The level of community service among today’s high-schoolers is always a point of wonder for us panelists. Certainly, we had our “extracurricular activities,” but few engaged in the more outward-looking activities, like staffing a food bank, reading to nursing-home residents, raising money for a disaster somewhere in the world. And students today, the outstanding ones, show an impressive readiness to form a club to “raise awareness” about their particular community service.
While some of this service may be rendered with an eye to enhancing one’s college applications, still the community is served and the students are focused beyond themselves.
But what stood out last year, when I served on the academic achievement panel, was this: While the two final candidates could each boast a perfect 4.0 grade average (though with becoming modesty they did not boast), both of them – on their own, without a cue from the panel – redirected the discussion away from things academic and toward things ethical-moral.