Berkshire Profile:Youth Leaders Megan Bantle and Mark PoirotBy Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, April 02, 2006
Welcome to Berkshire Profile, an iberkshires weekly feature appearing on Sunday. Each week, iberkshires will highlight a Berkshires resident whose actions contribute to the Berkshires way of life.
|Mark Poirot, 14, and Megan Bantle, 13, are this year's Adams Memorial Middle School Sholar Leaders. Megan and Mark plan to attend a New England League of Middle Schools Scholar Leader dinner on May 23 in Worcester.|
Adams - Megan Bantle, 13, and Mark Poirot, 14, may be best described as articulate, intelligent, and confident.
Megan and Mark were chosen by their teachers to represent the Adams Memorial Middle School at a New England League of Middle Schools Middle Level Scholar Leader Awards program May 23 dinner at the Grand Ballroom of the DCU Center in Worcester.
The event honors eighth grade students from across the state who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, provided service to classmates and school, are positive role models for their peers, and exhibit integrity, honesty, self-discipline, and courage.
During a March 31 interview at the middle school, Mark and Megan put forth suggestions that they believe would improve the on-campus lives of their classmates.
An after-school program offers activities such as chorus, a yearly musical, basketball, student council, and a mentoring initiative, Megan said. The program could attract more interest with some additional activities, such as writing or art programs, she said.
"If we could, I'd like to see some different after-school programs and maybe some other sports," said Megan. "A school newspaper would be nice."
Programs that target smoking and substance abuse should be increased at the sixth and seventh grade level, Mark said.
"I think there should be more programs against smoking and alcohol," he said. "There are a lot of kids smoking and into drugs and drinking. I know there is a DARE program, but there should be more, something in sixth grade and in seventh grade. If it isn't done by eighth grade, by then it's a joke."
The school's student council is active and involved with fundraising for charities, and the group does a "really good job " with that endeavor, Mark said. The group should take a more active role within the school, he said.
And as for school lunches....
"My last thing is to make school lunches better," he said. "They just raised our lunches to $2 [a day] and there's been like a strike. A lot of kids aren't eating. I think if the food was better and healthier, people wouldn't mind paying the $2."
Megan lives with her mother Carrie Bantle on East Road. Her father Kevin Bantle lives in Connecticut. Peers and teachers consider Megan to be a gifted actor, singer, and writer. She is the secretary for the student council.
"I like Science and I like to write," Megan said. "I love to read, and I read a lot. I just finished the 'Da Vinci Code'."
Poetry is her favorite writing genre, she said. She will attend Hoosac Valley High School during the 2006-07 academic year, and college is in her future, she said.
"I'm a little nervous about high school," she said. "I hope I can handle all four honors classes, but I think I can. I'd like to go to [college] near Boston. It's aiming high, but I like Harvard."
Mark lives with his mother Kathy Poirot on Crotteau Street. His father Michael Poirot lives on Friend Street. Mark plays the trumpet and is in the school band.
Mark has been accepted at the Charles H. McCann Technical School but said he is "leaning" toward attending Hoosac Valley during the next school year. He is interested in school athletic programs involving cross-country running and swimming.
"I'm outside a lot," Mark said. "Everyone in our neighborhood is friends and we go out and play basketball, or we ride our bikes on the trails."
Political science is a major interest for Mark, he said.
"I'm interested in RPI [Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute]," he said. "My cousins go there, and I've been there and I like it."
Mark and Megan said that they believe family connections are important, and emphasized the benefits of becoming involved in school activities. Both students have roles in the upcoming school musical "Once On This Island," scheduled for April 6-7 performances.
"My family is a big part of my life," said Megan. "I'm the oldest in my family, and I have three brothers, plus my mom just had a baby girl. I'm usually busy with school, the musical, and my family."
"I do a lot of baby-sitting for my relatives," Mark said. "And the musical keeps me busy."
Megan and Mark were surprised to learn that they had been chosen as scholar leaders, they said. Neither student was familiar with the honor prior to their selection, they said.
"My mom was elated," said Mark. "I was shocked."
"My mom was really excited," said Megan.
Be Approachable, Say "Hello"
Mark and Megan spoke about the unique Adams-Cheshire Regional School District middle school situation. Adams students attend sixth grade at the Valley Street school, while students from Savoy and Cheshire join the middle school population during the seventh grade.
The situation means that Adams students spend one year acclimating to the new school before meeting new classmates, while the Cheshire and Savoy students come to the school one year after many middle school friendships have formed.
"It's not really hard to make friends in the sixth grade," Mark said. "A lot of the friends that I made were in the sixth grade. In seventh grade, I remember a lot of the Adams kids stayed off by themselves and the Cheshire kids were off by themselves. You can't be afraid to just go over and say 'hello.'"
Being approachable and getting involved in school activities can generate friendships, said Megan. Students should make an effort to meet other students in a manner that is comfortable for them, she said.
"I think it's easy to make friends," she said.
"Better Than Just Hanging Around"
Megan and Mark said that they support relocating the town's Youth Center to a larger site. The current center is limited by space restrictions, both said, which hampers the ability to appeal to many youth.
"We really need more for activities and it would be better if there was a youth center a little closer to the downtown," said Megan. "They do send out a newsletter that lists their activities. I think that they would do more but they are limited by space."
Mark is involved as a LIT [leader in training] at the Williamstown Youth Center. He is able to attend the center because his mother works in that town, he said.
Youth centers that can offer a diverse program roster are more likely to appeal to a wider range of youth, he said.
"I think that a youth center is better than just hanging around," he said.
Additional information about the New England League of Middle Schools may be acquired at a www.nelms.org Internet web site.
Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 802-823-9367.