LEICESTER, Mass. — Leicester Middle School student Brandon Clay will join Gov. Deval Patrick and hundreds of eighth-graders — one from each of the 351 towns and cities across the state — for the annual launch of a day of community service in Boston on Saturday, Jan. 26.
Launched during Patrick’s inaugural in 2010, Project 351 is dedicated to celebrating youth leadership and inspiring the ethic of community service.
After attending a Youth Town Meeting, students will embark on a day of service at five nonprofit and educational organizations across Boston. Afterward, students will visit the State House to reflect on the day and celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
"It's a huge honor," said Brandon. There are "351 kids, and I'm representing the town of Leicester. It's crazy, because there are so many nice people, not only in the grade but in the whole school."
A standout student at Leicester Middle School, Brandon was nominated by the faculty to represent his school.
"Brandon is a day-to-day volunteer in the school, and teachers all speak highly of him," principal Jennifer Sauter said.
In addition to being a peer leader and student council member, Brandon also volunteered to DJ at three of the school's dances.
"In my personal life, I feel good in my heart that I can help other students," said Brandon. "Peer leadership and student council really showed me what I can do to help others."
Outside of school, Brandon has become a mentor for a younger student whose mother died. "We've been great friends since third grade," he said.
"He's been a mentor and a buddy for him in school as well as out," Sauter said of Brandon's friendship with the younger student. "It's one of those good connections that doesn't generally happen in middle school, because kids tend to be more focused on friendship groups."
In fact, one aspect of what sealed the deal in selecting Brandon is the way he always puts other kids first, Sauter said.
"That's what we want to see in our leadership group, whether it's an individual student or by DJing — where he pretty much works the dance for nothing — he does things very selflessly," she said. "He supports the school and he supports others, and it seemed right to recognize him in this way."