By Emily Schmidt
Last week I was sitting on the bus when I overheard a freshman arguing with his friend about volunteering in high school. One boy believed that a certain number of community service hours are necessary to graduate, while the other boy thought they are entirely optional. As the only senior on the bus, I felt an obligation to dispel the unnecessary argument.
As one of the few districts in Pennsylvania where volunteer hours are recorded on transcripts, Council Rock School District has participated in the unique LINCS program for years. In the previous issue of the Indianite, I incorrectly stated that the district previously required students to partake in volunteer service in order to graduate. After speaking with Ms. Ann Grace, Assistant of the Career Services Office, I became informed that volunteer hours were never necessary but always optional.
To dispel confusion among past and present students of Council Rock School District, it is important to review the rules of the LINCS program under the Counseling Department’s webpage. Foremost, there will be new guidelines pertaining to background checks and clearances on February 1st, 2016 (see the web page for specifics). If an individual working directly with students does not fulfill the requirements prior to this date, all credits fulfilled after the date will be rejected.
Before completing volunteer hours, students should get the organization pre-approved to avoid disappointment and argument. The organization must be a non-profit organization and have no political or religious affiliation unless the work completed through the organization is non-religious. In these cases, the work must be carefully documented, as well.
Another important thing to note is the National Honor Society’s requirement of volunteer hours. To be part of this prestigious chapter at North, juniors must complete 45 service hours by the spring of their junior year and 50 hours by the fall of their senior year.
For more detailed information on the LINCS program, please visit http://www.crsd.org//Domain/222 or contact Dr. Helen Gross, Career-Community Service Coordinator, for questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite these opportunities, apathetic students often make excuses to avoid volunteering: I don’t have time. I can’t find any local places to volunteer. It’s not worth the work. It’s not required. But most of these excuses are not valid.
Just within Newtown’s wonderful community, I had the opportunity to work with Council Rock North senior Emma Lambert on her organization “Love Knots Preemie Bundles” this past summer. Launched last February, Lambert’s organization works to collect knitted or crocheted booties, hats, cuddle blankets, and bonding hearts for local premature babies. She celebrated her program’s immense success on October 6 at Newtown’s Corner Bakery. Having far surpassed her goal of creating and delivering 100 gift bag bundles, Lambert received the prestigious Girl Scouts Gold Award on November 6.
To validate my own personal experience, I looked to other resources to find the benefits of volunteering. According to the University of Nevada’s Area Extension Specialist Molly Latham, “The benefits reaped by the young people offering their service have a positive impact on them personally both immediate and into the future.”
Specifically, students who volunteer for an hour or more weekly are 50% less likely to participate in negative behaviors such as drinking, smoking, or doing drugs. Students who volunteer in high school are three times more likely to volunteer as adults, and 81% of Americans who volunteered in or prior to high school donate to charitable organizations as adults.
Statistics don’t lie. Thus, perhaps volunteer service should be mandatory once again in the Council Rock School District, as well as other schools in the area. It could be a true win-win situation for the students and the community. Honestly, what do we have to lose?