Shelley Dinges, NDP’s new Christian Service Coordinator, has changed service requirements for the 2019-2020 school year to make volunteering a more flexible and productive experience for students. 

     As this transition begins, changes will affect seniors and underclassmen differently. When it comes to the Class of 2020, students will have the option “to do their final 30 hours in any approved area,” said Dinges. This eliminates the additional task of completing hours in each category of service—such as service to the school or service to a place of worship—and gives seniors more freedom to volunteer in areas they are passionate about. 

     While some seniors are enthusiastic about the change, others are more hesitant. “I am simultaneously for it and against it,” said senior Hunter Frye. While she understands how the new rule will make graduation requirements easier to complete, Frye is worried some students may miss out on the ability to volunteer in different atmospheres and gain new experiences. If students end up completing all or most of their service in one area, they “could be missing out on other opportunities” that may have the potential to enrich their experiences helping others. 

     For underclassmen, the new policy allows overflow hours to roll over from year to year to fulfill graduation requirements. In theory, this means underclassmen could completely fulfill their service requirements long before graduation. On the other hand, this new policy for underclassmen also requires them to complete a minimum of ten Christian service hours each academic year. 

     Freshman Samantha Harrod thinks the new policy will help underclassmen be more involved in their service and able to serve more on their own terms. For many students, this could make service less of a burden and more of an opportunity. “I think it takes a little weight off of me and other people’s shoulders,” said Harrod in a recent interview. 

     By making Christian service policies more flexible, students like Harrod will be able to volunteer in areas they are passionate about in a more in-depth manner over the period of a year, with the hours rolling over to fulfill requirements. Samantha’s plans for this year include volunteering at “[her] church and places like St. Vincent de Paul and St. Mary’s Food Bank.”

     While some may be concerned that this new policy could lead to underclassmen procrastination of their service leading up to senior year, Harrod said she is “going to try and get as many hours out of the way this year so come junior and senior year, [she] can focus more on other things.” The administration trusts that most underclassmen will use these policies to their advantage by planning ahead, as Samantha has done. 

     Christian service for the 2019-2020 school year is off to a promising start, and these new policies should give students the opportunity to make the most of their volunteering.