In the Middle School, community service is not a requirement for students. The act of community service can be an asset to the development of the “intellect and character” of students. Therefore, I believe that community service should be mandatory in our middle school.
The New York Times suggests, “Voluntarism is good for the health of people who receive social support, but also good for the health of people who offer their help.”
By doing community service, students obtain a better understanding of social issues which will fuel ideas of taking larger steps to make change. For example, by gardening for less fortunate schools, students will
be helping their community first hand; those doing the service and those receiving the help both benefit from the work.
At ASL, students are given many opportunities to grow as learners. We have great teachers as well as material resources such as whiteboards, laptops, stationery, sports fields, text books and more. These things are luxuries that many people around the world do not have access to.
With the number of resources provided, using the skills we gain at school to better communities around us teaches the values of service; thinking about what you do have, and what others do not lead to more well informed, empathetic students.
Additionally, Mr. Payson Bullard, the director of student life said, “One of the challenges of making community service required would be finding ways in which students could serve the community in a meaningful way connected to the learning they are doing in the classroom.”
There are dozens of opportunities for students to connect what they are doing in the classroom to service outside of the classroom. While the five core academic classes do not teach the value of volunteering, they could incorporate service learning into the curriculum.
For example, the social studies classes could arrange a tea for World War II veterans to give back to those who fought during the historical period being studied. Community service should be as much a mandatory part of our school’s objective as math or science. It should be an opportunity for the acquirement of leadership abilities, empathy, teamwork, decision-making skills and more, both inside and outside of the classroom.
According to a survey sent out to all middle school students, 79 percent do not do any form of community service outside of school. Community service can include working at a local soup kitchen, donating old clothes, supporting senior citizens, fundraising for important causes, reading to the visually impaired and much more. While students may not participate in volunteering on their own or with their families, by requiring it at school, they may develop an understanding about the difference they are making and how rewarding it may be.
Mrs. Dina Dacy, the head of the Community Connection Grants said, “For what I have been chairing for the last number of years, we only have a certain amount of money we can give out so we can only have a finite amount of kids for some of the projects we organize.”
The middle school administration should team up with the PCA (parent community association) and the teachers to require all middle school students to take part in a community service day once every semester. The PCA meet regularly throughout the year to plan and organize community service days; however, students are not obligated to attend these events.
At one time, there was required community service in the middle school. Each grade 7 homeroom would spend one Saturday at a soup kitchen to prepare food, and each grade 8 homeroom would spend one Saturday at a soup kitchen to serve food. However, that ended in the early 2000s because health and safety laws meant that people had to be at least 16 to work in a kitchen or to serve food.
Mrs. Solange Kidd, a middle school French teacher said, “I think that the students enjoyed it because it put things in perspective for them. It made them appreciate what they have.”
By requiring students to contribute to these events, and by having them reflect on the days in class, it will create a positive experience for all those involved.
Volunteering in different ways can help gain innovative perspectives on the world and develop understandings on ways to make significant change. It exposes a purpose to our actions and role in this world. I believe that the requirement of community service should be included in our middle school because all students deserve to find their purpose.