SCPS changes volunteer requirements


photo by Courtney O'Dea

Sophomore Annie Tromboli hangs out with some young cheerleaders during break. She volunteered this summer at Hagerty’s Youth Cheer Camp.

Tara Routie, Staff Reporter

Seminole County Public Schools changed community service requirements at the beginning of the 2016-2017 year, but it seems to affect more students this school year.

SCPS adjusted the requirements to comply with Bright Futures scholarships. This will ensure that students who complete volunteer hours correctly will be eligible for a Bright Futures scholarship.

In previous years, students were required to complete up to 100 volunteer hours at a pre-approved place on a specific list. Upon completion of the hours, students would write an essay about their experience, turn all required documents in and they would be eligible for a scholarship, as well as half a credit if they completed at least 75 hours. Students could only volunteer at a limited amount of places in the past.

Now, students must identify a social or civic issue or complete hours in a professional area that interests them. The volunteer service must be unpaid like before, however, they cannot earn extra academic credit anymore. Students also have more freedom in choosing where they volunteer since they are not restricted to certain locations.

Those who have already completed their hours do not have to follow the new process and can submit hours like before. Guidance counselor Michelle Cortes said that students should submit the hours log, the old form or new form, and the essay to the student services office.

According to the SCPS website, the new process allows students to be more flexible when choosing their organization. Students are more open to different experiences, compared to before.

Even though guidance counselors are excited about the new process, it is still being revised, so there has not been much direction from the district. Specific details about the plan are still developing.

“It’s going to be easier for [students] to get it done because it’s not restricted to a specific list,” Cortes said.

Students can now venture out and volunteer in areas they are passionate about, whether that is helping at a homeless shelter, volunteering at the library, or working towards their career interest. With that being said, students are encouraged to get their community service location approved prior to volunteering in order to ensure hours will be accepted, according to the SCPS website.

“I like that it’s more open,” Cortes said. “Students can step out of the box they’ve been restricted to.