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(TRENTON) — Legislation Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan sponsored to extend and expand a previous pilot program that required high school students to undertake community service programs as a condition of graduation was signed into law Saturday by acting Gov. Stephen Sweeney.

“High school is a time to prepare young people to become responsible adults and citizens,” said Cryan (D-Union). “Community service projects take civics education outside the classroom and can give our young people valuable experience they can use throughout their lives to leave their mark on society.”

In 2005, the state initiated a three-year community service pilot program aimed at high school juniors. After reviewing the program’s effectiveness, the Commissioner of Education recommended renewing and expanding the program to apply to more students.

Under the Cryan measure (S-2989/A-4279), the new pilot program will be initiated in the 2010-11 academic year and apply to entering freshmen, who will have to complete a minimum 20 hours of community service over their high school careers.

Fifteen schools will be selected to participate in the pilot program – five schools each from northern, central and southern New Jersey.

The commissioner will be required to issue a report to the Governor and Legislature by December 2014 on the program’s effectiveness, including a recommendation on its continuation and potential expansion to all high schools.

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