Beginning in the middle grades, City Schools students earn "service learning hours" by engaging in projects and activities that combine meaningful service to the community with curriculum-based learning. In Maryland, every student must participate in 75 hours of service learning in order to graduate from high school.
Service learning is different from working as a volunteer or participating in a community service project: It combines service to the community with academic learning, and shows students how what they're learning in school connects to and is valued in the "real world."
For example, a school may partner with a neighborhood senior center to start a book club. Students get a chance to practice reading skills and talk about books, and the seniors benefit from regular visits and a chance to get to know new people in a new way. Or students might learn about how oysters contribute to cleaning the Chesapeake Bay, and then visit the bay to help environmental scientists replenish the oyster population.
Earning service learning hours
Because service projects are tied to what students are learning in school, they can take place during class time — and students then earn service learning hours while also meeting academic requirements. At City Schools, service learning projects are part of the curriculum in science and social studies in grades 6, 7 and 8, with students earning 25 service learning hours when they pass each grade. Additional service learning projects are part of the health curriculum, so it is possible for a student to finish middle school with extra service learning hours — beyond what’s needed for high school graduation.
Of course, students with a specific interest and desire to serve in a particular way can still ask for approval of independent service learning projects.
Please ask your school leaders about how service learning will be implemented at your school.