Puyallup High School junior Haley Keizur spends a lot of her time outside of school helping out local organizations.
From Young Life, a christian organization that fosters leadership in the community, to Communities In Schools, a dropout prevention organization, Keizur says she enjoys making a difference.
“I really like seeing the impact that we make,” she said. “When we go volunteer, people (are) happy to see us. It’s really cool to see people benefit from it.”
Now, students like Keizur in the Puyallup School District have the chance to be recognized for their volunteer work in the community through a program that awards students varsity letters for volunteer service.
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I really like seeing the impact that we make. When we go volunteer people (are) happy to see us. It’s really cool to see people benefit from it.
Haley Keizur, junior at Puyallup High School
Starting in seventh grade, students who complete 150 hours of volunteer service qualify to earn a varsity letter. Students must document the hours they complete online to the Learning Management System (LMS) Schoology site. They can also show their work with pictures and videos.
To complete their portfolios, students write 250- to 500-word reflections about the work they’ve done. Portfolios are submitted and reviewed by district officials.
Through the various programs she’s involved in, Keizur finds herself working with younger children often, such as her previous work with March Gladness, an annual community service event that encourages students to engage in community service.
“We volunteer at a lot of the elementary schools and we hang out with the kids, color with them and play outside,” she said.
Right now, Keizur says she’s logged more than the required 150 hours.
“I just logged around 160 (hours) for my ninth- and 10th-grade years,” she said. “I have about 100 from the summer. You need 150 for each semester to letter, and every semester they award letters.”
Students can take the time they need to complete their 150 hours at the place of their choosing, but they can document as many as they want and letter more than once, with the potential to earn a dozen letters throughout their seventh- to 12th-grade education.
I think that interacting with any sorts of people, kids or adults, involved in community service will help me to learn to be on time and have responsibilities.
Twice a year, a ceremony will be held to recognize the students receiving their varsity letters. The letters have the Puyallup School District logo.
“(Students) will get that the first time they letter,” said Tracy Pitzer, director of instructional leadership for the district. “After that they’ll get pins if they letter more than once.”
Students will also receive certificates and a formal letter signed by Puyallup School District Superintendent Dr. Tim Yeomans. The district plans for the first ceremony to be in January.
But many students volunteer in the community for more than just the recognition. Colleges look for volunteer service on applications.
Emerald Ridge High School senior Dominic Choi, who is interested in going into politics in the future, has been helping out with the political campaign of Washington State Representative Melanie Stambaugh, an ER graduate.
“I’ve been volunteering on local campaigns,” Choi said. “I’ve put at least 150 hours into the Melanie Stambaugh campaign. It’s really helpful just to get to see what the campaign is like.”
Keizur believes volunteer service will help her in the future, too.
“I think that interacting with any sorts of people, kids or adults, involved in community service will help me to learn to be on time and have responsibilities,” she said.