On Thursday, March 15th two Wilmington Middle School students enjoyed the evening of a lifetime when both were awarded the “Make a Difference Award” at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
The award, which is given annually, recognizes approximately 100 students across Massachusetts in grades 6–8 who have “made a difference in their communities through service projects.”
Teachers, principals and community leaders across the state are encouraged to nominate students who “have distinguished themselves through their service work.”
Here in Wilmington two young women, Tina Conley and Nupur Neogi have more than made a difference. Nominated by Wilmington Middle School Principal, Christine McMenimen, these two students have worked tirelessly to make a difference here, in their own community, as well as abroad.
Almost immediately, WMS student Tina Conley realized the impact that his death was having on the local community. Determined to memorialize a much loved teacher, Conley set up a Facebook Page, R.I.P. Mr. Chern. Suddenly, thanks to Tina, students and faculty alike had a place to join together, share memories and offer their condolences to the Chernovetz family.
“Tina is a pretty remarkable young lady," WMS guidance counselor Kelly LaRoche explained. "She saw the need to do something to pull everything together and that is exactly what she did.”
Months later, as part of a tournament of champions, in Chernovetz honor, Tina was able speak to and present a plaque to the late teacher’s family.
“Tina was eloquent and poised,” recalled LaRoche. “It would have been hard enough for an adult to find the right words but she was amazing. I can’t say enough about her and her character.”
While Tina Conley was honored for her work here in Wilmington, Nupur Neogi received her award for her work to make a difference at The Center for Old in Need, a non-profit based in Kolkata, India.
Founded in 2005, “COiN is dedicated to health promotion, health maintenance and disease prevention among the elderly population.”
With 77 million elderly people living in India and 63% of those living below or just above the poverty line, according to this group's website, caring for the elderly population is an enormous task.
Nupur has firsthand knowledge of the magnitude of the task and, unlike most students who spend their vacation relaxing, Nupur chooses instead to volunteer alongside her grandfather, a member of COiN’s medical team.
“Not a lot of kids would take time out of their family vacation to volunteer,” said LaRoche. “Nupur is truly going to flourish in life.”
Much like Tina Conley, Nupur Neogi has found a way to prove that middle school students truly are capable of making a huge difference.
“You just don’t hear enough about the good things that kids in this age group are doing,” said LaRoche. “It was just unbelievable to sit and hear the incredible things that middle school students are doing.”
As for the future, both young ladies, according to LaRoche, “are going to do great things.”