by Audrey Payne | copy editor
If you volunteer in the community or spend time doing community service, you can be awarded for your efforts. Senior Amanda Coursey won the gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award given to those who have participate in certain amounts of community service within one calendar year.
“I was working with the pep squad last year, and just really enjoyed doing that, so I would spend my time with them, and like my Fridays I would go with them to the football games and stuff like that,” Coursey said. “Outside of that, I would be volunteering at a vet, because I want to become a veterinarian later on.”
The PVSA is awarded around the nation by the federal government, and those who earn the award get special recognition by the President of the United States.
“The award winners actually get a letter signed by the President of the United States on nice White House-embossed stationery, they get a pin, and they get a certificate,” English teacher and sponsor of the PVSAs Robin Philbrick said.
Earning this award puts students a step ahead of their peers, according to Philbrick.
“They have the ability to put on their college resume that they received recognition from the President of the United States of America for their volunteer service, and that definitely puts you a cut above,” Philbrick said. “If you’re doing your online Texas common application for college, and you put that under awards, that’s going to catch somebody’s attention in the admissions office.”
For freshmen, 50 to 74 hours of volunteer service must be completed to earn a bronze, 75 to 99 hours for the silver, and 100 or more hours for the gold. For sophomores, juniors, and seniors, 100 to 174 hours must be completed for the bronze, 175 to 249 hours for the silver, and 250 or more hours for the gold.
“The time span runs from May 1 of 2014 through April 30 of 2015, so you get a full calendar year to put in all of your hours. And, we make our deadline the week after spring break so that we have time to certify, order the awards and prepare for the ceremony,” Philbrick said. “But, students who do work beyond that spring break deadline, they can project those hours and include them as well.”
To sign up for this award, create a profile on the official website and begin logging your service hours.
“In that profile they need to be sure they include the Johnson Record of Service Key, or the RoS Key, and our key is DNH-40372. That key in your profile connects your hours to Johnson High School, and that way when we open up to certify, we certify in March,” Philbrick said. “If you have this key, then we can see you because you fall under the Johnson umbrella. Once you have your profile established, then you start logging your hours.”
Volunteering is not the only way to participate in the community that counts for service hours, according to Philbrick.
“If do the food bank, if you donate to Teens for Jeans downstairs, that’s one hour. Any time you donate to anything that’s existing in the school, that’s one hour that you can accumulate,” Philbrick said.
Johnson has the highest number of PVSA winners in the district, though Philbrick wishes the numbers were higher.
“We typically have about 150, we’ve been as high as 175, is our highest. Comparably, between all of the schools, we are always the highest,” Philbrick said. “For me, I know there are more people here who are volunteering, whether it’s through their clubs at school, or their organizations at school, or if it’s things they’re doing in their church or in their community. I know people who are volunteering, if everybody did it, we’d have 1,000 easily, if not more.”
Coursey believes that it is important to participate and volunteer, and the award is an incentive for it.
“It’s basically a way to give back to the community if you don’t have time for a full on job or something like that,” Coursey said. “Not a lot of people do give back nowadays.”
Johnson will send information out to the students later this year, before the March deadline.
“Mr. Mehlbrech will send a letter home to all the parents in February. Every year, we send at least two letters in February, and we put it on Simulcast,” Philbrick said.
Philbrick believes that all students should try to participate and earn the award for the benefits it provides.
“Besides volunteering, which is the ‘oh my gosh feel good’ thing to do, students who earn the award, they get an award from the President of the United States, which is wonderful,” Philbrick said. “It’s really a worthwhile program.”
The official website for the PVSA is http://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov/ . If you have further questions about the award, go to Mrs. Philbrick’s website http://tw.neisd.net/webpages/rphilb/pvsa.cfm . There is also a bulletin board on the third floor of the school, by Rachelle Arechiga’s room, where you can get a handout of information about the award.