It has become common occurrence to hear students complain about the community service requirement to graduate and how they have yet to complete it. As the year comes to a close, some Carmel High seniors are still scrambling to complete their community service graduation requirement of 60 hours, which over the course of four years isn’t much.
Take someone who volunteers at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Students at CHOMP are required to volunteer for two hours a day, twice a month. It’d only take a volunteer 30 visits to complete her service hours. That’s a fraction of your high school life.
It is also not a hassle to find volunteer opportunities, with Carmel High providing community service on and off campus.
Up until this school year, the freshman class typically earned eight hours of community service by cleaning up the beach or gleaning fields, making the environment healthier and maintains the beauty of nature, equivalent to 13 percent of each student’s required service hours completed in only one day. This year, the freshman class is participating in the Empty Bowls project to help Ag Against Hunger, for which each student receives four hours for completing a bowl and four hours for selling them during Open House.
Even outside of the mandatory community service projects during freshman year, the school provides opportunities for students to help others, like the blood drive, run by the Red Cross Club, which supplies blood to CHOMP and the Red Cross, so students shouldn’t be at a loss when they need to find community service.
Outside of earning required hours for graduation, community service provides other personal benefits including work experience and scholarships for college. By volunteering at CHOMP, I have met my community service requirement and obtained work experience in a hospital and the opportunity to earn a $1,000 scholarship.
The Dec. 13 issue of The Sandpiper reported on a volunteer opportunity for students to enhance their public speaking, interpretation skills and knowledge on sea life at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. No matter what your community service is, the work you do can influence what career you chose to pursue or boost your résumé.
According to the State of California Department of Industrial Relations, minors under the age of 18 cannot work without a work permit, which can limit a student’s experience they can put on a résumé, but by volunteering, students can put their service as previous employment or work experience. An employer is more than likely to hire someone with any form of work experience, whether it is paid or volunteer work.
Despite these benefits, students still complain about the volunteer requirement for graduation, but CHS is not the only school to offer community service opportunities and require a certain amount of hours to graduate.
Sara D. Sparks reported in August 2013 to “Education Week” that Maryland requires students to fulfill 75 hours of community service hours, 15 hours fewer than our school’s requirement. While Maryland is the only state to require universal service learning, Sparks reported that several large districts, including Chicago, Atlanta and Philadelphia require community service hours for graduation.
CHS students are not alone with dealing with a community service requirement for graduation, and in the long run it is not a big deal. By volunteering, students earn work experiences, earn possible scholarships and help their community. The worse case scenario is you lose a fraction of your high school life by helping people in need.