Students in grades 9-11 at Clarence High School can get a head start on their community service graduation requirements according to a plan approved Monday night by the School Board.
The new requirement continues the 32-hour obligation, but scraps a provision that students complete the service in their senior year. They can now complete up to 14 hours in their freshman, sophomore and junior years. While seniors must complete 18 or more hours in specific non-profit agencies, the younger students can satisfy the requirement by volunteering with a non-profit organization or joining a high school group that conducts a community or school service-related activity.
To encourage participation in more than one organization, a student would receive no more than seven hours of community service credit from any single school organization, officials said. Also, participation in musical groups, sports teams and other performance-based activities will not count toward the community service credit -- an important point for trustees, whose concerns about what kind of activities would be classified as community service prompted a revision of the first modification proposal presented to the board. Students who do not take advantage of the opportunity to accumulate any community service hours prior to their senior year must complete all 32 hours at agencies on an approved list. The list, which is still to be determined, will be distributed to the class of 2001 before July 1, 2000.
The rationale for changing the requirement is to encourage students to become involved in the school and community at an earlier age. Administrators say there is less disaffection among students who are actively involved in school.
"If I had my way, they would be required to participate in school organizations." said Jerry Cappello, social studies teacher and high school community service coordinator.
In another matter, resident Peter Lipinoga, who owns a landscaping firm, criticized the type of shrubs planted near the entrance to the high school. He said the boxwood and taxus are "dessert for deer," and he also asked why the district didn't seek estimates on the landscaping project.
Business Manager Richard J. Mancuso said the district landscaped the area in conjunction with a recent capital project, and the construction firm chose a nursery to handle the $7,000 project. He said the amount is well under the $10,000 bid law. Lipinoga also took the board to task for failing to provide more opportunities for gifted students. He said one of his daughters is attending a private school because the Clarence schools could not meet her needs.