Duwayne Barker and Maria Fareti meet with the School Committee to discuss a seal of community service initiative.
Reminder Publishing screen capture by Tyler Garnet

CHICOPEE — Chicopee students Duwayne Barker and Maria Fareti from the Student Advisory Council met with the School Committee at its March 6 meeting to give an update on an initiative to start a Chicopee Seal of Community Service.

The seal would be given to graduating seniors who volunteered and was compared to the seal of biliteracy, which is awarded to qualified students who have studied and attained proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation.

“It would be given to upon graduating seniors who not only meet a minimum community service requirement but also actively seek and earn this recognition through their dedication to service,” Barker said, “We propose a meaningful initiative that not only enriches the lives of our students but also strengthens the bond between our school in the community we serve.”

After meeting multiple times to discuss the requirements to earn the seal of community service, the Student Advisory Council said that 50 hours of community service throughout freshmen to junior year, 75 hours of community service if you want the seal of distinction and you need a reference via Google forms from someone inside the community and a faculty member in the student’s school.

Hours can be earned both in and outside of school activities and students do not need a certain GPA to be eligible.

“We feel as if there are many students out there who maybe do not have a 4.0 GPA but should be recognized for their efforts and dedication to the community,” Barker said.

Students would need to log their hours in a Google Form and there will be a two-week deadline so that someone can not decide at the beginning of senior year to log hours from previous years and the committee have no way to verify them.

The hope is also the have a ceremony each year to honor those students who receive the honor with members of the community to speak and support the students.

To kick off the initiative, the Student Advisory Council has partnered with the mayor’s office and Chicopee Public Schools Family and Community Engagement Facilitator Kristen Coelho to publicize and participate in the city’s clean sweep.
The focus of the clean sweep campaign is to highlight the impact of community involvement and to ask residents to keep the city clean by volunteering at different sections to clean.

In addition to working with the clean sweep campaign, the Student Advisory Council is also working with athletic teams at Chicopee High School and Chicopee Comprehensive High School.

Fareti said, “We are working with Athletic Director Shaun Mackin to normalize these kinds of community service activities and promote diligent participation in students. The Chicopee Seal of Community Service is not merely an accolade, it’s a testament to our commitment to producing well-rounded, socially conscious individuals who are poised to make a difference in the world. We hope that the School Committee and administration supports our efforts to promote this award but more importantly promote student involvement, community service and activity.”

Readers can continue checking the Chicopee High School and Chicopee Comprehensive High School Facebook and Instagram pages for updates.

Although the School Committee had no comment on the initiative at the March 6 meeting, the Student Advisory Council came before the committee on Jan. 3 to first introduce the idea.

At that meeting, Mayor John Vieau and multiple School Committee members were impressed with the idea and though it was “fantastic.”

Ward 3 School Committee member Jason Dout said, “I personally feel now more than ever, there’s just a need to stress both service and really community. When we think about our society and where things are heading, I think to have two of the youth from our city talk so passionately about this, I personally can’t think of a better idea.”

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