Activism at Archer: Senior service learning projects shine through the Artemis Center


Photo credit: Amanda Ryvkin

At the Archer in Action Fair, Chloe Fidler presents for Mayor’s Youth Council, and Charlotte Tragos and Sophie Altemus (not pictured) presents for Grassroots Democrats HQ. This fair took place in the courtyard, at lunch, on Nov. 9. Pictured from left to right are Chloe Fidler (’22) and Charlotte Tragos (’23).

By Surya Patil, Sports Editor

The Artemis Center for Public Service and Social Good  is a recently developed program at Archer aiming to teach students the importance of service and activism. The program also strives to empower students to take interest in projects not only within the Archer community, but also in their local communities. 

The program is built into Archer’s ninth grade curriculum and was designed by Head of School Elizabeth English, Associate Head of School Karen Pavliscak and history teachers Beth Gold and Meg Shirk.

The curriculum is introduced in ninth grade history class, Understanding the Contemporary World, where students learn about current global problems and acknowledge the importance and power that a singular individual holds to create social change. At the end of students’ ninth grade year, they create a proposal for a service learning project they can continue throughout their upper school experience.

After several years of leading social justice oriented clubs such as Diversity Club and Girls Empowering Girls Club, as well as teaching students about current events, school leaders asked Gold to create a proposal in order to formally incorporate service learning into the upper school curriculum. She thought it was essential to involve students in the creative process of organizing The Artemis Center and began sending out applications.

“We are on our second iteration of [The Artemis Center], and I wanted students to have some say in what they wanted [it] to look like, as well within the mission and the structure that Ms. English and Ms. Pavliscak and I designed,” Gold said. 

Senior Lauren Robson, a member of the public service side of the Artemis Center’s advisory board, has been pursuing her service learning project since ninth grade. As a freshman, Robson connected with the organization Baja Bound to assist them in building a house for a working class family in Baja, Mexico. During her time in Mexico, she visited a variety of orphanages and learned from the directors about the lack of access to education that many children and adolescents face there. Since her trip, Robson has connected with three students in the orphanages and has been teaching them conversational English via FaceTime.

“I wasn’t only teaching them conversational English, but I was learning a lot about myself along the way,” Robson said. “It was great to be able to make connections with people who live in a completely different country. There were so many things we had in common, and I’ve developed really meaningful relationships with them. I’m very passionate about it — it’s a huge part of my life, and it’s definitely something that I want to continue doing in college.” 

Senior Ali Aragon has been working with Rich and Associates since she was in eighth grade and is a counselor at their camp, Friendship Island. Friendship Island is a therapy camp that helps children from ages 5 to 14, who either have a social developmental difference or struggle with their social skills. The camp takes place every summer, and each session holds around 50 campers.

“I hope to get other Archer girls involved as well,” Aragon said. Ms. Gold’s program has helped me so much in doing more research and why I’m passionate about certain topics. I also think Miss Gold, especially in ninth grade, helped me with solidifying what I was passionate about and being able to have a wider impact on the community.”

The Artemis Center has an extensive list of opportunities that provide students with ways they can get involved in activism and service based on their specific interests. The resources can be found on their website as well as a calendar that is updated regularly with upcoming events. The Artemis Center is now combined with the Service Squad, which both work to promote service and activism.

Part of The Artemis Center’s goal is to help bring attention to causes to encourage other students to get involved in [different] opportunities and to amplify the work that’s already being done to inspire others,” Gold said.

Both Robson and Aragon attribute their ongoing involvement in their service projects to Archer’s service learning curriculum that began in ninth grade.

Without the service learning project, and that part of the curriculum, this probably never would have happened,” Robson said. “I owe a lot of credit to the curriculum and Ms. Shirk who really helped me along the way. Now I can bring what I’ve learned through that experience to The Artemis Center and specifically the Service Squad.”

If students choose to continue working on their service projects in tenth, 11th and 12th grade, they are eligible to receive Bronze, Silver or Gold awards.  These awards are given based on the hours and time students have committed to their service projects.

“I’m really grateful to Archer for helping guide my research,” Aragon said. “And for also pushing me to continue volunteering and giving us the opportunity to pursue service projects.”