Recently the Department of Education approved a credit for Community Service Learning (CSL). Students can report 75 service hours to earn one credit.
“The district wrote a course approval that if a student has a required number of hours in community service they can actually get a community service credit added to their transcript,” Principal Lisa Miller said.
Students who document 75 hours in grades 9-12 can earn one credit applied for graduation. The Community Service Learning credit is not required, and does not effect a student’s GPA. According to National Honor Society sponsor Matthew Hominick, students reach an average of 5,000 hours of service during a semester.
Community service also has an impact on the school’s report card also known as the Public Schools Rating Score. Annually the Arkansas Department of Education publishes a Performance Report of the state’s schools. The report includes: test performances, schools environment, teacher qualifications, retention, and discipline.
“You get points on the schools report card based on community service credits. It doesn’t get counted against you, but it does count for you,” Miller said.
Students do not have to be active in a school related organizations earn the credit. Senior Rylee Norton volunteer outside of school to help impact the community. Through summer programs, Norton volunteers at Baptist Health Hospital (formally Sparks).
“I volunteer at Sparks Hospital, I am also involved in Girl Scouts and very active at my church where I direct the Children’s Choir,” Norton said.
Other volunteer opportunities available include civic organizations, historical sites, and club service projects. Senior Patrick Jones volunteers at the Fort Smith Museum of History.
“Others should consider volunteering [at the museum] because it preserves Fort Smith’s legacy and allows you to see the history of our city,” Jones said.
The school district goal includes implementing a system for recording service hours by January. According to school officials, a Google form or some type of system which all students can use to track hours will be in place next semester.
“We will put a link to the form on our website so that if students have community service outside one of these organization they can still get there credits that way,” Miller said.