ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Maura Cronin, Principal Kevin Andrews, Brian McKinon, and Jamie Godwin are pictured during the “You are Here” plaque exchange.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
NAHANT — A group of Nahant middle-schoolers returned to the Johnson Elementary School to present a class gift and some advice for the younger children.
The seventh-graders, who attend Swampscott Middle School, presented a plaque to an excited group of students on the front steps of their former elementary school. The plaque depicts a map of Nahant with a star that says “you are here.”
Maddie Hudson said the purpose of the gift is to remind the elementary school students to take what they learn at the Johnson School with them when they seek education outside of their hometown.
“The code of conduct showed us how to be good when we went to middle school,” Hudson said. “This will remind the younger kids to bring it with them.”
The school’s code of conduct is to be respectful, kind, honest, productive and always do your best.
Principal Kevin Andrews said the plaque also speaks to the school’s place-based approach to learning.
“We are working to identify and increase the lessons that take advantage of the many natural and civic resources that Nahant offers in order to create lessons that students can connect and engage with,” Andrews said.
While the school officially adopted the approach this year, teachers have been using the town’s resources for lessons for years, he said.
In September, the school’s sixth-graders completed the first service learning project, decorating the front of the building for the fall season. They planted and arranged mums, decorative cabbages, millet and pumpkins donated by the Johnson School Parent Teacher Organization.
Lessons have continued throughout the year involving the community garden. The school also works closely with the Northeastern University Marine Science Center to use the resources available for science and technology programs.
The gift was accepted by school council president Ronan Locke. School Committee member Lori Ballantine said the presentation is just one of Nahant’s longstanding rituals.
“It’s a longstanding tradition that Nahant students present a gift to the school every year,” she said.
The students work hard fundraising for their class throughout the year with car washes and sales, she said. Money goes toward class expenses, including their sixth grade play. At the end of the year, the remaining funds are used to purchase a class gift.
“The younger kids really love seeing them come back,” Ballantine said.
Each incoming kindergartner is also assigned a sixth grade buddy when they start school. When the older buddy is graduating from high school, they come back for the then-sixth-grader’s moving on ceremony.
“Our traditions go full circle,” she said.
Andrews said the plaque will be installed on the railing outside the entrance to the school so that when people leave, they can stand in front of it and also enjoy the distant views of the ocean.
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.