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Strive. Honor. Serve?

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On December 26th 2015, Sunnyvale experienced one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the town. The tornado tore through homes and amassed thousands of dollars in damage, leaving many residents with ruined property and even some without shelter. In an effort to help those who were affected by the storm, citizens of the town came together to help one another rebuild. In a true show of community, students and adults alike joined hands in unity to clean up debris, repair fences, and donate materials.  This whole-hearted service was unique because it was done not with the desires of gaining anything in return, but completely for the good of those who were affected. It was a pure, unfiltered example of what makes our town so special. But should it take a natural disaster for us to come together as a community?

   Sunnyvale High School’s motto is Strive, Honor, Serve. These three values are woven into the fabric of the campus in hopes to lead the actions of the student body and set the standards for the campus. But do all three attributes hold equal importance? Students are indeed striving for excellence in both academics and athletics, and honoring the fellow students and faculty around them, but what about service? Other than in the hopes of winning a pizza party or accumulating the necessary hours for graduation, there seems to be little motivation to serve the community. Have we grown too accustomed to the privilege we have here, and consequently forgotten the needs of those less fortunate?

   Community service at SHS is unfortunately low.  While Student Council hosts an annual food drive for the North Texas Food Bank and smaller clubs on campus organize holiday projects, service is never a permanent part of the campus. Even when service projects are introduced, participation is often low unless a prize or extra credit is offered in exchange. But is generosity that is contingent on a prize really a true form of service?

   It is known that Sunnyvale is quite an affluent school district. Our school is renown for its exceptional facilities and technology, and our town and district spares little to no expense when it comes to providing students with the best resources available. But have these privileges made our students indifferent? Some people might argue that since the district requires seniors to submit service hours, service is indeed an important part of the district. But most of those service hours are gotten in a frantic hurry near the very end of senior year, and not all of those hours benefit those who are less fortunate. In fact, students often complain about volunteering and insist that there is not enough time. While some students do volunteer work on their own time, service is not really promoted across the campus.

   So what is the solution? Sunnyvale High School should establish more clubs that are geared completely to community service, with no rewards in exchange. Today, the only club that is entirely service-centered is Do Hard Things, a student-created organization that was previously in a sort of hiatus, but is now being revamped by seniors Kim and Thien Nguyen. DHT began with members of the Class of 2014. The group was based off of a book called “Do Hard Things” that  encouraged the upcoming generation to not be complacent, but to act and take a stand. DHT hosted toy drives, clothing drives, seasonal runs, and worked as group in various off-campus service projects. The hours they spent outside of the local community showed them that there was an entire world outside of Sunnyvale, and it was a world they could truly impact.  Groups like DHT are great character-building organizations that remind students that though we are abundantly blessed here in Sunnyvale, that doesn’t mean we should ignore the needs of the people around us. Most students at SHS are willing and eager to serve but the campus lacks clubs and leaders that can organize such events. If students don’t have enough time to do service on their own, perhaps service should be encouraged within classrooms or activity periods. If the entire campus participated in just one, large service project, it could impact the entire community. If we truly want to “Strive Honor and Serve”, service and passion for our fellow-human should become intrinsic parts of our school district.

   Students here at SHS have proven that we are capable of going above and beyond, we just haven’t chosen to do so in regards to community service. This is not an attack on the character or morals of the student body, but a call to action for the entire campus! Maybe our town has become so focused on “putting Sunnyvale on the map” that we’ve forgotten what brought us here in the first place. It is the sense of camaraderie, community, and family that makes Sunnyvale so special. Part of being a community is giving back. At what point along the way did we forget that?

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Strive. Honor. Serve?