As the latest group of seniors have come and gone, most have successfully graduated and are now ready to move on to the next chapter of their lives. However, many seniors who graduate complete their entire high school career without completing any form of community service. Throughout a high school education, students learn many valuable lessons, yet students can learn even more from completing community service. Service hours should be a graduation requirement for all students due the experiences and lessons that they provide the students with outside of school.
Community service provides students with unique lessons that last for a lifetime. However, many students chose to not volunteer. And students have the right to their choices. Many students are inundated with schoolwork, sports, jobs; the list goes on. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are many students who regularly complete community service and do not need a requirement for them to do so. Regardless of the student’s past experience, the benefits of community service outweigh any cons associated with committing the additional time.
Amassing meaningful volunteer hours should be an vital piece of a student’s high school experience, and students should understand the importance of giving back to their respective communities. Rather than volunteering just to enhance a student’s resume, the community service should involve something that the student is interested in, career-oriented perhaps. Students should value the opportunities that are accessible to them, opportunities that both enhance their application and equip them with essential career skills.
Several sports teams already volunteer during their seasons, and they use the opportunity to help the less fortunate and bond with their team. Clubs including the Humane Society— a club that raises money and volunteers at local animal shelters—already devote their time to help the community. Mandating community service as a component of graduation would also encourage students to join these beneficial clubs to fulfill the requirement. Additionally, Walpole High School’s National Honor Society requires that each prospective member commit 20 hours to community service prior to admission. Members must also complete an individual service project during their senior year in the organization. Both requirements are not a hindrance for students but instead allow students to expand their horizons and get out of their comfort zone to enact positive change. Service is also a pillar of the National Honor Society. This requirement should not only be exclusive to this club, but rather for all Walpole students.
In the past, Walpole High School took a community service trip to Peru, and they plan to take a similar one to Tanzania next April. Obviously, money is a major factor that contributes to these trips, so students should not be necessarily expected to demonstrate service to this caliber; however, students can complete similar service on a smaller scale. Community service comes in many forms, and there is a form of service that coincides with each student’s values. Private schools regularly require volunteer hours from their students. Xaverian Brothers High School, for example, requires an individual service project from each senior to graduate. Many public schools have mandated community service as a graduation requirement as well, including high schools in Dedham, Dover-Sherborn and Natick. Universities value students who give up their own time for others, and they subsequently give away scholarships to high school students who give back to the community. Although students should not volunteer solely to receive scholarships, there are rewards for doing so.
Students should be encouraged to seek opportunities where they gain experience outside of the classroom and carry their in-school education to real-world scenarios. Therefore, Walpole High School should consider implementing mandatory community service hours as a graduation requirement.