Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Students Make Connections for Good

For me these days, writing is a sporadic delicacy which can only be partaken as a release from juggling three jobs and student teaching three English classes. Along the way, I am privileged to read the personal narratives of this semester's community service scholars at Paly (more than 200!). When an administrator flippantly suggests our students are giving back "just to look good on their college apps," I point to the reflections we've gathered over four years to prove the contrary. Young people mainly give back to make positive connections with others, and to make a contribution to their interests in the world. 

When I meet with a student for whose project I need clarification, he or she will generally reflect fondly on a life-changing experience for the hours to be recognized on the high school transcript. Yes, many of our students want to get into that certain school and they want to put their best food forward. But no, our students are not pursuing random service for their resumes. They are creating powerful connections to their interests and passions, while spreading goodwill and "doing the right thing". And we all need more of that, regardless of where we have gone or will go to college. 

Still not convinced? Read George Saunders's convocation speech given at Syracuse University, June 2013. It will open your heart. 

Hungry for more? Peruse a few of last year's Palo Alto High School student reflections on service at Get Involved, Paly.

Need proof? Check out this amazing video of a student doing one simple act to change the world. 

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