TJ wants to give its students an awareness of the larger community beyond their school and their individual social circles. We believe that volunteer work is a good way for our students to gain a sense of responsibility for helping others and participating in activities that do not always provide monetary rewards. To that end, students must complete a required amount of service in order to graduate.
All service hours must be completed by the beginning of a student’s senior year. The number of required hours of service varies according to when a student entered TJ. If a student starts in the 9th grade or earlier, the requirement is 75 hours; if a student enters in the 10th grade, the requirement is 60 hours; 11th grade, 45 hours; and 12th grade, 30 hours. All service hours must be completed while the student is in grades 9-12. If a student enters TJ above the 9th grade, any previous volunteer work may be discussed with faculty member Jim Pesek, the Director of Service Learning, to see if it might count towards the TJ program.
We encourage parents to support their children’s dedication to service and to help them see the benefits—including the intangible ones—of such efforts. The annual All-School Service Learning Day is is also a good way to learn about the many organizations that depend on volunteers for support, and a variety of volunteer opportunities organized by TJ are offered throughout the year, but students should expect to complete the majority of their hours through their own initiative. Students must keep track of all work completed and submit appropriate documentation to the Director of Service Learning. This documentation can be an email from the student’s supervisor (using an address clearly affiliated with the organization), a certificate from the organization, or a completed copy of the TJ Service Learning Verification Form.
Because one goal of service is to let the student experience a larger world, TJ will not approve projects that exclusively benefit the TJ community, or projects sponsored by a family member or former employer. Long-term projects with one or two agencies will prove more satisfying and easier to manage than a collection of smaller projects. Such projects will be more useful to the agencies as well. For many students, summer, winter, and spring vacations are ideal times to schedule service work. For others, a project that entails regular weekly or bi-monthly hours will prove more feasible. Either way, students and their families might be surprised at how fast these hours add up.