Community Service Reaps Rewards

By Brittany Bishop
Published: April 2010

Community service: colleges would like to see it on your application. Whatever it is’€volunteering at a soup kitchen, doing work for a charity’€admissions offices love to see students giving back to their communities.

According to Barbara Brown, Newton South’s college and career counselor, schools look to see that students have contributed in some way to the broader community, not necessarily just their city.

“There are a huge variety of things [that students can do], and colleges don’t talk about that in specific terms, Brown said. “They know that kids do a variety of things. There are kids who go and work in orphanages in South Africa; there are kids who work at the Newton Public Library; there are all kinds of ways to show that you have some sort of commitment to other people.

Although colleges do not require a specific number of hours, Brown explained that it is not sufficient to have done just one small piece of community service. Doing the Walk for Hunger one time in eighth grade isn’t considered community service.

Students must involve themselves in many activities that better society to have completely fulfilled community service requirements.

New Community Service Bill Passed by Senate:

Need-to-Know Facts

- South will implement a program recognizing all eligible community service completed between the end of 8th grade and the end of 12th grade, if the hours total more than 20.

- An official certificate of completion will be made available at the end of Term I for seniors applying to colleges, and near the end of every school year for the other classes. Certificates may be distributed at other times on an as-needed basis through the guidance offices.

- The bill may be altered to include a statement defining “community service so that fake service isn’t accounted for (eg. 24-hour church sleepovers that actually only involve a few hours of service).

- Responsibility for tabulating community service hours may be transferred from guidance counselors to other staff members.

- The senate believes that Newton South is not ready for a mandatory program. Such a dramatic change would bring the school from no program to a controversial extreme. This bill will allow for a middle ground, perhaps a step in one direction to be completed in the future.

- The bill serves two purposes: rewarding those who do community service regularly, on a school-wide basis, and encouraging others to participate more.

Brown noted that most students who come to her office have done something. “It may be a one-day walk, or two different one-day walks, or raising some money. I’m finding that most kids nowadays do, said Brown.

According to Brown, over the last five years, the community service field has expanded. In the past, students did not do enough community service to note on their resumes.

Brown described the different reasons for growth: a combination of singular family contributions, community needs, college pressures, and the overall rise of aid and assistance in today’s world.

“Kids have watched their parents become more involved with community service, Brown said. “Newton South is very community service-minded. They work very hard on different causes, and I think it’s absolutely wonderful that kids have really taken a lot of the stuff on [for] themselves.

On the other hand, Donna Gordon, head of the Community Service Club, said that students at Newton South have always been very involved in community service. Since she started managing the club, the number of kids engaged in volunteer work has stayed the same.

So, are kids working more on community service? Although there may not be a boost to the community service club, students seem to be doing more.

With an increase in volunteer opportunities and a growth in the level of students’ involvement in community service, students definitely seem to be caring more about their society and giving back for the sake of giving back, rather than just for college.

“Is part of it college driven? Maybe, said Brown, “but I think it’s really, for the most part, coming from good reasons.

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