Oxford Hills Middle School elective promotes community to students

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PARIS — Fifteen students from an Oxford Hills Middle School classroom will hold a “pallet party” to raise money to buy gifts for elementary and middle school students for Christmas, said Michele Wood, a teacher at the school.

Wood, a social studies and writing teacher at Oxford Hills Middle School, said that she and the other teachers each lead a one-hour elective block that allows students to learn in nontraditional ways and become more connected to the community.

Wood’s block, called #QuestForCommunity, is a student-driven elective that allows students to organize events that will benefit others in the community.

“The goal of this elective block is to get the community involved as much as possible,” Wood said.

For the first trimester of the 2017-18 school year, Wood said the 15 students in her elective block were looking for ways to bring all of the elementary schools in the Oxford Hills together and use the money raised at the events for the Christmas for Kids program offered by Rightstart Inc.

“Each student will get a child, and they’ll shop for them, buy gifts, and wrap them for those children,” Wood explained.

Preparing to fundraise

Wood’s class hosted a Halloween celebration in October for Oxford Hills elementary school students ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade.

Three of Wood’s students – Brianna Farrar and Morgan Cobbett, both seventh-graders, and Taylor Aspinall, an eighth-grader – took the lead on different parts of the Halloween celebration, and are continuing to work together in organizing their upcoming December event.

Taylor said that she knew Wood’s elective block was “more student-driven” and offered “a chance for leadership.”

“I sort of like being a leader, so I thought it would be fun to try,” she added.

Brianna said that she joined Wood’s class because she “thought it would be cool to do something” that gave elementary school students a chance to meet each other before coming to the middle school.

“When you’re in elementary school, you’re separated from the students at the other schools,” Brianna said. “When you’re in middle school, you’re all together. If we bring them all together now, it’ll get them used to being together.”

Morgan said that one of the lessons that she and the other students have learned throughout the trimester is to “make sure to prepare for more people to show up than you expect.”

Brianna agreed.

“When we did the Halloween celebration, we were thinking only a few people would show up,” she said. “We had no idea more than 100 people would come.”

Taylor said the students quickly learned that “teamwork” is the number one ingredient to making sure the events run smoothly.

Pallet party

The students in the Quest for Community elective block are preparing for their final event of the trimester: a pallet party, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at Oxford Hills Middle School.

Wood explained that a pallet party is an event that allows people to paint on a surface made up of three wooden boards affixed to one another.

When they’re done painting, they can take the pallet home with them to decorate their house.

Morgan said that she was invited to a pallet party in the past, but was unable to attend.

“When we were trying to think of something to do for a fundraiser in December, I thought it would be a good idea,” she said.

After the trimester ends, Wood said that she’ll get a new batch of students and will find new projects for them to work on geared towards the community.

As for Brianna, Morgan and Taylor? All three said they want to continue volunteering and participating in community-oriented projects in the future.

Taylor, who will head to Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School next year, said that she’s already discussed returning to the middle school as a high school student to assist with the Quest for Community elective and counting it as her community service.

Wood said people can sign up for the pallet party event at www.mimedesigns.com/product-page/questforcommunity-12-2-17-10am.

For more information on the pallet party on Dec. 2, contact Wood at m.wood2@msad17.org or call 743-5946.

mdaigle@sunmediagroup.net