The Secrets of Service

Learn how Liberty High’s most successful philanthropists put in the hours


Carley Spading, Reporter

Graduation day has finally arrived. Of the students walking across the stage, how many will have a silver cord hanging around their neck? How many will have met their requirements for National Honor Society? How many will have earned that scholarship?

Volunteering is a gateway of opportunities to help in one’s college future, from gaining experience in certain fields, making a difference in the community, and making those college applications look pretty.

Many students, however, are never able take the leap into service, or perhaps just don’t know where to start.

“I think sometimes it’s difficult for students to come up and ask about opportunities,” said Jennifer Naughton, guidance counselor. “There are students out there that would like to do these things but just aren’t aware of where to go and how to ask and find out about the opportunities.”

200 hours of service and the meeting several of requirements are required for silver cord, and even more are often required for scholarships focused on community service.

“If you at least find one or two hours out of your week every week, then it’ll add up,” said Grace Crimmins, junior. “200 hours seems like a lot but it adds up really quick.”

Crimmins spends much of her free time volunteering at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital as well as leading Liberty High’s volunteer club, INSHOC. INSHOC stands for INteract Students Helping Our Community and provides easy access for students wanting to find service opportunities. The club also makes time for crafts and gifts to send to the needy.

“We meet once a month so it isn’t really a time commitment and you don’t have to volunteer for everything,” said Crimmins. “We have a Google Classroom and you can sign up for what you can go to but you don’t have to go to everything.”

The club, which is advised by Peggy Dolson, English teacher, has hosted the 5th Ward Saints, Rotary Club, Iowa City Compassion, and many others with possibilities for service.

With only one in ten students actively submitting hours for silver cord, INSHOC could be the answer many students are looking for to finally start filling out those purple sheets.

“If you really look you can find about anything,” said Sierra Suiter, junior. “Really all the opportunities are all around you, you just kind of have to look for them.”

Suiter is a seasoned volunteer and has spent a lot of her free time during the summer and school year racking up hours for silver cord.

“I’ve volunteered at the University of Iowa hospital, at my church’s youth group and then, because I’m in NHS, I’ve worked with the [Big] White House, serving food to kids over the summer,” said Suiter.

National Honor Society requires a total of fifteen volunteer hours, twelve of which need to be through the school. Service is a core principle of the program, and is said to build character and leadership skills.

“My biggest recommendation is to find something that you like. I say that with careers as well,” said Naughton. “I’d say think about what you’re interested in and see if there’s a volunteer opportunity there.”

There are many options for specialized service hours that can pertain to certain careers including volunteering at hospitals, museums, nursing homes, and animal shelters.

“I tell students that if you think you’re wanting to have a career in a hospital, go volunteer there for a day to see what it looks like. It’s not like Grey’s Anatomy,” said Naughton.

More and more sources are becoming available in addition to INSHOC for finding service options, especially in the counselor’s office.

“One thing that we want to let students know is there are times when we just get random opportunities that just kind of get told to us by community members,” said Naughton. “So just be looking at certain areas where we advertise, and those would be on the counseling website, [and] we now have a monthly S’More that students can sign up for and a Twitter.”

While it might not seem appealing to all, service opportunities are not just a chore to get done for graduation. They are, for many, quite fulfilling.

“I was always born an outgoing person who just loved being around people and helping people. And it might sound really generic but when I help people I just feel better about myself,” said Suiter.

With a student population of 944, only 96 have hours turned in for silver cord; barely more than ten percent.

For students who still don’t quite know where to start with volunteering, there is an abundance of ways to take those first steps into service.