Creating Generation Healthy
Thank you to the Perham Rotary Club for inviting me to read the essay I submitted for the Rotary 4-Way Test contest. I am so appreciative to have been chosen as the local essay winner, earning the 4-Way $500 scholarship and the opportunity represent our community of Perham by advancing into the Regional 4-Way Essay competition. The Rotary 4-Way Test is 4 questions used to determine if something is a good idea. they include: Is it the Truth? Is it Fair to all concerned? Will it build Goodwill & Better Friendships? Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?I used the 4-Way Test in my essay titled "Should Community Service be a Graduation Requirement?" to prove that community service and volunteerism are very much a valuable part of high school graduation requirements.
Should Community Service be a Graduation Requirement?
By Annika Kovar
Perham High School
Rotary Four-Way Test Essay
There’s nothing that makes me happier than being the catalyst for someone else’s smile. I’m incredibly grateful that participating in community service as a high school graduation requirement has helped me develop as a compassionate, independent thinker, motivated me to volunteer thousands of hours, promote a social impact initiative that has encouraged individuals on a national scale to live a healthier lifestyle, and the confidence to speak to the hearts of others from a place of authenticity. My ambition as a student volunteer is to be kind to all, to represent the people of my community well, and to leave every individual feeling like they are the only person in the room.
High school is where we learn and prepare for the future and what it means to be a good citizen, and what better way to educate students about being good citizens than involving them in community service through volunteerism. Spending time volunteering in their community is one of the most valuable experiences for a high school student, and it teaches so many life lessons that you can't learn in a traditional classroom. There are a vast number of school districts nationwide that require mandatory community service as a high school graduation requirement. While not all school districts choose to include this as a requirement, I am especially appreciative that mine does. Perhaps if all school districts followed the practical guide of the
FOUR-WAY TEST they would overwhelmingly confirm the benefits of requiring students to participate in community service, and include it as a graduation requirement.
The first question we must ask ourselves is, Is it the TRUTH? The answer is compellingly yes! Requiring students to participate in community service is an exceptional idea! Students who participate have the opportunity to learn a variety of skills, try something new, and feel a great sense of accomplishment. It teaches them that giving back is not only the right thing to do, but helping others and the environment is investing in their future and a valuable use of time. By volunteering in classrooms and after school programs, I found that I have a passion for working with children. Volunteering enabled me to connect with mentors who encouraged me to peruse my love of teaching and become an elementary teacher.
Second, we must ask, Is it FAIR to all concerned? Yes, it's a win-win for everyone involved! The student can take away a great sense of pride, knowing that they have been a part of something special. Likewise, the individual or group that has been helped by the act of volunteering is forever changed and blessed by the experience. When students get involved in community service, not only do they help others, they are able to develop leadership skills, learn to better empathize and see first-hand how their actions can create a positive impact. Volunteers can discover hidden talents, improve their self worth, gain knowledge about local government and area resources available to solve community needs. By organizing an annual food drive in my community, I have personally learned that I can make a difference, and every person counts!
The next question is will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? Yes! Volunteering establishes community relationships, builds camaraderie and promotes teamwork by initiating compassion and understanding, strengthening community, and encouraging civic responsibility. You get a chance to give back! Over the past three summers I have been building goodwill hands-on by planting gardens with daycare children through a non-profit I started called Little Sprouts Garden Gang. By creating volunteer fund-raising events, I am able to provided free vegetable seeds and program information to childcare facilities so they can plant gardens. This summer I partnered with 105 daycares in 21 states. Engaging in community service provides students like me with the opportunities and tools to become active and vital members of our communities, leaving a positive lasting impact on society as a whole.
The final question is, will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned? This can be answered with a resounding yes. It connects individuals to the community, empowers them to become contributing members of society and focuses on our common humanity. Volunteerism brings people together, uniting individuals from diverse backgrounds to work toward a common goal. Community service and volunteerism are an investment in our community and the people who live in it. From Special Olympics, and Girl Scouts to raising money for Juvenile Arthritis and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, I am proud of the impact I’ve made by volunteering with over 30 service organizations throughout my high school years.
The FOUR-WAY TEST confirms that community service should be a graduation requirement for high school students. This would ensure that that everyone would have the opportunity to spend time volunteering in their community. As an added bonus, those who volunteer during school years will carry the experiences with them throughout their lifetime, making them far more likely to continue serving well into adulthood. If you ask me, that's great news for volunteer driven organizations like Rotary.