In an effort to encourage students to participate in community service programs, the Cullman County Board of Education is creating a new seal students can earn that will be placed on their diplomas at graduation. Officials hope the move will both encourage students to get involved, plus give them an extra perk to include on their college resumes.

“Something like this is great, because it can teach students about volunteering at a young age,” school board member Wendy Crider said. “It shows the importance that, no matter how busy you are, it’s important to take the time to help others.”

Current seniors will be eligible to participate by meeting a minimum of 25 hours in the remaining school year, and additional years will be phased in with 25-hour increments, eventually setting the permanent bar for future classes at 100 hours.

“We’re really excited about this, and had a committee together with principals and guidance counselors to get some guidelines together,” school improvement specialist Susan Patrick said. “We wanted to introduce it in a way so this class could participate, so we’ll be adding it in steps over the next few years. We really wanted to recognize, and encourage, students who volunteer.”

Superintendent Billy Coleman said he was ecstatic to see the program launch this year, following years of off-and-on discussions.

“I don’t know what the obstacles were in the past, but they’ve been removed,” he said. “Everyone is really behind this.”

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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