By: Alessandra Luedeking
On Thursday evening, January 23rd, a prayer vigil was hosted at St. Ignatius by concerned parents for the unstable future of Boston College’s Campus School, a learning institution for children with severe multiple special needs and complex healthcare requirements. The Boston College administration has supported the Campus School for 43 years. However, recent talk of merging the Campus School with the nearby Kennedy Day School, a Franciscan hospital for children, appears to imperil this support.
Enrollment has decreased from 49 in 2007 to 38 today. Consequentially, nearby districts are reticent about paying the $74,000 a year needed to keep the Campus School running. The switch to Kennedy Day School would offer more space with professional staff.
“Anyone involved with this school for disabled children knows that its location on BC’s campus is what makes the program so unique,” said Nicole Mollica, a former staff member at the Campus School.
“What the [Campus School] apparently lacks in terms of therapeutic pools is more than made up for by the hardest working, most engaged faculty and staff imaginable. Our students have formed amazing relationships with their classmates and teachers, which cannot be replicated by this sudden transition,” said Chris Marino, Co-President of the Campus School Volunteers, A&S ’14.
The Campus School exemplifies the Jesuit ideal, “men and women for others,” where all service and care are given for the love and wellbeing of the student. BC undergraduates regularly dedicate their time to volunteer and form friendships with the student. Volunteers adopt one student each and serve as a “buddy” for the semester. They engage the children weekly through games, arts and crafts, dancing, music, and support. The Campus School’s location at BC makes it readily accessible for busy, work-ridden students who claim that moving the school to a different location would be tantamount to removing it altogether.
“The Boston College Campus School was the reason I chose to attend BC…It gave me an educational experience I never could have gotten inside the walls of a lecture hall…and perhaps most importantly a second family to support me through the challenges of young adulthood,” said Meghan Marie, a former volunteer at the Campus School.
At the prayer vigil, parents stood to give their testimonies on the tremendous impact and hope that the Campus School has provided them and their families. Teachers spoke of the joy they have received in serving and learning from these children. BC undergraduate volunteers expressed their gratitude for the greater meaning the children had brought to their lives.
At this point in time, the BC administration has made no definitive decision regarding the Campus School’s future, but a verdict is expected within the year. Until then, volunteers are always welcomed at the first floor of Campion Hall, where BC’s little gem can be found.