Some Greencastle-Antrim graduation requirements nixed due to pandemic

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

Over the years, a number of Greencastle-Antrim High School students have fulfilled their job shadowing graduation requirements with the Greencastle Police Department.

"It's a good program that allows for interaction between law enforcement and kids," said Greencastle Police Chief John Phillippy.

Shayne Conway, a member of the Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2021, did his job shadowing with the Greencastle Police Department prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Job shadowing and community service requirements are being waived for students who graduate in 2021 and 2022 due to the restrictions associated with the coronavirus.

The Greencastle-Antrim School Board is set to vote on the G-A High School Program of Studies on Thursday, March 4, which waives both job shadowing and community service as graduation requirements for 2021 and 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Ed Rife, high school principal, said the change is being made to be fair to juniors and seniors who have not be able to do job shadowing or community service due to COVID-19 restrictions. Most members of the G-AHS Class of 2020 finished the requirement before the pandemic shutdown, but those who couldn't were not penalized.

The 80-page document is a road map for high-schoolers and their parents, outlining what is expected of them and available to them over the course of four years.

Normally, the changes involve tweaks to the curriculum, such as college readiness math, German III and IV and AP computer science principles for the 2019-2020 school year.

No new courses are being added for 2021-22, but the district five core competencies adopted Feb. 4 are outlined. They are: critical thinking and social responsibility; creativity and innovation; literacy and communication; physical and emotional health; and general knowledge and academic preparation.

More:Greencastle-Antrim School District Destination Design team creates Portrait of a Graduate

More:Core competencies for graduates OK'd by Greencastle-Antrim School Board

Hand-on experience

"As part of their graduation requirements, high school students are required to complete 30 hours of community service and complete a job shadowing experience. With the challenges presented by COVID-19 restrictions, students have been hindered from the ability to complete these tasks in a timely manner. It is our recommendation to exempt the Class of 2021 and Class of 2022 from the Community Service Project and Job Shadowing requirements for graduation," Rife wrote in a letter to the board. "We will continue to re-evaluate this requirement for future classes, as warranted."

In addition to the Greencastle Police Department, job shadowing has seen students exploring career options at locations from Antrim Way Honda to Worx Graphic Design and all kinds of workplaces in between. The jobs included law enforcement, health care, child care, manufacturing, technology, education and journalism.

Julie Zima, a member Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2020, did her job shadowing at the Echo Pilot in 2019 and helped interview Dwight Bard, G-A director of technology. Most students in the Class of 2020 completed their community service and job shadowing prior to the pandemic, but those who hadn't were not penalized.

Rife said benefits of 30 hours of community service include having students develop planning, organization and time management skills while completing an independent project; experiencing the first-hand the benefits of volunteerism; demonstrating civic duty by working with a community organization in order to help fulfill a need within our society; exploring career opportunities in a volunteer capacity; and demonstrating effective communication skills in a real-world setting outside the school district.

Examples of community service include Antietam Humane Society, Greencastle Senior Center, Greencastle-Antrim Food Pantry, homeless shelters, church sponsored mission trips, Boys and Girls Clubs of Chambersburg, Besore Library and youth sports.

Due to COVID-19, the board meeting will be held virtually, beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 4. It can be viewed on the district website, gcasd.org, at "Watch Live!" under the "School Board" tab.