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Student Leadership Program Benefits Kids, Community

DePaolo Middle School leadership program participants enjoy helping out and volunteering.

Every day eighth-grade DePaolo students Gabe Buelis and Adam Viviano leave school at lunchtime to serve others. They can be seen at the Calendar House senior center at noon, serving food, cleaning up and chatting with seniors eating lunch in the cafeteria.

Students serve the community in capacities including service at the Calendar House, helping at Zion Lutheran Nursery School, and volunteering at the nearby Southington Dog Pound.

"It's a great way to help students get real world experience in developing leadership and help the community at the same time," DePaolo Assistant Vice Principal and student leadership program coordinator Christopher Palmieri said. "The kids do an excellent job with it."

Adam and Gabe said they joined the program three years ago in sixth grade, because they like helping others in the community.

"I like to because it's rewarding to be able to talk with the people here and see how they appreciate us coming," Adam said.

"I joined to be able to help with community service," Gabe said. "I like helping and we get to know the people here after a while."

Calendar House Site Manager Charlotte Cole said the boys were an invaluable part of the lunch experience. Seniors look forward to, and enjoy having young people to talk with, and the students are hard working and polite, she said.

"When they come here they know just what to do, I tell them come on in, you know the drill," Cole said. "If they ever wanted to end this program I think I'd go out there and fight for it-the people here really appreciate them."

Leadership students are equally helpful at Zion Lutheran Nursery School as well, where students walk across the street from DePaolo three to four times a week during "free play." The coed group of students interacts with the preschoolers doing activities like art projects, blocks, and games.”

"It's good for the students and great for us," Zion Nursery School Director Barbara Debner said. "They challenge our kids to use more language, and it's good for kids to interact with different age groups, especially if they have no siblings."

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