Opinion: More Teachers Should Implement Community Service Requirement
Many private schools around the area require specific community service requirements, and therefore students that attend those schools benefit from the experience. However, at a public school that has no requirements for service how many students choose to participate on their own time?
Relatively few students at M-A even consider doing community service, but those that do enjoy personal gain while helping out the community.
It is common for private schools, as part of their mission, to require their students to complete a certain number of hours of community service. I attended private schools for nine years of my education, and it was necessary for me to meet a specific number of service hours. Service projects required ranged from helping out on small tasks around the school, to being active in my community by serving at soup kitchens for a day.
Additionally, these requirements increase when students enroll in private high schools. For example, Sacred Heart Prep students must complete 25 hours of service to the SHP community as well as 2 projects before graduation.
Bellarmine College Preparatory, another local private high school, specifies the areas of service necessary each year, such as service with children during freshman year and working with the elderly or physically disabled during sophomore year.
Nathan Thomas, a senior at Bellarmine, commented on the service requirements, saying, “It is worth having the requirement because it can change people’s outlooks.”
He explained how eye-opening it is to work with a variety of people in disadvantaged positions and how “something very insignificant to you, such as packing food for them, really can make a big impact on their lives.”
Thomas continued, stating that “The hard part is remembering that feeling the next time you have free time and choosing to get away from your friends and going out to help the poor.”
For Thomas and the rest of the students in private schools in the area, there is a push for them to participate in community service and they are shown exactly what they can do to help.
Public schools, for example M-A, do not require any community service, and because of this, fewer students are involved in the community. Because the requirements work well at private schools in getting the students involved in service, I believe M-A should implement similar requirements.
Laura Duran, a counselor here at M-A, explained that currently the schools in the Sequoia Union High School District do not require community service, but that she has heard of other public schools implementing a requirement. Duran did not know whether it would be possible for M-A to implement something similar.
However, AP Environmental Science teacher, Mr. Powell, has already begun to implement a service requirement in his own classroom; Powell requires his students to complete four hours of service for points each semester.
This appears to be the best way to get students involved in service, which benefits both them and the community. Private schools have a much higher percentage of their students performing community work than public schools, therefore M-A should recognize this difference and implement requirements for the students.
Since it is unknown whether M-A could implement a school-wide policy, and it would be incredibly hard to begin at a school of our size, more teachers should follow Powell's lead and start service requirements in their own classrooms.
Implementing a service requirement only benefits the students. Not only does community service open students up to the people and community around them, but it also helps get them involved in events outside of school. This experience is valued by colleges as well, and can add an important element to a student's application.