BERLIN - Seniors in the Berlin High School Upbeat club came together at the school library for their Senior Expo to present information on the ways they help the community.
“All of these kids are house leaders of their individual groups, and it is their opportunity to give information to the public,” said Upbeat Director Jack Rudy. “It helps to give to the overall ‘What does Upbeat do?’ ”
Started 30 years ago, when the school district received a grant, the club helps with various aspects of Berlin life, Rudy said.
The club is divided into “Houses,” each focuses on a particular area.
This year’s 311 active members have completed over 2,700 hours of community service since August, Rudy said.
Presenting information on the Entertainment House, which helps promote community events, were Emily Kozon and AJ DelGiorno.
“When you give them their balloon animal or see their face painted that you do, they just light up and it’s really great,” said Kozon of helping at children’s carnivals in the area.
Both agreed that giving back to the community is a motivation for joining the club, but moreso is the opportunity to give back in ways the club helped them when they were younger.
“Growing up in Berlin, we saw these kids through our whole childhood,” said Kozon. “We’ve always looked up to the kids who were in the program so now it’s our turn to give back to the younger kids.”
“To have our turn to give back is such a great thing,” said DelGiorno.
Jennifer Errico, Natalie Coucerio and Gabriel Ramsey, of the Lions and Mitchell House, which helps the Lions Club through veterans clothing drives and the Salvation Army with bell ringing efforts, spoke of the club’s way of making community service work fun, not a chore.
“Freshman year, I was so shy, and I’m able to talk to anyone now. It’s helped me open up more, become friends with anyone I want,” said Errico.
Picking up his daughter, Jilian Price of the Sports and Health House, Richard Price said he was impressed with the efforts of the club.
“If they can do it, more power to them. I can’t believe all the activities the kids do and scholastically their still in great shape. I couldn’t have done it,” said Richard Price, while noting the talent the high school has despite the town’s relatively small size.
Jaymee Miller, who works with the town’s social services department and is a board member, works with the core team that helps with coordination of events.
“It’s giving them a chance also, I think, to talk with adults, make eye contact, all the things kids probably don’t do as much anymore,” said Miller.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.