By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY – Students at the Amesbury Academy sometimes get a bad rap, but a group of students with a passion for public service have helped make Amesbury a better place over the past year by growing the school’s upstart Interact Club into one of the most popular organizations on campus.
Interact is a service club for middle school and high school students that has been hosted by Rotary International for over 50 years. Each club is sponsored by an individual Rotary chapter, and the clubs themselves are self-governing, self-supporting and vary widely in size.
Although Interact has had a presence at Amesbury High School for a number of years, the Amesbury Academy’s club was founded just last April by a group of students looking to give back to the community, and now its membership comprises over 10 percent of the student population.
“It was at the end of last year that we got together and said, ‘Hey, let’s give this a shot,’” said Bethany Noseworthy, a school guidance counselor and one of the club’s staff advisers.
The club was up and running within a matter of weeks, and before the school year was up the group was organizing its first fundraiser, a mini golf event to raise money for a defibrillator for Our Neighbors’ Table.
“There was a good turnout and they put in a lot of effort, extra hours outside of school to make sure that it happened,” Noseworthy said. “Summer meetings, selling tickets, anything that we asked of them, they did.”
Under the leadership of club president Jacob Berman, secretary Michael Reslewic and Rotary Club adviser Jack Christian, the club successfully raised the money to buy Our Neighbors’ Table its AED unit. Over this past school year the club has worked to help the community in any small way it could.
“The Rotary motto is service above self,” Christian said. “That’s not directly what we say to the students when we talk to them, but that’s implied, that there are other people who need our help, even if it’s just something small.”
Some of the other projects the club embarked on included a fundraiser at the Captain’s Corner in Salisbury and a leaf-raking day in the fall.
“I like how we’ve gotten to meet so many important people in town,” Berman said. “We’ve spoken to a lot of the people down at Our Neighbors’ Table and we’ve gotten to work with a great group of people down at the Captain’s Corner also. It’s nice to meet people that you wouldn’t meet on an everyday basis.”
Jesse Reyes, a sophomore who will be among the club’s leaders next year, said it was rewarding to have the chance to help make Amesbury a better place.
“I think it’s good that we get to help give back, to help other people beside ourselves and to be selfless,” Reyes said.
Looking ahead, the club is hoping to participate in the upcoming Amesbury Relay for Life to honor Brad Ford, a local educational stalwart who passed away last week after a long battle with cancer.
Ford was one of the charter members of the Amesbury Academy’s board of directors and also a major supporter of Interact. Reslewic said most of the club members were close to him, and Christian said his hope is that the Interact Clubs at the middle school and high school will be able to team up with the Academy’s club to form a relay team.
“The thing to do would be to take the banner, rig it up on a pole and have everybody walk around with it,” Christian said. “That would be kind of cool.”
Beyond that, the next step for the club will be capitalizing on a great first year by expanding membership further next year, all while a new leadership team takes over for Berman, Reslewic and senior Paul Klein, who will be graduating this year.
“They set the bar fairly high for them and I think it’s going to be really important that we follow suit,” Noseworthy said. “But having these two taking the reins knowing what we’re doing is really important for the next group that’s going to be coming in.”