Lab School students go big on community service hours

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Lab School students at Bethlehem Central High School have performed thousands of hours of community service and many have gone well beyond the 15 service hours required annually for those enrolled in the program.

English teacher Andrew Rickert said despite declining Lab School enrollment, students are volunteering at record rates and several Lab School students have found causes near and dear to their hearts in meeting the community service expectations. 

“Senior Darlina Uveges has been volunteering for years with Guided Eyes for the Blind, a dog training program that fosters puppies and trains them to become Guide Dogs,” said Rickert. “This has sparked Uveges to pursue canine training and development in the fall when she begins at SUNY Cobleskill.”

According to Rickert, Lab School students tallied more community service hours this year than last.

The 59 Lab School students in grades 9-12 tallied a cumulative total of 2,401 volunteer hours. Forty students exceeded the required 15 service hours for the 2023-24 school year; 16 students have performed more than double the required hours (30+); and 13 have volunteered more than triple the minimum expected annual community service hours (45+). 

Last year, the cumulative total for community service by Lab School students in grades 9-12 was 1,928 hours.

Sophomore Harlow Bonocora, who has completed 334 volunteer hours over two years, mostly with the Regional Food Bank, said “I knew I was making an impact for people. Knowing that people are able to eat and have hygiene and other products that will improve their life is reason enough to do this.” 

Bonocora finished number one in what has become a friendly competition between Lab School students for earning community service hours. The top five students are:

  1. Harlow Bonocora, So. – 334 hours
  2. Malakhi Rufa, Jr. – 311 hours
  3. Sam Garno, Sr. – 163.5 hours
  4. Laurel Muench, So. – 115 hours
  5. Xrysanthi Sokaris, So. – 107.25 hours

Junior Malakhi Rufa completed most of her hours with Miriam House, a residential treatment facility for teens suffering from mental health crises. Rufa explains that one of the benefits of completing community service is creating lasting memories.

“Community service is an experience everyone should consider; it is an opportunity to make new friends, build connections, along with creating memories with experiencing new things,” said. Rufa.

Congratulations to all of these students who are making a big difference in the community!