On October 28, 2019, students at State High received an email which created a talking point for many people, not just students, throughout the community. To the surprise of many people, the community service graduation requirement would no longer be effective starting this year and moving forward. This change was received in many different ways in the school, as well as around the community.
The old community service requirement was necessary to graduate. Students would have to commit 20 hours of their time to giving back to the community. Either they would get a “P” on their transcript, signifying that they passed, or if they had below 20 hours, they were not allowed to graduate from State High. This requirement has been in place for many years, so it’s no shock that people would be confused as to why the requirement had been taken away.
The change of this policy stemmed from the belief that due to increasing the graduation requirements for students, community service would be too much on top of all the work. Increasing the graduation credits was put into effect as soon as the school switched to block scheduling. It is also important to be aware that the community service was not a state requirement and was just a requirement at State High. In addition, the school board also made this change because they didn’t want students to not be able to graduate due to not meeting the requirement, which has been an issue in the past.
“We don’t want to prevent kids from graduating who are not going to college and don’t necessarily need to do community service to graduate, because we don’t want to say ‘Oh you’re not doing 20 hours of community service, you can’t graduate,’ and we were having a hard time holding students accountable for graduation requirements which aren’t required by the state,” Curtis Johnson, the principal at State High, said.
Even though the community service requirement is no longer in effect, there may be community service requirements for admission into college, as well as clubs that require community service hours. Colleges tend to look for students who have more community service on their transcripts. Luckily, the counseling team is hoping to help inform and guide students about this. Community service has turned from a policy into a procedure. A policy is something that the school board requires and a procedure is a recommended process. The counseling office will still accept community service forms, add hours to transcripts, and offer a list of community service opportunities for students.
“We’ve always talked about community service as something that every student should be working towards partly because it was a graduation requirement but also because it’s important at a few levels,” Paul Brigman, a counselor at State High, said.
“One, college applications. Many colleges do require some community service or look at is as a factor on who’s admitted. Two, scholarships. Frequently noted requirements in any scholarship are volunteer hours and students can gain access to scholarship money. Three, to help students become informed citizens and give back through their time, really is a good recommended life lesson that will prepare them for the future,” Brigman said.
Positive effects of the change
First of all, it was notably a large issue that many students did not have the ability to graduate due to failure to complete this requirement. Once again, the requirement was not a statewide policy and was a school-specific procedure, so the school board had trouble holding students accountable. A positive effect of removing the requirement is that many students won’t be prevented from graduating, ultimately increasing the number of students who successfully graduate from State High.
Another positive effect is that without the community service requirements, students’ graduation requirements are now balanced out and have more achievable goals for students to accomplish. Comparably, there used to be a graduation project requirement, which seemed unrealistic to students. With block scheduling, it is important that rules and requirements are updated throughout changes to keep goals of graduating realistic for students. As procedures at State High change, it is inevitable that old rules will be changed.
“I think it was a good idea because students are already stressed and pressured enough as it is and this just relieves some of the weight because it’s one of those things that can build up and you can just forget about it,” Patrick Langs, junior, said.
Lastly, the pressure of fulfilling this requirement is taken off a student’s plate, which helps to level the amount of stress a student faces in attempt to graduate. With the pressure being taken off of students, they have more of an ability to participate in and enjoy community service and learn life lessons. If community service is enforced, students may not understand the big idea and message of participating in community service.
Negative effects of this change
Students are either happy with this new community service requirement or completely against it. As students go through life, experience in helping the community is worth more than a form a student has to turn in.
“I do not think it was a good idea,” Michelle Cassidy, senior, said. “It is something that is valuable and colleges like seeing it on applications, it also is good for the community.”
Many students are happy with the change because that means no work. But there is more to it than that. If students learn that they don’t have to help their community and the people around them, then it is not giving them a good outlook on the rest of life. By not enforcing community service it is making students feel as if they can become lazy, which is not a good outlook on their future experiences.