2013-05-31 / Community News

Last day of school devoted to service

Instead of a half-day, students will engage in community or careeroriented activities over the summer
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

This school year will end early for Scarborough students in kindergarten through 11th grade. On May 16, the Scarborough Board of Education voted to end the school year on Friday, June 14 rather than having students come back for a half-day on Monday, June 17.

Superintendent George Entwistle said the interest in doing so was to eliminate a “non-productive” last day of school.

Even with the elimination of that day, Entwistle said the Scarborough school district will still meet 170 instruction days, the required number of days students have to attend school. By that point Scarborough students would have attended 177 days.

In lieu of attending school that day, students will be required to complete 3.5 hours of community service or career exploration before the start of the 2013-2014 school year in September, an idea Board of Education member Jackie Perry called “intriguing.”

“It really is an unproductive day,” Entwistle said about having a half day as the final day in the school calendar. “It is being more proactive and making students do the equivalent of that half day giving back to the community or career exploration for students ready to do that.”

Entwistle said this is something he has done in other school districts he has worked in.

“It’s something I have done before and some kids really take it seriously,” Entwistle said.

Students will be required to document what they do for service or career exploration. Entwistle said each school will come up with its own way of having students chronicle the experience.

Barbara Hathorn, principal at Scarborough Middle School, said she and her leadership team were scheduled to meet this week to develop an appropriate system for middle school students.

Unlike the students, staff and teachers will still report to school on June 17 to wrap up end of the school year matters.

“I really like having as much instruction time as possible, so rather than just (have the half day) because we need to and have a rather unproductive day, I prefer the teachers to have the opportunity to have a (professional learning team) day,” Entwistle.

Entwistle said the community service requirement provides a “great opportunity for service learning.”

Hathorn said it provides a good opportunity for the middle school students to continue the community service they work on throughout the school year. Scarborough Middle School students, she said, are very active volunteering at the Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough.

“A lot of our students do service to the community all year long. They do it as a team, they do it individually or as a classroom. This won’t be too unusual for them,” Hathorn said.

David Currier, an assistant principal at the school, said it will be an important learning experience for students to hear what their peers did over the summer to meet the requirement.

“The important part will be the sharing students will do when they come back to school in the fall,” Currier said.

Katie Elliott, the senior representative on the Board of Education, said middle school is the perfect age to start community service. Last year Elliott started The Driving Force, a service organization she hopes her brother, Sam, a sophomore continues after she heads to Wheaton College in the fall.

“Starting at an early age is important,” said Elliott, who last month was named Maine’s top high school youth volunteer through the 2013 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program. “I believe it takes four weeks to build a habit. If you start a habit early, it is only going to grow and become part of your daily routine.”

Elliott said she would like to see a bigger community service requirement at the high school.

“Scarborough does not have a community service graduation requirement. Since we lack that, I think it is important we promote community service any way we can.”

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