Northborough students and teachers welcomed back with pinwheels


By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer

Proctor School fifth grader Anna Kent and Melican Middle School seventh grader Kaitlyn Garron admire the NEF pinwheels at Proctor School.
Photo/Meredith Kent

Northborough – The last day Northborough Public School students and teachers were in the classroom before shutting down in the spring due to the pandemic was March 12. Heading back to in-person instruction this school year deserved extra fanfare. The Northborough Education Foundation’s (NEF) Welcome Back Pinwheels campaign not only gave everyone a colorful and fun greeting, but also raised grant funds that have been low due to the cancellation of fundraising events.

NEF President Noel Silvia said that the group was brainstorming a lot of ideas before kicking off its campaign to sell 3,000 pinwheels at $5 each to raise $15,000 in a week. Their goal was surpassed within 6 days. Five hundred colorful pinwheels are showcased at each of the Northborough elementary schools and Algonquin Regional High School to greet everyone returning to school.

Proctor School fifth grader Anna Kent and Melican Middle School seventh grader Kaitlyn Garron admire the NEF pinwheels at Proctor School.
Photo/Meredith Kent

Silvia said it was a fun group effort and already has received a lot of positive feedback from teachers and families.

“It was very heart warming,” she said. “I was really touched by the outpouring of support; it was really amazing to see the orders come in so quickly and to see so many people and businesses help us to get to our goal.” 

NEF’s big spring fundraisers including their annual Trivia Night and its Princess Tea were cancelled, as was the Applefest Gala this fall. Proceeds from these events help to provide resources to schools necessary to improve curriculum, programs and services above and beyond the level of support of the annual school budget.

Raising funds during a pandemic has been a different challenge.

Kaitlyn Garron (7th grade) and Anna Kent (5th grade) sitting among an area decorated with welcome back pinwheels at Proctor School.
Photo/Meredith Kent

“We are changing the way we do things for sure,” said Silvia. “All the money we raise is usually through events with 200 people.”

Despite limited funds, NEF decided to run a mini-grant cycle in August and 21 grant requests were received with a focus on remote learning enhancements. 

Some of the funded grants included science kits for students to conduct experiments remotely, access to interactive tools, art education enrichment programs, world language interactive education and app subscriptions, and remote learning bags.

Silvia said that they intended to do something at the beginning of the year and that the pinwheel campaign turned out to be really fun and really successful. She hopes that it lightens up the mood a little bit for the return to school, which can be a little scary for some kids.

Peaslee 5th grader Kiera Silvia and Melican Middle School 7th grader Reilly Silvia in front of the row of NEF welcome back pinwheels at Peaslee School.
Photo/Noel Silvia

The funds raised will help teachers in the short term, while NEF continues to be creative in future efforts to continue to support teachers during this unusual school year.

Additional information and how you can support NEF can be found at