Across the nation, our high schools awaken from a much needed recess to the sounds of clamouring lockers and competing voices heralding throughout the hallways. Summer vacation has ended and preparation for the 2017-2018 year curriculum ahead, grooming our children to become the great formidable minds of tomorrow. The world as we knew it has been transposed through technology, whereby, human interactions have become one with some form of electronic device in order to communicate. Trending technologies over the past decades have progressed yet social skills among these young minds have regressed. How does society save it’s youth from these imbalances?
In years past, classes such as Home Economics and Shop were a required part of high school programs, yet, today’s graduating classes throughout America have become apart of the community services programs and civil engagement. Many schools receive differentiated allotments of grant monies for their students to be involved in the community where credits are earned towards their requirements before their graduation from the 12th grade. Students are encouraged to choose an area of life that fits them and contribute their time and energy involved in the community….average hours are dependent upon the state in which they reside, their school districts and individual classes before graduation year.
Some schools want to institutionalize and celebrate community service, while some students still unsure about what’s in it for them. Has instant gratification become a theme of this generations expectations in order to get excited about life outside of the classroom? So when did community service for high school students begin?
In 1990, President Bush signed the National and Community Service Act, which addressed the multiple facets of community service (Clemmitt 79). This act provided $64 million in grants for community service programs like “Serve America” (currently renamed) “Learn and Serve America” which works directly with students from the primary levels through the tertiary level (ofm.wa.gov). The “National and Community Trust Act of 1993, signed by President Clinton (Wutzdorff and Giles, 108). The law established the Corporation for National Service which promotes service through different organizations like Learn and Serve America. (Wutzdorff and Giles, 108) These two efforts kick-started a movement towards greater youth participation in civic life. They allowed schools to pursue steps to receive federal funds for service-learning curricula. In 2009, President Obama also encouraged volunteerism through federal legislature. In April of 2009, the Edward M Kennedy Serve America Act was passed, granting even more opportunities for service, considering the $1.49 billion budget (nationalservice.gov). These efforts further legitimized school-based volunteerism which is on the upswing.
Benefits of Community Service
Students who engage in community service have many opportunities for personal growth. Whether they help in a soup kitchen or volunteer at the library or humane society, they get exposure to people and experiences that broaden awareness and understanding of the world around them. Most kids learn new skills in these situations and work with people of diverse backgrounds and lifestyles. This is often the first time some of them have worked for a boss, and it is helpful in learning how to follow orders on the job.
Pitfalls of Community Service
Teenagers are often busy. They can easily become overwhelmed with homework, part-time jobs, sporting events and home and church obligations. Transportation issues can pose a problem. It is important that any volunteer work doesn’t interfere with school work, study time or sleep. Teens also need safety in the volunteer job. No teen should have to work with someone who makes him feel uncomfortable or unsafe. A teacher or parent should ensure proper supervision. Teens deserve respect and it is important that no volunteer coordinator takes advantage of them by expecting them to work for extended hours without breaks. Also, if left unsupervised, some teenagers engage in inappropriate behavior.
Evaluating Potential Volunteer Opportunities
Will there be responsible adults present to supervise the students? Is the work environment safe? Is the work appropriate for the students? Will the student be exposed to an unsafe environment?
High School Graduation Requirement
or Credit toward Graduation
Community service for teens is often a requirement for graduating high school and it’s a great way for students to build their resumes and skill sets. More important, volunteer work for high school students can be a life-changing experience, one that allows teens to expand their horizons and foster meaningful relationships. Wondering where to volunteer?
Standard High School Graduation Requirements (50-state)