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Middle schoolers honor classmate’s memory in inaugural Day of Service

Middle school students this month participated in the school’s first Day of Service. Students from sixth, seventh and eighth grades on May 8, worked to honor their classmate, Tai Le, who passed away last year. Le would have been an eighth-grade student this year.


“I think we forget that children grieve in different ways,” said SJS Principal Sister Marie Hannah. “This project is a way for them to heal and to come together to carry on his memory and honor his parents.”


Eighth-grade students spent the day at Freeman Lake Park in Elizabethtown. They shoveled dirt, spread sand and put down pavers where two walking trails converge to create a resting spot for visitors. They also planted a tree in honor of Tai Le and installed a memorial plaque.


The project was made possible through an endowment established in his name by Tai Le’s parents, Drs. Tao Le and Thao Pham. SJS is the beneficiary of the endowment, which allows for a middle school Day of Service in perpetuity.


“We’re excited to see what kinds of projects students will come up with in the future to help the community,” Tao Le said.


Students have been involved in all aspects of the project, Sister Marie Hannah said, including meeting with and securing Lowe’s Home Improvement as a corporate sponsor.


Service is an integral part of the curriculum at SJS, Sister Marie Hannah said, and students are required to have a certain number of service hours each year. This year is special, however, because it is the first time the entire middle school has come together to work on a project.


“We want to create leaders for the future who know how to give to others,” she said. “This forms them into the Saint James students that our community know well.”


Sixth and seventh graders spent the day with Freeman Lake Park maintenance staff to clean and maintain the park.


Drs. Tao Le and Thao Pham worked with students throughout the day, helping them finish their project.  


“Putting together this endowment was a way to capture Tai’s love for others in a way that could carry forward,” Tao Le said. “We’re really blessed and excited to be working with his school to carry on his legacy.”


Click here to watch a special video of our first Middle School Day of Service.



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