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Community service provides local, global lessons for students



Learning outside of the classroom is just as important as learning in the classroom. That is a key concept at Tech Valley High SchoolŪ where students must undertake 100 hours of community service before graduating.

The community service element of student studies is not just a recommendation, but a requirement one that could keep a senior from graduating if they do not earn enough hours.

"It's important that students understand the world outside of the classroom, to understand the issues that exist in their communities, the region, the nation and beyond," said Principal Dan Liebert.

Some students work with charities raising funds for the needy, others for libraries and still others work in food banks.

"The benefits of participating in community service are multidimensional," said teacher Leah Penniman. "The spirit of compassion and service unifies our country."

For the students, the experience ranges from interesting to life-changing. 

Class of 2013 graduate Annmarie Pryor said her volunteer work involving Haiti was "life-changing."

"Going to Haiti to plant trees was amazing. It was so great to reach out and help the global community," she said.

Other students aspire to impact their local communities.

TVHS junior Kayla Schnoop, of Hoosick Falls, volunteers at the Hoosick Falls Youth Center.

"I hope to have more of an impact on my community, because the youth center does more for the community than just activities for the youth, so I'm hoping to help unite my community through this," she said.

Senior Alex Miller has a similar experience.

He said his favorite community service project is working at a summer camp where he volunteered to work with children. 

"I had a lot of fun doing it and got a ton of community service hours," said Miller, Averill Park.

Through community service and a focus on global education, TVHS graduates learn the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, developing an ethically-based sense of social responsibility, and an awareness of the social, political, economic, and environmental context and implications of civic decisions. 

Some students hone their skills through community service.

Senior Joel Olzak, New Lebanon, aspires to a career involving computer technology and spent last summer volunteering at TVHS helping the school's technology director Don Groff revamp the school's computers.

"My favorite community service so far would have to be helping  Mr. Groff with the laptops over the summer. I had a great time, and learned more about how such a large network of computers is set up," said Olzak, of New Lebanon.

In the top photo, Kaila Schnoop, of Hoosick Falls works with Haitian children during the school's trip to Haiti in January.

In the bottom photo, Kira Kested of Greenville was one of several TVHS students who made cards for troops during the Holiday Season.