CMS Giving Assembly: Important Tradition Continues

If it’s November, it must be time for the Giving Assembly.

For several decades, Coleytown Middle School celebrated Thanksgiving with a month-long, school-wide project. Each grade selected one or two organizations or non-profits. Students and parents collected goods or raise money.

Then — on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving — the school gathered together for a Giving Assembly. Recipients described how they’ll use the donations. There was music too, and plenty of good vibes.

The closure of CMS for renovation, and then the pandemic’s prohibition of visitors, put the great tradition on hold.

Thankfully, it’s back.

Newly renovated, Coleytown Middle School returns to an old tradition.

As the school rebuilds a sense of community after a few tumultuous years, enthusiasm for the program is high.

Eighth graders overwhelmingly chose Al’s Angels — the Westport-based charity helping children with serious illnesses — as this year’s recipients. The 2 pods have a “coin war,” to see which collects the most.

Patty Haberstroh

Seventh and 6th graders are raising funds for Westport’s Department of Human Services, and the ALS Therapy Development Institute. They selected both groups to honor Patty Haberstroh, Westport Human Services’ longtime youth director who is battling ALS. For 20 years, she was an instrumental part of Coleytown’s Giving Assembly.

Sixth graders are also collecting donations for Homes with Hope. Executive director Helen McAlinden kicked off the campaign by visiting all 8 classrooms. She described her organization’s efforts to combat homelessness and food insecurity, and inspired the young fundraisers.

PTA volunteers have already delivered some items to the Gillespie Center.

“All year long, we talk about the importance of giving back,” says 6th grade language arts teacher Emily Diggs. “We do a lot of lessons about ‘being your best self.’ This is one more way to do that.”

A large “thermometer” in the hall between the 2 6th grade pods — the Orcas and the Dolphins — is updated every day. Students watch the two groups fight for the top spot.

Last week, the Dolphins held a slim lead.

But, as several wise children told Diggs, “It doesn’t matter who wins. It’s all about giving back.”

Students love to hear stories about their impact at the annual Giving Assembly. COVID means that this year’s version will be virtual — streamed live on Coleytown TV.

That’s a small price to pay, for the return of an important tradition.

CMS — and the Giving Assembly — are both back!

8 responses to “CMS Giving Assembly: Important Tradition Continues

  1. Jeffrey Jacobs

    Yes, giving to others is the most important thing we can teach our kids (and remind ourselves). Congrats to CMS for continuing a commendable tradition!

  2. So great! What a cool project!

    On a separate note……when did Coleytown Junior High become Coleytown Middle School?

    • In 1983, 9th graders moved to Staples. That’s when the junior highs became middle schools – 38 years ago!

      • Growing up in Westport and attending the Coleytown Schools, and Staples, we were used to elementary as K-5, junior high as 6-9 and high school 10-12. I’ve lived west of the Mississippi since 1977 and most, if not all schools out here are k-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Not sure if that was a east coast/west coast thing but the high schools out here are almost always 9-12. Either way, I sure do miss those days…

  3. Charlie Haberstroh

    Patty wants all Coleytown Middle students and parents to know how much it means to her for them to include ALSTDI in their giving. Patty can no longer speak or use her hands or legs, but communicates using her eyes and a computer. called a Tobii Eye Gaze. She is in her 5 year after diagnosis which she is very proud of since most ALS patients pass in 2-5 years after diagnosis. She still hopes and prays that a cure will be found. Your efforts will further that cause and your acts of giving helps keep her morale soaring. Thank you.

  4. My prayers are with you all. We loved Pete Frates BC als patient and adopted him in prayer when my husband and I moved from Compo Beach to Westwood, MA. To be closer to our 3 adult BC graduates

  5. Charlie Haberstroh

    Nancy Frates birthday was yesterday. The Frates are ALS royalty!

  6. As one of the past CMS PTA Co-Presidents during those very trying times, I was just heartbroken when this wonderful and meaningful tradition had to be put on hold. I am sitting here crying happy tears! Oh how this warms my heart!