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Four Christian Service weekends ahead in 2016-17

Juniors will experience a college visit day, while other classes visit new service sites

Due to overcrowding at Urban Challenge and St. Augustine’s Church, as well as new college visit days for juniors, students will participate in four Christian Service weekends next year instead of three.

Director of Christian Service Mr. Larry Legner cited increasing class sizes as the main reason for the change.

“We had two juniors who could not go to Urban Challenge this year because I did not have a bed for them,” Legner said.

At Urban Challenge, there are only 44 beds available each weekend. “With adding another weekend, I’m able to get the groups down to a size of 32 [students], which is far more manageable,” he said. “In case of emergency, we can accommodate.”

Other changes will also follow for the weekend.

Juniors still have Urban Challenge and two local service days, in addition to a new college visit day. The college visit day will consist of two college counselors taking the group to two different colleges in one day, according to Legner.

Each weekend will have two different schools for a total of eight. The objective is to see two different kinds of schools— such as big or small, urban or rural— in one day so that students can get a better idea of what kind of school they want and learn how to do a college visit, according to Director of College Counseling Mr. Ian Harkness.

“I think the contrast will be important,” Harkess said. “To see Temple in the city and then come out to see Haverford— two different experiences all within a few miles of each other.”

The list of colleges students will visit is not finalized, but they will all be close enough to return to Malvern by the end of a normal school day. The Counseling Department plans to reach out to admission officers at each school to get a personalized visit that will help students learn more about each school and about the college process.

“It’s more about the overall experience of ‘did that feel right, or not?’” Harkness said. “Bring that experience to talk with your college counselors when those individual meetings start to happen.”

Changes are also in store for the freshmen. They will no longer go to Elwyn Institute because Elwyn decided to only accept adult volunteers, according to Legner.

Freshmen will now go to St. Vincent De Paul in Germantown. Once there, they will have an orientation, split into four groups, and complete their service activities. The other new location is a homeless shelter in Chester called City Team, according to Legner.

Freshmen will keep the on-campus retreat and trip to Share Food Bank in Philadelphia.

Sophomores will still go to St. Augustine’s, participate in two local service days, and a new trip to The Vanguard School, which is a school for children with Autism.

For seniors, there will still only be three MECO retreats. The two weekends of the first three when a student is not on MECO, he is free to do college visits independently. It is still uncertain what seniors will do on the additional service day, according to Legner.

“The fourth [weekend], they’re not doing a MECO,” Legner said. “That’s under discussion. It might turn out to be a whole class MECO— not going away to MECO, just bringing the whole class together.”

While Legner has cited increasing class sizes as the main reason for the change to four weekends, Director of Admissions Mr. Sean Kenney said class sizes have stayed relatively the same.

“The total number of students in the high school, has been relatively flat,” Kenney said. “Now the Freshmen class might have six more students or five more students than maybe the year before. But we’re not talking about leaps and bounds.”

Malvern’s nine year average for class sizes is about 125 students, according to Kenney. Kenney said Malvern prefers to keep class sizes around that size for a higher amount of personal attention for each student.

“Now occasionally we might have to add two, or three, or four— maybe up to five students in a particular class maybe because we have five less students in a different class,” Kenney said. “The enrollment ties into the budget of the school and the finances of the school. We have to meet a budget, so you have to have so many students here.”

Kenney said next year’s incoming freshmen class has not been finalized yet, but the goal is to keep it at 124 students.

“Having four is going to be more work,” Legner said. “But really it’s gonna make it easier, and more people will get their choice [of service weekend].”

About Tommy Pero

Tommy started with the BFC in his sophomore year. He served as the Arts Editor at the end of the 2014-2015 school year and the Friar Life Editor during the 2015-2016 school years before becoming Editor-in-Chief in 2016. Tommy is also a Co-Captain on the Sailing Team, Recruiting Vice President of the Speech and Debate Team, and an MTS member. When he’s not in Duffy 118, he’s somewhere in his hometown of Harleysville, Pennsylvania.

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