Freshmen, part of Palo Alto High School’s TEAM program, are shoveling excess weeds at Gamble Gardens as part of Paly Service Day. Paly Service Day is an annual event where students are able to participate in community service, but has been canceled for the past two years due to COVID-19. “This year’s Service Day was a lot more different because it was finally in person,” YCS-Interact co-president Simona Yau-Chan said. (Madelyn Castro)
Freshmen, part of Palo Alto High School’s TEAM program, are shoveling excess weeds at Gamble Gardens as part of Paly Service Day. Paly Service Day is an annual event where students are able to participate in community service, but has been canceled for the past two years due to COVID-19. “This year’s Service Day was a lot more different because it was finally in person,” YCS-Interact co-president Simona Yau-Chan said.

Madelyn Castro

A dedicated day of service

The "service above self" team returned for the first in-person Paly Service Day in three years

May 24, 2022

At 8:30 a.m, 100 students gather around the Haymarket Theater in anticipation. Buses fill the parking lot while students queue in the courtyard, waiting for their free breakfast. This is all the start of Palo Alto High School’s annual Service Day. 

Paly Service Day allows students across all grades to participate in community service projects both on and off campus, and gives the opportunities to earn community service hours. 

“This year we had five off-campus sites, four of which were in Palo Alto and one in San Mateo,” junior and Paly YCS-Interact club co-president, Simona Yau-Chan said. “We wanted to give students the option to choose their off-campus site based on the type of community service they wanted to do.”

The projects off campus ranged from local work like gardening, to packaging care items for homeless shelters. 

“I got to know more people better because I was on a bus with no one else that I previously was close friends with,” freshman and TEAM student Nithila Subramanian added.

I’m actually really satisfied, especially because our whole entire leadership board were all really new to this.”

— Simona Yau-Chan

Both Paly Service Club and Paly Key club are community-service-based clubs, who publicize opportunities for students. They worked alongside Paly YCS-Interact to help create on campus service opportunities for students who did not wish to leave campus.

While some students ventured to off-campus activities, on-campus students were able to still participate in service projects at school and contribute to an organization. 

“This year we made blankets for dogs and other pets to give to the Palo Alto Humane Society,” junior and Paly Service Club co-president Ajin Jeong said. “I was really impressed by the amount of blankets we were able to make. It was way more than I had expected.”

In addition, participation in Paly Service Day for both on or off campus became mandatory for freshmen who are part of Paly’s “​​Together Everyone Achieves More” program, or TEAM. 

 “I definitely have a lot of sympathy for people who have to do this everyday,” freshman and TEAM student Aavriti Kataria said. 

Both Kataria and Subramanian said they would definitely attend Paly Service Day again in the following years.

For the future, Paly’s YCS-Interact Club hopes to incorporate more school-wide service events. 

“I’m actually really satisfied, especially because our whole entire leadership board were all really new to this,” Yau-Chan said. “It was all really unknown to us because we had not had the experience of an in-person day from the past years.” 

“I think for next year, I think we should get more involvement for on-campus activities,” Yau-Chan said. “Asking a few teachers if they wanted to do service projects during their class time, and just having way more students participate would be a really good start.”

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