Service learning may be added to curriculum in future


This school year, Dr. Jonathan Schwartz, a school committee member who recently lost a re-election bid, came forward and asked Dartmouth Public Schools Superintendent Ana Riley to look into the steps of integrating service learning hours into our school day and curriculum.

Ms. Riley devised an idea to create an elective containing service learning hours for upperclassmen and some service learning added to the Freshman Seminar classes as well.

A sub-committee was appointed and is working on the idea of putting service learning into the curriculum for all students. Currently School Committee Members Greg Jones and Christopher Oliveira are in charge of the subcommittee.

A survey regarding opinions on service hours was sent out to teachers and is now available for parents on the school website. DHS does not plan to make the hours mandatory for graduation at this time, but wishes to encourage students to take part in service learning hours. According to DHS Principal Kerry Lynch, a decision will be made later whether to make it mandatory.

“Since you have already picked your classes for this year, we can’t make it an option as an upperclassmen elective for this coming year,” said Mrs. Riley. There is a high possibility that these electives will be optional for the 2015-2016 school year.

“What we would like to do is find a way to help students formalize what they do so that they can use the information for college applications and scholarships,” said Mrs. Riley. “The plan is not to make service hours mandatory, but to make them optional.”

“Service hours can help teach civic responsibility early and can help our students develop a habit of always giving back,” said Ms. Lynch. “As for the type of work the students will be doing, it varies. The challenge is coming up with the activities.”

“[Having service hours] could make our school look better because people would know our students help out the community,” said freshman Caelyn Faria.

Students have come up with various ideas for what types of service projects our school could become involved in.

Sophomore Keegan Espinola said, “I would be interested in volunteering in soup kitchens. I love cooking and also interacting with all different types of people.”

“I would probably want to do my service hours outdoors since its starting to become nice out,” said junior Jordan Pinto.

Thus far the students of DHS have taken to the idea of service learning hours well. Freshman Abby Rego said, “It is a great way to expand our class choices and help the community out at the same time.”

There are numerous other schools in our area that challenge students to do service hours in unique ways. Wareham was named a National Service-Learning Leader School in Massachusetts. The school encourages students by having them do small amounts of increasing hours each year. By the time the class graduates, their challenge is to have completed 10,000 cumulative hours.

When asked if she would be interested in the idea of a school-wide community service challenge, freshman Coral Perry said, “I would want to, but I feel like others would not want to put in the effort, so I think it should be more of an individual thing.”

Freshman Dominic Vaccari said, “It’s a good way to get students to work together and to do something good for the community. It’ll also be a way for students to get to know each other and bond.”