This school year, our community has been blessed with countless graduation projects. Towanda's Olivia Powers organized a dance showcase that benefited a local family with a 2-year-old daughter diagnosed with a rare disease. Sullivan County senior Teddie Garcie supported the Bradford County Humane Shelter with many volunteer hours. Alexandria Ayrton, from Canton High School, entertained yound children with a Dr. Seuss inspired book she wrote and illustrated herself. Athens' Courtney Gehman held a spaghetti dinner with the proceeds going to the Children's Organ Transplant Association. And in Sayre, Elyse Skerpon and Kelly Villanti raised money for the RPH Breast Care Fund with a "pink" basketball game.

Those examples are a small sample of how area seniors have improved the quality of life here in Bradford and Sullivan Counties.

High school graduation projects, which most often introduce juniors and seniors to community service, are good for schools, good for the community and, most of all, good for students. So, naturally, the state plans to eliminate those projects as a graduation requirement, beginning with the 2017 graduating class.

Community service opens many students' eyes to the community surrounding them in ways they otherwise might not see, and through direct, hands-on contact that isn't possible in the classroom alone.

Many students are very busy these days, tied up with sports and other extracurricular activities. But the graduation projects ensure that they also are tied up with the broader community.

Most the projects are not make-work or college-application padders. Students raise money to help charities, provide invaluable hours to service organizations that help the needy and relieve governments of some of their service burden, clean and improve public parks, improve their own schools and on and on. Creative students oven meld projects with their own interests, taking what they learn in school into the community

Because of such projects, community service has become a standard ethic of millions of young Americans.

Though the state plans to end graduation projects as a requirement, individual school districts will be free to maintain the requirement.

Districts throughout Northeast Pennsylvania should do so. It's part of creating citizens rather than simply high school graduates.