Saturday, February 2, 2013

Community Service Graduation Requirement: Making 21st Century Global Citizens

In order encourage civic engagement and to foster the idea that giving back to the community in which we live is a virtue, our school adopted a community service requirement for graduation early in its founding. At our high school, students are required to earn 150 hours of community service before they graduate. In order to make sure students earn those hours, we have implemented a rather simple system that ensures our students meet these requirements.

Here’s 4 considerations for those who wish to implement a community service graduation requirement.
  • Maintain community service folders for each student. These folders need to be reviewed periodically by administration or a guidance counselor, and students and their parents need to be informed regularly about their status toward earning their community service credit for graduation. Communication and reminders to students to get their community service hours in is a must.
  • Allow students to count a variety of civic activities toward their community service hours. For example, our students often engage in mission trips or work as interns during the summer months. We allow students to count those hours toward their community service credit. They only need provide a letter of documentation from someone responsible for the activity.
  • Contact community and civic organizations and let them know about your community service requirements and that your students are available. For example, our county library and community theater uses our students often as volunteers, and these organizations contact us when they have possible community service opportunities. Making sure the community knows about the requirement means they will often reach out to the school when they need volunteers.
  • Make it the student’s responsibility to make sure their hours are properly documented. We do not use a community service coordinator or other person to maintain this program. Students know that it is their responsibility to provide us with proper documentation. This makes implementing a community service requirement relatively inexpensive.
Adding a community service credit to graduation requirements can be done without major expenses and without overburdening an already busy staff. In our 21st century global society, it is vital our students engage in the greater community as volunteers to be proper global citizens. Implementing a community service graduation requirement will give students the opportunity to act as involved citizens.

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