Op-ed: North Stonington schools offer more than education

Op-ed: North Stonington schools offer more than education

The Westerly Sun

I would like to take some time to share with you what the North Stonington Public Schools offer the town of North Stonington, accomplishments that go beyond academics.

We have an operating food bank in our elementary and middle schools, organized by our district social worker, where all North Stonington students/staff members are continuously hosting food drives to keep the shelves of this bank full.

Many North Stonington staff members, students, parents, community members and organizations participate in the adopt a family program during the holidays, donating gifts and gift cards that go to NS families in need.

We provide in-home counseling to families who need it.

We have high school students and teachers from K-12 who volunteer at the Shoreline Food Pantry on Saturdays, oftentimes also hosting breakfast there for families waiting to receive their groceries.

Our advisory/clubs program and our National Honor Society Program raise awareness and money for a variety of nonprofit organizations including OXFAM, local animal shelters, St. Jude’s Hospital, Autism Speaks, World Bicycle Relief and many more organizations that give back to the world around them.

On Earth Days and Give Back Days our advisory students have done lawn work for local residents who are unable to do it for themselves. They have picked up garbage and trash in and around the school, protecting rivers and streams from pollution.

Wheeler’s BRAVE club has hosted veteran appreciation events, Memorial Day ceremonies, and veteran/active duty guest speakers throughout the school year. It raised money for Fisher House and Friends of Fisher House CT, collected toiletries for Operation Stand Down, and wrote dozens of thank uou cards to active service members, veterans, and spouses of active and veteran military members. We also recognize and honor Wheeler students who make a commitment to the military as part of their post-graduation plans.

WHS’s Student Government has organized school spirit activities at the high school. Those include voter registration days at the HS, and a half-court shot challenge to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It has participated in the Greater Westerly Relay for Life multiple times, last year raising over $1,000 for the American Cancer Society, and the fight against cancer.

Wheeler has had multiple students who are part of the North Stonington Education Foundation.

Our Wheeler Broadcasting studio records, edits and publishes the first selectman’s weekly update.

Many of our high school students volunteer at the local polls to help with the election process.

We hosted a community conversation about the impact of opioid addiction and raised awareness to a problem that impacts all of us, whether we think so or not.

We host two blood drives a year in cooperation with American Red Cross to keep our blood banks filled.

We sent staff and students to Texas to help with hurricane relief.

We sent Souper Bowl bags to the local food pantry so those less fortunate could enjoy a special treat — one that might not have been affordable otherwise.

Many of our staff and faculty members donate personally to funds that allow our students to be able to afford prom expenses, attend field trips, or purchase yearbooks when they can’t necessarily afford to do so.

We constantly support Chikumbuso Women and Orphans Project, and this past year hosted two students who deserved a better education than they could receive in their own village in Africa.  We continue to sponsor these boys so they can get a high school diploma in America, which will lead to an opportunity to attend college in America and eventually go back and make their educational experiences in their village better for others.

We host Science and Math Nights, and parent/student book clubs for our parents who want to be more involved in their child’s education.

We host sporting events, drama productions, and musical concerts to provide entertainment to any resident who is looking for something to do.

There is so much more that all the students/staff in all of the schools in North Stonington provide the residents of North Stonington. I haven’t mentioned academics, because I don’t need to. All of our schools provide a top-rate educational experience for all NS students and we are Schools of Distinction because of this. In fact, we often graduate students who already have a year’s worth of college credit under their belts, without the college level expenses that typically come with it, proving we care about the financial burden placed on parents.

North Stonington Elementary School and Wheeler give back regularly to the town, the students, the residents — and even those who have no children in the system in North Stonington.

Think about that.  I guarantee you, these accomplishments won’t fit on any bus and why would anyone want them to? If they do, they will take your property value and all the greatness these schools provide with it in tow... #buildit, #weareWHEELER, #NoStoPRIDE

Kristen St. Germain is the principal of Wheeler Middle School and Wheeler High School.


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