On July 24, members of Gorham High School Interact and several students who attended RYLA 2018 were our guests. WG Rotary Member Ethan Johnson introduced the students and their adviser Neile Nelson.  GHS Interact is currently an organization of over 100 students representing a mix of students across grade levels and other interests – athletes, scholars, actors, etc. They have reached this membership level in just two years thanks to the work of Aaron Farr, Immediate Past President of two years, other officers and directors of Interact, and Mrs. Nelson. Aaron was inspired to form the club during his attendance at RYLA in 2016.
Immediate Past President Aaron Farr
Aaron provided a recap of the past year when membership grew from about 43 at end of school year 2017 to about 110 at end of school year 2018. During the 2017-2018 school year the club held or participated in 13 events, 5 more than in the previous year. They also contributed 885 volunteer hours to the community. Their largest event was the American Cancer Society Relay for Life held at the GHS track during which 55 members participated and raised nearly $4000. As a club fundraiser, they sold tee-shirts with the slogan “Just a Kid from Gorham”. Half of the proceeds from this fundraiser were donated to the newly started backpack hunger prevention program at the elementary school level. The other half was retained in their treasury to support club activities.
The GHS Interact Club volunteered multiple Saturdays for Habitat for Humanity at their Scarborough site. Four officers attended Rotary UN Day in New York City and were impressed by what they saw there. Their big donation drive this year collected school supplies for children in Guatemala - the students decorated and distributed collection boxes around Gorham schools and in local community locations. They also did yard clean-up for elderly residents and wrote holiday letters to Maine Medical Center patients.
An interesting event held this year was their participation in the Happy Healthy Gorham Initiative. Over a hundred students from all high school levels participated in a yoga session held on the GHS athletic field.  This event was covered by local TV and newspaper and a film produced by the school can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYeiCbwImCI  .
RYLA Participants Abby O'Brien, Ryan Reno,
Luke LaMontagne and Ryan Farr
Four students who attended RYLA also spoke. They thanked our club for sponsoring students to this “life changing” program. They spoke of meeting like-minded students from other schools and being encouraged to move outside their comfort zones as they participated in the group activities.
2018-2019 Officers
Sean Pocock, Grace Terry, Sarah Walker
Next, the 2018 officers were introduced. President Sarah Walker, Secretary Grace Terry, and 12th Grade Director Sean Pocock were present. VP Sarah Stevens, Treasurer Carson Battaglia,  and 10th an 11th Grade Directors Adele Nadeau and Jillian Nichols were not able to join us.
Finally, Neile said a few words. She thanked WG Rotary for sponsoring the GHS Interact Club. She explained that while she is the adviser - “the adult” - it is the students who plan and run the club and all of their projects. The club is about developing leadership skills and the students have done just that. Finally, she singled out Aaron as someone who “gets stuff done”.  She mentioned that he will be attending Yale in the fall and expects him to contribute there as he has done at GHS.
Before leaving, the students all signed a children's book for the Baxter Library.
L-R: Luke LaMontagne, Abby O'Brien, Ryan Farr, Neile Nelson,
Ryan Reno, Aaron Farr, Sean Pocock,Sarah Walker, Grace Terry
Ethan Johnson