Carroll schools are forging ahead on community service requirement

December 17, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

East Middle School students of Loretta Hill, who are not particularly fond of reading, go on a class project each year to read aloud to children at a nearby day-care center.

That's just one example of things students are doing now that will count toward the new state-mandated community service requirement, said Peter B. McDowell, director of secondary education for Carroll schools. The Maryland Board of Education approved the program -- the first statewide program of its kind in the country -- in August.

The twist in the East Middle School project, Mr. McDowell said, is that the service benefits the students far more than it does the toddlers who are being read to.

"You should see what happens, not only to the self-esteem, but to their ability to read," he said.

He and other school officials presented an early draft for how students will carry out their 75 hours of service.

They fielded questions last night from a small group of parents, students and people involved in agencies that might benefit from the student service.

Also at the meeting was Estelle Sanzenbacher, the coordinator hired to carry out the new program.

A few parents at the meeting echoed the displeasure that has legislators considering a measure to block the new requirement, and nearly all local school boards -- including Carroll's -- opposing it.

But although the mandate may end up as history before next year's ninth-graders even finish middle school, the school system has to plan with the assumption the requirement will stick, Mr. McDowell said.

Parent Gary Horst of Westminster objected to the plan as a requirement, saying it should be an elective.

Parent Tom Shaffer of Westminster said he was concerned about the demands already placed on students.

"How much is this going to take away from academics?" he asked.

Ms. Sanzenbacher said the intent will be to include some opportunities in classes to enhance lessons by some active service.

For example, Mr. McDowell said, South Carroll High School science research students are responsible for monitoring the same stream they are studying. Sykesville Middle School students in a home economics class planned a menu and made lunches they distributed at a soup kitchen, Ms. Sanzenbacher said.

The plan now calls for building a community service unit into the home economics class eighth-graders take.

Two schools are now doing this on a pilot basis.

In addition to opportunities during the school day, students will get a list of the kinds of community activities that would count, such as service to local charities, churches and nursing homes.

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