Marysville students can get a varsity letter as volunteer

MARYSVILLE — High school students in the Marysville School District can now put their volunteer hours toward a varsity letter.

The district has joined the Everett School District and Snohomish High School in partnering with United Way of Snohomish County to offer the Varsity Letter in Community Service. The new program recognizes students who complete at least 145 hours of volunteer work per year.

“We’re really excited about this,” said Neil Parekh, spokesman for United Way of Snohomish County. “Just to elevate volunteering to this level says a lot about the support we have from the various school districts and the community, and we wouldn’t be doing it if our teenagers didn’t want to do it.”

To be eligible for the award, students must submit an application to United Way by April 30. Volunteer hours can’t include time spent on class work or other graduation requirements and at least 50 hours must be completed with a nonprofit or in a service setting outside of school. Students who earn the varsity letter also must meet a 2.0 grade point average requirement and participate in at least one school activity.

The applications and service hours are verified by United Way, and students earn their awards in the spring.

Marysville students can earn varsity letters from being involved with sports, clubs and other programs, said Greg Erickson, district athletic director. The Varsity Letter in Community Service is a welcomed addition, he added.

“It’s a great idea for kids to see the value of community service and giving back,” Erickson said.

Robert Sherry, a teacher and adviser of the National Honor Society at Marysville Getchell High School, shared an email about the varsity letter last week with students. Those who are part of the school’s Honor Society are required to volunteer at different school and community service activities every year, Sherry said. Many of his students volunteer hours outside of school requirements that can be applied toward earning the varsity letter.

“A lot of them just volunteer because it’s what they like to do,” Sherry said. “It’s a little bit of recognition.”

United Way of Snohomish County modeled the program on a similar one that began a decade ago in Pierce County. Over 550 varsity letters were awarded by United Way of Pierce County during the past school year. The first application for the varsity letter through United Way of Snohomish County was submitted last week, Parekh said. The program’s popularity is expected to grow.

“This year’s seniors will be seeing it for first time,” Parekh said. “Over time we hope additional schools will also get on board. We have a really great set of schools here in Snohomish County so it’s more a question of ‘when’ versus ‘if.’ “

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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