Community service crunch for Central students

Central+students+Matthew+Lehman%2C+Skylar+Finkel%2C+and+Bella+Thomas+and+Dance+Marathon+at+UF+coordinators+Rachel+Berman%2C+Alexis+Pollack%2C+and+Michael+Sommer+pose+at+Adventure+Mini+Golf+during+a+Dance+Marathon+Community+Night.+Events+like+Dance+Marathon%2C+promoted+by+NHS%2C+help+students+earn+much+needed+community+service+hours.

Photo courtesy of Brielle Young

Central students Matthew Lehman, Skylar Finkel, and Bella Thomas and Dance Marathon at UF coordinators Rachel Berman, Alexis Pollack, and Michael Sommer pose at Adventure Mini Golf during a Dance Marathon Community Night. Events like Dance Marathon, promoted by NHS, help students earn much needed community service hours.

Brielle Young, Co-Editor in Chief

Earning community service hours is an incredibly important aspect of one’s high school career; whether it be to satisfy the graduation requirement, the Bright Futures scholarship, for college admissions, or to build character and give back to one’s community, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to earn these hours. However, there are service opportunities available to students who need them. 

Without a doubt, the Coronavirus has put earning community service hours on pause for many as students were sent home for what was believed to be an extra-long spring break turned into a nationwide quarantine. During this time, earning community service hours was the last thing on anyone’s mind. 

However, due to the growing necessity of helping hands and open hearts during this unprecedented time, community service opportunities gradually began to develop, only these opportunities had to be virtual or with social distancing restrictions. 

Even though COVID-19 has limited the availability of in-person opportunities, a new online format allows for people to connect over a new medium with the same passion and importance for helping others as there would be in a live setting. 

This is especially true for Palm Beach Central students who, either to continue to serve their communities or curb their quarantine boredom, are in need of community service opportunities. 

In order to graduate, students are required to earn 20 community service hours. In order to receive these hours, students must submit documentation of these hours, as well as a signature verifying them. Graduation will be here for seniors before they know it and, for those seniors in a time crunch to look for hours, the COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly causing apprehension.

Furthermore, students who are enrolled in AICE courses and are looking to earn their AICE Diplomas are required to earn 100 community service hours to receive the Bright Futures Scholarship, should this option be the one they use to earn it. While this process of gathering community service hours begins in one’s freshman year to earn this prestigious scholarship, students just beginning their service journeys early in high school and those who are beginning as upperclassmen may feel stressed about not earning enough hours before the August 31 deadline. 

“As of right now, yes, students need the hours for Bright Futures,” shared Guidance Counselor Ms. Mills.

Additionally, due to the impact of COVID-19, Student Aides who are not on campus are required to get 50 community service hours by the end of both semesters, totaling 100 hours for the school year. 

Palm Beach Central’s Student Government Association has provided students with links to community service opportunities that they can participate in virtually. These include volunteering as a translator, retirement home mentor, or tutor in a variety of subjects. Nevertheless, it is important to note that while these opportunities are being advertised by Palm Beach Central, these service projects are not affiliated with the school itself. 

To continue, the guidance department also posts community service opportunities for students to take advantage of. These opportunities are posted on grade-level Google Classroom pages, and they are occasionally sent to students through email. According to Ms. Mills, the school district and the community notify PBC about service opportunities to share.

Virtually, PBC offers community service clubs that are offering opportunities for students to get involved while meeting other like-minded peers. Two organizations, Key Club and UNICEF offer members community service opportunities as they participate in virtual events and activities they can do an individuals. Both clubs have lowered their member dues since eliminating in person events.  Key Club is now $15 while UNICEF is currently $20.  Another adjustment they’ve made is that all dues can be paid online through SchoolCashOnline.com. It is still possible to participate in all of Central’s clubs, however, whether you pay dues or not. Some of these opportunities include: UNICEF’s Math for Good, virtual cards for St. Jude patients, Kiwanis online tutoring, and mask decorating, amongst others.

“It is very important to continue to make community service opportunities so that the student body can help their communities as well as fulfill obligations for community service,” shared SGA Senior Representative and Key Club Vice President Simone Assil.

There are also ways that students are able to search for community service opportunities on their own, even though it may be difficult. Students have found success with other organizations off-campus. 

One student-ran organization, Interns4Good, connects students with internship opportunities as well as serves as a networking tool for students to find developing companies or organizations in need of volunteers. Volunteers must submit an application in order to be accepted and considered as a volunteer and/or an intern. 

A popular group among students, Love Letters for Literacy, allows students to sign up to be volunteers and make cards for low-income and underprivileged children to help them learn the alphabet. Students can sign up with organizations, friends, family, or as individuals. In order to volunteer, students must ask for an information packet by contacting the nonprofit, all of which is done virtually. 

Overall, even through the Coronavirus pandemic, a need for community service is still present. Students looking for community service hours should not be discouraged during this time, as outside nonprofits and some PBC organizations are providing opportunities for any student to take advantage of. 

For more information please visit:

https://pbch.palmbeachschools.org/school_info/guidance_department

https://lovelettersliteracy.org/