Why does University of Detroit Jesuit place such a strong emphasis on community service?
One of the dynamic features of Jesuit Education is its attempt to help students translate the gospel message to "love one another" into action by being of service to those in need. To this end, U of D Jesuit High School has developed its Senior Service program. The school believes that in giving of oneself the student does more than just help others. By opening himself up to the needs of his fellow man, the student challenges himself by facing realities that may once have seemed too distant to garner his attention. The challenge is to find, receive and give love among our society's most vulnerable. Through this challenge Senior Christian Service aims to open the student's mind and heart to God's love. The school has made a commitment to release seniors from class on Wednesday mornings throughout the school year to be of service to the metropolitan community. This program is an effort to convey to the seniors the reality that their education is not only for themselves but for others as well.
How long has this program been in place?
The program began at U of D Jesuit High School in 1970.
How are placements selected?
Many of the sites used by U of D Jesuit High for service have a long tradition with the Senior Service Program. In fact, many of the agencies and schools we serve call us in the fall to make sure we are offering the program again. Many of our sites rely heavily on our volunteers and have structured their programs around our students. U of D Jesuit volunteers are often described as "the best volunteers we have ever had." New agencies are selected in a few ways. First, they may be referred by a current agency. This often happens in the school setting, where one principal discusses the program with another. Second, parents of our students also recommend sites at which they either volunteer or of which they have knowledge. All sites are contacted prior to placement to confirm participation and understanding of the program.
Sites are chosen based on a number of factors:
- students being involved in direct work with people (we strive for less than 10% administrative work)
- students working in a population that has need. Our students are not there to lighten the load of a frazzled teacher or agency, but rather to help the clients/students at the site.
Students preference their top four choices for their placement on the Senior Service placement form they receive in the spring of their junior year. They also complete a brief application form consisting of several reflective questions. The application is then matched with agency needs. We do our best to match students with agencies on their preference list. There may be times when a student is not matched with one of his four choices. If this does happen, he is generally matched with a placement similar to one on his list. The goal of Senior Service is to match a student's strengths with the needs of an agency or school.
Why would my son not get his first preference (or any of his preferences)?
Some sites are more popular than others because of location or the type of work performed. Also, sometimes agencies and schools have a greater need for support than the number of individuals who have a preference for that site. In these situations, students may be assigned to a site they did not choose on their placement form. It is not uncommon for students who did not receive one of their top choices to later be grateful for their site placement.
Students are expected to arrive at their placement site on Wednesday mornings at 8:15 am. They are to remain at their placement until 10:45 am. This allows ample time to drive safely back to U of D Jesuit in time for Period 5. Students are not required to serve on days when U of D Jesuit is not in session. There is no site that is more than 40 minutes from the school. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure he requests sites that are not a long drive from his home. Site locations are not changed because of the commute.
What if my son is driving with or taking another senior?
All students involved in carpool situations should indicate so on their preference form. This will ensure the students are placed together. However, this may move the group of students to their 3rd , 4th or even a non-preferenced site, based on site needs and number of applications. A student should only indicate a carpool situation if there truly is a need for a carpool.
Are there any additional requirements?
Students are required to submit a monthly typed reflection due on the last school day of every month. The reflection component is an important part of the service project, allowing students the opportunity to process their experiences and reflect on what they have learned. Students will also participate in a reflection group during the course of the school year.
What about the safety of the students?
We do our best to ensure a safe environment for our students. While we cannot prevent all potential problems, we have not yet experienced any significant safety issues. Students can make sure their cars are safe by not leaving any valuables in plain sight.
What if the placement doesn't work out?
While a majority of our matches are successful, a situation may arise where a placement is not working well for our students. It is the responsibility of the student to be honest and express any concerns regarding his placement with us. The ideal resolution would be to work with the agency and the student to make the experience more positive. If this is not possible, other arrangements can be made.
What if the student misses his service day?
The placement should be viewed as part of the school day. Therefore, students should attend their placement as they would attend school.
If a student has an unplanned absence (e.g., illness), he must contact his site supervisor and the Student Affairs Office at U of D Jesuit High at 313-927-2366. If he knows he will miss service ahead of time (e.g. attending a retreat) he should inform his site the week prior to his absence. All missed time must be made up, either by going to his site at another time or by volunteering at a site approved by the Campus Ministry Office.
What happens if there is inclement weather on a Senior Service day?
In the event that U of D Jesuit is closed because of inclement weather, seniors are not expected to attend Senior Service. They should contact their site supervisors and let them know of their absence.
When a delayed start due to inclement weather occurs on a Wednesday, seniors are not required to attend senior service and should report to school by 9:45 a.m. Again, it is important that seniors contact their site supervisors to let them know they will not be in attendance.
If U of D Jesuit is open but a student's senior service site is closed due to inclement weather or some other problem, the student does not need to report to his site but should report to U of D Jesuit by the beginning of Period 5. The student will not need to make up missed service days that are a result of inclement weather.
What happens if a U of D Jesuit student does not complete his service requirement?
The Senior Service program is required for graduation. If a student does not complete this requirement, he will not graduate. If a student is at risk of failure, letters to the parent or guardian are included in the student's progress report and/or report card. A student who is not up-to-date with their service requirements at the end of each quarter will be placed on the Academic Ineligibility List until all requirements are completed.