Aidan Sarazen, Will Nuelle, & Tanya Calvin
These positions do not necessarily represent the opinion of each writer, they are merely to get conversation going.
Service needs to take a bigger role in our school’s framework. As it stands, Freshmen and Sophomores have to complete a pretty small amount of hours and then upperclassmen are left to their own devices. The prevailing logic there would be that Juniors and Seniors find an activity they really like and stick with it, but in most cases that’s not how it works out. Such is the case for me: I worked 60 hours of volunteer work with High Jump during my Sophomore and beginning of Junior year, but ended up not being able to fully commit myself because I was juggling so many other things. Not that I didn’t love what I was doing, because I did, but I had to balance doing things I liked (service) and doing things I needed to do (homework, sports training, other commitments). A lot of students feel the same way. There are two remedies for this issue:
1. Make service something we need to do.
2. Cut down on the things we need to do so that we have time to do service.
Both solutions stem from the same idea that we are very fortunate. We need to be more committed to service not just as individuals, but as a community. It’s far less important to learn every week for 35 hours than to become functioning citizens who care about the community. As some of the most privileged people in the city (and not just by measure of affluence) we have a duty to give back that exceeds our need to learn about trigonometry. I don’t believe that requirements make people dislike service. Some people will gravitate towards service and others will be repelled by it, but that is the nature of the work. If people have to do hours, like it or not, work is getting done.
As a new student in the ninth grade, I soon realized Latin students were good at everything (or so it seemed). It felt like everyone was on a sports team, did some form of art, did well in every class, and still had time to fulfill their ten hour service requirement. Granted, ten hours over a school year isn’t that bad, but sophomore year I ended up cramming twelve hours into a couple of months. That was my fault due to my poor time management, but I had a lot going on! Planning the work and getting it done felt so stressful that I don’t think I got anything out of it, to be completely honest. Even the time we spent doing service during flex blocks was annoying because I wanted to do homework or study for a test instead. I realize that sounds selfish, putting my grades above the wellbeing of others who aren’t as fortunate as I am, but if I go to a school where the standards for success are so high, I would appreciate some flexibility when it comes to service. Incorporating service into my other extracurriculars, like the sports teams do, seems more reasonable. Then, if I found something I loved as much as Tricia Crimmins loves tutoring kids, or as much as Bella Shindler loves supporting adult literacy, maybe I would be able to put more into it. As of now, though, between a demanding curriculum and time consuming activities, it’s just not realistic.
Latin’s service requirement doesn’t need to be lowered, heightened, or toyed with in any way; the service requirement is fine how it is. Having a service requirement is absolutely necessary. It encourages students to try new ways of giving back to the community and allows them to discover an area of service in which they feel passionate about. The thirty hours of service required between freshman and sophomore year is nothing to be complained about; completing thirty hours of service over two school years is a minor task. The students who criticize the service requirement for being too hefty are the same students who manage their time poorly and wait until the spring to fulfill the requirement.
Surprisingly, there are some outlying students who think Latin’s service requirement is not sizable enough. The desire of those students to expand Latin’s role in helping the community is commendable. However, raising the service requirement isn’t going to do much except cause an uproar among students, parents, and faculty who will think the role of service at Latin has become all-consuming. Those who argue that a balance should be struck by increasing the presence of community service at Latin and decreasing workload are simply being unrealistic. As a high school, Latin’s role is to provide its students with an education. Latin is supposed to introduce its students to a variety of service opportunities, and the philosophy behind community service. Service does not need to be any more deeply ingrained into the Latin community. In general, Latin students are bright, passionate, and kind. Therefore, a simple introduction to community service (which is exactly what we already have) is enough for Latin students to understand its importance.