MHS Deans Roll Out New Service Hours Program

MHS+Service+Hours+sheet+must+be+filled+out+by+the+student+themselves+and+signed+by+a+teacher.+
MHS Service Hours sheet must be filled out by the student themselves and signed by a teacher.

MHS Service Hours sheet must be filled out by the student themselves and signed by a teacher.

MHS Service Hours sheet must be filled out by the student themselves and signed by a teacher.

Gianna Scibetta, Editor-in-Chief

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In the upcoming 2017-18 school year, Samantha Smigielski and Paul Thatcher, the Dean of students, will implement a new disciplinary system. This new system will entail that students who are disciplined must do service hours around the school in order to make up for any wrong-doings.

    Students can complete their service hours in a variety of ways from working with the groundskeepers to visiting the Literacy Center or the Math Lab if they are struggling in their classes.

   “Instead of doing the traditional lunch detention or morning detention… you can choose how you want to spend your service hours,” explained Smigielski. “It is something you are going to get [something] back for [completing]. You can improve your grades, and usually when grades improve, your behavior will improve.”

   In the past, students served lunch detention. For the 35-minute lunch period, they would sit quietly at a separate table from others while a security guard monitored attendance.

  “We thought [this new system] was better than staring at a wall,” said Smigielski.

    School administration said the new service hours program will hold students more accountable for their actions, allowing the students to choose the consequence for their misbehavior.

  If students do not complete their service hours, they will not be able to participate in activities, including sports and school dances.  Additionally, parking permits can be revoked.

The evolution of this program involved the work of Smigielski and Thatcher as well as the head football coach Larry Calhoun who served as a dean while Smigielski was on maternity leave last year.

“We looked closely at the exclusionary consequences, and they were not only hard to enforce, but they were not restorative,” said Calhoun.

In other words, teenagers needed a stronger push to make better decisions than the previous discipline system was giving, and the deans had to work closely to see which outcome would provide the better outcome with longer-lasting results.

This year the program is gradually being introduced to the school community.

“We’re piloting with just a few students, just one or two here or there,” said Smigielski. “We can see if [the student] can gain an adult connection, and [the student] will be helping the school and themselves.”

Luke Toland, junior, received assigned service hours this year and said he sees the benefit to himself and to other students.

“It forced me to get the hours done,” said Toland. “I am able to see the point the deans are trying to make with this new program.”

As the new program is piloted, the deans are continuously evaluating what’s going well and what still needs to be improved for the future.  

“We are watching this very closely, just as you would do with any new program,” said Thatcher.

The deans have already seen one aspect that needs adjustment.

“The largest con we have seen is timeliness from the students [in completing their hours],” said Thatcher, “but the pro is we have not seen any backlash from any parents of the students.”

Another pro to the new program is it mimics disciplinary scenarios outside of school.   For example, when people receive driving violation citations, they must attend driving school so that they are more likely to drive safer  in the future.  

It also shows students that as people grow up, they are held more accountable for their actions.

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MHS Deans Roll Out New Service Hours Program