Culver student takes local-rooted B.I.R.D. service project to England

A Culver service endeavor which united sometimes distant elements of the community has gone international. Many in the area will recall B.I.R.D. (Building, Inspiring, Recreating, and Discovering), a collaborative effort between students at Culver Academies, Culver Comm. High School, and adults in the community at large, which set aside weekends to aid the elderly or needy in cleaning, repairs, and other needed work.

The events, which concluded with social time at the town park for those involved, were the brainchild of 2011 Culver Girls Academy graduate Andrea Canacci. Canacci was one of a remarkable three local students to take advantage of Culver's English Speaking Union program, which sends each student to the United Kingdom during the school year following their graduation from Culver, for one year of school in England.

Each year, seniors from boarding schools across the United States are awarded placements in the Secondary School Exchange Program (SSEP), sponsored at Culver by the ESU. Other students included Rebecca Nash and Robbie McKinnis, both of Culver.

Three Culver residents taking part in the program is an unprecedented number since it began here in the mid-1990s. Canacci says she knew upon her arrival at St. Peter's school in York, that she wanted to contribute to the community there. She approached the head of Community Action at the school and told her about B.I.R.D., which drew immediate interest.

After presenting it to the student body and faculty members, the project quickly gained its six committee members and 50 volunteers, who contacted areas of the community housing elderly, disabled, and financially unstable residents. The B.I.R.D. project served eight of the households, including two primary schools, in the area.

"Our dedicated volunteers worked throughout the day painting fences, garages, and sheds, as well as gardening, yard work, decorating, and other at-home tasks for our variety of residents," says Canacci. "After the work day was finished we came together in a banquet hall at the school for dinner, entertainment, and a video presentation of the day of work. Residents who attended the event were thrilled with the help they received and thanked the committee and volunteers several times thought the night."

Canacci says she was touched by the reception the project had by its participants, and feedback she received. The project, she adds, will be repeated this coming year through the initiative of students at St. Peters School.

She notes the Culver incarnation of B.I.R.D. was "made by everything I learned from my neighbors living in Culver and what I learned at Culver Academies from my teachers and peers."

"B.I.R.D.," she adds, "is an organization that represents the great things about Culver as a whole and the wonderful fellowship we experience by living in this small town; therefore, was so well received and accepted abroad in England, in essence they were accepting Culver. The difference BIRD has made so far shows how adaptable our town values are anywhere, and I hope it can continue in the future."

Photos and information about B.I.R.D. can be found online