Path to mandatory community service shrouded in confusion

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Path to mandatory community service shrouded in confusion

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Alex Metzger

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The graduating class of seniors stands proudly at DC’s grand Constitution Hall as they are handed diplomas. Some know what they would like to do in life, while others face the smiles and handshakes with no plan for their next four years. They all share one similarity though: throughout the process of completing their 100 hours of mandatory community service, they lacked Wilson’s guidance. No matter what their circumstances, they faced the daunting challenge of collecting enough hours to graduate on time.

Wilson students consistently gain their hours through odd jobs around the school itself, summer camps, and coaching or teaching in their communities. Doing random tasks such as filing papers, grading assignments, organizing cabinets, manual labor around the classroom, and generally skirting around actual service seems to be a profound consistency. Another trend I have noticed is that the majority of student service hours are gained through activities done over the summer. For example, working at a summer camps, coaching, or refereeing little league sporting divisions. My conclusion from all of this is that since these activities take place out of school and not during the school year, Wilson doesn’t do much in assisting students with their hours.

I originally obtained my required hours as part of my bar mitzvah through a non-profit organization called “Open Book Foundation,” which I am now returning to in order to complete the rest of my hours. This non-profit was easy for me to find because I knew the owner, but other Wilson students may not be as lucky. This pertains to the issue that some Wilson students have more service opportunities and connections than others, and Wilson isn’t doing nearly enough to level the playing field.

Why doesn’t Wilson set up a system that promotes service through corporate outlets such as non-profits, instead of through work that doesn’t provide meaningful job experience? Wilson should supply their students with opportunities like volunteering in soup kitchens or setting up monthly check in systems in case they fall behind on their hours.

Community service is a necessity for high school students to gain life lessons and learn the importance of giving back. The current system that Wilson has makes it incredibly difficult to reach those goals. There are plenty of ways to meaningfully fulfill the service requirement, if only Wilson students knew about them. •