COLEBROOK — Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. So in an effort to promote life-long volunteerism and community service, Colebrook Academy looked to schools in the Midwest to create its own Silver Cord Recognition program.
Joanne Melanson, who has been the principal at Colebrook Academy since 2008, told parents at the 119-student high school earlier this year that in the course of researching how to recognize students for making positive contributions, she came across Silver Cord programs in several Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota communities.
She presented the program to the Colebrook School Board, and after receiving its support, Melanson sent a letter to CA parents informing them of it in late January.
“The faculty and administration at Colebrook Academy are committed to the education beyond the classroom and into our community. Such an experience will assist our young adults in becoming conscientious and reliable. This program is an excellent way to encourage and reward students for becoming contributing citizens. Students who volunteer and document enough hours during their high school years will be recognized each year and/or wear a silver cord at our graduation ceremony.”
The CA Silver Cord program is open to all students. To receive the recognition students must perform a minimum number of hours of community service annually.
While some New Hampshire high schools make community service a graduation requirement, Melanson on Monday said she believes a less heavy-handed approach will produce even better results, which is why the CA Silver Cord program is “completely voluntary.”
Although still in its infancy, the Silver Cord initiative has been “well received” at CA, said Melanson, noting that nine of the 26 members of the Class of 2014 are participating.
Formerly a teacher in the Woodsville School District, Melanson said she taught a class there with a service-related component that got her to thinking about how to do something similar at the Academy.
Melanson said the Silver Cord recognition is a fitting way to honor and inspire community service by CA students, not that they need the motivation. Many CA students, she said, attend class full-time, hold part-time jobs and also volunteer locally, with most of them easily exceeding the 100-hour Silver Cord minimum.
Some students are youth sports coaches and officials, said Melanson, while others work at nursing homes in the area.
A Silver Cord on those students’ graduation robes will look great, Melanson said, and having earned the cords will look good on the students’ applications to colleges.
“This is just another way of recognizing what they’re doing is right, is positive,” said Melanson.