Service Learning: Philosophy & Expectations
Mercy High School
At Mercy High School, compassion and service are among our core values. As our Mission states, “We believe that all of us grow to become our best selves through personal reflection, relationships and our generous response to the needs of others.” Thus, personal reflection, relationships, and a generous response to the needs of others are the foundation of Service Learning at Mercy.
Inspired by the Works of Mercy, students are called to perform actions that extend God’s compassion and mercy to those in need. God has great love for the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized. Jesus revealed this merciful and compassionate love during his life on earth. Jesus highlights the goodness achieved through deeds of mercy, and in the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus says, “…whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me…what you did not do for one of the least ones, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:40, 45).
In the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy and in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, our students are given the opportunity to experience service-learning by sharing their time, talent, and treasure with our neighbors in need. Throughout her years at Mercy, each student will complete at least 50 hours of service (not including school-wide service events and drives). Students are required to engage in direct service for a majority, or if they choose, all of their service hours.
This call to engage in direct service is about being with people whose lives are likely very different than one’s own life. Direct service requires building face-to-face relationships, and breaking down the barrier between the giver and the receiver. While direct service will likely also include some element of doing something for another, this type of service is typically focused on conversation and building companionship. While this may seem intimidating to some, this direct, relational service often breaks down stereotypes and widens circles of compassion. These experiences will likely stretch students out of their comfort zones, and help form them as courageous leaders in our society.
Students are asked to complete a minimum of 50 hours of service, and they may choose to complete these hours in one of two ways:
All 50 hours: direct service, at one agency
Up to 20 hours: indirect service, multiple agencies/locations + 30 hours direct service, at one agency
When choosing where to serve, the following are some conditions to keep in mind:
All service is given to others freely. Any activity that receives monetary compensation or has other strings attached will not be awarded hours.
Service hours performed to fulfill Mercy’s community service requirement must be performed for this purpose exclusively and not be used to fulfill another organization’s requirement.
Parents may not sign as supervisors of the service of their own daughters.
Service sites must be official agencies or organizations. Babysitting free of charge or helping with a friend’s good-willed endeavors will not be acceptable options.
Students are to submit a proposal explaining how their service will be direct and submit it to the Service Learning Committee for approval by the assigned date. Please note that the proposal must be approved before students begin their service work. Please see the sample proposal for information to include and proper formatting.
Once students begin their service, they are expected to meet the posted deadlines regarding completion of a specified number of hours within a certain time period. Please see the Service Learning Timelines for more information. Students should log their hours on the Mercy High School time sheet, or an equivalent time sheet provided by the agency. A representative from the agency must sign the student’s timesheet, indicating that the student has completed these hours.
In addition to serving for at least 50 hours, students are required to complete a Culminating Project. Students may choose one of the following Culminating Projects:
A PowerPoint presentation (15-20 slides), or a tri-fold poster, that displays her service work, including photos and information about the agency
A 3-5 page reflection paper that contains thoughtful insight regarding the student’s service
Another project which the student proposes, and which the Service Learning Committee approves, that displays the student’s service learning experience
Keeping in mind that there will be a culminating project, students are highly encouraged to take notes and/or photos as they progress through their service-learning experience.
At the end of their junior year (or the beginning of their senior year), students will meet in small groups to discuss their service experiences and the impact that these experiences are having on their lives. Students will share their culminating projects with their groups. Some students may be asked to present their Culminating Projects to freshman and sophomore students who are discerning where they will serve, and to other interested groups.
While the service requirement needs to be completed before senior year, seniors are highly encouraged to continue to engage in service, and will be provided with opportunities to do that, both within the Mercy community and beyond, throughout the year.