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Dracut 8th Grader Hones Leadership Skills As Project 351 Ambassador

Feb 10, 2017 06:43PM ● By Bill Gilman

Lily Angluin was Dracut's ambassador for the 2017 Massachusetts Project 351.

Are great leaders made or are they born?
The answer to that age-old question is, "probably a mix of both."
The DNA helps, as do parents who provide a nurturing incubator and stress the importance of leadership and service.
But great leaders also need to be presented with opportunities to develop the skills and hone their abilities as they grow.
Richardson Middle School 8th grader Lily Angluin has such an opportunity this year as Dracut's representative in the 2017 Massachusetts Project 351, an annual program started in 2011 under the Patrick administration with a vision to "
Build a rising generation of service leaders who strengthen our Commonwealth with vision, skill, kindness, and compassion."
According to the Project 351 web site, since 2011:
  • 8th grade service Ambassadors engaged              2,258
  • # of lives positively impacted by service              228,504 citizens*
  • Donations Raised by Ambassadors                       $54,500**
  • Volunteers engaged                                                    151,000
The name "Project 351" refers to the number of cities and towns in Massachusetts, each of which send an "ambassador" into the program.
"My friend Kloe (Martin) was an ambassador last year and she told my principal she thought I'd be a good ambassador," said Lily. "It seemed like something that would be fun, the opportunity to help other people."
As Richardson Middle School Principal Maria McGuinness explained it to Lily, the program looks for quiet leaders, the type of people who do the right thing when no one is watching. With recommendations from a teacher and a coach, McGuinness felt Lily fit the bill and made the nomination.
The program stresses the values of  "Kindness, Compassion, Humility, Gratitude." It kicks off each January with a service day on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Lily admits she really didn't know what to expect when she and 350 other 8th graders boarded buses from all over the state and gathered at Faneuil Hall in Boston. After an opening address by Gov. Baker and orientation, the students were divided into smaller groups and bussed to service project assignments around the city.
Lily and around six others were taken to the Clarence Edwards Middle School, where they painted a room that would be used as a learning space for autistic students who are a sensitive to sensory overload.
For Lily, walking through the halls of an old school building, desperately in need of physical improvements, was a reality check, or sorts. The 14-year-old suddenly had a more acute appreciation for her school, her community and the lifestyle her family is able to enjoy.
"I couldn't believe that building, it was really rundown," she said. "It made me look at things differently. Not every can have the nice things we have."
Lily is the oldest child of Mark and Erika Angluin, owners of the highly popular Al Fresca Ristorante in Tewksbury. She has a younger sister, Bella, 11, and a younger brother, Mark, 10.
In addition to the painting, Lily's group also made fleece scarves for the elderly.
The students wrapped up their service day by gathering at the JFK Library to share stories and reflect on their day.
But Project 351 doesn't stop there.
Each of the students was sent home with a mission, to spearhead a project in their hometown that would make a difference in the lives of local residents. Lily is still deciding on a specific project.
"I'm thinking of either a food drive or a clothing drive," she said. 

According to the Project 351 web site, "The opportunity to lead is a privilege that is earned."
Lily Angluin is earning that privilege a little more every day.

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