Cajon High School is tucked away in the foot hills of San Bernardino. With the Peer Leadership classes and Special Education teachers promoting volunteerism to their students, the word gets out at an early age that community service really does make a difference and volunteering is worthwhile for both the community and individual development.
Within this last year, 13 high schools in the Inland Empire were recognized for 435 students donating 55,449 hours of their time. Of that, 33, 000 hours were donated by 200 Cajon High School students. One such student is Chanise Scott, who said,”Volunteering has made a positive impact on my life. It allows me to show my true self, and that is caring for others.”
The students and staff at Cajon are not the only ones who see the difference their efforts have made. Ed Mauel, columnist for the San Bernardino Sun newspaper said, “Anybody who wants to make our world a better place needs simply to go to Cajon High School and learn what community service is all about.”
Cajon High School has worked with the Volunteer Center of the Inland Empire since 1989, promoting volunteerism and a concern for others within their student body. Principal Brett Killeen said, “ We are proud that our students and staff are being recognized for the selfless services they have provided to our community. The recognition is much appreciated, but given the caring nature of these people, it is certainly not expected. These students and staff represent the epitome of what goodness is.”
Geri Longfellow, Cajon’s Career Center Director, agreed that these students exemplify good citizenship. “The kids at Cajon are a good group; they have always excelled. Teachers stress getting involved within the community and the kids end up enjoying it, going above and beyond requirements and expectations.” The idea at Cajon is that if a young adult is exposed to opportunities and ways to make a difference, he or she will ultimately be familiar with the less fortunate and those in need, causing them to see beyond themselves.
Learning is about experience, not just classroom work. Students are coming out more prepared for the real world because they have had greater exposure, thus feeling a higher confidence level in the work force and a greater compassion for those that need it. Students have worked with churches, senior centers, hospitals, animal shelters, libraries, blood banks, homeless shelters, food and clothing distributions, and community cleanups, to just name a few.
“ Volunteering allows me to make a positive impact in the community, “ said Peer Leadership student Omeera Qadir. “ I enjoy working with the community because I know my efforts can and will help.” Qadir’s feelings reflect the Peer Leadership program’s motto, which is a quote from President George Bush – “ A life of service is a life of significance.”