NYLC’s The Generator – Youth Speak Out

Eagle Rock School is a full-scholarship high school for students who have not experienced success in traditional academic programs and a low-cost professional development center for adults. The school opened in the fall of 1993 as an initiative of the American Honda Education Corporation, a nonprofit subsidiary of the American Honda Motor Company.

“ Like many high schools around the country, Eagle Rock School in Estes Park, Colorado, has a community service requirement for graduation. Unlike many high schools, one of the focal points of the Eagle Rock curriculum is service, being of “use.” As a year-round, residential high school, we have many opportunities to put this ideal into practice. Our students document this requirement by completing a service-learning portfolio that includes several written compositions. The task for one of these compositions is to write a personal philosophy of service to others.

This is just a small sample of the many thoughtful essays written by generations of Eagle Rock students. Their words help me to celebrate the ethic of service to others, and their deeds are most certainly helping to weave the fine fabric of our school community.”

— David Hoskins, Former Service-Learning Instructional Specialist, Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center

Youth Voice: Weaving the Fabric of Community

“ ‘Service is the rent we pay for living’—This (Martin Luther King, Jr.) phrase is something I strive to remember everyday. I used to think of service as a punishment set up by the court system. Even if I was doing service not ordered by the court, I never thought of it as the rent we pay for living, and seldom thought of it as a kind or generous act.

My understanding of service today is completely different. The light in which I saw service began to change when I set foot on the Eagle Rock campus…The feeling of gratitude that comes with helping someone began to change the way I thought about service-learning. I love the feeling of doing something good for others. I believe that everyone should do service in life because I think everyone should know the feeling of making someone else feel good. I believe all service projects help people feel good even if it’s indirect.

Service in my life means a lot to me. My goal is to teach. I want to teach because I learn when I teach and I love to learn. I also want to teach because when I teach, I create awareness in people that changes their lives. That, to me, is service.”

—Darren Lawrence

“ The concept of service to others was not new to me when I came to Eagle Rock. From the time I was very young I was brought up not to be selfish, but to share with others my toys, snacks, or whatever I had. As I got older, this included my time, energy, and skills. Eagle Rock’s emphasis on service-learning was not a dramatic change in my life. However, the many opportunities to serve provided by Eagle Rock School has helped me to value it more and to realize how many options I have for contributing to my community.”

—Charmaine Mitchell

“ I have had a plethora of highlights when it comes to doing service as a part of my education. I have made wonderful friends with Alice, an amazing 103-year-old bootlegger who would always tell me to…find a boyfriend; with Ruby, a 90-something Texan whose smile and sincerity continues to touch me very deeply; and with Rosemary, whose hats, (Converse All Stars), and occasional tap-dancing instructions make me laugh. My visits to the elderly home have humbled me 100 times over, and I have realized the importance of enjoying not only my youth, but all of my life.

Service also took me to Thailand where I stayed in a village with a family for five weeks. …As I helped to teach students English and to restore the secondary school, I learned what service with a smile is and what true generosity is. I was given the opportunity to hear, touch, taste, and feel what global community really is. And I learned how I am personally responsible for the well-being of the whole of life, just as we are all personally responsible in this way.

Service work sometimes has a negative connotation with the judicial system as a way to pay your debt to society, chain-gang style. By including service in the high school curriculum and in our everyday lives, I hope that this misconception will be left in the past. Our purpose is not to take, use, abuse, disrespect, and devalue the community of life that we live in. Our purpose is to care for all life, to respect all life, and to do all that we can to act with the consciousness of our responsibility to the world. Our purpose as human beings is to serve. The time has come for us to regain our long lost awareness of this simple fact.”

—Sarah Winship Baker

Generator • Summer 2003 • 27

Available from the NYLC Resource Center at www.nylc.org. Excerpted from The Generator, Summer 2003. Copyright © 2003 National Youth Leadership Council. All Rights Reserved.

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