By Sarah Swenson, editor-in-chief

At Nantucket High School (NHS), all students are required to complete 20 hours of community service before May 1st of their year of graduation. With the year just over half gone, you may be thinking about where you can find community service hours. Maybe you are a senior, trying to eke them out before May 1st comes, or maybe you just want to get ahead of the game. Community service is not only a graduation requirement, but it also looks impressive to scholarship organizations, the National Honors Society, and colleges, as it shows your commitment to giving back to the community that you live in. Some scholarships are awarded to students based solely on their community service work.

If you are looking to find community service opportunities, the first place to check is your email; weekly announcements are sent to the entire school via email with school updates, and also community service opportunities. Community Service Coordinator, Seanda Bartlett, has a newsletter via Smore, which updates students on community service opportunities. You can also find her in her office, across the hall from the guidance offices, to the left of the Hall of the Whale. 

One great opportunity that has recently emerged is “Our House”, a newly purchased property intended to be a community space for teens in high school as they transition into adulthood, run by School Committee member Pauline Proch and former Nantucket Public Schools superintendent Michael Cozort. This will be a great community space, intended to be similar to the Nantucket Boys and Girls Club in mission, but with an older target group. However, before it can begin serving its purpose, it needs some helping hands.

“The Our House building and grounds are in need of lots of help – painting, cleaning, landscaping, organizing – you name it they need help with it!!” reads the announcement Our House placed in Bartlett’s Community Service newsletter. Contacts for this opportunity are: Pauline Proch- pprochourhouse@gmail.com and Michael Cozort- 508.680.4850 (text)

Another opportunity that is coming up soon is the Maria Mitchell Association and Nantucket Community School Annual Science Fair, which will be held on March 18th and 19th in the NHS gymnasium. They will need help setting up, cleaning up, and manning tables. A contact for this event is Ms. Bartlett.

A student-organized group known as Letters for Rose also gives you the chance to get your community service hours. Letters for Rose was founded during the COVID pandemic, and its mission statement is to “reduce loneliness among elders during the COVID-19 pandemic by creating and distributing personalized letters, art, and donations for local nursing homes.” It is exclusively run by high school volunteers, so you would be surrounded by fellow students doing volunteer work if you signed up to work with them. You can write, or draw, using your creative talent and the gift of time to help make an elderly person’s day happier! Nantucket is one of over 400 chapters around the world. Our Nantucket chapter is run by Juniors Julia Swietlick (swietlick_ja@npsk.org) and Eliza Brown (brown_es@npsk.org).

Another student-led group is the student continuation of the Nantucket Clean Team. The Nantucket Clean Team, headed by Adam Dread and Bill Connell, is a group of over 400 volunteers who work to keep the island clean, beautiful, and healthy, by picking up trash in several locations around the island, including downtown, Milestone Road, and beaches. As many of the volunteers are summer residents or tourists, the group tends to shut down in the off-season. However this year, students at NHS have continued the group. Every Saturday morning at 10 am, students gather at the start of Milestone Road at the rotary, with trash bags, pickers, and gloves for anyone who wants to join. Updates on time, location, which are especially important in this cold time when a weekend may be swamped by a snowstorm, are posted weekly at nantucketyouthclimatecommittee on Instagram. For more information, you may contact junior Sarah Swenson (swenson_sg@npsk.org).

Finally, for all NHS juniors, an upcoming event to look out for is the Annual Litter Derby Nantucket, on April 2nd and 3rd. The Junior class will be entering a team to compete, by trying to pick up as much trash as possible. All hours, of course, count as community service towards your requirement! Ms. Bartlett is also the contact for this event.

Volunteering is necessary to graduate and helpful for your resume. On top of this, giving back to your community is fulfilling. With this many opportunities, ranging from one-time events, to weekly occurrences, to work you can do on your own time, there is no excuse not to get out there and start volunteering.

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