X2VOL Improves Tracking of NHS Service Hours

Community service is an important aspect of National Honor Society membership. In fact, it’s part of the NHS motto: “Scholarship, leadership, character, and service.” To honor this motto, many high schools require their NHS members to take part in a certain number of service hours each year. Keeping track of all these hours and activities for every student can be a real hassle for NHS administrators—but a software platform called x2VOL can help.

With more than 14 million approved hours recorded via this online system, x2VOL is the most widely used service tracking platform in K-12 education. And a growing number of schools are using the platform to keep track of their students’ NHS service activities.

Jeff Schroeder, math curriculum director and National Honor Society sponsor for Westside High School in Houston, describes his old process for documenting students’ service hours as “a big mess of paper.”

“I would be getting slips of paper all the time, every day, where students had some sort of signature verifying their service hours for different activities,” he says. “I’d hand all those papers to one of the NHS leaders, and they’d put the information into a database.”

This homegrown system could tell Schroeder how many hours each student had completed, “but it didn’t really say what they had been doing,” he observes.

Schroeder, who became Westside’s National Honor Society advisor two years ago, was looking for a way to improve the process. His wife works at another school that used x2VOL, and she told him about the platform.

Not only has x2VOL improved the tracking of NHS service hours at Westside; it has made it easier for students to find opportunities to volunteer and to get their service hours approved. What’s more, it has improved communication between Schroeder and NHS participants.

“I would say it has revolutionized how we run the program,” Schroeder says.

Streamlining the process

At Westside High School, National Honor Society members are required to take part in 40 service hours per year in their junior and senior years. At least 20 of these hours must be spent on school-sponsored activities, such as volunteering to help out during special events at the local middle or elementary schools. Students also can find activities of their own to volunteer for, such as helping out in church or volunteering at a soup kitchen.

Schroeder used to post service opportunities on a student-created website. Now, he can post opportunities through x2VOL—and students can see on a map exactly where they have to go.

“When I put an event up, there will be slots for students to sign up,” he says. “If they sign up, then when the volunteering opportunity is over with, x2VOL sends an email to the person who’s in charge, and that person can confirm or deny whether the students were there and for how many hours.”

Students can enter non-sponsored volunteer activities into x2VOL as well, and the system will email the designated supervisor for confirmation. And for every service activity, the system prompts students to reflect on what they have learned from the experience.

“You can’t submit hours without reflecting,” Schroeder says. “If you leave it blank, the system won’t let you submit it.” He says he goes in and reads what students have to say from time to time, and it’s clear from their reflections that they are learning the value of service to their community.

x2VOL has made it much easier for Schroeder to track his students’ progress toward their service requirement. “I can set goals and track their progress toward those goals,” he says. “I can very easy see whether students are on track for meeting their required hours. I check in the middle of the year and then send a reminder to students who are behind.”

The system also helps Schroeder provide information for NHS members’ college and scholarship applications—including details about all of the activities they completed. What’s more, it has improved communication within the NHS program.

“I can send a group email to students who have signed up for an activity,” Schroeder explains. “If, at the last minute, the sponsor of the activity tells me, ‘Make sure they wear a blue shirt,’ I can instantly send that information out to everyone who will be there, whereas I couldn’t do that before. I can let them know about last-minute changes, or I can even let the sponsor know who’s supposed to be there ahead of time.”

It’s not just high schools that are benefiting. Cathy Adkins, a reading lab teacher and National Junior Honor Society faculty advisor for Hunt Middle School in Frisco, Texas, uses x2VOL to track the service hours of her 120 eighth grade NJHS members—turning what she describes as a “nightmare” into a very simple process.

Adkins says having x2VOL ensures that students in her school have an official, verified report of hours they gave during their middle school years. They can print a comprehensive list to give to their high school counselor when they move up to ninth grade. Depending on the school, those hours might count toward earning their community service honor cord or scholarship and college applications. There are many motivated students who give hours to community service in their younger years and x2VOL ensures those hours don’t get lost in the transition from middle to high school.

Students are grateful as well

NHS students at Westside High School have noticed the value of x2VOL as much as Schroeder does.

“Once all our members are all set up and in the proper groups, it is super easy for them to navigate the website and record service hours,” says Syed Raza, a Westside senior and NHS officer. “The layout is simple, the directions are clear, and the hours are recorded seamlessly.”

The software makes it easier for NHS officers to track and manage their members’ hours, Syed says. “We can look at individuals and see if they are meeting their requirements just by searching their name,” he explains. “We can also see which opportunities and events they volunteered at and evaluate their entire profile.”

Having an opportunity to reflect on service activities within the software is another valuable feature, he adds, noting: “Usually, paper systems for recording service hours do not ask for a reflection, but x2VOL’s requirement of a reflection makes students really evaluate what they learned from the volunteering opportunity.”

In the process, Syed has learned “that self-reflection is critical in evaluating yourself and truly learning what you are passionate about.”

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