SHREWSBURY – Shrewsbury High School’s class of 2023 has been awarded the United Way of Central Massachusetts Youth Volunteer of the Year Award.
Assistant Principal Jeffrey Lane explained the significance of the award during the May 24 School Committee meeting.
According to the plaque the school received after winning, the award is meant to recognize the class for “making a positive impact on the Worcester community.”
Afterward, state Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury) issued an official citation thanking the students for their “commitment to community.”
Lane periodically led a group of class of 2023 students into Worcester throughout the school year. The venture started as a way for Lane, who is also the grade administrator for the class of 2023, to connect with students.
“To be honest with you, from my standpoint as assistant principal and grade administrator for the senior class, my motivation for doing this was mainly to connect with the kids. I just wanted to spend some time with some of our students,” Lane said.
After sending out a form to gauge the school’s interest in his volunteering expeditions, Lane learned just how enthusiastic and willing the students were to volunteer. Oftentimes there was too much demand for the trips into Worcester.
“Every single time we put a sign-up [sheet] out, within minutes it was filled up with kids looking to get out and service the community,” Lane explained.
The group visited Pernet Family Services, the YMCA of Worcester, local community refrigerators and helped rake the yards of local elderly people.
Two volunteers and members of the class of 2023 – Cathy Nguyen and Hann-Emily Riviere – joined Lane at the School Committee meeting to describe their experiences. Both students said that they invited friends to join them volunteering.
“Every time Mr. Lane would post the sign-up [sheet], I gathered all my friends and [said] ‘let’s sign up.’ I wanted to show them how fun it was,” Nguyen told the School Committee.
“After my first time I was like, ‘I like this, I’m going to do it whenever I can,’” Riviere said. “When I wasn’t busy, I signed up, and then I was getting my friends to do it… to show them… how fun it is to help people.”
School Committee members were impressed with the class’ volunteerism.
“I’m very proud that today’s kids in Shrewsbury are students who give back to the community… and are learning the lessons of what makes a strong community by being willing to serve and helping do things that benefit those who are in need… I’m very proud of the class of 2023,” Superintendent Joe Sawyer said.
“It’s just great that we’re doing things [for other people], and that young people are getting invested so early,” School Committee Chair Sandra Fryc said.