Keeping Track of Community Involvement
Community service hours are an important aspect of a student’s high school career, often helping with scholarship offers and college admissions. But keeping track of them all and making sure they are properly recorded can sometimes be difficult.
So Sheboygan Falls High School is trying a new system to help. Starting this year, students can log into GetNvolved (www.getnvolved.org) to find service opportunities, record their hours and email them to teachers and community mentors for approval. Community groups and teachers can use the site to list activities and teachers can log in to monitor students’ progress and participation.
Sheboygan Falls High School counselor Janis Jarosch says the school has almost 200 students using the site so far. She is pleased with the way it is working.
"It is really convenient and a time saver since we used to use paper to keep track of hours,” Jarosch said.
Although community service hours are not a graduation requirement at Sheboygan Falls, students who have logged at least 150 hours of community service over their four years of high school are recognized at graduation.
The site was designed by Paul Vidas, of Two Rivers, Wisconsin. It has been used in 19 states and has recorded over 1 million hours of community service. Vidas, has worked with at-risk students in residential treatment centers, dropout prevention programs, the United Way and the YMCA.
He created the website because of his commitment to positive youth development, recognizing that there needed to be a more streamlined system for record-keeping and time management of community service hours.
The site is designed to highlight the connections between volunteer experiences and future careers, allowing detailed descriptions of service opportunities and which career fields they might be connected with.
The site also allows students to record work-based options such as job shadowing and apprenticeships. Students can even create and print an electronic portfolio of their service hours. Students are also asked to describe what they learned and how they felt about each service activity.
Vidas said, “Students and adults do not have to have the awkward, ‘please sign my timesheet’ moment.” Adding, “It’s far more than just counting hours.”
He is passionate about connecting students with the community through these types of activities, noting that community service has been shown to be helpful in combating issues like bullying, youth mental health, and drug and alcohol abuse.
“We want our kids to grow up with good values and the only way to do that is to connect them with adults in the community who model those good values,” he said.