KENNEBUNK – As the school year ends, a collection of selfless eighth-graders at the Middle School of the Kennebunks reflected on the ways they gave back this year with their community service projects.
Each eighth-grade student at the Middle School of the Kennebunks is required to complete a community service project prior to the end of their school year.
In an effort to recognize the stand-out projects, eighth-grade math teacher Sharon Greenglass asked all eighth grade teachers to pick out the projects they felt were the most successful and creative.
“We had some really amazing projects this year, and these students deserve to be recognized,” Greenglass said.
Showing wisdom and grace beyond their years, the students spoke proudly of their projects and the ways they gave back to communities across southern Maine.
Three students, Jacob Morris, Justice Stewart, and Jacob Nass, joined together to form a clothing drive. While the students had originally looked at many charitable organizations, they settled on the Preble Street Resource Center in Portland. Together, the students collected 50 bags of clothing to donate and hand delivered them to the shelter.
“Those boys were very affected by the project,” Greenglass said. “They got to see poverty first hand, and it definitely made a lasting impression on all of them.”

For Maddy Mosher, an idea for a project didn’t come to her as easily. It wasn’t until a teacher reminded her of her love of the elderly and suggested Atria Senior Living on Penny Lane in Kennebunk that it clicked.
“I’ve been volunteering there since January, and I’ve learned so much about myself,” Mosher said. “It’s been really fun, and they’ve become a second family to me.”
For Mosher, the project was not only a way to give back, but also a potential career move. Mosher will continue to work at Atria for three days a week over the summer, and has since decided that she would like to become a geriatric nurse.
Looking to beautify their own community, Zia Gulson and Quynh Pham chose to use their time cleaning up local beaches like Mother’s Beach and Gooch’s Beach. The two ran a trash bag drive prior to the clean up to ensure that the students would be able to dispose of the trash in Kennebunk-approved bags, and then spent time on the beaches picking up litter.
They continued with their quest to clean ip the community by volunteering to help with the clean up after May Day, each taking two hour shifts to help keep their town clean.
Twin sisters Grace and Renee Bergeon decided to stay within the Middle School of the Kennebunks community for their project. The two girls decided to use their time to combat an unfortunate trend in middle school: low self-esteem and self worth amongst pre-teen girls.
“We read studies that showed how low self-esteem truly impacts students, and we wanted to do something to change that,” said Grace Bergeron.
“We read about art therapy, and thought we could turn this into an art project that could benefit the whole school,” said Renee Bergeron.
Together the two girls created inspirational paintings in the ladies restrooms in the school, painting messages like “You are beautiful,” and others preaching self-love. The paintings in the bathroom will remain to benefit future years, their legacy to the community at the Middle School of the Kennebunks.
Many of the projects featured work with younger students, with students choosing to help out not only locally, but travelling to Auburn and South Portland to lend a hand.
Looking to help out with younger children who come from different places, students Cali Bernier and Annalise Cowing chose to volunteer at Kaler Elementary School in South Portland for their project, which allowed them to work with ESL students in first through fifth grade. Bernier said she found it fun and challenging to work with ESL students, and was happy for the opportunity to help.
Janelle Powell, Tori Ladd, and Emma Hussey made the long trek up to Auburn to volunteer their time helping out students during soccer camps. As all three girls have skill for the sport, they were able to use their affection and drive for the activity and share it with the program. The students worked with children aged 5 to 11, helping out with drills and working to help them improve with each session. The three expressed gratitude to their parents for being so accommodating; admitting that seeing this project through took a lot of planning and coordinating to ensure transportation to and from the soccer camps. According to the girls, their favorite part of the project was watching the kids get excited about soccer, and seeing them grow over the course of the project.
Also using their passion to fuel their service, Emily Hansen, Birdi Nelson, and Addie Drew worked together to create a theater program at Sea Road School, and mounted a production of “The Wizard of Oz” with the students. The three worked to facilitate the project through emails with parents of students, while also staging and choreographing the musical with their young protegees. 60 students participated in their student-led production, and for their final performance around 400 people showed up to watch their handiwork.
When asked what their favorite part of the project was, the answer was a resounding “watching them all make more friends,” and said that it was a joy to see the students grow less shy over the course of the production.
As Arundel natives and former students of Mildred L. Day School, Peyton West and Kylie Day chose to return to the school of their younger years to do crafts with the students. Together, the two would visit classrooms and create a craft with them, creating winter-themed projects like a paper polar bear, a cotton ball snowman, and a construction paper penguin.
“It was a lot of work, and it gave us a new appreciation for the work that these teachers have to put in every day to do activities like this with them,” West said. “We liked seeing all their faces while they were working on them.”
Ella Richardson worked with her partner to create a fun math activity for students at Kennebunk Elementary School. Together, the two would distribute 300 math packets every two weeks to the school, where students could complete them either with their class or on their own. For the worksheets that were completed correctly, they were then collected and entered into a raffle, where students names would be drawn for a biweekly prizes.
“We wanted to make math fun,” Richardson said. “It was a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it.”

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at [email protected]

Sisters Grace and Renee Bergeon chose to beautify their school, Middle School of the Kennebunks, for their eighth grade community service project. The two painted self-esteem boosting murals in the girls bathrooms to provide a confidence boost to their peers. (Abigail Worthing photo)

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