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Sunday, July 3, 2011

FROM WALLINGFORD - Our future leaders

As published in the Record Journal Sunday July 3, 2011


As I sit to write my second-to-last From Wallingford piece, I’ve decided to write regarding some of the future leaders of Wallingford and beyond.

I am, of course, talking about the K-Kids from Highland Elementary School.

The Kiwanis Club-sponsored K-Kids is a service organization for elementary students worldwide for grades 1 through 5.

Highland is a K-2 school and has a group of about 60 first- and second graders that meet once a month under the supervision of Principal Victoria Reed and teachers Angela Buccheri, Kristina Kiely, Sarah Reynolds and Lisa Rodgers.

The K-Kids have taken on projects that directly help their school such as when they took the time to clean the school grounds and promoted recycling. They reached out beyond the school when they made and collected valentines for Veterans as well as taking on a hat and mitten collection for Master Manna. When the tsunami hit in Japan, their efforts went worldwide when they collected coins for the tsunami relief efforts.

Back here in Wallingford they had an ice-pop sale to raise funds for the Wallingford Fireworks Fund. The students decided that a local initiative like the fireworks, a show basically shown in their own backyards, would be something they could contribute to and they would be able to see the end result of their effort that their hard work helped made happen. As part of the final effort, the K-Kids made and hung posters around the school and wrote and read messages during the morning announcements. On the day of the sale they collected money from the classroom teachers and counted out and delivered the orders.

This was not the standard “bring home the fundraiser pack and pawn it off on Mom and / or Dad.” These kids dug in and did the work themselves, many times, before and after school. The students were involved in every step of the process and with direction and assistance, executed everything on their own.

They raised $500, which exceeded their own expectations and was gratefully appreciated by us. In the day and age of “kids today are spoiled” commentary on the whole (without considering the individual) we see an entire group of students learning the true meaning of teamwork, responsibility and civic minded efforts that give back to the community as a whole – right here at home and abroad.

What a wonderful example they set for their peers and at such an early age; one could only hope that it flourishes and grows rather than fades away over time. I hope they inspire their friends in other Wallingford schools to lead, as well.

Not follow – lead. We have plenty of followers; we need more leaders.

Duty and responsibility are a part of life and that is something these kids are already learning.

Life is not a spectator sport and they are learning this lesson, too.
As I am fond of saying here, “get informed and get involved” — and these kids are already involved. As they grow and learn they will “get informed.”

Perhaps a little of this might rub off on some the adults in the community that have gotten hard skinned over the years about engaging as part of the community. One could always hope. I would be satisfied enough if this next generation simply goes on setting its example without being tainted by the prior one.

So to the classes of 2021, 2022 and 2023: I tip my hat to you – you’re off to a great start. Show us all up and become the citizens we all should be; continue to make us proud. Someday, when you’re grown up and are asked “how did you ever become so civic minded and such a diverse leader?” you can respond, “I grew up in Wallingford, Connecticut, where I learned from great examples and had some of the best teachers in the world.”

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