Community Service Carries Importance

Laci Doman, Features Editor

As the end of the year approaches volunteering is at a peak. Career Specialist Shelley Jellison talks about what she does and how to acquire community service, which is a graduation requirement. 

“I help oversee all of our Career Technical Education programs,” Jellison said. “In addition to that I oversee one of the graduation requirements, which is the High School and Beyond Plan.”  

Jellison says that she does what she does for one main reason.  

“Students; that’s really why I do it. Just making sure that our students have what they need,” Jellison said. “I love that one-on-one work, but also making sure that students know what their resources are.”  

Jellison says that regardless of what students plan to do after high school—whether it is going on to colleges, apprenticeships or military—the goal is to make sure students have the connections they need. 

 “I always say learning what you don’t want to do can sometimes be the most important thing that you can get out of things… [Even] just getting connected with the community. It’s just great to be a part of something that’s bigger than yourself, which is your community,” Jellison said. 

Community service may seem like an expectation students must meet by the time they graduate high school, but there is more to it. 

“I think a huge part of volunteering in the community is for career exploration,” Jellison said.  

“If you’re a student that’s really interested in being a teacher, go volunteer in a classroom. Make sure that it’s really what you want to do.” 

Sometimes it seems hard to think of ways to get community service but around school there are many ways to get them. 

“We have tons of clubs that do service projects; for example, Key Club, I know that they do all kinds of service projects. FCCLA, they do a variety of different things. [Then we also have] HOSA, who just had their blood drive. There are a lot of different clubs and activities that students can get involved in here on campus that will fulfill those 20 hours,” Jellison said. 

Jellison said that turning in hours now is different than how it was in the past.  

“With Xello we have gone to a completely digital platform for the High School and Beyond Plan,” Jellison said. “Within Xello in that experience section, just include the organization, but we’re also asking for a person that supervised the hours and then a contact whether that’s a phone number or an email.” 

Lettering in community service is available to any grade 10-12. 

“It’s another way for students who aren’t athletes to be able to earn a varsity letter,” Jellison said. “It is 150 hours…[which] now has to be collected within one year. There is a Schoology group for the varsity letter in community service, and you go on and document your hours. You also write a summary of what your hours were. The district office looks over the hours [if they look good] then you are honored at a school board meeting.” 

The number of people who letter each year varies; Jellison explains how Puyallup High School goes about this. 

“Puyallup High School always has the most; I attribute that to a lot of things. I think it has to do with [the fact] that a lot of our teachers talk about it,” Jellison said. “Not only does it make you feel good to volunteer, you earn a varsity letter and it looks great on applications for scholarships, for colleges, for employment.” 

Thinking about things that count for community service may seem easy, but Jellison explains what does not count. 

“We want you to actually be volunteering, so anything you’re paid for in any way does not count. [But also] if your mom tells you to go out in the backyard and clean up the yard, that’s not going to count” Jellison said. “It’s amazing the connections you can make by just saying ‘hey, I’ve got to do some community service’,” Jellison said.  

When to look for hours is around the holidays, Jellison says, because people are looking for help to give to be able to help those that struggle during the holidays. 

“I always tell students don’t wait till the last minute, … what we have found, [is in] the past, the month or even two months after the holidays is kind of the dry season when it comes to volunteering,” Jellison said.  

Jellison says she is available in the career center to anyone who has questions. 

“I want students to come in and ask questions that they might have,” Jellison said.