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Tips & Advice

Should High Schools Require Service Hours?

A lot of people might debate this question, mainly because it is an important topic to consider.  Should high schools have a community service requirement for students to graduate?  We know that community service is a good thing to participate in, but should it be required?  I interviewed two different individuals and got their thoughts about community service requirements for high school students. 

Krista Richardson, Director of Service Learning at Villa Duchesne, a private, Catholic girls’ school in St. Louis County; said that Villa Duchesne requires its students to participate in Service Learning.  Some of the sites include Head Start, EnergyCare, St. Vincent de Paul, Green Center, Marian Middle School, de la Salle Middle School, Cardinal Ritter Adult Day Care, Visiting Nurses Association, and more.

Why did Villa decide to implement the service learning requirement?

Krista:  “Goal 3 of Sacred Heart Schools states, ‘Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a social awareness which impels to action.’ I cannot remember a time when it was not part of our schools. I participated in service as a student at Villa myself (in the 70’s).”

Do you feel that service hours are essential for students to complete before they graduate?Why?

Krista: “As an alum, administrator and parent of an alum, it is essential that students experience a variety of service experiences (elderly, young, marginalized, etc). Service Learning at Villa goes hand in hand with Catholic Social Teaching.”

Do you think all high schools should require some sort of community service program to graduate?

Krista: “I cannot say ‘should’ but I feel the world would be a better place if all schools required it!”

As you can see, Krista feels that the world would be better if schools required students to participate in some sort of community service project. I also talked with Lauren Grimm, a recent graduate of Ladue Horton Watkins High School, about this question. Ladue does not require its students to participate in community service to graduate, but has many extracurricular organizations that participate in various service projects throughout the year.

Lauren said, "I don't do community service all that often. I do small things like make blankets for kids at Mercy Children's Hospital occasionally, but aside from that not much. However, there are a few organizations that I really like and would like to one day volunteer for, such as Stand Up 2 Cancer. I do enjoy giving back and the feeling that it gives me to see others much less fortunate or in a bad situation be happy and get a smile on their face.” 

Lauren believes that community service should be a graduation requirement for high school students.  She feels it would better prepare them for the real world by allowing them to interact with people who may live different lives than what students are accustomed to. 

“I do think it should be required before graduating high school because in a time where everyone's worlds revolve around themselves and now that we live in such a materialistic world I think it's important to see those different types of things.  I also think it’s a good way for students to become inspired and passionate about something.  Volunteering or doing service projects is so limitless in what you can do to help that there is always something out there for everyone."