Community Service: A Benefit or a Detriment?

By Bryan Koester, ’14

In our day and age, high school diplomas are becoming harder to obtain, with new requirements almost every year. It seems like the reason for this is to create a better, well rounded and more sophisticated student. The latest addition: community service, which has been spreading across the country over the past two decades.

This all started in Maryland. In 1992, a new mandate was passed that required students to do 75 hours of community service to obtain their diploma. In Maine, we have similar requirements, but localized per district rather than the entire state. For example, Old Orchard Beach require 20 hours, whereas in Edward Little, 24 hours of community service are required.

Coming from the San Diego district of California, I am not used to such requirements. In  fact, I think they’re completely unnecessary to receive our diploma and make it harder on the average student.

Being a high school student, or even a teenager, comes with many difficulties. You’re forced to find yourself, to grow up and start making adult decisions, and you’re constantly attacked as it is with judgement. Growing up is difficult.

So to throw on another requirement, besides getting good grades, going home to do chores or go to work, making friends and finding yourself, you’re now required to use what little free time you have to do community service.

Which, brings me to another question. When you’re forced to work for free to graduate, forced to volunteer, is it still volunteering? Where is the line between our freedom and communism?

Some people, such as representative Justin Chennete from the state of Maine, might argue that community service does us well. Representative Chennete has done over 2,000 hours of community service and has been awarded the presidential award from Barack Obama. He believes that it teaches high school students people skills, the value of helping our community, and gives a more hands on environment outside of the classroom.

Mr. Galway, principal to the seniors this year, said “it’s important for young people to be involved with their community…”

I have to say I agree with him and many others as I have done community service on my own and enjoyed it. It has taught me people skills, the value of honest work, but my next question is will a required set of community service hours teach the same lesson? Will anyone go back and do more hours, even though it feels like the same punishment criminals get, regardless of its good intentions?

Mr. Galway said he hopes students “will find something meaningful, to benefit from,” in the required hours.

Teachers, parents, and students, let us know what you think in a comment below.

 

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