More than 250 Palo Alto High School students received the Fall President’s Service Award, an achievement that recognizes students for participating in extensive hours of community service and inspire their peers to follow in their footsteps, during Flex earlier this month.
Of the 252 awards given, 25 students received the Silver Award, 66 received the Bronze Award, and 161 received either the Gold or Gold TEEN Award. In order to earn a Bronze Service Award. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, students must accumulate 100-174 hours of community service within a year, 175-249 hours for Silver, 250 hours plus for the Gold, or 100+ for the Gold TEEN award offered to those younger than 16.
Karla Larson, the organizer of the awards ceremony, said she was impressed with the number of hours Paly students have served.
“Each year, more Paly students participate in community service, locally and globally,” Larson said. “I think the volume of hours and large number of students that volunteer makes it evident our students have compassion for other people and the environment. There is a lot to learn through volunteerism.”
Some students earned their hours through more unconventional ways. Sophomore Derek Dong, who received the Gold TEEN Award, completed over one hundred hours of community service in Asia.
“I earned my hours by going to Taiwan and helping out at care centers for the disabled,” Dong said. He stayed in Taiwan for two weeks and worked with other volunteers.
Volunteering in Taiwan not only presented an opportunity for Dong to participate in community service, but also provided an opportunity for him to step out of his comfort zone and experience the lives of others.
“I think the most important thing I learned during the trip is that, at the end of the day, regardless of wealth or status, everyone could use, or give, a helping hand,” Dong said. “Talking to other volunteers, as well as the patients, really helped me understand that helping others should go beyond social, or national, boundaries.”
If you are interested in applying for the Spring President’s Award, submit your hours to the Helper Helper website between Feb.12 and 23.