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Schools Notebook: HHS Girl Scouts take action for mental health; art students honored

by | Jun 15, 2022 | Education

Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts (from left) Charlotte Schuster, Holly Thompson, Sabrina Russo and Ava Pappalardo pose with some of the available titles in the Little Free Library created by the group.

An often misunderstood and underappreciated aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been its negative impact on mental health and well-being. Inspired to help people better navigate these challenges, Hopkinton Girl Scouts Troop 68243 decided to take action to make mental health and stress management resources more accessible for every age group.

Senior Troop 68243 is comprised of Hopkinton High School sophomores Ava Pappalardo, Sabrina Russo, Charlotte Schuster and Holly Thompson. In their 10 years working together under the leadership of Alyssa Thompson these Scouts have many achievements, including their Bronze and Silver Awards.

For the Bronze Award, they learned about the connection between one’s physical and emotional well-being, shared this with their school community, and ultimately raised enough money to give students at Hopkins School more access to playground equipment and a troop-designed, laminated book of recess games.

For their Silver Award project, titled An Attitude of Gratitude, they shared how maintaining a grateful heart can impact one’s life, and found many creative ways to share this knowledge with the middle school and throughout Hopkinton. Their project was highlighted at a meeting of the Select Board and displayed at Town Hall during elections.

These Scouts now have set their sights on achieving the highest award in Girl Scouts, the Gold Award. A prerequisite to the Gold Award is to first complete a Take Action Project.

A Take Action Project is the culmination of any Girl Scout award journey. Last year in their journey titled Mission Sisterhood, the troop learned about the importance of acknowledging and validating one another’s feelings. As teenagers, they noticed that sometimes when it comes to mental health, body image and managing stress, teens feel they are not heard. Creating a safe community requires that issues like these can be discussed openly, and that resources are easily accessible to help navigate these challenges. This would become the basis for their Take Action Project. The troop intentionally chose an implementation date in May, Mental Health Awareness Month, and set out to develop a Little Free Library, conveniently located, appealing to all ages, sustainable and entirely devoted to mental health.

The Scouts began to network, contacting many organizations in the Hopkinton community. Their first stop was the Hopkinton Center for the Arts (HCA). The HCA was quick to respond, offering the perfect venue to reach their target audience — a mindfulness garden accessible to a wide range of people throughout the year. Next, the Scouts sought support and book recommendations from administrators, counselors, librarians and health teachers throughout the Hopkinton Public School district, local psychologists and other groups such as Hopkinton’s Mental Health Collaborative, Senior Center and Youth & Family Services. From there, they created and shared an Amazon wish list with the community via local Facebook pages and the Hopkinton High School student memo.

Troop 68243 invites residents to stop by the beautiful mindfulness garden at the HCA. The Little Free Library offers more than 100 books on mental health for children, teens, adults and seniors covering topics like healthy relationships, self-esteem, body positivity, mindfulness and so much more. The troop also launched its first website, Bee-YOU-tiful!, a comprehensive guide to mental health resources in Hopkinton and beyond. This website (sites.google.com/hillers.org/little-library-gs-troop-68243) offers more about this troop’s mission, its books and how someone can help, as well as acknowledging the amazing people and community organizations whose support helped make this a sustainable, powerful resource for years to come.

Art students honored

Salem Bradley (Transgender Youth in an Unforgiving Society, Topics in Art History), Sienna Van Buren (Red Light, SmartPhone Photography), Connor Grady (Anesthesia, AP Art & Design) and An-Wen Huang (Rib Cage, AP Art & Design) were named Principal’s Award recipients for their work in last month’s Art Show at Hopkinton High School. …

The Hopkinton Women’s Club again sponsored a Hopkinton High School student at the Mass STAR conference, a three-day gathering of sophomores from across Massachusetts for leadership training, civic education and personal development. This year’s recipient, chosen by the guidance council, is Sean McCann. …

Hopkinton’s Asma Al Ashabi, a sixth-grader at Al-Hamra Academy of Shrewsbury, received top honors in Level 1 for her letter to author Pam Munoz Ryan about “Esperanza Rising,” part of the 2022 Massachusetts Letters About Literature Program.

Keefe Tech students shine

Keefe Regional Technical School students won more than 30 medals at the District SkillsUSA Leadership & Skills Conference held March 2 at the Framingham school.

The District Level SkillsUSA Conference featured skills and leadership competitions in career and technical areas including information technology, first aid/CPR and criminal justice. Keefe Tech students swept several categories, taking home gold, silver and bronze in the cabinetmaking, criminal justice, information technology service and internetworking competitions. In total, Keefe students took home 35 medals. All gold and silver medalists advanced to the SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference that was held in April.

Among Keefe Tech’s winners were two students from Hopkinton. Bennett Kazanjian won a silver medal in information technology service, while Alexis Manchester earned a silver medal in restaurant service.

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