By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Hudson – Hudson High School students became aware of the many opportunities available for community service when they participated in a Community Action Volunteer Fair held recently at the school. Many listened attentively to Amber Haskett, a representative of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest as she outlined a special program where they can help other youths, Little Brothers and Little Sisters. Several immediately signed up and said they were enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn more about the group and how they could become involved in these youngsters” lives.
The Community Action Project (CAP) is focused on educating ninth-grade students about the importance of community service and involvement, according to Laura Hydro, the CAP program intern at Hudson High.
“A huge part of the program involves bringing in local community service organizations to present to the kids and show them what needs are within the community and how they are being addressed,” she said.
Educators, who include Pamela Klotz, a teacher in the Social Studies Department, are helping students use these opportunities to work for social justice as part of a required service-learning project.
“As we learn about democracy, students will have a chance to put their knowledge into action in the form of a real and meaningful experience,” Klotz said.
Students start as a class by identifying a local or global community need that they want to address, which usually results in working with nonprofit organizations, she said.
“The student studies the social issues, sets goals as to how they will address the need, and take action,” she said. “In the end, the student is responsible for presentations about their experience and making portfolios with written reflections based on their partnership and class discussions about the issue.”
One class is currently working to fundraise and build a handicapped-accessible playground for the Hudson preschool. Several students have given presentations at the elementary school on bullying, which served to help them understand the subject and pass on their thoughts to younger children. Others have volunteered at animal shelters, coaching and refereeing for local youth teams, and answered phone calls for Samaritans, a suicide hotline dedicated to the prevention of teen suicide.
Throughout the school year, guest speakers are invited to talk to students to explain their needs. Presenters this year have included CHAPS, which provides high quality child care and homework help for children of working parents; and Heifer International, working with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth.
Among the more than 25 nonprofit groups participating in the CAP Fair were Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, The Addiction Referral Center of Marlborough, Amnesty International, Andrews Helpful Hands, Relay for Life, YMCA, Buddy Dog, the Civil Air Patrol and Springfield Rescue Mission.