As deadline nears, 271 students must still fulfill service requirement

 

By Alex Leichenger

Nearly one-third of the upper school student body has yet to fulfill the community service requirement. As of Friday, some 271 students have not completed a four-hour hands-on project in a group of at least four Harvard-Westlake students.

The community service deadline is June 2.

The Community Council has held an array of events during the last several weekends and discussed ways to prevent widespread procrastination in the future.

“Probably one of the most radical ideas we’ve tossed around is the idea of eliminating the requirement and concentrating on people who really want to be there in the first place,” Community Council Father J. Young said. “I’m not saying at all we’re going to do that, but it is an idea we’ve talked about.”

The Council has also considered increasing the requirement, Young said.

The body is continuing to think of new ways to provide opportunities to fulfill the current requirement. One of their ideas is planning enough events during a single weekend for an entire grade of students to fulfill their requirements, though Young believes it is logistically unrealistic.

On a smaller scale, Young mentioned the idea of students completing community service in dean groups. The Community Council already implemented many community service projects for sports teams this year.

Ninety-eight of the students who had not completed the assignment were seniors. The school maintains a policy that seniors who do not complete their community service by the June 2 deadline will not receive diplomas at commencement June 11, Assistant to the Head of Upper School Michelle Bracken said. Students who fail to finish the required community service by the deadline are often required to complete eight additional hours of service over the summer, Community Council adviser Jordan Church said.

Young said that there’s not a lack of publicity for the Council and the requirement which is causing students not to do itfulfilled it.

“If they’re not aware of the [requirement] by now, it’s because they’re choosing not to be aware of it,” Young said. “If I was a senior right now, it’d be really hard for me not to be aware that I have to do it.”

Community Council Head Cindy Ok ’10 agreed that the Council publicizes its events and mission extensively through e-mails, posters, the Community Service Week earlier this year and the first Community Council publication, which will come out soon.

However, she believes many students do not know anything about the Council or the requirement.

“A lot of kids actually don’t even know what Community Council is,” she said.

The number of events is also not a factor, Young and Ok said, though many events in the final weeks have lacked enough space for all the students who have not yet fulfilled the requirement.

“If you look at the number of events that we host throughout the year and the number of spots that creates on an annual basis, we’ve more than covered the entire student body,” Young said. “So we don’t feel compelled to do like 20 events on one weekend at the end of school to make up for kids’ procrastination.”

Ok praised the great deal of students who want to go “above and beyond” the requirement, but acknowledged she’s frustrated with the students who have not completed the requirement.

“We can’t change the attitudes of the student body,” Ok said. “We have no power over the concern or lack of enthusiasm that [some] students bring to the table. We do our job by planning events and trying to build up the community and trying to form the bonds in Harvard-Westlake, while obviously keeping the mission to take that energy and bring it to the greater Los Angeles area and the community of New Orleans and areas overseas. But [the Community Council] as a group of 16 students will never be able to change whether or not people are interested in our mission.”

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