Posted by Ray Bastarache on Mar 04, 2019
An overflow crowd of students, teachers, family members and Lynn Rotarians gathered at Old Tyme Family Cuisine recently to celebrate one of the club’s most popular events: Rotary's Eighth Grade Recognition Program which was started decades ago by longtime Lynn Rotarian Joe Coombs. Mr. Coombs admittedly struggled in middle school until one of his teachers showed him how to get on the right track. Coombs never forgot the help he received so he introduced his idea of recognizing one eighth grade student from each Lynn middle school to receive some recognition. The Lynn Executive Board love Coombs's idea and has run with it ever since. The program runs from January to May.
“We always draw big crowds at this event,” said Lynn President Brenda Peral. “Lynn has eight middle schools: three private and five public, and we ask each school guidance counselor to identify one student who has overcome a challenge in his/her life and is now excelling both in and out of the classroom. Of course the students love it but also their parents and a representative from the school also attend the luncheon. It’s a real feel-good event.”
Rotarian Wendy Silva contacts all eight Lynn schools and coordinates every aspect of the process right up the day of celebration. She puts together gift bags for each student that includes a Barnes & Noble gift card, a fancy certificate and a twenty-five dollar certificate of deposit for RiverWorks Credit Union. “  I don’t know if we could pull this off as often as we do without Wendy,” said Steve Upton. “ She makes it work “
Matt Williams, a Lynn Rotarian and branch manager at Riverworks CU, said,” RiverWorks is honored to be the longtime sponsor of this worthwhile program. We know that some of these students might never have another chance to be recognized for overcoming some obstacle in their young lives. The top students academically always received recognition, but we’re looking to identify not the # 1 student in the class but someone to is working to the best of his ability despite dealing with challenges.”
Rotarians Drew Russo, Dick Ruth and Ray Bastarache take turns introducing each student by reading from a biographical letter written by the nominating staff member. The February winners were: Josh Codiar, North Shore Christian School; Keira O’Keefe, St. Pius School; Marufat Yakubu-Owolewa, KIPP; Andres Alex Niz-Lopez, Thurgood Marshall MS; Damon Champlin, Breed MS; Zachary Lavedure, Sacred Heart School; and Turner James White, Pickering MS.