Chapel is central to our community life at SEA. Chapel gives the school a common time to gather to celebrate God and his love and presence in our lives. We do this in a way that is respectful to all denominations and faiths through a service loosely based on the Episcopal service of Morning Prayer, led by the chaplain. Beginning by singing “This is the Day” and ending with the SEA school song “One in Love,” our chapel service emphasizes God’s love and our responsibility to one another through song, prayers, and a chapel talk.
SEA chapel services are primarily for the children. This means that we celebrate and encourage as much child participation as possible during our services. This begins with the 5th graders at SEA, who take responsibility for the work of making chapel happen, doing jobs as varied as leading songs or ringing the bell. The 5th graders also take special responsibility once each month, when they lead the entire service, from beginning to end, complete with a “chapel talk” that they create on their own. Usually either a Bible or another story with a moral message, the 5th graders act the story out and use media and other tools for getting maximum effect. All the children love 5th grade chapel talks. Other grades participate in chapel by singing, sharing what they have learned in the classroom, and by reading. SEA chapels are lively and fun!
Our chapel is a time to celebrate our community. Each week, students who have been “caught being kind” receive Rainbow Awards, SEA’s way of honoring those students who best enact the SEA mission of kindness to all. Rainbow Award students receive a special ribbon to wear all day as a mark of their “kindness achievement” to those inside our community.
But SEA students do not stop being kind when they exit the gates of the school. Instead, all homeroom classrooms participate in a Homeroom Outreach Project (HOP) that offer assistance to some of the needs in the larger community of the greater Orlando area. Each classroom chooses their own project, and with the help of parent volunteers, coordinates a project that lends a hand outside the school. These projects change every year, but usually include a breakfast for community helpers hosted by the kindergarten class, involvement with retirement communities, pajama and/or book drives, and many other hands-on projects.
With the help of the school-wide student council, the YES Team (Youth Encouraging Service), SEA participates also in school-wide outreach projects. Yearly projects for the YES Team include school-wide recycling, collecting food for Loaves and Fishes, sending cards to elderly parishioners at Christmas, as well as other projects as the need arises.
These projects are part of a school-wide desire to help our students grow not only academically, but also as people. As students participate in the HOPs, they learn another part of being kind, the part that happens in the world. The Religion curriculum at SEA fosters these connections to the world through stories of many different religious traditions. Each student attends religion class once every week as part of the enrichment program. Although expressly Christian in nature, religion class excludes no one, and the chaplain encourages discussion and difference of tradition in the classroom. Students learn about how to better practice kindness, basic stories from the Bible, stories from other traditions, and through hands-on activities including art, discussion, and drama, students learn how to grow as people.