Service requirements & retreats adjust to new conditions

Belle Wilson, Editor-in-Chief

Faith is the major pillar JC was built on. It is one of JC’s values being a Catholic high school. Students participate in service learning and attend a yearly retreat.

When the COVID-19 shutdowns began, it left the Catholic high schools, along with churches of many denominations, closed and empty.
Churches conducted online services while the school’s religion classes were conducted from a computer.
Student Outreach Coordinator Susan Strawbridge commented on retreat cancellations. “There were some sophomore students who could not attend their sophomore service learning retreat. Unfortunately, the Beyond Capernaum program at Mt. Zion Church is not functioning because of COVID-19. Currently, we are not certain of this program restarting because of COVID restrictions.”
Seniors from the 2020 class got to experience their retreat virtually with the help of faculty and administration. Seniors got to engage in music and share laughs over Teams.
For this 2020-2021 year, no large events including retreats are currently planned due to the pandemic, but as COVID-19 restrictions begin to change, this will be reassessed as JC continues through the school year.
Mrs. Strawbridge explained, “COVID-19 has had a huge effect on what we have always considered ‘normal service.’ Since many summer activities were canceled, students were not able to serve at summer camps or Bible school.
In previous years, JC students have gone as a group to visit the Ronald McDonald House during Lent and made PB&J sandwiches and casseroles for Our Daily Bread.
Also, students couldn’t take a trip to Habitat ReStore. Another activity which had to be canceled was the new student service project which normally takes place during Orientation. Seniors were not able to paint bowls during Senior Unity Day for the Empty Bowls Project for St. Vincent de Paul.
In order to still serve the community “many students had to be creative in earning service hours,” said Mrs. Strawbridge.
One service project that has been done this year is making Thinking of You cards for senior citizens who were isolated in their assisted living rooms, and other students have been making masks for hospital workers.
“Students also served packaged meals outside to children at various elementary schools. Neighborhood virtual students received tutoring assistance from JC students. There was also a group of students who made desks for children who are attending in-home learning.”
Service hour requirements for this year have been adjusted due to organizations having different requirements on volunteering.
Mrs. Strawbridge explained, “It appears some organizations are starting to accept students inside their buildings to help with their programs as some COVID-19 restrictions are beginning to be lifted while other programs only accept help during outside events.”
Even with changes to service hour requirements Mrs. Strawbridge feels “confident the reduction in the service hour graduation requirement is something all students can meet.”
Seniors are now required to have 50 hours while transfers must have 15; juniors must have 50 hours to graduate, but 35 of those hours must be completed by June 10, 2021. Sophomores and freshmen need 55 hours to graduate in their senior years.
Mrs. Strawbridge commented that students should see service as “not just an obligation. It is part of the premise of the JC school. The first day a JC student walks into the school building, they become part of a larger community of giving and service which lasts for the rest of their lives.”
“The need for students to serve has always been strong. Our community is adjusting to new life challenges and students are finding new ways to help, but during COVID-19 the health and safety of our students had to come first.”