School Finance 513: Community Outreach and Environmental Initiatives at SAS

For the final article in our "SAS and the Community" series, we focus on how the school's commitments to service learning and environmental responsibility affect the broader community. Readers who missed the previous two articles in the series, which explained SAS's place in Woodlands and our economic impact on Singapore, may access them here. This set of three articles presents information found in the comprehensive SAS Community Impact Statement.

SAS service learners and volunteers contribute to Singapore and beyond

Singapore American School extends its influence in many positive ways outside its gates. Since the 1960s, when SAS students began volunteering in St. Andrew's Hospital for Children, service learning has become an essential element in our students' development as caring world citizens. Whether through being buddies with local schoolchildren, going on grade-level service trips, or joining a service club after school, SAS students learn about their world and themselves through their efforts to help others.

In the elementary school, students are introduced to the idea of community service through real-life experiences and hands-on activities. For example, kindergartners spend time with stroke victims at Adventist Rehabilitation Centre, third graders mentor Innova Primary School students in reading, and fifth grade students work on arts and crafts with elderly residents of the Christalite Methodist Home. Through challenges like the Go for Gold reading project, which helps collect books for students in Cambodia, and the Food From the Heart Walkathon, which benefits needy local families, students learn that their efforts can truly benefit those less fortunate.

In middle school, service projects become more individualized and are linked to science and social studies lessons. Sixth graders learn about water conservation and water-borne diseases, and raise funds for charities that focus on access to clean water. Students in seventh grade learn about microfinance and sustainability initiatives, while eighth graders design individual service projects, which have ranged from playing music for the destitute to building homes in poor communities.

High school students support a plethora of service clubs, coordinated through the Executive Service Council. Whether working with underprivileged children, teaching skills to migrant workers, volunteering with Special Olympics, or knitting hats for cancer patients, high school students can find a hands-on activity that will help others in Singapore. Farther afield, communities in Southeast Asia and beyond are supported by clubs such as Wish for Kids Club, Gawad Kalinga Club, and Caring for Cambodia Club. High school students must also complete one Interim Semester service-based course, during which they may work on specific projects in countries such as Singapore, China, Fiji, or South Africa.

Like SAS students, SAS adults also find great satisfaction in working to help others. Parents, staff, and teachers use their knowledge, skills, and resources to support organizations such as Caring for Cambodia, Free Schools India, Side By Side Organic Farm in Bali, Tabitha Foundation, and XS of Indonesia. Natural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan unite the SAS community in sympathy, and SAS families are quick to donate money to emergency-relief organizations.

SAS is a local environmental leader

In keeping with two of our core values, responsibility and respect, SAS puts environmental stewardship at the heart of its efforts to be a good community member. Students and staff at all levels are encouraged to get involved in making the school environmentally responsible, and lessons learned in classes and activities foster respect for our environment.

High-visibility environmental efforts have included the huge 1mw solar panel array, which earned SAS the 2013 Solar Pioneer Award; the giant fans in the remodeled open-air upper elementary/middle school cafeteria, which contributed to Green Mark Gold certification for sustainability; numerous green wall plantings to cool surroundings naturally and improve air quality; and the Eco-Wiz food digester, which breaks down food waste to produce sewer-ready wastewater rather than solid waste.

Less obvious efforts toward environmental responsibility include a school-wide emphasis on reducing, reusing, and recycling to cut down on waste; ensuring that all paper purchased by the school is certified as coming from sustainable sources; and student and staff participation in hands-on projects such International Coastal Cleanup, the Pulau Ubin Nature Sensory Trail, and the school's own eco-garden and rainforest. SAS also develops students' knowledge and appreciation of nature through trips to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, Macritchie Reservoir, and Chek Jawa Wetlands.

Thank you for reading our "SAS and the Community" series. You may view the full SAS Community Impact Statement online for more details about these topics, as well as explanations of our relationship with Singapore's educational community and how SAS promotes the interests and image of Singapore abroad. Comments, questions, and suggestions for future articles are always welcome, at We look forward to hearing from you.