Community and volunteer service valuable for students

Booker T. Washington was quoted as saying, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” In a recent survey of Marshalltown High School students, it was reported that 2,200 hours of volunteer service were performed assisting local residents and businesses with tornado recovery efforts. Many student activity coaches, sponsors and parents are to be commended for rallying students to collectively help. Through these experiences, students were provided excellent opportunities to benefit psychologically, socially and cognitively.

The Marshalltown Community School District believes that students benefit greatly, both academically and emotionally, from volunteering their time to make their community and world a better place to live. This is why community and volunteer service experiences are recognized as one of the important indicators of college and career readiness, via the recently implemented Bobcat Ready program. Marshalltown High School students are challenged to engage in a minimum of 25 hours of documented and verified community service, while in high school, in order to meet the Bobcat Ready standard and students who engage in 200 or more hours are honored with a Silver Cord designation for their high school graduation ceremony. Marshalltown High School has partnered with TRANSEO, a mobile application, to assist students’ ease in documenting and verifying community service hours earned.

Students who participate in community and volunteer service develop real-world skills that will help them succeed in high school and beyond. They gain experience in leadership, problem-solving, collaboration with others, time management and communication. They develop a richer perspective of the community and world they live in and it often connects what they learn in school to the real world. For those seeking college admission and scholarships, those students who have participated in numerous documented volunteer service opportunities will often have a leg up on other applicants.

Participating in community and volunteer service activities helps to enhance student resumes by allowing students to obtain work-related skills prior to graduation, builds good references for employers in regards to community involvement and provides a forum to network with future potential employers. It also helps students develop civic and social responsibility skills and become more aware of what their community needs.

The beauty of volunteering is that anyone can participate. The most valuable skills that any volunteer can bring are passion, compassion, an open mind, a willingness to do whatever is needed and a positive attitude. The Marshalltown Community School District leaders are very proud of the efforts of our students and staff in the tornado recovery this summer and look forward to continuing to promote community and volunteer service as an important component of college, career and life readiness.

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Dr. Theron Schutte is superintendent of Marshalltown Schools.