Should Community Service be Mandatory?

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As the first semester comes to an end, students are scrambling to make sure they get their required hours, whether it be for government class and or honor societies. 

Some students belief community service hours should be mandatory, but with a due date closer towards graduation, rather than just the length of 1 year.

“It shouldn’t be required for just one year because it’s too much pressure [for students]. It should be mandatory for throughout the four years of highschool,” sophomore Bushra Osman, who received her volunteer hours working in a nursing home, said. “If you tell students to get 40 hours from freshman year to senior year, students will most likely get it done. If a teacher says you have to get it done within a certain 5 to 6 months, they’ll say ‘Oh okay’ and they’ll procrastinate.”

The mandatory community service hours has been apart of the 10th grade FCPS government class curriculum for the past few years, requiring students get 20 hours of volunteer hours, ½ of which is completed in the first semester and the rest to be completed in the second semester. 

Along with those mandatory hours for government, many students participate in Honor Societies, all of which require additional community service hours, usually in the form of tutoring.  

History teacher Jonathan York said, “Helping others out, you get an intrinsic value in yourself. You should feel good when you help other people out.” 

Although volunteering is a great way for people to get involved with their community and develop skills of leadership, communication, and more, the question of whether or not “volunteer” hours should be mandatory has been discussed.

For something to be volunteer work, many would assume it’s by the individual’s choice. Since schools require these hours for students, it contradicts this “choice”. As a result, students end up doing the community service not to help out the community, but to just meet graduation requirements. Is it better for students to help out, even if it’s for the wrong reasons?   

“I feel two ways about it. I don’t like the idea of forcing people to be good citizens, however, part of our responsibility here at school is to make our students good citizens and therefore I do support the idea of students having to do community service.” York said, “When we look at our overall goal of how we want our students to come out of Annandale High School, someone who has helped the community. ” 

On the other hand, just having students being more involved in their community, regardless of the reason is beneficial, a sentiment League of Women Voters representative Camille Nelks believes.

“I think it’s a good way to introduce students to politics and the world we live in. You can learn a lot and it also sets help the groundwork for your future,” Nelks, an advocate for youth involvement in politics, said. “When I was young, I volunteered and did canvassing and stuff and I’ve voted ever since.”

Regardless of whether or not it’s right to make volunteer work mandatory, the requirement is still and most likely will stay in the FCPS curriculum.