HIGHLAND | A proposal to make community service a graduation requirement, which would begin with the class of 2012, drew a heated discussion among parents and School Board members Monday.
The passion was high for more than two hours as the handful of parents in attendance, though friendly toward the idea of community service, said they were offended by it possibly becoming a mandate.
"Forced volunteerism is an oxymoron. You are taking something from the kids who want to do volunteer work," said Marianne Lee, parent of two high school daughters who volunteer.
Similar comments flooded the Administration Conference Room after the committee comprising administration, parents and students gave a PowerPoint presentation for the 2008 community service proposal.
In the plan, students must volunteer 48 hours of service and can spread out the hours throughout the four years of high school, equating to 20 minutes a week, according to Dave Bedka, a Highland High School teacher and committee member.
Students enrolling after their freshmen year will complete hours on a pro-rated basis, about 12 hours each year.
Kelly Gossman, school guidance coordinator, who is on the committee, said community service builds character and leadership and could foster personal and career development.
Lee was joined by Cindy Canner, mother of a high school senior, who said she was the voice of parents who could not come.
"We don't feel it should be pushed on us," Canner said, adding the parents' schedules would also be involved in transporting the students.
The committee collaborated with Hanover Central and Crown Point high schools who have the community service graduation requirement in place, Gossman said.
Hanover Central requires 75 hours for graduation and Crown Point mandates 60, she said.
Board members Luanne Jurczak and Larry Vassar embraced community service, but thrashed the mandatory clause. The duo suggested the committee do more research and get more information.
Jurczak also said the committee membership needs to reflect more parents.
The board requested more information and tabled the topic, which could possibly appear on the agenda of the April 15 School Board meeting, Carol Green-Fraley said.