DORSET - Stewardship, careful and conscientious care of something, is a responsibility which many schools promote with their students. At Long Trail School, stewardship is more than a programmatic aspect of the educational offerings. It is a natural part of what is done during the school day. A true sense of serving one's community, through acts big or small, invisible or evident, is woven into the Long Trail experience.

While there are days set aside for larger group volunteer efforts in the fall and spring, as a core value of the school, stewardship is encouraged in each student. Small groups do good deeds weekly and they go unrecorded.

Students are congratulated and their giving work is emulated by others in a circle of responsibility and goodness.

"Character development - that sense of doing the right thing and helping others - is what we're after," said Dean of Students Justin Bendall.

Organizations, classes and groups reach out near and far to assist others. The school's National Honor Society caretakes the Dorset West Road with trash cleanup and the soccer teams help out on the local bike trail. Recently, a student group did some "flash mob" raking on the Dorset Green. In English classes, students practice letter-writing formats by sending appreciation to bus drivers, family, friends and former teachers.

While studying Buddhism in a history class, students were encouraged by their teacher to do good deeds as a means of improving their karma. Students are currently assisting children in rural Africa through the KURA Project and helping children attend school in Nepal.

The point is that Long Trail kids are working every day to improve their world. Those who know of a project that could use a bit of help should contact Justin Bendall at 802-867-5717 x107.