Replica edition News Newsletters Sports Opinion Where to Buy Special Sections Obituaries Church Photos Contact Us

Community service hours required for PRHS graduates

by Annette Beard | September 19, 2023 at 9:30 a.m.

Graduates of Pea Ridge High School will be required to have 75 hours of community service over their four-year high school career.

Complying with state requirements of Smart Core Curriculum and graduation requirements for the Class of 2027 and thereafter include 75 hours of community service, according to school officials.

"This was enacted based off legislation that occurred last spring," superintendent Keith Martin said. "This requires board approval."

"We worked with junior high and high school principals and counselors to come together and look at the requirements under the law," said Dana Tabor, director of teaching and learning. "We do want to make sure our parents and everyone in the community understands that this begins with our current ninth-graders."

Students in 10th, 11th and 12th grades are not affected by this, Tabor said, adding that graduation requirements have not changed.

"Our current ninth-graders, the Class of 2027, now falls under a different set of graduation requirements," Tabor said. "The difference is the 75 hours of community service that is required between grades 9th to 12.

"We want to make sure that all of our students have equitable access to those 75 hours. We want to make sure that we pace ourselves," she said.

"All of our community service activities will be provided ... within the district, monitored by district staff," she said. "We want to make sure that we meet the requirements of the law and that our community service activities are aligned with Arkansas Department of Elementary and Secondary guidelines."

She said that will include preparation, action and reflection that will be done in the classrooms.

"They will be planned, facilitated by our campuses, supervised by our Pea Ridge staff," Tabor said, explaining that the service must be provided to tax-exempt services and programs.

"We have started working with our campuses," she said. "Once they have a set of activities planned, they'll communicate with the parents."

Ryan Heckman, board member, asked: "So, we're going to provide opportunities. What about students who work at food banks... What about self-starters? Does that count?"

"Our plan is to provide 15 hours and then log any additional time the student does," Tabor said. "We have to make sure the hours meet the requirements of the law. Any additional hours on top of that, we'll have to have a process for the campus principal to make sure they are with a non-profit organization within the stipulation of the law.

"We want a student's service logs to reflect the actual time they spent volunteering," she said, explaining that the required 15 hours will be within the school day connected to course work, to what students are learning.

Board member Sarah Saragusa asked whether parents can "opt out."

Tabor said it is important that parents understand this is a graduation requirement.

"For ninth-grade, our goal is to really bring a lot of things in house," Tabor said, "so they learn about service and they learn about the options so then they can start going out for their high school years."

The Pea Ridge School Board approved the requirements as presented.

The community service hours must be in programs or activities that meet the requirement established by the State Board and the local School Board and include preparation, action and reflection components, according to the plan which includes 15 hours for ninth-grade students and 20 for 10th, 11th and 12th grade students.

Although students are encouraged to serve the community through outside organizations, the hours required for graduation must be logged in the school-sponsored time.

Superintendent Keith Martin said the requirements will be explained to parents of students at parent-teacher conferences.

Print Headline: Community service hours required for PRHS graduates


Sponsor Content