BETHEL — Wood has been stacked for people who need help, chores have been done for a local church, and flowers planted at the high school, among other things, thanks to a community service requirement that began this school year at Telstar High School.
“This makes students aware of what’s going on in the community, not just the high school,” said Kallie Brown, a Bethel sophomore who has completed about 10 hours of the 45-hour community service requirement she needs for graduation.
She has helped paint one of the district’s offices, assisted during Freshman Awareness, inventoried school supplies, and staffed the phones for Project Opportunity which is a student scholarship/grant program.
The SAD 44 school board approved the new graduation requirement last year.
Every freshman must complete 60 hours by time they graduate. Each subsequent class has a reduced number to do, depending upon their grade level. Seniors must complete 15 hours.
The program is similar to one that Principal Dan Hart introduced at Dirigo High School when he served as principal in Dixfield several years ago. It worked well, so when he became Telstar’s principal, he worked to begin it here.
Toby Cole, a Greenwood resident and junior, said he thought finding the time to work on the community service requirement would be difficult. But it wasn’t.
“I just had to make time for it,” he said.
Some was done during the summer, and many of the hours he has already completed went to improve the school. He planted flower bulbs and applied mulch to preserve them. He stacked wood for a resident in his town. He asked people what they needed to be done. For the remainder of his commitment, he’d like to assist the weight-lifting teacher.
Sophomore Tim Jewell of Bethel also stacked wood for a local church, as well as cleaned up the high school’s stage and athletic room.
Although most students have generally sought and completed community service jobs, some have not been as willing as others. It’s the responsibility of each student to find projects and get the work done.
Jewell believes if others ask those who are not as willing to join them, then perhaps more would get done.
Sophomore Lyndsay Merrill also believes that providing students with ideas would help.
The Bethel student has also helped with painting in the school as well as worked on Freshman Awareness and helped with writing the school’s new mission statement.
“Community service gives our school a good reputation, to know that students want to help the community,” Merrill said.
Jewell also believes mandated community service is positive for students.
“It helps students learn to respect others who need help,” he said.