Volunteer Hours No Longer a Graduation Requirement


A Novato High community service form

Hannah Nicholas, Reporter

As of January 11, NUSD board members announced that NHS and SMHS students will no longer be required to complete volunteer hours in order to graduate. The lifting of this longtime requirement relieved many students and removed the stress of having this weighing over their heads. 

Originally, the district made the decision to lower the amount of hours due to the COVID lockdown. This change lowered the once 40 hours of community service all the way down to 25 hours for the class of 2022. 

In the What’s the Buzz newsletter from February 13, NHS announced the requirement change.

“Volunteer service can still make your college applications stand out, however, and service is a great way to connect with your community! All service hours completed at a qualifying non-profit will continue to be counted and added to your transcript,” the school explained. 

Debbie Hagan, a counselor at NHS, explained her view.

“I believe this was a decision in support of all students: it might be extremely stressful for students to balance school, work, helping out at home, and other commitments– and the community service requirement might create additional stress. Additionally, it was challenging for students to find places to volunteer during the past 2 years of the pandemic,” she explained in an email.

That being said, Hagan certainly understands the value of volunteering.

“I think it’s so valuable for students to learn and grow by giving back to their communities, sharing their time and talents. I especially like when students volunteer at their own elementary schools, serving as mentors to the younger students,” she added.

The district still highly encourages students to continue to volunteer, as it makes college applications stand out and benefits the community. 

Many students who participate in extracurricular activities now have more freedom with their schedules and personal time.

Sara Delgado, a freshman at NHS, expressed her feelings when asked about hitting the 40 hour mark.

“I think that I will probably complete that much throughout my years here at Novato but I am not going to track it. I like volunteering and helping those in my community so I myself am going to continue to do that,” she said.

Sophomore Leo Sueveda also chimed in with a different point of view.

“I don’t think students will volunteer at all once everyone finds out it’s not required. And nobody’s going to go out of their way when it’s not required. I don’t think I’m going to do 40 hours but I’ll probably do 20 because it looks good on college applications,” said Sueveda.

The question remains how many students will continue to volunteer now that it’s no longer required. How will this affect the community and was abolishing the graduation requirement the proper decision?

“People should still volunteer, but I don’t know if a graduation requirement is the way to go,” said NHS senior Cooper Thelen.

“I think it was nice that students were required to help those in their community but I’m sure we would be fine without this requirement,” Delgado added.