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MSMS_Sustain Student Newsletter

Items for the Harvest Bounty drive. Photo courtesy of Don Taylor and the MSMS_Sustain leadership team.
Editor’s Note: The following newsletter is produced by Main Street Middle School (MSMS) students on the MSMS_Sustain leadership team, and their teacher, Don Taylor. The Bridge has partnered with the team and is publishing their quarterly newsletters through the end of the current school year. Parts of this newsletter have been edited for brevity.

Milestones Reached in Second Quarter

MSMS_Sustain has accomplished a number of our goals this year. Read on to discover the work we’ve been doing in the community.

Milestone 1: 1,000 Meals Created and Donated

Based on our work last year, MSMS_Sustain set a goal of donating 1,000 meals for the entire 2023-24 school year. However, once classes got rolling and youth partners honed their production skills, we quickly raised our goal to 1,000 meals donated per semester. In mid-January, we were able to accomplish that goal through meal donations to Just Basics, Good Samaritan Haven and the MRPS Supplemental Nutrition program.

Milestone 2: 1,300 Children’s Books Distributed

This year, in partnership with the MRPS Partners in Education group and the MSMS Library, the MSMS_Sustain team developed its first annual Children’s Book Drive. Over the course of the campaign, youth partners were able to collect and distribute more than 1,300 children’s books to the Just Basics organization. 

Milestone 3: Maple Syrup Sales

The student-run production of maple syrup is another step taken by our group to promote sustainability within the school. The best news is that funds from our syrup sales have been used to support sustainable issues and organizations. The MSMS_Sustain Leadership Team approved a donation of $250 to Community Harvest of Central Vermont, which was effectively doubled. 

—Don Taylor

Solidarity Craft Fair

Main Street Middle School organized the 30th annual Solidarity Craft Fair at the Bethany and Unitarian Churches on Dec. 11. Lunch was provided by the Sustainability class and crafts were made by MSMS students. The profits from the event went to the MSMS 8th grade trip at the end of the year, and Bethany Church’s El Salvador Scholarship Program. 

“The Fair is 30 years old and was originally founded by the Vermont Nicaragua Construction Brigade as a fundraiser for projects in Nicaragua in 1993,” says Beth Merrill, event coordinator and Spanish teacher at MSMS. “In 2004 the Brigade gave it to Planting Hope, another nonprofit which sponsored educational projects in Nicaragua. In 2022, Planting Hope was closed and the Craft Fair came to MSMS and was given to the eighth graders.” 

 The fair was organized and run in part by eighth grade students. Students cooked chili and applesauce bread, and sold crafts made by the MSMS Art and Innovation classes. 

“It was fun. It was hard work with managing and planning,” says Maddie Lindberg, an eighth grader who contributed to the fair. “I felt like I had a real job.” This year’s event, running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., was very successful, according to Eli Rosenberg, a teacher at MSMS.

—Elena Guadagno 

Meals cooked by students for donation. Photo courtesy of Don Taylor and the MSMS_Sustain leadership team.

The Harvest Bounty Drive

This autumn, members of the MSMS_Sustain Leadership Team organized a Fall Bounty Harvest Drive for two weeks in November. To arrange this, members of the  leadership team reached out to Just Basics, requesting information about the items and goods expected to be in high demand for the fall and winter. After a prompt response from Just Basics, outlining that they needed canned, dry, and household goods, we started to work on the details of this drive. The drive began on November 1, 2023.

Students were encouraged to bring in canned, dry, and household goods over the following two weeks. By November 15, we had donated 893 items to Just Basics. We would love to thank everyone who donated, as this drive was very important to all of the citizens in Montpelier that are in need this fall and winter. 

Preston Averbeck, an eighth grade member of the MSMS Sustainability Leadership team, initiated a Terracycle pilot project aiming to reduce our school’s plastic waste. Terracycle is a company that recycles hard to recycle items, to keep waste out of landfills and the ocean. They do this by creating collection boxes for specific items and then partnering with big corporations such as  PepsiCo, Barcel and Procter & Gamble to create free recycling programs.

The MSMS_Sustain Terracycle pilot project is working to recycle candy wrappers and snack bags. Using money raised through Maple Syrup sales, the MSMS_Sustain team purchased a recycle box from Terracycle. The project is being piloted with Ms. Parker’s fifth grade classroom and we encourage all fifth grade classrooms to contribute their empty, free-from-food, plastic snack bags and candy wrappers.

—Ella Groff