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FMS Fourth Graders Are Making a Difference



Watch as FMS fourth graders traveled to Montpelier to speak with state representatives!  


February 10, 2020
Everywhere you look, you can see citizens putting their best efforts into bettering their communities. Volunteering at soup kitchens, donating unwanted food and clothes, or even just spreading awareness are some primary examples as to how we can all help our neighbors. 


However, when seeking community service here in the school district, look no further than Founders Memorial School’s dedicated students. 


This year, two fourth-grade classes from FMS were given the opportunity to work with the Service Learning Project organization from Brooklyn, New York. Throughout the school year, students from Melanie Savio and Colleen Legris’ classes have brainstormed topics and devised ideas for how they can serve the local community. After a thorough process, they decided that homelessness was their target issue.


“I am so proud of the FMS fourth graders and the work they’ve done to help create tangible change in our community and beyond,” Service Learning Project facilitator Allie Cashel writes. “Each week, I saw their knowledge about this issue evolve, and their commitment to ending homelessness in Vermont continue to grow.”


With the help of Cashel’s networking, the FMS students were able to take their devotion to the issue all the way to the Vermont State House. It was there that they spoke to local senators and representatives at the statewide Homeless Awareness Day, as well as attended a lunch with Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman. 


For the most part, Savio and Legris just stood back and let the students take the wheel.


“They ran the whole thing,” Legris comments. “The students wrote about their thoughts and learnings and they came up with questions they wanted to ask the representatives and senators. The final product looked like fourth-graders standing proud [and] speaking to adults in a respectful, well-prepared manner.”


The amount of compassion the students pour into community projects, just like this one, is a fundamental piece of the EWSD vision, “growing hearts and minds.” A quote from Savio reflects that. 


“Anytime we can make a learning experience come alive for students in an authentic way, we give students the message that the things they learn in school are relevant, important, and transferable. Through the Service Learning Project, students were empowered to take an active role in being the change they wish to see.”


So what’s next for these hard-working kids? Legris explained that she and Savio’s classes will be sharing their knowledge on how to end homelessness in Vermont with the entirety of FMS during a morning meeting in early March. They also have potential plans to raise money for the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) and participate in the COTS walk on May 3.


“[The Service Learning Project] is organized around a founding principle: that children and teens of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities can use their powerful voices to make positive change in their schools and neighborhoods,” Cashel writes. “I am so excited that these students have set the tone for future SLP student groups here in Vermont.”

-Written by Essex High School junior Mikaela Perrin