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Intent determines effective community action

Ella Friel
There is an ongoing debate whether community service should be a High School graduation requirement. A discussion from early in December 2021 altered the way Staff Writer Ella Friel thought about community service as a requirement in the curriculum.

Enforcing community service can certainly be beneficial when helping students learn how they can help others and give back to their communities. However, some students may not be as driven to take part as others, which is why community service should not be a graduation requirement at ASL. 

Previously, I believed community service should be a requirement at the school because everyone deserves the opportunity to give back and help others. However, since talking to Director of Community Action Brandon Block, my perspective has changed.  

In 2018, Block said he sent out a survey to the graduating class to gather information regarding the number of students who participated in the Community Partnership Program at any point during high school, allowing him to determine whether making it a requirement for all students was necessary. The survey said 87% of the Grade 12 students had taken part in a community partnership, thus leading him to conclude that a requirement was not necessary. 

Broadly speaking, the intention and purpose of community service is to volunteer and help others on one’s own will. Therefore, making it a requirement will only modify the way one looks at service as a whole as well as defeat the purpose of volunteering. 

Ella Friel

Furthermore, there would be no value to community service if everyone felt obliged to participate, which is why individuals who choose to volunteer are praised rather than those who feel forced. As a result, we wouldn’t be able to distinguish who participates in community service on their own volition and who does because they feel obliged. Intentions are important for those working with you and those with whom you are working. 

While it is important to offer the school community opportunities to get involved, in the long run, volunteering out of passion is much more significant. Instead, participating because you feel forced will, ultimately, make something that’s supposed to be rewarding feel like a chore. 

In fact, many schools and programs, such as the International Baccalaureate, require their students to partake in a certain number of hours in order to receive a diploma or graduate. IB students must complete 150 CAS – creativity, activity, service –  hours to receive their diplomas. 

However, hours are not the most ideal measure of contribution. One could participate in some form of community service for a large number of hours and get almost nothing out of it for themselves as well as making little impact from the time they contributed. On the other hand, one could also participate for a smaller amount of hours and generate a tremendous impact with significant contributions to the community.

Additionally, for some students, volunteering could add additional stress to some of their lives as they may not have the time to commit to volunteering or complete 100 hours of community service. Many students may have other commitments and demands on their schedules, such as exams and sports, that give them less time to volunteer.

Ella Friel

Wanting to participate in community service creates a more positive and comfortable environment for the student and those they are helping. With various ways to volunteer – tutoring, soup kitchens, animal care, sports help – everyone can find at least one that they are interested in. Ultimately, a true passion in volunteering will make any contribution much more worthwhile. 

I was never particularly interested in volunteering and community service. However, I also never realized certain beneficial aspects which I think are what drove me to engage in my current community partnership, PACE.  

At PACE, you play sports, do crafts and look after younger children for a couple of  hours. This made me realize that community action comes in more forms than working in a soup kitchen or gardening. I don’t think my inclination to do it would have been the same if it was compulsory. 

I started doing community service through the school once a week, which I decided to participate in out of my own desire to try something new and do something for the wider London community. Knowing that I did it out of my own will, it is an incredibly rewarding experience; however, the feeling wouldn’t be the same if made involuntary. 

Encouragement, on the other hand, is definitely beneficial, something the school should continue to do. Service has introduced me to many different backgrounds and helped me discover something that I didn’t think I would originally enjoy. In some circumstances, however, it can be very demanding for some students. 

There are many different aspects of and approaches to community service that you can take as an individual. If it’s not up your alley or you feel like you can’t fit it into your schedule, that shouldn’t be an issue. There are plenty of other ways for High School students to engage with their community and enhance their high school experience.

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About the Contributor
Ella Friel
Ella Friel, Opinions Editor: Print
Ella Friel (’25) is the Opinions Editor: Print for The Standard. She began journalism in Grade 9 when she joined the paper as a staff writer and has enjoyed being able to write stories and express her opinions on the publication ever since. Outside of the newsroom, Friel is a member of the Community Action Council and enjoys spending her time volunteering and playing tennis.

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