High school seniors on course to meet service requirement Recent figures show 65 percent of class has completed hours

November 06, 1996|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

Despite a slow start in some counties, the state's high school seniors are moving steadily toward completion of their student service-learning requirements, state school officials have told the Maryland State Board of Education.

As of February, only one-third of the Class of 1997 -- the first class required to do 75 hours of community service as a condition of graduation, under a 1992 requirement -- had completed their hours.

But state officials say that as of Oct. 21, more than 29,000 of the state's 44,153 seniors, or more than 65 percent, had completed the requirement.

And the four jurisdictions with the largest number of students who had not completed the requirement at the beginning of this school year -- Baltimore City and Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George's counties -- are moving quickly to meet the requirement, officials say.

"We feel confident that they will be able to make this requirement," said Luke Frazier, executive director of the Maryland Student Service Alliance, who presented the update to the board at its meeting last week.

School officials originally presumed that students would perform community service independently by visiting nursing homes, volunteering at neighborhood libraries or participating in church and community projects during off-school hours.

But as participation lagged, many schools realized that students would need more guidance and encouragement, and began setting up courses that would provide service opportunities and track progress.

In Baltimore County, half of the seniors had completed their requirement as of Oct. 21 and another third are close to completion. About 900 of the county's 6,121 seniors are just beginning to meet the requirement, but are, or will be, enrolled in courses that will earn them service hours.

In the city, 33 percent of seniors had completed the requirement as of Oct. 21, and another 19 percent had partly completed it. Still, 47 percent had finished less than four hours of community service.

City school officials say, however, that all students who have not completed the requirement are enrolled in courses that will lead to completion.

Students in Montgomery and Prince George's counties are making similar progress, Frazier reported.

Most other school systems have only a handful of students who have made little progress toward their service requirement, the report showed. In Anne Arundel County, for instance, only 127 students out of 3,700 have not completed the requirement, and in Harford, only 90 students are still working on it.

State department officials will report to the board again in January, Frazier said. Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick has assured the board that all students will complete the new graduation requirement. Maryland is the only state with such a requirement.

Pub Date: 11/06/96

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