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Is SSL Worth It?

SSL Requirements copy

To graduate from high school, students must have a 75 Student Service Learning hours besides academic credits. However, should SSL really be that important and necessary?

Student Service Learning offers students immediate opportunities to apply classroom learning to support or enhance the work of local agencies that often exist to create positive change in the community. Through SSL, students learn much more outside of school, widening their breadth of vision and cultivating their ability to analyze and solve concrete problems independently. The learning life of students becomes more varied and colorful.

Sophomore Misha Gao from Quince Orchard High School volunteers at a senior community to assist, nurse, and communicate with senior citizens every Saturday. She expounds her views on this subject, stating that “SSL gives me working experiences. In our daily life, paperwork is important but not the only [thing that matters]. Volunteering needs patience and partnerships, which cannot be taught in books. For me, SSL is really necessary and important.”

Sophomore Mark Zhang agrees with Gao. “I do SSL with members of the Student Union. The SSL [activities] give me enjoyable and unforgettable experiences. I remember that I sold popcorn and decorated rooms during the last Book Festival. Also, I helped control traffic on a road with others. SSL is a teacher for me. Although it is tiring, you learn from it. It must be a requirement.”

However, some people think it is not useful for students to earn SSL hours because it occupies students’ study time and doesn’t really support students’ development.

Freshman Pierre Wang has the latter idea. According to Wang, although SSL “provides students [with] other abilities, it loses its original meaning which is to learn from the community. I think more and more students just do it as a requirement and finish it for credits. Students won’t learn anything through the process, so it’s not useful. I don’t think we really need it anymore.”

Junior Jessica Wang shares the same views with Wang. “SSL is wasting your time. I did my volunteer time in a summer camp to teach kids schoolwork and take care of them. It was fun, but most volunteers would drift along aimlessly there. [It was as if we] were just completing a type of school homework. So, students could spend more time on academic activities.” Other students note that SSL forms may be abused, with activity supervisors allowing students to massively overstate the number of hours they worked.
Nevertheless, many students are still learning—or have the potential to learn—in this process. Leadership, partnership, patience, and confidence are all taught as students volunteer in communities. By learning in a community, students also enrich their knowledge and experiences, helping them in future life. Student Service Learning requirements are consequently necessary and important.

Article by MoCo Student Opinions writer Tiffany Pei of Quince Orchard High School

Graphic by MoCo Student Graphics Editor Cynthia Song of Richard Montgomery High School

About The MoCo Student

In 2012, Student Member of the Board of Education John Mannes created a countywide press network to help build a conduit to share fresh and relevant information written by youth to the wider Montgomery County student body.

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