DHS promoting volunteerism with Community Service Endorsement

Demopolis High School students now have the opportunity to graduate with a Community Service Endorsement on their diplomas if they participate fully in a program that now is in its second year.

Students wishing to reach the achievement are required to complete 20 hours of community service each year they are enrolled at DHS.

“If a student does not start their freshman year, or if they are a senior this year and didn’t start last year, they cannot continue in the program,” program sponsor Cynthia Philips said, noting that the push now is geared toward getting freshmen signed up for the initiative. “This is their only chance to start. We want to make a big push to get as many freshmen so that we can get a large group in four years.”

The initiative is designed to help students bolster collegiate resumes as well as develop an affinity for volunteerism.

“Recognition for volunteer hours, but not in just a kind of sporadic manner. Some kids will get just a couple of hours here and there and they don’t document it. There’s no proof they did it. They put it on their resume and it sounds good. But, if a student were to consistently do 20 per year, then we felt like an endorsement (would make the resume look better),” Phillips said. “Some students aren’t athletes. Everyone has their niche and volunteerism is a niche. We felt like if we could start an endorsement and get kids to do a little bit more, then we could have something on the diploma and give them something for that extra work.”

In view of helping students strive to become lifelong community contributors, the program requires that students get their 20 hours each year in various areas of volunteerism.

“Any type of volunteering. They cannot get paid. It cannot be during school hours. It can be during Tiger Period. They can tutor students. There are several nursing homes and hospice. Any church, like Vacation Bible School over the summer. Some students have worked at the Bigbee Humane Society. Adopt-a-Mile cleanups. Christmas on the River. We just did Renew Our Rivers and several kids came and got hours that way,” Phillips said. “You can’t do all 20 of one type. You have to have a minimum of 12 out in the community or in your church. Tutoring for three hours, that can be through the Theo Ratliff Center or through a teacher as long as it is supervised by a teacher. The only rule on tutoring is that they cannot tutor their classmates or their friends on the same subject that they’re enrolled in. That’s just studying.”

Phillips believes that if students make the habit of volunteering over the course of four years in various areas, that the habit will take.

“We want to make it a lifelong achievement. We want them to do it a little bit at a time so that they’ll see throughout the four years how important it is and hopefully carry on with it. If they just shove 80 hours in in three months, they’re just doing it to get the endorsement,” Phillips explained.