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Stillwater High Offers Varsity Letters for Off-the-Field Heroics

Seventy Stillwater High School students are working to earn a varsity letter in community service.

Seventy Stillwater High School students are working to earn a varsity letter in community service.

Droves will descend upon the track at Stillwater Junior High School in early June. For the next 24 hours, they'll walk and run around the oval as participants in the Stillwater Relay for Life.

Organizers are bucking for 2,000 people to show up to raise money in the fight against the disease that just won't go away.

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Senior Alex Eder is the event's coordinator, responsible with getting the word out, signing up teams, and bringing in sponsors.

As a bonus, he'll also earn a varsity letter in community service.

Eder is one of 70 Ponies participating in the school's inaugural varsity letter community service program.

In order to earn the honor, students must accrue no less than 100 hours of volunteer work demonstrating their commitment to others, be it through organizing a 30-hour famine to raise hunger awareness to taking the lead in a fundraising event.

"If we look at traditional K-12 education," says assistant principal Erin Drevlow, "we give lip service to community service, but rarely find anything that's actionable.... What I think we've tapped into here is not only instilling an appreciation for service, but also seeing kids who already were doing service in the community and we're simply quantifying it."

The program is modeled after one already on the books in Minnetonka.

"When they're out of high school, living as adults, parents, that's when I think the legs of this is going to play out," says Drevlow. "In my assessment of education, we're creating citizens, and one of the biggest pieces we can impart is service and giving back. With this we're helping to plant the seed."

Drevlow is hopeful that 50 to 60 students will complete the program's requirements this year.

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