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Kids These Days

If you think today’s teenagers spend all their time listening to crappy music, getting drunk and high, having sex and pulling up their saggy jeans — think again.

Staples assistant principal Rich Franzis asked club advisors for a quick list of accomplishments this year.  He got hundreds.  Even on the limitless internet, I don’t have space for all.

Here are just a few.  Keep in mind:  This is what Westport teenagers did outside the classroom.  On their own time.  And at their own initiative.

Staples Junior State of America raised thousands of dollars for Nothing But Nets, to stem the tide of malaria in Africa.  They also wrote letters to soldiers in Afghanistan.

Heart and Soul volunteered at events led by Operation Hope, the Courage to Speak Foundation, Christian Community Action of Norwalk, and Project Return.  They collected toys for Goodwill, and prom dresses for the Norwalk YMCA Prom Dress Extravaganza.

The World Wildlife Club raised funds, then donated money and supplies to Wildlife in Crisis, the Elephant Sanctuary, the National Wildlife Federation and the Westport Humane Society.

The Digital Photography Club created a spectacular exhibit at the Westport Arts Center.  “Dog Show” featured intimate portraits of dogs at the Bridgeport Animal Shelter, and inspired many donations of food and treats.

Club Green is gearing up for EcoFest (June 11, Levitt pavilion).  They expect over 2,000 attendees, and more than 40 vendors.

Culinary Arts Club made meals from scratch for the Gillespie Center, and helped make food for other charitable organizations.

The Gay-Straight Alliance raised awareness of the rash of suicides by gay youths, and took students from surrounding towns with them to the annual True Colors conference at the University of Connecticut.

All-Around Helpers raised money for gifts, supplies, children’s toys and diapers for the Westport Department of Human Services.

Teen Awareness Group sponsored Homecoming and prom assemblies to raise awareness of drinking; led a don’t-text-and-drive campaign, and sponsored a showing of the “Race to Nowhere” documentary.

African Refugees donated more than $1,000 in clothing to an orphanage.

Jewelry Club created 100 necklaces, part of a care package given to victims of domestic violence.

The Global Friendship Club raised over $2,000 for Save the Children.

Service League of Boys worked on 17 construction, landscaping and painting projects for social service agencies.

Students Supporting AIDS Awareness raised over $1,000 towards research, and participated in the annual AIDS Walk New York.

Best Buddies raked leaves for the CLASP home; baked pies for the ABC House and Project Return; raised over $2,000 for Best Buddies Connecticut; hosted a prom for students with disabilities at several local high schools, and met regularly for outings with area youngsters.

That’s just a small sampling of what Staples students did this year.  Most groups did far more than I’ve mentioned — and I omitted plenty of clubs too.

I did not include classroom activities, like world language, English, and anatomy and physiology mentorships with younger students, or bread-baking for the Farmer’s Market.

I didn’t list community service by athletic teams — for example, the boys soccer program collected winter coats for Mercy Learning Center, and in June will run the Fairfield 5K and Half-Marathon races to raise funds for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

I said nothing about the Staples Players and music program’s constant charity involvement at shows and concerts.

And I did not include individual student efforts.  Every day, Stapleites volunteer at animal shelters, collect used musical instruments, provide sports instruction to inner-city kids — the list goes on and on and on and on.

Do Staples students listen to bad music?  Sure.  Didn’t you?

Do they party?  You bet.  You did too.

Do they wear saggy pants?  Yeah, and they look like idiots.

But don’t ever say Westport teenagers don’t care about others.  They do — here in town, throughout the state and country, and around the world.

The future is in good hands.

A lot goes on every day -- and after school -- at Staples.

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