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Community service is key aspect of education
March 28, 2005: news_stories
Reprinted with permission of the Bangor Daily News
Editor's Note: Student Union is written by students at Brewer High School, Hermon High School, Schenck High School in East Millinocket, Searsport District High School and Stearns High School in Millinocket. The weekly column is a joint effort among the schools, the Bangor Daily News and Acadia Hospital. This week's column was written by Schenck students. Their adviser is Charla Lowell.
BY KATIE A. BISHOP AND MATTHEW S. FLEMING
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS
The seniors of this year's graduating class have had ample opportunities to become involved with the community by way of service learning.
It's designed to connect what is taught in the classroom with community issues and needs.
Service learning engages students in projects that serve the community and build their social and academic capacities. This important component of education provides an in-depth exploration and analysis of needs in the communities, then seeks to address those needs.
Guidance counselor Charla Lowell of Schenck High School views service learning as a positive thing. "Service learning gives students a chance to make a contribution to the community that they can give ownership to. It gives them a chance to fulfill a need that they have seen firsthand."
Senior Devin Meehan, a student who has been involved since middle school with this program, agreed. "Service learning means helping the community while educating myself," Meehan said.
Groups considered under the umbrella of service learning include peer counselors, peer mentors, Student Union writers, and students involved with independent studies.
In the past, service learning groups have made several improvements to the school. In 2001, a climbing wall was started under the leadership of students participating in service learning. Fund raising, planning and construction all were led by students.
Most recently, a group of seniors made a presentation to the Union 113 board concerning student involvement on the board.
Under the supervision of Ann Davis, the group proposed consideration of allowing a nonvoting student member to be seated on the board. The student would serve as a liaison between the student body and the school board. Although no decision has been made, the board seems to be giving this proposal its serious consideration.
A great success in Opal Myrick Elementary School and Medway Middle School as well, service learning has built character within the young minds of future community leaders.
Medway Middle School pupils have raised money for a local animal shelter, as well as growing a community garden and caring for it throughout the summer. Opal Myrick pupils wrote letters to soldiers overseas. They also raised money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
When asked if service learning would be a continuing program in Union 113, Lowell replied with an enthusiastic smile and said, "Yes! The freshman class of this year is excited to get started ... they are showing deep interest in service learning."
As seniors, we hope the tradition of community involvement through the school will remain a strong program. And so, as we prepare for graduation, we are left with a sense of accomplishment for setting a precedent that will be continued for years to come. It is our hope that more students will experience the rich educational value of working within the community surrounding the school. It is a truly worthwhile experience that sets the highest standards of character, which are carried throughout life.
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