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Community service benefits everyone involved

Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2007

Give Homer High School students, parents, teachers and administrators an A+ for urging the Kenai Peninsula Borough school board to reinstate a 30-hour community service project as a must for graduation from the school.

And kudos to the school board for doing just that.

No one wants to add requirements that discourage students from graduating, but this particular requirement might well contain some of the most valuable lessons students ever learn, including it's more blessed to give than to receive.

Not only that, but the service projects connect teens to community members they might otherwise never know and vice versa. They provide the kind of real-life experiences that could very well lead to life-changing career decisions. At the very least, they help an array of nonprofits in the community and that benefits all of us.

Maybe even more than other school projects, the community service work has immediate meaning.

The service projects provide tangible evidence that everyone can make a difference in their community. You don't have to have a college degree. You don't have to have lots of money. You don't have to have lots of time after all, is anybody more time-pressed than a high school senior trying to pack everything in during that final year before college or some other adventure?

The service projects also set a valuable example for the rest of us. If high school students can contribute 30 hours of community service during the course of a year, then what about the rest of us? It's less than an hour a week closer to 35 minutes a week spread over 52 weeks.

Even if we don't have 35 minutes to spare every week, 35 minutes here and there can be put to good use by a host of helping agencies in the area. With the holidays coming up, our 35 minutes could be put to good use in the weeks ahead and provide a priceless gift to some of the more overworked volunteers in the community.

As Homer school board member Liz Downing pointed out: "From a student experience, they hear 'community service' and think in terms of punishment, when actually it's an opportunity that reaps rewards personally and for the community, as well."

In thinking of the upcoming holiday season, perhaps we all should think in terms of giving a gift to ourselves: volunteering.

Thanks to Homer High seniors for providing a great example.



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