MUSCATINE, Iowa-Though high school students typically spend much of their days busy with schoolwork, sports or activities, and part time jobs, many still find the time to fit volunteering into their schedules. To celebrate students who go above and beyond with their volunteer work, Muscatine High School honors students who complete at least 160 hours of volunteering with a silver cord at graduation. A positive on college, scholarship, and work applications, Muscatine High School Counselor Troy Kulland considers Silver Cord hours a sign that, “a kid is being a well rounded person.” This year, the Summer Program for Arts, Recreation, and Knowledge, or S. P. A. R. K., invited Muscatine High School students to volunteer for up to 40 Silver Cord hours.
In the past, high school volunteers could volunteer as assistants for College 4 Kids, a two week long summer program for elementary students. As organizers put together S. P. A. R. K., they knew they wanted to do something similar. This summer, 18 high school volunteers have offered to help out with S. P. A. R. K., three of them working all day and 15 working half days. In the mornings, students work alongside Kulland and fellow S. P. A. R. K. organizer Lori Shield to take care of housekeeping tasks, such as collecting lunch numbers and helping out teachers who need an extra hand during a lesson. They also help stock the S. P. A. R. K. store, which sells prizes for students to spend their S. P. A. R. K. Bucks, which they earn for daily attendance. In the afternoon, volunteers assist leaders from different community organizations in leading fun, hands-on sessions for students and serve as extra chaperones on field trips.
So far, the high school volunteers have enjoyed getting to work with younger students and their teachers. Jadyn Franklin, a sophomore, shared that she has enjoyed, “when the little kids come and give me hugs.”
Tyler Lucas, a junior likes that, “the kids come and ask me for advice,” and fellow junior Brynn Eichelberger agreed with him. “I think they like having someone closer to their age than their teacher to relate to,” she said.
As for S. P. A. R. K.’s teachers and organizers, they have found the volunteers’ help invaluable. “I think it’s good for our community to see high school students doing great things,”