OPINION: JCPS should require community service


The Editorial Board

As Mother Teresa once said: “Never worry about numbers, help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest to you.” For the average person, community service is something that is done as a nice gesture, to help out with a certain cause or even to just get hours for a certain club that you are in. Although these are valid reasons, some see community service as JUST a nice gesture or those service hours rather than something that is necessary and that must be done. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, volunteer rates in 2015 were lowest among 20 to 24 year-olds (18.4 percent) but teenagers (16 to 19 year olds) continued to have a relatively high volunteer rate, at 26.4 percent.

In order for all communities to thrive and to be the best that they can be, JCPS should require all high school students to have a certain number of community service hours by the end of their senior year in order to graduate.

Everyone is aware of what volunteering is, and what community service is, but there is some interchanging of the two words; some take advantage of each word and use it to decorate their personality or character. Volunteerism is defined by the United Nations as, “an activity undertaken out of free will, for the general public good, and where monetary reward is not the principal motivating factor.” The authors of the book “Differentiated Instruction” cite researchers Scheckley and Keeton’s definition of services learning, “… an educational activity, program, or curriculum that seeks to promote student learning through experiences associated with volunteerism or community service…Service learning emerges from helping others and reflecting how you and they benefited from doing so.”

Service learning would be extremely beneficial for all students because it allows for them to engage with their surroundings and gain a better understanding of where they are living and how they can improve their lives for themselves as well. Moreover, students who participate in community service/service learning tend to perform better in school because they have practiced what they have learned in class and put it to use in the real world.

Community service creates the opportunity for students to feel a sense of responsibility and pride. As students work within their community, they learn that they can be responsible for making great things happen. This helps to build a sense of responsibility in students, as well as a sense of pride when they see what they’ve done is actually helping others. There is nothing wrong with being a little prideful about a job that is well done. When students start seeing results and change happens in front of their eyes, they gain a sense of motivation and are intrinsically encouraged to continue making change.

Chase Herrmann, a sophomore at Male High School, was doing service because his mom forced him into doing more for the community; it later became a fun hobby.

“I think in the beginning when I started to volunteer, I saw it more as a chore but once I started to do community service regularly and started to see change and improvement, and I saw the hard work that I had been putting in made a difference… I was a better person because I was helping others,” said Herrmann.

Although there are some great upsides to serving your community many will jump in and say that students are already busy enough with homework, sports, and even work, or that being forced to volunteer wouldn’t make that student aspire to do it anymore than they did before. The only reason they would do the community service is because it is required of them in order to graduate. This is understandable on both the parent’s side and the student’s side, it could be overwhelming.

There are so many ways in which students are able to get this idea out there. Go to the SBDM meetings at schools and advocate for volunteering in all JCPS high schools and explain to them the need for why this is crucial. Contact an SBDM representative in order to speak. Sign up on a volunteer notice website like VolunteerMatch.Org where numerous local volunteer opportunities will show up.

With community service come so many great things; new friends are made, talents are discovered and fun is experienced. Requiring all high school students to have some sort of community service hours will make them more willing to help others, and not only are they helping their community, but they are also making a difference that can change the future–their future.

Editor’s note: This piece is by guest contributor Melissa Perello (11, J&C).