In 2018, BHS convened a group of teachers and administrators and created a committee called 2023. Through this committee we sought answers on how to modify, change and modernize the high school experience. There are an amazing array of ideas that have come from this group. Community Service is one of those ideas. What we knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that our students at Brewster excel in community service and civic responsibility. We knew that our students volunteered throughout our school community and did amazing things. Unfortunately, we had no system to document it or to package these unique experiences for the students to put on a resume or an application to college.
This year we are excited to share that our school is using Passport for Good, a software tool to encourage, verify, and celebrate student engagement activities. Our students, faculty and staff will be receiving instructions on how to register and use the platform to capture their community service, career development and participation hours. With Passport for Good our clubs and activities can transition from pen-and-paper record keeping to a streamlined and centralized tool.
A few of the benefits of the Passport for Good platform for our students, and our school, include:
- Access to an easy, secure system to capture, monitor, and encourage service experiences.
- Reduced burden of paper entry and lost data, and creation of a long-term, personal record for the student to use for college and career applications.
- Ability to showcase the impact made by students, clubs and the entire school
- Promote and motivate student engagement and leadership at all levels.
- Foster deeper connections with the community partners.
It is our sincere hope that students learn that the work they do can make a real impact in the world, develop a richer perspective of the world they live in, get to interact with people who have vastly different backgrounds, learn patience and empathy as they develop a local and global perspective. Community service gives students an opportunity to explore academic interests through a real world lens which has been proven to boost grades. It has helped students gain important career skills like social interaction and relationship management as well as create a network for the future. It has even been linked to health benefits like higher self esteem and happiness by counteracting the effects of stress, anger, anxiety, and depression. Other benefits to community service includes admission to college. According to a recent college admission survey, community service is important to colleges because it indicates that the student: is likely to be active on campus outside of class, is likely to contribute to the university’s mission, and shares the school’s values. Students that volunteer will have an advantage in the college admissions process. For that reason, many students start doing community service projects as they advance through high school. Students who begin earlier, however, have a distinct advantage because their breadth of experience allows them to quickly step up to leadership positions within.
Our students currently, volunteer: cleaning up the community, seniors helping seniors, veteran affairs, peer tutoring, cystic fibrosis fundraiser, collecting thousands of shoes for children in Ghana, pay for complete wells in Africa etc. Every one of our clubs, activities and sports has a community service aspect built in already.
Volunteering in our community demonstrates a level of civic awareness, empathy for others, and can reflect issues that students are passionate about. This helps form a complete (and positive) picture of who you are as an individual. Nationally, the recommended amount of time to complete community service while in high school is at least 50-200 hours of community service during your high school career. This may seem like an overwhelming amount of time but we believe that colleges look not at the quantity of community service you complete, but at the quality of the work you do. At BHS, we are looking for 20 hours before a student graduates. We expect to see students in the classes of 2022 and 2023 to excel and complete many of those hours in one year. For the classes of 2020 and 2021, this will be a guide and a tool to help you succeed in changing the world around you.
Passport for Good will help motivate each of us throughout the year to grow our community service and engagement impact. If you’d like to know more about the platform, you can visit www.passportforgood.com.