SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT: Miles River Middle School
Posted 11/19/2020 11:46AM

Miles River students are at the community's service

If 2020 has proven anything, it is that not all learning takes place in the classroom. Students at Miles River Middle School have known that for years, and they aren’t letting the COVID-19 pandemic stop them from making a difference in their community.

The students have been participating in service learning projects, as part of health and wellness class. Over the course of four weeks, they are tasked with choosing a need in the community, researching, working with a community partner, reflecting and presenting a plan of action and results.

“The projects have been a powerful vehicle for students to explore a subject that they are passionate about and work toward informing others and supporting a cause they believe in,” said Principal Craig Hovey.

“There are so many benefits,” said Danielle Petrucci, the district’s K-12 Wellness Curriculum Coordinator who has led the program for 11 years. “They’re enhancing their self-esteem, self-confidence, presentation skills, research and technology skills and goal-setting skills. They also learn how to advocate and use their voice to make a difference in the world.”

Some examples of this year’s projects include creating websites to increase diabetes awareness and promote online safety; developing a safety marker system for Willowdale State Forest to provide accurate location for first responders; advocating to the School Committee for school composting; addressing air and water pollution concerns; and educating the public about drug abuse and prevention. Because of COVID-19, students have had to be creative with their action plans. Instead of volunteering at an animal shelter, for example, one student hand-crafted toys for cats.

Not only do the projects help to expose students to different causes, Petrucci says, but some really have a lasting impact. Griffin Bouchard, a 2020 graduate of Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School, is still committed to continuing his service project, which began when he was a sixth-grader at Miles River. Bouchard started a skating fundraiser to raise money for Boston Children’s Hospital’s Brain Injury Center. The holiday skate has become an annual event and he has raised almost $50,000. “It just turned into something huge,” said Petrucci.