It’s a sunny day in Victoria and a group of Glenlyon Norfolk School Grade 9 students are busy pulling out wild rose bushes in a garden at Government House.
Across town, a collection of Grade 6 and 12 GNS students are clearing Scotch broom from an area of Jimmy Chicken Island, having travelled over via voyageur canoe.
Out at Island View Beach in Central Saanich, Grade 4 and 8 students are busy removing invasive species from natural areas.
These activities and many others make up Glenlyon Norfolk’s annual community volunteering day and involve students in all grades, from the school’s junior campus in Oak Bay and its middle and senior campuses in on Bank Street in Victoria.
“This particular program is two years old, but the idea of community service afternoons or experiences is something we’ve been doing as a school for a long time,” said Hugh Williams, director of marketing and communications at GNS.
Not only are volunteering, learning about the environment and working with others major components of the program, it provides a great opportunity for older students to mentor younger ones, he said.
GNS uses inter-grade mentoring frequently for its sports teams and academic programs, and the volunteer day is an extension of that philosophy, he added.
GNS headmaster Simon Bruce-Lockhart likes to use the phrase “the gift of significant contributions” when describing how students can make a difference, Williams said.
“When I think of what our kids do, either locally or internationally – like volunteering in Mexico – it’s significant, not just a token contribution.”