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First Middle School InterAct Club in District 7980
St. Martin de Porres Academy Interact Club
208 Columbus Ave., New Haven, CT --- “The Hill Section”
By: Lynda Hammond, Rotary Club of Orange
In September 2010 the organization and election of officer took place at St. Martin de Porres Academy to form the first Middle School Interact Club in our district. It is sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Derby-Shelton, New Haven and Orange. We have six Rotarian and three Academic Advisors to support the efforts of our newest Interactors.
On September 25th, the SMPA Interact Club was represented by five of it’s advisor at the District Interact District Training, organized by PDG Dick Benson, District Chair of the Interact program. It was extremely helpful and we are all very excited.
Why St. Martin de Porres Academy (SMPA)?
The mission of SMPA is to break the cycle of poverty through education by addressing educational disparity by increasing quality education opportunities for at risk children from Connecticut’s lowest income families, thus making them competitive for admission to college and universities.
Allison Rivera, President of SMPA
Allison is a graduate of Guilford High School where she was involved in starting up the school's first Interact Club. She received a Rotary Scholarship from the Guilford Rotary Club each of her four years while attending the University of Vermont, where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree - Cum Laude. She was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and spent a year in Melbourne, Australia where earned a Master of Bioethics Degree from Monash University. For five years she worked as the Director of the Connecticut Chapter of Best Buddies, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending the social isolation of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Five years ago, Allison left Best Buddies to work on the front lines as one of the founding teachers of Saint Martin de Porres Academy.
The Academy’s school model is based upon small class size, an 10-hour extended school day, an 11-month extended school year, 90 minutes of reading per day, 2 meals a day, compulsory instrumental music, and mandatory parental commitment. Students are in school approximately 850 more hours per year than their public school peers and their attendance is 97%.
Justice & Peace Education - school features nonviolence programs, social awareness education and community outreach activities.
Grade Levels: 5th - 8th
How did this come about?
During this past Rotary year, a District Managed Grant sponsored by New Haven, Derby-Shelton, Hamden and Project Amigo (Colima, Mexico), purchased six laptop computers with camera and microphone capabilities. Using SKYPE technology kids at SMPA connect with middle school kids in Colima, Mexico every other week to advance their language skills and broaden their cultural experience.
These kids are already involved as community volunteers, at the soup kitchen in New Haven, collecting items for kids in foster care and reading to the elderly. In addition, each child is required to play a musical instrument and they have concerts twice a year.
Well, these kids already understand ‘Service Above Self,’ so when Rotary International Trustees voted to lower the age for Interactors from 15 to 12 years, we were ready to go to form our club.
We have an incredible opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these kids and I sincerely believe they will impact the lives of every Rotarian whose life they touch ten fold.