Students at Gorham Middle School set aside their books earlier this month to focus on another lesson: the power of giving back.

More than 600 students fanned out to projects in the community and at school as part of the school’s first community service day. They did projects ranging from clearing walking trails, making thank-you cards for volunteers and supporters of local animal shelters, and raising money to support an orphanage in India.

“The day was a tremendous success,” said Bob Riley, principal of Gorham Middle School. “The (projects) that were done by the different groups of kids in many ways were immeasurable. Their actions will touch the lives of people now and into the future.”

The day was organized by the school’s new advisory program, which connects students with a faculty member kids can turn to for support. The advisory groups meet twice a week. Students began meeting in September to build relationships in each group and plan for its first community service day, Dec. 8.

Sixth grade students worked on projects at the school. Seventh graders volunteered with projects that would benefit the community. Students in eighth grade designed projects that would benefit global causes.

Sarah Rubin, a seventh grade teacher and coordinator of the advisory program, said most of the ideas for the projects came right from the students.

“They had their hearts and heads in the right place,” Rubin said. “I’m so proud of the kids. I was a bit surprised at how excited they were and how easily they jumped on board. They were so excited to be doing community service.”

Some of those projects included cleaning and organizing the school’s auditorium and making clay bowls and soup mixes to sell to help a local teacher. Some students made holiday cards for military servicemen and for residents at Gorham House. Another group made thank you cards for volunteers and supporters of local animal shelters and collected toys and food for the animals. Other students collected soda can tabs to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House and cleared local walking trails.

“The students were amazing, so wonderful,” Rubin said. “They were excited and engaged and so were the teachers.”

Another highlight of the day came from roughly 90 students who played with Legos, jump-roped and hula-hooped their way to raising more than $1,300 for an orphanage in India.

“As difficult as it is for an adolescent to see past today, they definitely recognized that they did something powerful that will touch the future,” Riley said.

The school will hold two more community service days on April 14 and June 9. For more information or to help out with future community service projects, call 222-1220.


Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]