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Students offer lesson in goodwill

During the tense Town Meeting season, it’s easy to look outward and expect others to take on the many challenges facing a town or a school district. We put a lot of that burden on our elected town officials. And to improve our schools, we look to School Board members and principals, and we ask more of both teachers and parents.

Yet, if we look hard enough there are groups of young students everywhere who are shouldering the load as well, working to make their own mark and pave the way for those who are to follow.

One such group of students can be found making their way from ConVal High School to Peterborough Elementary School every Thursday. They’re the creators of the Cougar Buddies program that brings a dedicated group of high school athletes into classrooms of second and third graders at PES. While there, they help with an assortment of duties, mostly focused on reading skills. Most importantly, though, they are there to mentor.

This isn’t a class assignment, and it isn’t about fulfilling a requirement for education.

It’s about finding a way to become more deeply involved in the community. The program was started by one young ConVal student who contacted Peterborough Elementary School’s principal to get the ball rolling.

“I knew the team was really looking to find any way to give back,” said ConVal senior Ana Hautanen of Peterborough, the student that initiated the discussions that eventually established the program. “We want to be able to promote athletics and good grades.”

This has been widely received as the type of program that illustrates all that is good about public education. And it goes a long way to boosting the image of a district that is coming off a contentious election season.

In a budget-conscious environment, this is the type of effort you can’t put a price tag on.

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