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Students facing service deadline

April 22, 1997


Staff Writer

He hears it over and over again from Washington County high school seniors who, according to his official records, lack the full 75 Student Service Learning hours needed to graduate.

"One of the problems we've had is a number of students have claimed to be finished, but they haven't turned them in yet," said Fred Jacobs, who coordinates the school system's Student Service Learning (SSL) program.

Until the paperwork is on his desk, it's just talk, Jacobs said.

Seniors have until June 1 to turn in their completed SSL cards - including a log of their hours and a reflection piece - in order to graduate, he said.


The state-imposed SSL program requires students to complete 75 community service hours before they can graduate from high school.

As of April 15, 164 of the roughly 1,071 public high school seniors - or a little over 15 percent - still hadn't turned in enough Student Service Learning hours to earn a diploma, Jacobs said.

Of the 164 students, 34 students had completed 56 or more SSL hours, he said.

Only 16 hadn't made any progress at all, Jacobs said.

Those numbers reflect a marked improvement since the end of February, when 275 seniors - or a little over 25 percent - still hadn't met the requirement, he said.

From what Jacobs hears from the schools, numbers have continued to improve since the last official count on April 15, he said.

Still, with less than two months until graduation, Jacobs said he is concerned about the students who still have a long way to go.

"There's no question they're making progress, but there's a point where they're going to run out of time, that is, their free time, especially those who work," he said.

Students who don't get all their hours in on time will not participate in the graduation ceremony, Jacobs said.

Those with extenuating circumstances can file an appeal afterward, he said.

However, the situation will have to be extreme given the fact that they have had four years to earn the hours, Jacobs said.

Of the seniors with insufficient SSL hours, only about 25 students are in danger of not graduating for another reason as well, he said.

Unless a student has another graduation requirement to fulfill, the only option is the G.E.D. test, Jacobs said.

North Hagerstown High's numbers have improved significantly since April 15, when the school reported 47 seniors still hadn't met the requirement, said Principal David F. Reeder.

At last count, there were still 33 students, though at least four of them just have to finish the paperwork, Reeder said.

All of the 12 or so South Hagerstown High School seniors who haven't finished have developed a plan, said Principal Richard L. Martin, who said all of those students are making progress.

"They still want to graduate bad enough to figure out a way to get them done," Martin said. "We're fairly confident that they're going to do it."

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