Florida students learn how to successfully complete community service projects in a new high school course called Engaged Citizenship.

The course is an elective for all students and intended to encourage students to get involved in their community.  It builds upon an existing interest in community service. 

It is 7:45 a.m. at Freedom High and students in Andrew Tillman’s first period class are busy folding paper “Cat in the Hat” head gear for an upcoming reading festival.

The activity may look like fun, but there’s a lesson in it.

It demonstrates the students’ willingness to perform a seemingly mundane task to help accomplish a bigger goal. In this case, Freedom students are preparing to host second-graders from four area Title 1 schools for the annual I Feel the Need to Read Family Literacy Festival on March 1.

The students in Tillman’s class are offered a unique opportunity to learn basic skills and explore ideas on how to successfully conduct community service projects.

“This is the only class like this in the district — I am pretty sure the state,” Tillman said. “We are trying to make this campus more community-service oriented.”

It’s the second semester Freedom has offered Engaged Citizenship, an elective class for all high school students. The course is designed to appeal to teenagers who are already active in community service or eager to get involved.

Most of the 18 students in the course are members of student service organizations such as Café Freedom and Key Club.

Alexis Weinberg, a 17-year-old senior, was encouraged by school counselor Amber Wright to sign up for the class.

“She said it was a really cool class,” said Weinberg, who agrees with her counselor.

The class “looks at different ways to help the community,” said Weinberg, who is president of the Key Club, an international service organization with about 30 members at Freedom. “It’s about thinking outside the box.”

The Key Club at Freedom is actively involved with Metropolitan Ministries and Feed America Tampa Bay.

Rowan Allen, a 17-year-old junior from Lutz, decided to enroll in the class to hang out with friends, she said. The experience has been an eye-opener.

Continue reading how to engage students in community service projects.

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