By Karina Shepard
DRACUT -- Over the last few weeks, Dracut High School, led by its Student Council, has been coming together to support the best of causes.
Students this year wanted to make a difference in the lives of people close to home.
Six-year-old Dracut native Joey Middlemiss died in his home recently of a rare heart condition. On Jan. 23, DHS students and staff members participated in "One Minute for Change," a schoolwide charity event during which they emptied their pockets of any spare change for one minute to donate to Joey's family.
Students and staff raised $900 for the Middlemisses.
The Student Council also brought the "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign to the school. "Spread the Word to End the Word" urges people of all ages to stop using words that are derogatory toward the mentally handicapped.
From Jan. 21-24, students could make a pledge to "end the word" during all three lunch periods. Students then signed a banner to acknowledge their pledge.
The Student Council also organized a food drive from Jan. 13-24 to help those in need. Food was collected each day and sent to the office. Cans, boxes and bags of nonperishables were put in Principal Richard Manley's office.
If the students managed to fill the whole room, he'd be forced to work in the hallway, which served as a major incentive. In the end, students covered up the entire floor of the principal's office with 1,258 food items that were donated to the Dracut Food Pantry.
On Sunday, Jan. 26, 14 members of the Student Council participated in the Polar Plunge at Yirrell Beach in Winthrop to raise money for the Massachusetts Special Olympics. Students collected pledges in the days before taking the plunge.
Dracut students Kaylie Golding, Jamie Cormier, Sawyer D'Amato, Alaina Gertz, Evan Silva, Dillon Collins, Jen O'Leary, Nicole Zwicker and Holly Niedzwieki raised the most money out of all schools in attendance -- $555.
In February, DECA and the Class of 2014 are picking up where the Student Council left off. In the weeks leading up to their highly anticipated fashion show, they collected new and gently used clothing for Catie's Closet, another charity with local ties. The fashion show is planned for Thursday, from 7 to 9 p.m., at Lakeview Junior High School, where students will model the donations to Catie's Closet during the first half, then prom fashions during the second half.
The author is a senior at Dracut High School.