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What's In a Name?

Consider sophomore Avi Shah, whose passion for Pingry's Robotics Club led him to approach the Kipp Charter Schools to determine how students there could gain similar exposure. Or Isabella Drzala '19, who began tutoring students at East Newark School over two years ago, and, a year later, raised enough money to purchase 10 new iPads for the school. There's also Dhruv Nagarajan, a sixth-grade student who has led several initiatives in support of The Sharing Network, a non-profit responsible for the recovery and placement of donated organs and tissues (his work has even been featured on PBS!).

The efforts of these and many other Pingry students—not to mention the School's long history of work within the local community—have transformed the notion of community service at Pingry. Students are not simply helping others when community service hours demand it. They are taking the initiative, and they are benefitting equally from the experiences. For these reasons, and to better align with the School's focus on citizenship and social responsibility—tenets of its Mission Statement—community service at Pingry has been reborn as community and civic engagement.

The name change reflects a philosophical shift and increased level of student involvement that has taken hold at Pingry over the last several years. "Rather than going out and helping others, we are partnering with organizations," explains the newly titled Ms. Shelley Hartz, now Director of Community and Civic Engagement. "We are not simply giving, but getting back, too. Students are learning, and understanding their responsibility to engage as citizens of a larger community."

Photo: During Pingry's annual Day of Community and Civic Engagement—held at the end of October—Pingry students, along with the Drama Department's production designer Jane Asch and master carpenter Chris Abbott (far left), help build a home for Habitat for Humanity. Here, they install flashing and lay down roofing tiles.

Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer,