Community service program get revamping

Suzie Harrison

Back when community service was added to the curriculum at Laguna

Beach High School, members of the community -- and many students --

viewed it as just one more graduation requirement.


Now, however, community service has become an integral part to many

high school graduation requirements and a criteria scrutinized by college

admission committees.

Nationwide, more than 12 million secondary students now engage in


service activities and better than half of these students are in programs

that connect the curriculum to their service activities, according to the

National Service Learning Clearinghouse.

It’s no different in Laguna Beach, where the volunteer program is

being quietly restructured to increase the ties between the school and

the organizations it works with.

“The Board of Education always intended the community service hours to

be both accountable and educationally meaningful,” said Board of


Education President Susan Mas. “We view them as an opportunity to forge

connections between our students and community.”

Laguna Beach High School Principal Nancy Blade, Assistant Principal

Jenny Salberg and the school’s community relations director, Chris Krach,

are in charge of the revamping. Krach also manages and trouble-shoots the


“The most exciting addition to community service has been our service

academies,” Salberg said. “These prepare our students to perform


meaningful community service.”

The high school offers three academies: an environment academy run by

volunteer Sunny Taylor; a teen academy directed by Sgt .Louise Callus of

the Laguna Beach Police Department; and a wellness academy, where

students are trained by the staff of the Laguna Beach Community Clinic.

Ericka Waidley, executive director of the community clinic, has two

sons who graduated from the high school. She says she wishes the service

academy program had been started earlier.

“It’s an ideal opportunity for kids to get exposure for career options

while doing something so worth while for the community,” Waidley said.

Students attend an academy of their choice two hours a week for six

weeks. When finished, they are ready to serve at a number of community

locations, Salberg said.

“Now, we are now much closer to our idea of true community service,”

Blade said. “And we will continue to improve as these academies expand.”

Supt. Theresa Daem said she is pleased with how the program works.

“‘This service-based learning program demonstrates exactly how our

Quest for Excellence mission can work,” she said.


To become involved with the Laguna Beach High School service program,

call Assistant Principal Jenny Salberg at 497-7757.