Community service is commonly viewed as something that is less than desirable. Spending 5 hours serving food at Manna Soup Kitchen at 6:00 in the morning would not appeal to many students. Now, however, this worry will be mitigated for all DHS students enrolled in an AP class, which now grants students community service hours and college credits.
“Currently, all the seniors and the juniors all have to have 20 hours of community service in order to graduate. And that is pretty strictly defined as kind of what you would typically think of as community service, like helping out at a local organization or you know helping out with your church or something like that to do sort of good works for the community,” said Academic Advisor Robert Aspen.
But now, Durango High School is requiring the class of 2021 and below to complete 60 hours of community service hours in order to graduate. If they pass an Advanced Placement class, they can get some of those hours.
“It hasn’t been officially decided yet, but if you take an AP class we’re thinking of considering maybe giving you 40 hours of community service for that,” said Aspen.
If this happens, only one AP class passed would be 40 hours and if a student was to take more than one, the second wouldn’t go toward their hours, because the school still wants students to do community service.
“The discussion right now is maybe just one class. A lot of students take more than one AP class and they would never have to do community service so if you took one, than you would still have to do 20 hours like the juniors and seniors need to do. But again, that hasn’t been officially decided so I can’t say for sure that’s how it’s going to be. But that’s sort of the discussion now,” said Aspen.
Almost all students at DHS have taken or will take and pass an AP class in their high school career. So why increase the hours if students will still do 20 hours of community service?
“Well, there’s definitely a push and encouragement at the high school for students to take AP classes. I of course support that since cause I teach an AP class. But also I do think it’s a really helpful experience to understand the rigor of what a college class will be like. As an incentive I can see where they’re coming from,” said Ann Tidwell, who teaches AP chemistry.
Taking AP classes isn’t the only other option for getting all of the required hours.
“It’s not only community service in the traditional sense, but it also an internship with an organization, gives you that exposure to the community, it’s if you’re employed somewhere, if you’re doing a concurrent enrolment class, showing that you’re going above and beyond what we normally require of students, and then finally an AP class is thrown in there, doing the same thing showing that you’re going above and beyond what we ask of students,” said Aspen.
AP classes come with much more of a workload to help students learn what college classes are like. “I know that the homework load for students who take a lot of AP classes, and usually there is a lot. Some classes don’t have a huge homework requirement and some do. So students who are in those heavy homework AP classes kind of do deserve to cut a little break. 60 is a lot of hours to require of anybody,” said Tidwell.
“I do support the change, adding 60 hours. I do like the idea there of broadening the definition of what can apply to that, more options,” said Aspen. Fairness is a question someone may have about why the school may be doing this. “It seems a little odd to me because it’s not serving the community in any way. But as long as there is still a requirement to do community service, which I think is very important. Then, I guess I would be in support of it,” said Tidwell. Even though the school is broadening the definition of community service, students still have to do it.