Friday, January 13, 2023

WMS Altitude Program makes a difference through book donations

By Matt Pascarella

Shortly before the beginning of the holiday season’s school vacation, eighth-grade students at Windham Middle School’s Altitude Program, with the help of seventh graders within the program, helped gather a substantial stack of books that were brought by the students to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland on Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Windham Middle School Altitude Program eighth graders
back from left, Rylynn Miller, Maddi Nolan, KJ Currier, Cam
Moreau, Izaiah Woodbury, Veronika Sullivan and Madi Cicci
donate books to the Giving Library at the Barbara Bush 
Children's Hospital in South Portland on Tuesday, Dec. 20.
Accepting the donation is Child Life Program Manager
Sharon Granville, front. COURTESY PHOTO 
The Altitude Program is one of service, and experiential learning. It stresses being a significant member of the community and its goal is to create more hands-on learning opportunities. For many of the students in the program the typical school setting can be harder for them, so the Altitude Program is a connector for them academically as well as personally. It aims to help students make relationships, build community and work on social skills and communication.

In early December, Windham Middle School teachers Lisa Anderson, Autumn Carsen Cook and Rich Meserve asked the members of the Altitude Program what they can do to make a difference and show compassion.

The eighth graders came up with the idea to donate books to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center.

“We decorated boxes and put them around Windham Middle School and at the Field-Allen School,” said Windham eighth grader Madi Cicci. “The principal, announced there were boxes for book donations every morning.”

Letters went out to staff and parents informing them of the need to collect new books.

“Giving is kind and thoughtful,” said Windham eighth-grader Izaiah Woodbury. “It felt good to donate the books.”

Woodbury said it gives the kids who aren’t able to go to school the ability to learn through the donated books. If they cannot be visited by their families during the holidays, the books are a gift.

Windham eighth-grader KJ Currier said it felt good to donate the books. It meant a lot that they were able to bring the kids at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital something around the holidays.

“We have some core belief statements for students and some ‘I can’ statements,” said WMS Principal Drew Patin. “One is feeling a part of the community. The book donations fits in terms of being able to see what their impact is on other people.”

Patin said another of the statements is around engagement and seeing themselves in the curriculum but also feeling like what they are doing has a broader impact.

The students say that they are really grateful for being able to learn off campus and out in the community.

“We are really appreciative of their work and generosity and thinking of others,” said Sharon Granville, Child Life Program Manager at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. “It helped us to add books to our Giving Library; we offer a library where families have the opportunity to come and look through different books for different ages of patients and any family that’s staying with us has the opportunity to select a book and use it and thankfully be able to keep it.”

Granville said what’s great about book donations is it allows the hospital to keep up with frequent titles kids are enjoying.

She said that when you are in the hospital, you don’t always have as many choices as you might want so by having a nice book selection, they are able to provide the children with an appropriate choice which allows them to select whatever book they want.

The small actions of the students in the Altitude Program made a big difference for kids who are not feeling well.

“I feel accomplished,” said Windham eighth grader Maddi Nolan. “It made me feel like I did a good deed for the community. It was important because we gave the kids what they needed and deserved. Some kids would not be able to see their families while in the hospital, so I thought this would make them feel happy."

Nolan also said she learned to take a pause and appreciate what she has. <

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