Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Personalized Volunteering?

Students serve borough right

Wingate kids say volunteering's fun
BY DENISE ROMANO
Posted Monday, April 30th 2007, 4:50 PM


Principal Benjamin Shuldiner with students at the High School for Public Service
Who says kids are apathetic these days?

Students at the High School for Public Service in Wingate are living up to the school's name, logging an astounding 20,000 hours of community service since the school opened in 2003.

Each week, students volunteer for something different, such as visiting senior centers, visiting elementary schools, sprucing up neighborhoods and helping out in soup kitchens.

"I feel like I have been doing community service since Day One," said Ashley Morant, 17, a senior from Brownsville.
The students set volunteer goals for themselves each year. "But now it's fun," Morant said.

The most popular ways to raise money are concerts, basketball games and dress-down days - when kids who give money to charities may wear street clothes rather than uniforms.

"Students want to see these things happen, so they are positive, charitable events, plus service hours," Principal Benjamin Shuldiner said.

There are only 390 students in the school, so their assignments can be personalized, he added.

"We are exposing more opportunities and more ways to be involved," said Nirvani Bissessar, the community service director.

Sometimes their volunteer hours extend into the weekends. But the students said they don't mind giving up their free time.

"You are having fun while doing something good," said Gabriella Cuautle, 15, a freshman from Coney Island. "You're hanging out while helping people."

Mehwish Noreen, 17, a sophomore from Sunset Park, agreed.

"On weekends we can do stuff in our own community, so we are making a difference in our neighborhood, as well as in our schools," she said.

Many students said their volunteer experiences have made them more open-minded and taught them a lot about themselves and each other.

Quendrea Turner, 16, a sophomore from Brownsville, learned to "chillax" - chill out and relax - and be more patient.
Dazni Martinez, 19, a senior from East New York, learned to see people in a different light.

"I had to go to a soup kitchen," Martinez said, noting she felt uncomfortable at first. "But I realized that they were just regular people and that made me feel good to know that I am making a difference."

1 comment:

D. Guglielmini said...

I'm curious to know how students seek out volunteer opportunities and how teachers facilitate the experiences and tie them into instruction.