The Community Service Board had asked for help. At a past school meeting, a member walked students through an online initiative that made signing up for weekend projects easier and accessible to the community. Now, members are pressured to volunteer at events they themselves organize and publicize because not enough students sign up.
At seemingly every other school meeting, we sit through countless student presentations about summer service trips to Africa or Asia, yet we usually do not have enough people to fill up the van that goes to Second Helpings in Greenfield every Monday.
While athletic teams deliberately devote one day of practice to service, the activities are typically limited to an hour’s work of wiping tables and the backs of couches in the Memorial Building. Handing the paper towels to the girls’ varsity hockey team in the winter, a staff member joked, “You’ll be finished with this quickly so you guys can go get ice cream.”
But have we earned the ice cream in the first place? Can we truly say to ourselves that the spirit of giving before receiving pervades a community that presumably values service? Moreover, is service truly integrated into our community and daily lives?
We constantly juggle schoolwork, commitments, and personal issues, rarely having the time or energy to serve others. If service opportunities were more accessible to us, perhaps among the events listed in Mr. McVaugh’s email of weekend activities, would the current mentality towards service change? What if all students were required to dedicate x number of hours of service in order to receive a diploma? Though this would change the nature of service from a personal choice to a requirement, service could evolve to a relevant, tangible, and defining characteristic of our Deerfield experiences.
At the start of the spring athletic awards last year, Dr. Baker asked students to rise and be recognized for their commitment and hours to service. Many remained seated. Hopefully, Deerfield will become a place that visibly values the integrity of serving others, where students confidently rise in the midst of their peers and teachers in an expression of their commitment to something greater than themselves.