Seniors struggle to meet community service requirements

Adin McGurk

Just months from the graduation of Wilson’s class of 2018, 42 percent of the grade is short of the required 100 community service hours, and 14 percent have no hours at all.

This has not gone unnoticed by the school’s administration. The counselor’s office has decorated its walls with potential opportunities for volunteer hours, adding a complete and frequently updated list of each senior’s status regarding community service hours directly outside of the office.

What defines acting accordingly, however, varies among seniors. The Beacon conducted interviews with three seniors that asked to remain anonymous regarding their stance on hours. Senior A is one of the many that has 0 community service hours accounted for in the counselor’s office.

The student brushed off questions on how this might affect their plans to graduate. “I don’t have any hours right now, but I’m not really worried about it,” they said. “Some of my friends just got someone to sign for them so I’ll probably just do that.”

Such methods for accounting for the 100 community service articles necessary to graduate are not uncommon among Wilson’s seniors. Senior B was around 20 hours short of the requirement when the deadline for college applications was approaching, but anything short of a full application was not an option. “At the last minute I made up a few hours here and there and got a club’s president to sign off on them,” they said. “The counselors clearly didn’t check them out or care that much, they were just glad I was getting them in.”

Diana Morataya, the Administrative Assistant in the counselor’s office, explained that inconsistencies or suspicious submissions are generally detectable. “If it’s within the school I can usually recognize the teacher’s signatures,” she said. “And if it comes from outside I will call or reach out to verify the hours. I’m really picky about it.” The form that must be submitted also requires a supervisor name, phone number, and organization’s tax ID number, which can be indications of a students dishonesty.

Student C felt that false accounting for hours was neither uncommon, nor entirely frowned upon. “I’ve had Wilson staff, not the counselors, tell me to lie about my community service because they don’t check.” While Student C is mistaken in their assertion that the counselor’s office does not verify hours, there is no way to prevent students from getting credit for hours that were not actually completed if supervisors from organizations that fit the DCPS guidelines are signing off.