updated: May 27, 2022
Community Service Policy
Our goal in encouraging Community Service is to motivate and teach students about the character-building rewards of giving back to the larger community. Community service is not a PHS graduation requirement. However, many students perform acts of service, and consider it an important part of their social and academic development. Studies have shown that it builds empathy and teamwork, increases social awareness and academic motivation, fosters problem-solving skills, and provides exposure to potential career opportunities.
We have established that there are two types of community service; both have their place and we wish to acknowledge each type for what it is.
Community Service Beyond PHS
This is serving the community outside the high school. This type of community service would be credited hour for hour, up to a maximum of 8 hours per day and 50 hours per week (with some limitations – see the FAQs).
- Oakland Zoo animal care or assisting in Zoo Camp
- Venture Crew activities, e.g. fixing up the Clausen House for disabled inhabitants
- Rebuilding Together Oakland where students help rebuild and clean up houses and gardens in lower-income areas of Oakland
- Trip to Mexico with the Piedmont Community Church to build houses
- Girls Inc. where PHS students tutor disadvantaged girls
- Friends of the Asian Library or Reading Buddies are other organizations where PHS students have volunteered
This would also include volunteering in Piedmont but beyond the high school community. Some examples are:
- Assisting the Piedmont Basketball Foundation which serves children of all ages
- Tutoring PMS children in music, in association with CHIME
- Youth Educators where PHS students get extensive training and serve primarily by teaching in 8th grade classes at PMS
Some limitations on service credit beyond the high school are:
- No credit is given for volunteering for (A) any kind of for-profit business, (B) Mom or Dad’s for-profit office, or (C) a for-profit summer camp.
- “Double-dipping” is not allowed; for instance, if a young man is working for his Eagle Scout Award, he may not use any of the service he provided to accomplish this award also toward community service credit at PHS.
Community Service at PHS
Credit for community service performed at the high school is capped at 25 hours per semester. This equates to about 1.5 hours per week. ANY HOURS (whether with one activity or many) AT PHS WILL BE CAPPED AT A TOTAL OF 25 HOURS PER SEMESTER, even if the student has volunteered more than 25 hours.
- Library Council where students consult on book selection or plan activities
- Food Service (except as a TA where class credit is given)
- Class note-taking or peer tutoring
- Technical support for drama or music productions
- Peer Mediators, a joint PMS/PHS program requiring off-site training and some service at PMS
Some limitations on credit for service at the high school are:
- The Peer Advisor program at PHS is not allocated community service credit since it is an established PHS activity that works solely to help fellow PHS students.
- Service that is required for class participation, e.g. an art student helping with the display for an exhibit, or assisting a teacher moving into a classroom. These are activities that are helpful but don’t rise to the level of community service.
Community Service FAQs
What is the PHS Honors Society? How does it fit within community service?
The PHS Honors Society is implemented under the office of the Principal. Any questions regarding the Community Service aspect of Honors Society should be addressed to the administration. For an explanation of the award, including the required number of community service hours, refer to the PHS website under academics, PHS school planner or contact the principal. Honor Society students must record their hours using Track it Forward.
In general, what qualifies for PHS Community Service credit?
Services that qualify are generally those that are unpaid and performed at or for a nonprofit organization. The organization should be a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and/or a service entity affiliated with a city/government body or a civic organization (e.g., public library, city senior service center, or political campaign). You may receive credit for working at your parent’s place of employment, as long as it is a nonprofit, you are not being paid, and you are under the direct supervision of someone other than your parent. Working for a political campaign or at your place of worship also qualifies as community service, as long as you are not being paid and are not receiving class credit or “double-dipping”.
How do I keep track of my hours?
Every time you perform community service, record your hours in Track it Forward. It is strongly recommended that you also keep a hard copy record of your hours and have it signed by a supervisor in case you are ever asked to verify the hours. Hours must be entered on Track it Forward by May 10 each year to get credit during that school year, although you are encouraged to record them as soon as you have completed your service. The honor system applies to hours recorded, and only actual hours spent in service should be indicated. We reserve the right to review and allow/disallow hours claimed, depending on the activity described. Extensive hours for “preparation” and “training” before the actual service will be limited.
What is “double-dipping”?
If your activity was done as part of another requirement (e.g. Scout advancement, National Charity League required hours, a class assignment, or to satisfy terms of probation), you cannot also receive PHS community service credit. Community service hours beyond what is required to complete a merit badge or for NCL requirements can be recorded online for credit.
My teacher asked me to take notes in class to help another student. Can I get community service credit for that?
Yes, you can get limited credit – no more than 1.5 hours of credit per week, maximum 25 hours per semester.
I love sports. What kinds of sports-related activities can I get credit for?
Students are encouraged to serve as volunteer coaches and assistants for sports activities in disadvantaged communities or with organizations like the Special Olympics. Within Piedmont, you can receive credit for service to Piedmont Recreation Department sports and PMS sports teams if you are not paid. You may not receive credit for any participation related to playing for a PHS team.
What about writing articles for a newspaper? (an exception)
Though newspapers are not nonprofits, you can receive community service credit if your work is not part of a class and you are not being paid. This would include work for the Oakland Tribune and the Piedmont Post.
I want to volunteer as a T.A. at PHS or PMS during my free period or after school. Can I get credit for that?
Yes, you can get credit for up to 25 hours a semester, as long as it is not considered an elective class and you are strictly volunteering for no class credit.
I fostered a dog/cat, or socialized a dog for a nonprofit organization. What kind of credit can I get?
You can get up to 25 hours per semester for this type of service.
I volunteered at a non-profit camp or I worked at an overnight non-profit retreat and was working constantly. I barely slept. Can I claim all this time?
Even if you worked almost all day and night and barely slept, you will be limited to a maximum of 8 hours a day. In addition, credit for working as a volunteer is limited to 50 hours a week. The church trip to Mexico is an exception because it involves work beyond just the 6 days of the trip. Remember, if you are being paid for your work, you may not receive any community service credit.
How do I review the hours that I have posted in Track it Forward to make sure that they are all there?
Simply log into Track it Forward, and at the bottom of the page, there is a link for “all hours logged.” When you click on this, all hours that you logged will appear.
Are there additional opportunities for service awards?
In addition, seniors who have performed exemplary service at PHS may receive awards from the departments they helped (e.g. Drama, Music) and seniors with a particularly outstanding record of service may also be eligible for several scholarships and awards to be determined by the PHS Counseling Department.