Island students join Governor Patrick’s Project 351

Project 351 ambassador Rachaya Lane-Jette of Aquinnah . — Photo courtesy Crawford Strategi

Six Martha’s Vineyard eighth-graders traveled to the State House in Boston on Saturday, January 18, to join other students from across the Commonwealth for a day of service as part of Project 351, a community service initiative Governor Deval Patrick began three years ago.

One ambassador is selected for each of the state’s 351 cities and towns. They are nominated and chosen by local educators, based on their exemplary service ethic, kindness, and spirit of generosity.

The Island’s 2014 ambassadors include West Tisbury School students Rachaya Lane of Aquinnah, Matthew Perzanowski of West Tisbury, and Maggie Mayhew of Chilmark; Edgartown School student Jack Murray; Oak Bluffs School student Sean O’Malley; and Tisbury School student Elizabeth Williamson. The group’s sponsor,  West Tisbury School upper level social studies teacher Robyn Maciel Wingate, accompanied them to Boston.

Governor Patrick kicked off a town meeting at Faneuil Hall Saturday morning with remarks about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the meaning of service to the Project 351 ambassadors, which includes more than 400 eighth-graders selected by their communities statewide.

“I am proud to once again join the Project 351 ambassadors in a day of service in honor of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King,” Governor Patrick said. “These students are the servant leaders in their communities and an inspiration to work with.”

In the afternoon the governor joined the students to take part in service projects at seven nonprofit organizations across Boston, according to a press release. During the year, they will participate in two signature statewide service days and spearhead service projects at their own schools.

This spring, for example, the ambassadors will participate in Project 351’s “Spring Greening Initiative” by collecting used clothing at their schools or a community location. The donations will benefit disadvantaged children in partnership with another nonprofit, Cradles to Crayons, in Boston.