GCS Students Reach One Million Hours of Service

Guilford County Schools (GCS) students have volunteered more than one million hours serving the community, providing an economic impact of about $21 million to the local community. On Wednesday, students, educators and community partners were celebrated for their work in reaching that milestone.

“Service learning takes what students are learning in class and applies it to the real world,” says Yvonne Foster, coordinator for character development and service learning. “It also helps instill pride in their community as they work to make it better.”

It’s all part of GCS’ Character Development Initiative, designed to give students the tools and motivation necessary to make a positive impact on the world. In the 2014-15 school year, The Middle College at Bennett was named a National and State School of Character; Brooks Global Studies and Joyner Elementary were also named State Schools of Character with nine others receiving honorable mentions; and another 16 schools were recognized nationally with Promising Practice awards by Character.org.

GCS’ Character Development initiatives are also opening doors for students. Seven were invited to Washington, D.C., as presenters for the National Service-Learning “More Powerful Together” Conference, where they led discussions with educational leaders, policy-makers and other students from around the country on how their efforts have made a positive change in their community.

“GCS’ Character Development Initiative foster those important and sought-after skills like teamwork and interpersonal communications that will help them stand out and be successful as they enter colleges and the professional world,” says Charlos Banks, executive director of student services and character development. “We are so proud of all of our students who are working to make a difference in the world.”

The event on Wednesday also recognized individual service learning projects and community partners, including High Point Student Human Relations Commission, City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation, The Greensboro Science Center, The Volunteer Center of Greensboro, NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad and Four Seasons Town Centre for providing students with service opportunities throughout the year.

To close out the event, Banks quoted Jane Goodall as a charge to students and staff to continue their good work. “Every individual matters, every individual has a role to play. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

The next celebration is the Cool to Serve event on June 28, which rewards the more than 1,000 students who have volunteered more than 100 hours of service during their high school career. Students who served more than 250 hours will have the chance to win new car!