CHS plans to implement a new service learning hours system for 2017-2018 school year

Service learning at Calabasas High School is evolving into a more meaningful program that initiates students’ professional path in the future. Beginning the first day of summer, students will be able to participate in service learning opportunities to reach their hour goal for the 2017-2018 school year. However, the way students earn their required 15 hours has changed tremendously and has become more person-specific.

The goal of CHS in the in coming year is for students to participate in more meaningful community service activities. One major change that has been established beginning next year is that students will not receive hours for baking goods for bake sales, or donating items to the cause. Instead, students are encouraged to partake in more hands-on activities, such as working at the actual bake sale fundraisers for the organizations, volunteering at animal shelters, working with senior citizens in senior living homes, packing backpacks full of goodies for the homeless and passing them out to them, or even going to a different country and building toilets or homes. This new rule pushes students to be directly involved with a cause rather than indirectly helping the community.

The focus of the coming years is to get students more interested in participating in service that they would likely apply to their social skills for a job opportunity or for life after high school, as well as help the community. Before engaging in any activity that is not on the pre-approved list, Service Learning coordinator Rachel Kay stresses for each student to speak to her directly through email to ensure that the organization will count. She wishes for students to focus on a job or project they feel will be relevant to their future rather than choosing a useless activity because it is an approved organization. Her goal is for students to benefit from the act of service learning as well as the community.

“It is definitely a positive move to give students at Calabasas the opportunity to participate in more hands-on work in order to become more interconnected to our community,” said freshman Ella Nissimov. “For future years, students will be able to complete service learning hours more effectively while helping our community and society become as best as it can be. Participating in more direct community service will allow all students to gain more meaning, value, knowledge out of their volunteering experiences and hopefully improve our ways of making a difference in our society.”

Students’ chances of receiving the Golden Coyote Award have also been increased this year. Since many pupils willingly partake in over 15 hours of community service each year without necessarily reaching 100 hours, multiple levels of the Golden Coyote Award have been created. Beginning this 2016-2017 school year, students who volunteer 50 hours are qualified to receive a bronze award, students with 75 hours are qualified to receive a silver award and students who volunteer 100 hours are qualified to receive a Gold award. Similar to years past, students must print and submit a golden coyote award application, along with one 150 word culminating reflection, to Ms. Kay in the counseling office to receive any of these accolades. Google classroom is no longer a way for students to submit applications. The required 15 hours may also go toward any of these awards.

Any student who is unsure of an aspect of service learning should visit the website which contains an abundance of information regarding the subject and is updated daily. There, students can find rules, approved organizations, service opportunities and the service learning application.

“It is super easy to get on the site and I highly recommend going there as a source of reliable information,” said Kay. “All one would have to do is go onto the CHS website and find the option ‘Service Learning’ under the tab called ‘Students and Parents.’”

CHS is aiming toward bettering its students socially as well as academically. Whether it be engaging in activities in Calabasas or somewhere across the world, each endeavor should make a mark and have a purpose for each student. Hopefully with the proper guidance, students can use each act of service they perform as a way to evolve into the person they wish to become in the future.