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Making “Do-It-Day 2015” Happen in Hartford

On Saturday, September 12, Trinity students helped out Hartford community service organizations and schools for the 17th Annual Do-It-Day. Although this year’s Do-It-Day was a bit smaller than usual, it was a big help for local groups that serve Hartford.

Under the direction of Joe Barber (pictured below on right), the Director of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, Do-It-Day is one of the largest single-day community service events at Trinity. The event has been going since 1999. Each year, several hundred Trinity students split up into groups to help at dozens of community service organizations in the city. The event has grown from 150 Trinity participants in 1999 to about 650-700 regularly participating since 2009. This year’s event involved about 300 Trinity students.

Joe Barber at Do It Day

This year’s Trinity student volunteers were primarily members of athletic teams that were not in season and the Trinity IDP students (Individualized Degree Program). That means these teams train and work together on a limited basis now. They will begin their season later this fall or in the spring.

So getting together for a community service project was a meaningful way for the teams to build camaraderie and serve Hartford organizations. The teams of Trinity students included: Baseball, Men’s Lacrosse, Men’s and Women’s Rowing, Men’s and Women’s Squash, Men’s and Women’s Swimming, Men’s and Women’s Tennis (pictured top left and right), Men’s and Women’s Basketball (pictured bottom left), Men’s and Women’s Track and Field, and Wrestling.

Photos by Joe Barber and Robert Cotto, Jr.

Community service organizations that were assisted by Trinity students included the Hartbeat Ensemble, Grace AcademyCedar Hill Cemetery, and Pope Park, as well as many others. For example, the Women’s Tennis Team helped the Hartbeat Ensemble set up for their yearly gala. Joe DiChristina, the Dean of Campus Life and VP of Student Affairs, also stopped by with his children to help at Pope Park.

You can see all the Do-It-Day projects that happened throughout the City of Hartford on this map. Click on the red tags to learn more about each project!

While helping students to register and get their Do-It-Day T-shirts, Director of Urban Educational Initiatives, Robert Cotto, Jr., also met Alex Tomcho (pictured above), a Trinity student-athlete. Alex was a member of the first graduating class at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy, one of Trinity’s major partners. In addition to being a first-year student, Alex will compete on the Track and Field team in the spring.

A number of people helped make Do-It-Day 2015 a success in addition to Director Joe Barber. Those people included: Program Assistant in the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, Nafe Tengatenga, Trinity ’13 (pictured to the left of Joe), Program Coordinator for the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life, Megan O’Brien, Trinity ’14, and Trinity ’16 students Katherine Gagen, Kaitlyn Sprague, Alex Suarez, and Shanelle Morris. Nafe and Megan were former Do It Day coordinators as undergraduate students—Nafe in 2010 and Megan in 2012.

Want to learn more about how to get involved with Community Service and Civic Engagement at Trinity College? Visit the Office in Mather Hall or check out the website.


New Trinity Students Get Familiar With Hartford

Students at Trinity College got familiar with Hartford and its neighborhoods during orientations today. A number of Trinity staff and faculty led these orientations throughout the city including Professor Dario Del Puppo and Community Relations Director Jason Rojas and Manager Julia Rivera.

Some students traveled by bus and others on bikes. Professor Del Puppo, Attorney Ken Krayeske, and local bike guru/Studio Arts Technician Chris Brown led their group on bikes. They started at Trinity then visited Bushnell Park and Keney Park.


Trinity alumna Wildaliz Bermudez (pictured left and middle) and Director of Urban Educational Initiatives, Robert Cotto, Jr. (pictured right), caught up with the group to share what they do in the city in terms of work and civic life. Park Street’s very own Comerio Restaurant provided empanadas, rellenos de papa, and tostones (all types of fritters).

The orientation (hopefully) will help students understand Hartford better and learn about how to get engaged with life in a new city. Students in the group came from places like Chicago, Miami, and New Delhi, India, to name a few home cities. Although many students had experience living in other cities, today they learned more about Hartford specifically.

Hartford Public Schools First Day Tour 2015

Today the Hartford Public Schools kicked off its first day of school with a number of events across the district, including a bus tour with people from all corners of civic life. While summer isn’t officially over, this marks a change in the academic season. School is back in session in the city!

Letters 1The tour started at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School in the Blue Hills neighborhood (North End) of the city. Students there were greeted by a large group of men of color, primarily Black men, encouraging kids coming into school on the first day. This effort was organized by Pastor AJ Johnson. The Hartford Courant made a small slideshow of some of the activities at MLK, Jr. school. Celebration at the MLK school definitely stole the show today.

The bus then made its way over to Hartford Public High Public School (HPHS). (That’s where I met up with the tour.) The stop focused on serious engineering work done by HPHS students to build and send a renewable energy outfit to Nepal and then a brief showing of a previous robotics project.

Students spoke in detail about the energy project, which Vanessa de la Torre at the Courant picked up as a story a few weeks ago. Read about it here.

Mike Maz and Students 2The principal of HPHS Academy of Engineering and Green Technology, Michael Maziarz (pictured) spoke about his academic goals for the school this year – increased graduation rates, reduced suspensions, more internships. Afterwards, I spoke with a few seniors about the upcoming school year. They were excited about taking an AP class, writing for the school newspaper, and reflecting on how long they have been at HPHS. The thing they seemed most excited about was being in the senior class (translated = the kids in charge).

Finally, the bus made its way to Breakthrough Magnet School in the city’s southwest corner. Breakthrough is one our partner schools for the Trinity College course ED200: Analyzing Schools.

We were greeted by a couple hundred students and their teachers in the parking lot. The kids and teachers made a gauntlet through the entire first floor hallway so we had to greet just about every kindergarten student on our way through the school!

The principal Julie Goldstein and founder Norman Neumann Johnson reflected on the creation of the school (it started as local charter school) and their recent award from the Magnet Schools of America organization as the best magnet school in the country. Parents talked about why they felt invested in the school and what their kids got out of attending the school.

Now the cameras disappear and the work begins for another school year in Hartford.

Have a great “first day of school” story? Feel free to comment!