SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass. — This Saturday, Trottier Middle School eighth-grader Brendan Foley will join students from every city and town in Massachusetts for an annual day of service that is part of Gov. Deval Patrick's Project 351.
Project 351 is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes the values of compassion, commitment, humility, kindness and generosity of spirit. Patrick founded the program after his second inauguration in 2010 to honor the legacy of civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Every year, each city and town in Massachusetts nominates one eighth-grader to participate in the program, which is held in Boston on Jan. 26.
"I'm honored," Foley said. "I think it's an honor to be thought of as a leader. I didn't expect it." He is also looking forward to one part of the event. "I'm excited to meet the governor."
Foley's willingness to work with others earned him the nomination, Trottier Middle School Principal Keith Lavoie said.
"He'd always be willing to work with students who weren't as strong," Lavoie said.
Every week after school, Foley participates in an informal program in which eighth-graders help sixth-graders improve their organizational skills. The younger students take the lessons seriously when they are taught by peers rather than by teachers, Lavoie said.
Foley, who loves reading and history, has also earned praise from his teachers for his willingness to take the lead during group work.
"Teachers raved about him. For multiple classroom teachers to rave about a student doesn't happen too often," Lavoie said. "I said, 'Listen, we can't let him go unnoticed for his hard work.'"