The Cate School motto is a single French word: Servons. Its meaning—let us serve—is fundamental to life at Cate. Students experience it in the way all members of the community treat each other with caring, trust and respect. They also learn it through the opportunities they are given to improve the lives of others, from their dormmates down the hall to those in need around the world.
The School’s chore program, which dates back to 1938, is the basic building block of Cate service. Freshmen help in the kitchen, while sophomores and juniors help maintain the dorms and grounds. Seniors have a wider possibility of service choices and often help fellow students as teaching assistants, prefects, and tutors. Today’s expectations are not quite as rigorous as the early days of chopping wood and laying bricks, but it’s the same idea: pitching in, learning the value of hard work, and supporting each other.
Cate makes it possible for every student to find a way to help others away from campus, and—on a voluntary basis—nearly every student does. Students help tutor local schoolchildren, visit with the elderly and disabled, and work on local environmental improvement projects. Faculty and students also travel regularly to northern Mexico to help out with community construction projects and work with children and their families in the Los Niños program, a Cate tradition for more than 30 years.
Through its membership in Round Square, Cate provides its students with a wide range of opportunities for community service, work projects, and exchange programs all over the world. Cate students and faculty members travel to the annual Round Square conference to learn more about international public service and have participated in several community improvement projects abroad.
At Cate, it is understood that helping others leads students to discover more about themselves and what they want to do with their talents and education. In this sense, it is no coincidence that the view from the School stretches long and wide. Cate students know that their dedication, values, and interactions have repercussions both near and far. Most Cate graduates go on to incorporate public service into their lives long after they leave the School, no matter what career path they ultimately pursue.
"Service at Cate expands the perspectives and experience of our students—and Cate students are among some of the most service-minded people I know. They don't offer their time and talents to the community because they have to or because it looks good on a resume. They do it because they want to. They do it because they care."