Serving the community, 356 hours at a time
Meet Jose Cuadrado, The Freedom Forum’s April Student of the Month.
Struggling to complete your 60 hours of community service? Jose Cuadrado, sophomore, already has five times the required number of hours necessary for graduation. His motivation is simple.
“I just like doing community service,” said Cuadrado.
Since the 1990’s, the amount of high schools mandating community service has grown exponentially, with the Bethlehem Area School District (BASD) implementing the requirement in April of 1990. The objectives of the new program were: (1) students will understand their responsibilities as citizens dealing with community issues; (2) students will know that their concern about people and events in the community can have positive effects; (3) students will develop pride in assisting others; and (4) students will provide services to the community without receiving pay.
Interestingly, the decision by then-superintendent, Thomas Dolusio, was met with some controversy; two sets of parents of two Liberty High School students, Lynn Ann Steirer and David Stephen Moralis, took the BASD to court, alleging the new requirement violated their children’s First, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
The BASD argued that “the education of the Nation’s youth is primarily the responsibility of parents, teachers, and local and state school officials, and not of federal judges,” citing 1988 court case Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier, and won the case.
Since the ruling in 1992, students attending Freedom or Liberty have participated in countless altruistic endeavors, including volunteering with organizations like Boy Scouts of America (BSA), St Luke’s Hospital, and Red Cross.
Cuadrado volunteers with the Bethlehem Housing Authority. According to their website, the authority is “committed to providing a community environment that ultimately promotes self-sufficiency”. The mission aligns with course objective (2): “students will know that their concern about people and events in the community can have positive effects”, as volunteers work to promote self-reliance through their service.
Currently, he has 356 total hours of community service, an incredible accomplishment for a sophomore.
“I help kids with their homework, and pass out their snacks. Sometimes I play with them, so they won’t be bored,” said Cuadrado.
Not only does Cuadrado enjoy helping others, but he also recognizes how his work now might benefit his education in the future. He hopes to attain the silver cord, a recognition given at graduation for logging 135 or more total hours, as well as scholarships for college.
“I want to work with technology, I like using computers and help[ing to] fix them,” said Cuadrado.
He advises students to start early instead of waiting until the last minute to complete the requirement.
When performing service for others, it is important to realize the impact it really has on their lives. Oftentimes, the love expressed through service is enough thanks for volunteers.
“Some people appreciate it, and they’re thankful, that someone is at least trying to help them,” said Cuadrado.
The Freedom Forum is an award-winning high school publication at Freedom High School in the Bethlehem Area School District in Pennsylvania. The organization publishes approximately 8 issues per school year and reports on local, as well as world, events.