Community Ready

Community Ready Students
Posted on 10/30/2023
Seaman School District has long been a trailblazer for practicing and promoting civic engagement. In fact, Seaman High School was one of only seven award winning schools named in the inaugural KSDE’s Civic Advocacy Network, a program that recognizes schools that actively involve students in civic engagement opportunities. SHS is then given a platform to share their exemplary practices with schools across the state.

As a premiere school in civic engagement, students are taught the importance of giving back and positively contributing to their community as freshmen in Success 101, which includes a required 10-hour volunteer assignment.

“The Success 101 course requires students to complete community service hours as both an exploratory and networking exercise,” Teacher Allan Cooper said. “Through this assignment, students are able to make connections in the community which can benefit them further down the road with internship and possible job placement opportunities.”

Cooper emphasized how Success 101’s required volunteer opportunities also gives students more material for their resumes at a young age. “When you’re a freshman or sophomore looking for that first job, your resume might look a little light on work experience. Being able to list volunteer work helps SHS student resumes stand out amongst other high school aged applicants; so they’re not only caring for their community, they’re giving themselves an advantage when job hunting and applying for scholarships.”

Graduate Profile

Volunteering is not only an important piece in helping communities thrive, it also provides students an opportunity to develop and hone various skills, such as communication, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving. Supporting the community where you live is reinforced throughout the rest of a high school student’s years through clubs, classes, and other activities but in the Seaman School District, it starts earlier than that.

Northern Hills Elementary Teacher Galenna Nelson echoed the importance of developing those skill sets at an early age. “It is important for students to begin learning the importance of community service in elementary school to help develop the ability for leadership and communication skills. It also helps with learning to work with each other.” One of the many Northern Hills Student Council volunteer duties is bell ringing for the Salvation Army. Students say they love helping others and look forward to events where they can volunteer for the benefit of their school and community.

Nelson helped establish the school’s first STUCO which consists of students dedicated to volunteerism. Kimberlee Stauffer and Kristi Jenson are the new STUCO sponsors at Northern Hills. Stauffer said that STUCO members build leadership skills while fostering a desire to volunteer and serve the school and the community. As a STUCO sponsor, Stauffer plans to show students that they can take something they are passionate about and create opportunities around it. “The students have so many good ideas already on how to help both students and staff at Northern Hills that I am really excited to help them navigate the way.”

Elementary teachers and principals do a great job of building volunteer opportunities within the school day, including: classroom recycle pick-up, flag duties, and lunch room attendees.

Students and families also participate in food drives, build mitten trees, and collect donations for the district’s Community Resource Room.

Community service comes in all forms in the district. For instance, Seaman Middle School’s STUCO helps students recognize and celebrate Red Ribbon Week each year by creating a campaign on drug prevention. During this week in October, students come up with creative ways to promote a healthy and safe learning environment for all.

Community-Minded Graduates
Civic engagement is so important to the Seaman community that it has been added as part of the district’s new Graduate Profile, which was developed from community feedback. The graduate profile lists the essential skills, mindsets, and competencies Seaman School District graduates should possess upon graduation. Like many graduate profiles, it includes college and career ready skills and life ready skills, but Seaman’s also includes community ready skills.

“I’ve seen a lot of graduate profiles, both around the state and around the nation,” said Superintendent Brad Willson. “I don’t ever remember seeing one that includes a community ready piece as prominent as ours.” Willson met with multiple stakeholder groups in the community to help develop the district’s Graduate Profile. “The importance of community was front and center in the feedback we received so of course we made it part of our Future Ready Graduate Profile,” said Willson. “When you have the pleasure of living in a community as supportive and engaged as ours, our students see first hand how giving back is just what we do. It’s our way of life and it’s important to keep that mindset alive in our kids.”

Setting an Example
Many parents, grandparents, and community members find different ways to be actively engaged in our schools through volunteering, but there’s always room for more. By volunteering in schools, community members can play a direct role in supporting and enhancing the educational experience of students. School volunteers can have a significant impact on student lives by providing guidance, encouragement, and mentorship while promoting the importance of community.

Viking Volunteers
All USD 345 preschool and elementary schools offer a Viking Volunteer program that allows volunteers to connect with students, teachers and staff, by fostering a sense of community and belonging. This program is open to parents, grandparents or anyone with connections to the school. Viking Volunteers spend the day helping with school security, volunteering in classrooms, and connecting with kids and staff. All USD 345 volunteers are required to pass a background check before volunteering in schools.

Join us in Giving Back
The district also organizes food pantry donations, community clean-up initiatives, fundraisers for local organizations and other events with volunteer opportunities for community members.

Community members looking for a way to get involved can contact schools directly or the district office. Volunteering time and resources can help schools continue to create a nurturing and supportive environment for our entire community, promote the importance of civic engagement as adults, and make a lasting and positive impact on the lives of future generations.