Les Allison and Blaine Warkentine, both of the Masonic Lodge in Florence, awarded Marion High School Student Laura Savage her 3rd place certificate as well as a check for $2000 for her essay on forced volunteerism. Over 80 high schoolers around the state entered the contest.
Savage said she wasn’t even going to submit her essay since she didn’t think she would win. “I’m so glad I did submit it,” Savage said.
Ask What Your Community Can Do For You
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is in the service of others.” Although Gandhi was likely not speaking of forced volunteerism in high schools, his quote applies. The importance for students to be involved in their community can not be stressed adequately. When students volunteer, it not only leaves an impression on the community but the student also. With the continuous need for volunteer work and the benefits for both student and community, volunteerism should be made a mandatory part of the curriculum for all high school students.
With the implementation of mandatory community service, high schools would be
choosing to help their students before and after graduation. According to Classroom.Synonym.com, “service projects help students build character, prompt future community involvement, and boost academic achievement.” Through projects, students are taught through experience and will become more aware of problems facing our world. Roslyn High School in New York is already seeing the advantages of compulsory community service. Student feedback is predominantly positive, and many students have gone over the 40-hour requirement. Daniel Ostroff-Moskowitz, a sophomore, volunteered for over 300 hours at a camp for children with special needs. Afterward, he commented, “It has given me a new perspective on everything.” Gennifer Soren, a junior spent more than 500 hours working with children and teens at Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center. Through her time, she discovered she may want to work with children in her career (Ain, The Logic of ‘Mandatory Volunteerism’).
Of course, many see problems with mandatory community service. Even Rosyin High School had to fight its share of unhappy parents and students. However, just because there is public backlash does not mean it is not beneficial. Dr. James Hunderfund, the superintendent of Commack High School who has had mandatory community service for over a decade, said regarding the outcry, “How many students
would do homework if not required? We think it’s up to the professionals to decide what is important to learn and to do that, you have to have them experience it.” Parents still complained that their children did not have time, or forcing them to do community service would make them despise volunteer work. To prevent this, schools should change the way they require community service to be done instead of discontinuing the program altogether. Having a community service day would help students obtain the
required hours, expose them to volunteer work, and may convince some to spend more time volunteering. Also, students who feel like they do not have a place in high school may discover themselves through volunteer work.
Even though the debate will continue, high schools must continue to push the need for volunteer work. Without exposure, students will not fully comprehend problems facing our world and will live a more self-centered life. To be able to be helping community members as adults, they must first be involved as students before they walk across the stage.
Ain, Stewart. “The Logic of ‘Mandatory Volunteerism’.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Mar. 2003, https://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/23/nyregion/the-logic-of-mandatory-volunteerism.html.
“Mahatma Gandhi Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore,
Pearce, Cindi. “Pros & Cons of Mandatory Community Service Projects Before Graduation From High School.” Synonym, 27 June 2018,