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Fort Kent adds community service graduation requirement

FORT KENT, Maine — Students at Fort Kent Community High School must now fulfill a community service requirement in order to graduate.

The students must complete 30 hours of community service during their high-school career — five hours each during freshmen and sophomore years, and 10 hours each during their junior and senior years at the high-school.

“We really want our learners to give back to the community because the community has given to them their entire lives,” CHS principal John Kaleta said. “It was time to add this as a graduation requirement; really we’re nothing without our community.”

The students can fulfill the requirement by volunteering with local service organizations and churches, or even assisting individuals, such as an elderly or disabled person, with chores.

“Really the possibilities are pretty endless,” Kaleta said.

The principal said that some high-schools have a stricter service requirement, but local school officials decided 30 hours would be sufficient.

“We don’t want it to be a burden. We want people to do it and feel good about it, and we want it to help build an intrinsic feeling of volunteerism,” Kaleta said. “It helps build activism and gets kids away from an egocentric mode that many young people are in. It makes them think about other people besides themselves.”

Advisors meet with students on a regular basis and can help them to select possible service opportunities from a list staff member Kathy Bouchard has compiled.

“Kathy Bouchard has done an incredible job soliciting community service organizations, compiling the needs and forwarding them to advisors,” Kaleta said.

The principal said the list is ever expanding as school officials become aware of new service opportunities.

Since the new policy was only implemented this year, students in the current senior class are only required to complete 10 community service hours to graduate.

Senior Hannah Daigle, who already has completed her required service hours, said community service is something she grew up with as the daughter of Andrew and Candy Daigle of Fort Kent.

“Last year, me and my mom volunteered at the Can-Am. It was really fun,” she said. “My dad does a lot of like even family stuff. He volunteers to help my grandfather by washing cars and mowing lawns.”

Daigle also is a volunteer coach for the Fort Kent Recreation Department Pee Wee Soccer program.

“I like working with little kids and I like getting out in the community and helping out,” she said.

Senior Logan Trombly is doing a Bible-based community service project this year. A Jehova’s Witness, Trombly spends time on the sidewalks of Fort Kent handing out informational pamphlets about the church.

“I’m sure you’ve seen us standing in town,” he said, adding that he supports the community service requirement at CHS. “I think it’s a very good idea; it’s good to get students involved in the community.”

Kaleta said he hopes the service requirement will encourage a sense of community that will stick with the students long after they leave high-school.

“It’s all about giving. Fort Kent has always been a great example of that and I don’t think you will find a town with the volunteer force Fort Kent has,” Kaleta said. “We can spread Fort Kent all over the state, all over the country, one student at a time, one learner at a time.”

Kaleta encourages local organizations or individuals who would welcome student volunteers to contact him at johnkaleta@sad27.org.

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