who is waiting for you to be the change in the world needs you. It matters."