SSL Hours Losing Their Meaning


Sophie Harjes and Alex Elias

“Some people stumble upon a bunch of forms that already have signatures and are like hey, I might as well submit these. I think that just happens, unfortunately,” says junior Ryan Tercyak.

Falsifying SSL hours has become a far too common and an easy way to inflate numbers and reach the requirements. Junior Jeffrey Olsen says, “You don’t really have to do much in the way of community service in order to get the hours required for graduation.” 

For example, at B-CC, all athletes are required to participate in Mulch Madness, where students deliver bags of mulch and the money made goes towards funding the athletics department. Students received numerous hours from their service, but not all of these hours were achieved in a legitimate manner. Junior Ryan Tercyak observed, “Many people took multiple SSL forms from Mulch Madness, where you just sign your name and you’re good to go.” 

Working for half the time the credit shows is unfortunately way too common, and every loophole similar to this one loses sight of the real motive for SSL hours. Junior Mary Sheffield emphasizes, “SSL hours are meant for us to give back to the community.” 

Open Door Sports is a great local non-profit that gives students the opportunity to create an actual impact in the community. Open Door Sports, or ODS is a program where volunteers help provide “sports programs, positive experiences and leadership opportunities to underserved communities – specifically children with disabilities” (ODS Website). 

B-CC junior Jimmy Barnard who has been working with ODS since 2019, points out that ODS “breaks down the walls that exist between neurotypical students and neurodivergent students.” ODS runs year-round, with volunteering opportunities available nearly every day of the week. 

A Wider Circle is another meaningful way B-CC students have been able to dedicate their time and give back to their communities. The main goal of this organization is to bring an end to poverty by donating home essentials, preparing individuals for job applications, and setting up neighborhood partnerships within communities. 

When volunteering here, the impact goes both ways. Sophomore Lucy Stone has been volunteering with A Wider Circle since 6th grade, and she states, “Working there I get to meet lots of different families and kids and talk to them about their lives, which is really interesting.” For Stone, it’s “being able to give back to the community and the people around me is very important and special if you’re able to do it.” 

Student Service Learning (SSL) hours are a pretty simple concept. Every student has seven years to accumulate the required 75 hours, with the hope that students can provide meaningful service to the community along the way. But fifty of those seventy-five hours comes from passing classes required to graduate. With just one hour every four months throughout middle and high school, the requirements are met; students have seven years to volunteer for twenty-five hours. Despite this, many continue to cheat the system.