Maplewood is well on its way into another great year. The limitations of COVID-19 may have threatened to hinder this year’s school programs, but our students and staff have faced the challenge with creative solutions, making our spiritual programing and outreach activities as solid as ever.
How can you perform community service when socially distanced? Maplewood has come up with a few creative ways to involve our students in outreach activities. In October our students participated in a Community Service Day with activities based outdoors, including picking weeds from Northwoods Elementary School’s grounds, raking leaves from Twice Is Nice and church members’ homes, picking up trash for Adopt-a-Highway, and cleaning up rocks and sticks from Maplewood’s strawberry fields and the north woods.
Hutchinson hosts a city-wide coat giveaway for anyone in the community who needs warm clothes for the coming winter. They had asked Maplewood to help set up for the event. To keep our students safe, they kindly organized the event so that our students went in early, before everyone else, to set up tables and set out the coats. When our students finished, other volunteers from the community actually ran the event.
In the fall, we usually bring the students door to door to collect canned goods from the neighborhood for the local food shelf. To keep socially distanced, our students left collection bags and notes on doorsteps one day and then collected the filled bags from doorsteps another night – all contactless.
In November, Maplewood will be running an Operation Christmas Child Drop-Off Center with a new drive-by, contactless drop-off option for guests in the community. We will also be hosting a packing party in-house for our staff and students, so they can pack gift boxes which will be sent to children in need around the world.
Week of Prayer
Week of Prayer also had some creative changes. This year’s fall Week of Prayer speaker, Mollie Dupper, connected via zoom with the students every night. Mollie is a 2009 Maplewood alumnus and is currently working as a pastor at Spring Meadows Church in Orlando, Florida. Even though Mollie couldn’t be with us in person, with the camera facing the audience, she could see the students, interact with them and ask them questions as though she was in the room. In her worship thoughts, she laid out the story of salvation, how simple it truly is, and its relevance in our lives today.
New Programs and Activities
Before the winter weather hit, Maplewood had put more of a focus on getting our students outside as much as possible. We had added more picnic tables and seating outdoors. Sabbath afternoons had been spent at local parks or canoeing the Crow River.
We have added a new class called PE: Outdoors that takes students out biking, kayaking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, playing frisbee golf and more as the weather allows.
Two trips were made to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area this fall giving our students the chance to camp, hike, and see what the stars look like outside of a city.
And most recently, we surprised the students by shortening classes one day to take them all to a corn maze. The kids and staff alike had a blast enjoying the fall weather and trying our best not to get lost in the maze.
As Maplewood continues to encourage and educate our young people, we thank you for your continued support and prayers!
By James Davis, Jr., Education Superintendent