Posted by William Reilly on Mar 31, 2023
On March 30, 2023, the Rotary Club of Lynn continued with its tradition of recognizing 8th grade students from Lynn Middle Schools. These are students who have struggled with some adversity during the school year or have shown empathy toward others in an outstanding way. 
The students are nominated by their teacher or guidance counselor, someone who knows the student very well. The students are invited to a luncheon meeting of the members and are individually presented with a gift certificate to a local bookstore, a Certificate of Achievement, and a $25 gift certificate to open an account at the River Works Credit Union, the program sponsor.  During the individual presentations a narrative is read by the Club President or his designee enumerating the various situations the students struggled with and how they were overcome.  During the program Dr, Raymond Bastarache, former past Club President and former Deputy Superintendent of Schools, spoke on the importance of this program. He said: “one can tell how valued this program is to the City of Lynn by the people in attendance.”  He then went on the introduce the Chief of Police, Chris Reddy, the newly appointed Fire Chief, Dan Sullivan, and the current Superintendent of Schools, Debra Ruggiero. 
Approximately 20 years ago the Eighth Grade Recognition Program was the brainchild of Rotarian and Lynn businessman Joe Coombs who always felt that the eighth grade was a turning point in his life. He acknowledges how “lost” he felt during those middle-school years and, were it not for a compassionate teacher who took him aside and supported him, he doubts he would’ve been as successful as he was as an adult. Coombs’ success was derived from the positive reinforcement and support he received in middle school so he petitioned his fellow Rotarians to adopt the program. Since its inception well over 500 students have been recognized by the Lynn Rotary Club.
In the enclosed picture are the students recognized and others identified as follows, left to right: Bottom Row: Andrew Lang, St. Pius; Derek Santa Cruz, St. Mary’s; Rachely Blanco Laro, Pickering; Bryna Otokunrin, Kipp Academy.   Standing: Lynn Superintendent of Schools, Debra Ruggiero; Jean-Marie Minton, Lynn Rotary President-Elect; Francis Militello, Breed; Bilder de Leon Pojoy, Lynn Vocational Technical Institute; Dany Ortega Bol, Thurgood Marshall; and Irene Cowdell, Rotary Club 8th grade program coordinator.