At your service

Students adjust to new community service requirements

A+student+reads+a+story+to+children+over+video+call.+During+the+pandemic%2C+students+have+the+opportunity+to+pursue+virtual+community+service+activities.+

Nadia Martinez

A student reads a story to children over video call. During the pandemic, students have the opportunity to pursue virtual community service activities.

Empty lunch tables and dusty floors fill the Bonita Vista High (BVH) cafeteria, where the voices of BVH tutors once buzzed. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, tutoring and other community service opportunities have come to a grinding halt. To accommodate for these changes, BVH has canceled the 30-hour community service requirements which have been reduced for freshmen and sophomores to 15 hours per district orders. For seniors and juniors, community service hour requirements have been waived.

“I wouldn’t worry about [the community service requirements] too much. If things go back to ‘normal’ in the fall, then there’s still plenty of time, ideally, for a current [freshman and sophomore] to do their community service,” BVH Counselor Reynila Calderon-Magbuhat said.

Since students still have the rest of the year to participate in community service, Magbuhat believes that sophomores and freshmen can relax knowing that their requirement is shortened. However, Co-President of Key Club and senior Faith Rivera stresses the importance of community service.

“Community service is important. For me, it’s giving back my time and resources to those that might not have those opportunities, and also building that community and connecting with [others],” Rivera said.

Community service is important. For me, it’s giving back my time and resources to those that might not have those opportunities, and also building that community and connecting with [others].”

Community service has long been a way for students to connect with their community. Some BVH staff members, including Magbuhat, believe that students should still pursue community service opportunities because they may boost students’ college applications.

“When colleges look at the community service, they’re going to look [for] the student committing themselves to a cause or something that they believe in [and] enjoy doing,” Magbuhat said. “It means more when students have an invested interest in an activity rather than being forced to do something because they have to do it.” 

The pandemic significantly slowed down community service activities. President of Junior Optimist Club and senior Ally Guerra expresses that her club was heavily involved with community service when the pandemic hit. 

“I was disappointed in not being able to finish the year and celebrate our biggest event; we didn’t get to do that. With everything that’s going on right now, it’s really hard not to be disappointed and frustrated,” Guerra said. “But at the end of the day, there’s nothing we can do about it [except] go through it and eventually get out of it. I’m just glad I was able to do what I was able to do.” 

Although the required community service hours were shortened for freshmen and sophomores, there are still many opportunities during distance learning. However, some students do not know where to start and find it significantly harder to find community service opportunities in the pandemic. 

“Since quarantine has started, I have not done any community service. I feel like there’s not a lot of options with that anymore, so it’s harder to find anything available,” junior Karinna Monzon said.

Rivera, however, expresses the importance of community service, as students can pursue volunteering opportunities during the pandemic through organizations such as Key Club, Junior Optimist Club and websites like VolunteerMatch.org.

“It just makes us more connected, especially during quarantine. Everyone has their own challenges. So doing community service, like helping the elders or giving back to minors, just makes this [a] little bit more bearable,” Rivera said.