hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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January 31, 2013

Two city students named to governor's group

Among more than 300 eighth-graders helping Boston organizations

Nettle Middle School students Veyli Ortiz-Solis and Josh Wojtas like how it feels to do something good for their school and their community.

They get satisfaction knowing they helped others, made their school a better place to learn, and made Haverhill a better place to live.

Because of their work to make the Nettle and their city better places to learn and live, Gov. Deval Patrick recruited them to take part in the biggest community service initiative they’ve experienced yet.

Veyli and Josh traveled to Boston on Saturday as part of Project 351, a community service initiative begun by Patrick three years ago. Veyli and Josh, both 14 and eighth-graders, were among more than 300 eighth-graders from the state’s 351 communities who united to serve and celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Patrick began the day by hosting a Youth Town Meeting, before joining the young ambassadors for an afternoon of service at five nonprofit and educational organizations across Boston.

“It’s definitely the biggest service project we’ve ever worked on,” Josh said.

Veyli said she never heard of Project 351 until her history teacher, Christopher Cook, mentioned it to her and to Josh. Cook told them he was recommending them to represent their school and Haverhill.

“I was very excited to be chosen to take part in this,” Josh said.

“I feel it’s our responsibility to help others and to give back to our school and our community,” Veyli said.

Both students are on the high honor roll, they are both members of the National Junior Honor Society and Student Council, and they are on Nettle’s Academic Bowl team.

”Getting to compete against other schools is exciting,” Josh said. “It’s fun to be able to test our knowledge.”

Their participation in school activities doesn’t end there. Josh was named captain of his basketball team and Veyli is on the yearbook committee and is helping to plan her class yearbook. Both are interested in recycling. Each term, the school names a new Green Team of students whose job it is to promote recycling at Nettle, collect recyclable items each week and then place them in a recycling Dumpster. Josh was on the Green Team during the school’s last term, while Veyli is eager to be on the team the next term.

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