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Service Learning – Frequently Asked Questions

How are student records towards the Student Service Learning (SSL) diploma requirement maintained?

All students must complete a, Student Service Validation Form at the conclusion of each service-learning project. At the high school level the program must reviewed and approved by the SSL coordinator in advance of service. Hours documented on verification forms are put into the student’s permanent record. Hours completed are reflected on the report card from grade 6 through 12. Students should keep copies of all SSL documents. Each secondary principal is responsible for confirming the completion of the service-learning requirement on the transcript of each student.

A SSL point of contact is available in every middle and high school to provide information about the SSL requirement, opportunities, timelines, and forms.

Can middle school students participate in independent service learning projects?

Yes. Middle school students can participate in independent service learning projects. They are not required to seek pre-approval on independent service-learning projects because, although their independent community involvement is encouraged, any hours they earn will not be counted toward their high school service-learning graduation requirement. At the middle school level only curricular infused service-learning hours will be counted toward completion of the graduation requirement.

How are HCPSS students with exceptional SSL record recognized?

Each year student leaders are recognized by their individual schools and in the community. Students completing exemplary projects are nominated for the annual Maryland State Department of Education Service Star Awards. Students who are very involved in service learning in their community and hold active leadership positions in community service organizations are also recognized throughout the year during school wide assemblies, eNews, local news paper articles etc.

In each of our high schools students are recognized for outstanding student service learning at our Senior Awards Ceremony at the end of the year. Counselors meet with these exceptional students to inform them of various scholarships and honors, which might be available to them. All Students and parents are informed about service learning opportunities, scholarships and awards via Guidance Bulletins, monthly Scholarship Bulletins and announcements on the individual school Website. The websites are linked to hcpss.org scholarship/service oriented scholarship opportunities.

Can a church, synagogue, or other religious body sponsor SSL activities?

Yes. The service activity must have a secular purpose and be based on a recognized need in the community. The service must reach beyond the participants in the religious event to members in the greater community. SSL activities cannot include preparation or participation in the performance of religious services. Religious institutions and their activities are often on the pre-approved but not recruiting list.

How The Community Can Contribute

There are several ways in which community members, agencies and organizations can support the student service learning program. Interested persons may:

  • Participate by forming partnerships with the school system.
  • By asking to be included in a central directory.
  • By offering to support ongoing projects as determined by individual schools or classes.

For example, when the students at Glenwood MS lost a classmate in a bicycle accident, they responded by developing a comprehensive bicycle safety program that earned them national recognition. As part of the year-long project, students worked with school system personnel and a local sporting goods store to develop a bicycle safety lesson that is now part of the school curriculum. They planned and sponsored a community bike rodeo at which bikes were checked for safety and riders were taught safety tips. The students’ most impressive accomplishment came as a result of their successful campaign to promote the use of helmets by bike riders. Through the efforts of this concerned and committed group of students, Howard County became the first jurisdiction in the country to require children to wear bike helmets when riding on major county roads.