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TUSD makes service learning graduation requirement

POSTED September 18, 2012 10:01 p.m.

Whether it’s picking up trash, scrubbing down the water parks, or raking the lawns of elderly community members during the 5th Annual Turlock Shines event, sophomore high school students will be required to actively participate in organized service experiences in order to graduate. The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved a new community service requirement for 10th through 12th grade students — effective immediately.  

The TUSD Service Learning Requirement is a community service plan for high school students at eCadamy Charter at Crane School, Pitman, Turlock and Roselawn Continuation high schools that will be placed into effect this school year.

“Through Service Learning, young high school students will learn and develop through active participation in a thoughtfully organized service experience,” said Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Lacrisha Ferriera.  “There are many community agencies who would welcome any and all types of student support and it would be a win-win situation with both our community agencies and our students in a good community partnership.”

Under the TUSD Learning Requirement, sophomores and juniors will need five hours of public service completed by the end of their second semester along with a parent/guardian verification form, service learning log, and service learning completion form, which would count as 5 percent of their second semester history grade.  Seniors need to complete 10 hours, counting as 10 percent of their American government semester grade.

“If the student does not wish to participate and if parents are not comfortable with their student participating,  there’s an alternate assignment, which entails a community service essay that requires the student to pick one prompt and to write a 2,000 word essay citing three sources,” added Ferriera.

Suggested activities to fulfill community service requirements include volunteering at churches, nursing homes or animal shelters, tutoring younger students, or working at nonprofit events.

“There are many organizations who are interested in having our high school students actively participate,” said Ferriera.  “The Chamber of Commerce is looking for students to help with folding newsletters and stuffing envelopes.  The City of Turlock, Emanuel Medical Center, Meals on Wheels, Salvation Army, United Samaritans, and Westside Ministries are other organizations who are reaching out to students to help with community service.”

While board members were in favor of implementation of the program, many were concerned with the students’ safety.

“I think it’s a great graduation requirement,” said Trustee Josh Bernard. “When the students go to these different places to fulfill their community service, would they be covered if something were to happen to them?”

Other board members shared Bernard’s concern with safety and asked for a better screening process when they perform their services.

“I know a lot of schools require their students to perform community services in order to graduate,” said Trustee Frank Lima.  “We need to find out if these organizations are liable for our students if in case something were to happen to them.”

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