Eighth-graders work on service hours as Jan. 13 deadline looms

RCMS eighth-grader worked to finish their service hours as the Jan. 13 deadline loomed.

“I’m definitely concerned [about completing my hours], but I’ll find ways to do it,” said Rishima Sahoo, an eighth-grader on the Voyagers team. 

“Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming,” admitted Ananya Sah, an eighth-grader on the Yellowjackets team. “It’s a lot of pressure with the time limit. But the pressure is what keeps the students going.”

Eighth-graders have seven civics hours due on Jan 13 at 2:15 pm. In addition, National Junior Honor Society hours must be verified and submitted by 2:15 p.m. on Friday, May 13. Students are advised to speak to their civics teachers if they have any questions. 

Some students are more worried about hours completion than others. With the upcoming deadline in mind, as well as the 10 additional hours if the student is in NJHS, eighth-graders share opinions on the amount of service hours required. 

“I think instead of having one amount for seventh and eighth grade [combined], they should have one amount for eight and one for seventh grade,” Nethra Purushothaman, an eighth-grader on the Discoveries team, said. 

“I feel like having 10 hours for NJHS is a lot,” said Ananya. “Because, eventually service hours become more of a chore.”

On the other hand, Rohan Jayakumar, an eighth-grader on the Voyagers team said, “I think it’s too little, because you could do a lot more community service. And you’re being a good citizen.”

He believes that the required number of civics hours should be 20 hours rather than 15.

For students who are concerned about completing their hours, Rishima advised, “Start immediately, because there is a lot to complete.” 

Students receive their service hours in different ways. There are opportunities outside of Carson, but some clubs within the school also provide service hours. Nethra said she received most of her service hours from the school’s Going Green Club. 

“I’m interested in environmental action, I didn’t know what to do aside from recycling at my own house,” Nethra said. “So I thought, yes, this is a good thing to join. [The service hours] are an added bonus. I didn’t know you got service hours for Going Green until I joined.”

“I finished my civics hours last year,” Ananya said. “I helped out at a library.”

Rohan earned most of his service hours through clubs and gardening work. 

“There are some restrictions, as middle schoolers, so it can be difficult to find opportunities for ages 13-14,” Rohan said. “But I’m not really concerned, because I have a lot of ideas and there are opportunities.”

Some have difficulty finding service opportunities, and are drawn to clubs where they know they will find service hour opportunities. 

“Don’t do it just for hours,” Nethra said about Going Green. “The point of service is to help people, and go beyond just helping ourselves. It’s annoying when kids who are trying to take action, and do something about climate change but have to put up with kids who don’t care and are just in it for the service hours.”

Mr. Kirk Treakle, the leader of Going Green acknowledges this concern. “When the club starts at the beginning of the year, I’m sure that there are a few people who maybe aren’t … fully invested in environmental concerns.”

“They aren’t just inclined to work,” Nethra said. “They know they’re going to get the hours, so they don’t do any of the work.”

“I think that further into the year, it’s clear about the people who have a clear commitment based on their worth ethic,” said Mr. Treakle. “Because of the mission of the club, and its membership, it’s incompatible for someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in environmental protection and sustainability for them to just be there for service hours. It actually does a disservice to a different student who wanted to join, but there wasn’t room. It hurts the environment [to deprive] an interested student of the spot.”

All five—Nethra, Rishima Ananya, Rohan and Mr. Treakle— agree that service hours are important and necessary for all students to complete. 

“We’ve done weeding the rain garden, planting native perennials and native trees, and removing invasive species, mostly wineberry and Japanese stiltgrass,” Mr. Treakle said. “And I think it’s one of the best types of service, because they’re having a direct positive impact, and they’re also learning.” 

“Service hours are good, because they prepare you for the real world,” Ananya said.

Rishima said, “It will help the world be a better place.”

“It’s helping your community,” Rohan said. “It’s always going to have a positive effect on you and others. Last year I was very stressed out about service hours, because I thought I couldn’t get the hours. But I think I am fine right now.”

Mr. Treakle said, “Working outside’s known to be a healthy activity, especially these days with kids spending some much time on screens and more time inside than previous generations. So I think it’s a real positive-win-win. It instills a greater purpose if they’re not just doing it for the hours.”

Nethra, who also sees the positives of service hours in the community, is concerned, because people are beginning to see service hours as a chore and something that they have to get out of the way. There will be a time where service hours are not required anymore.

“Does that mean we stop helping each other?” she asked.