What do community service and high school students have to do with one another? Well, to me there is a trend I am beginning to see that is a welcome change from what many believe to be today’s teen society.

What do community service and high school students have to do with one another? Well, to me there is a trend I am beginning to see that is a welcome change from what many believe to be today’s teen society.

Many colleges and universities require their students to provide some type of community service before they can graduate. Some colleges actually look at applicants to see if they have been involved in their community or have performed community service as an entrance requirement.

We now see this trend moving to the high school levels. Our local district provides a special cord to each senior to wear at graduation if they have performed 100 or more hours of service during their freshmen through senior years. Also, some curriculum areas also emphasize or encourage students to perform community service hours.      

I first became aware of this during the winter of 2010 when our department was contacted by one of the coaches, Adam Courter, from the Blue Springs South High School football team. He explained that they were working on establishing a spring Work-a-Thon. I asked what was the motivation or goal. He indicated that the first and most important aspect was they wanted the students to experience and to give back to the community – a community which has shown commitment to and supported them as a team. Secondly, the funds raised from the pledges the players secured help to supplement the teams’ budget.

We agreed with the request, wanting to support this new concept. Last spring, the players and their coaches helped clean up Lake Remembrance in Gregory O. Grounds Park and also worked for the city’s Public Works Department to clean up various streets of litter and trash.

The Work-a-Thon was a success last year, and we were fortunate to be contacted again this winter for spring projects. On Saturday, April 16, between 90 and 100 young men donated approximately four to five hours each and helped us with three projects which were cleaning up around Lake Remembrance, painting curbs yellow in Hidden Valley Park and assisting with the Annual Easter Egg-stravaganza. In addition, others teams helped to clean up city streets.

As a resident of our city, a patron of our school district and public servant for some 38 years, I thank and applaud our kids, coaches and school district for having created this Work-a-Thon. I hope that it will instill in the students that giving back is, and should be, part of our human make up. We are a better person when we give back.

And who knows, maybe one of these students will be admitted to college because he gave of his time, or maybe he will decide to make a life of public service and giving back.