Service rounds out high school education

February 5, 2012 by  

Where once Dedham High School students had to contribute 20 hours of community service to earn their high school diplomas, they now have to put in 40 hours.

With the increase in hours, school officials are looking for more varied opportunities for students in 9th to 12th grade at Dedham High.

“We need to be a little bit more creative in leading students to community service projects, but also hold them more accountable,” said Superintendent June Doe at a committee meeting, who admitted to fellow members that the program as it stands is lacking.

Ron McCarthy, principal of Dedham High School, put forward the idea that 10 hours of service should be required before a student enters the next grade. The hours would be documented and entered into the student’s record. He further suggested that students could use help choosing meaningful community projects from their class advisors or be awarded for community service that goes beyond the minimum requirements.

“I think we need to do a better job to promote activities kids can do and create a culture of giving back to the community,” McCarthy said. Postcard printing soliciting local non-profit agencies and community groups would help create awareness and expand the program in Dedham, broadening the pool of opportunities available to students.

McCarthy noted that when students buy into their activity and become passionate about the cause, they often exceed the 40 hour requirement.

With exceptional community service comes excellent recommendation for colleges, according to Joanne McCormick, guidance director for Dedham Public Schools.

“I think we need the program and we have to work out the kinks, but if I’m standing on the football field on graduation day and we have a student who has passed all classes, is a contributing member of the school and a good kid but doesn’t have 40 hours, I’m not going to tell you to deny them a high school diploma,” committee member Thomas Ryan said.