All community service forms going toward the Presidential Community Service Award are due Feb. 29. The hours that count for this award are hours that were earned between March 1, 2011 and the due date.
Service hour forms can be submitted any time but are only counted for the Presidential Award if turned in by Feb. 29.
There are three different levels for the Presidential award: bronze, silver and gold.
The bronze level is for students who received 100 to 174 hours of community service. The silver is for 175 to 249 hours, and the gold is for 250 or more hours.
In the past, service involving teaching religion did not count towards the Presidential Service Award. However, this rule has changed so teaching religion does count.
“Besides managing sports, if you are doing something that helps those in need, it will probably count,” community service sponsor Kristin Asquith said. “I would love for kids to branch out — try to get out of Johnson County and help others.”
If there is ever a dispute about whether something should count for community service, Asquith said it is discussed among a group of teachers.
“We have an oversight group of teachers who, if there is ever a question about what hours count, I just send it to them if there might need to be something changed,” she said.
Asquith said the Presidential Award is a good way to recognize the students who have put in effort and passion to community service.
“You do service for your soul and to better yourself,” she said. “But we live in a world that people also like to be recognized for what they do.”
Sophomore Lorelle Katz volunteered a total of 270 hours of community service this year.
Katz said she does a lot of volunteering with her church. She helps there in the office whenever they need assistance, teaches Sunday school, and goes on mission trips.
She also helps with a dance program called Access Dance. She volunteers with a couple of friends, and they help teach kids with special needs how to dance. At Access Dance, she helps teach five classes — four jazz and one tap.
Each class is divided into age groups. Ages range from five-year-olds to ten-year-olds. The tap class welcomes all the age groups.
“In each class, we stretch for like five to ten minutes and then each volunteer goes and finds a buddy to go across the floor with,” Katz said. “Basically we just help them with each step and make sure they are doing it right. Each class has a dance that they learn, so every week we practice that dance and then perform them at different places.”
She said getting to be around the kids a lot is very enjoyable.
“The kids get so attached to you,” Katz said. “There’s this one girl named Harper and every week she just runs in, and she gives everybody a hug. She’s so sweet. The emotional attachment, like the bond that you create with them, it’s like nothing that I’ve ever seen before. They’re all pretty trusting people. Once you get comfortable, and they fully figure out that you’re trying to help them, it just clicks.”
Katz said she loves knowing she is truly helping others.
“You can tell that the people who have asked for help are so appreciative of what you have been doing,” she said.“It’s a really good experience to be able to help out. It’s one of those things that it’s not required, but you still really want to do it.”
Senior Hannah Skidmore completed more than 300 hours of community service this school year.
She began volunteering in sixth grade.
She said her parents’ influence led her to start doing community service.
“My parents have always pushed me to help others,” Skidmore said. “They taught me to always put others before myself.”
She receives many service hours through managing varsity volleyball, varsity boys basketball and track and field. Skidmore also does community service through her church by going to homeless shelters and on mission trips.
She said one of her favorite parts about doing community service is building friendships.
“A couple years ago, I went to Florida, and we helped at this horse ranch,” she said. “It’s a therapeutic riding center where kids with disabilities can go and relax. A few of the people I have met there I have life-long relationships with.”
She said she builds strong relationships by getting others to confide in her.
“You just ask them questions, and they start to really open up to you,” Skidmore said. “You get to know them on a deeper level by asking them these questions.”
People she helped come to her church to visit her regularly. She also stays connected with people she goes on mission trips with through Facebook and email.
“We are so close still,” she said. “We have never broken our family bond.”