Walking into Hewitt’s lower school classrooms on a Friday morning, it is a pretty safe bet that visitors will find students busy making sandwiches for the guests at the New York Common Pantry. Hewitt’s Sandwich Friday tradition goes back to 2005, when this service relationship originally began in our first, second, and third grade classrooms. Since then, it has expanded to fourth grade and kindergarten so that every member of the lower school shares in this empathy-building experience.
Though students are responsible for making and packaging sandwiches, the entire lower school community gets involved in supporting the New York Common Pantry. Hewitt families generously donate sandwich makings, often taking their daughters with them as they shop for supplies to help the girls understand and connect to every aspect of their service learning. Still other families volunteer in the classroom, helping students wipe down tables, pass out gloves, and organize their sandwich assembly line. In addition to building community bonds at Hewitt and beyond, Sandwich Fridays teach our youngest students that helping someone else can easily become part of their everyday routine.
Sandwich-making may seem relatively straightforward, but Hewitt’s lower school teachers guide their students to appreciate every nuance of constructing a well-balanced and appetizing sandwich. Though they don’t have a personal relationship with the person who will eat their sandwich, students learn the importance of putting thought and care into the meals they construct. From making sure that each guest will get both meat and cheese in every bite, to including mayonnaise and mustard packets in every ziplock bag, to turning the ends of the bread inward to make the sandwiches more appealing (a handy tip originally learned from Ms. Lindberg), our girls are sandwich-making experts. Indeed, the fourth grade “seniors of the lower school” make their sandwiches without any adult assistance whatsoever, and are generally able to build an impressive 200 sandwiches in under 15 minutes!
The meaningful service work behind Sandwich Fridays is a such a beloved tradition for our girls that they often pine for the experience long after they move on from lower school. In fact, this year upper school students asked if they could return to lower school classrooms to help with sandwich making because they missed it so much. Starting in December and continuing through the end of the school year, every upper school advisory will join lower school students to support this service project. These students have loved reliving this familiar practice and it has been a treat to see the lower school students working in close collaboration with the older girls.
Well beyond being a fun Hewitt tradition, making sandwiches each week for the New York Common Pantry has become a critical way for our youngest students to understand that they can truly make a difference.