by Michele Collins
When Hudson Middle School teacher Gretchen Fritsch held her first meeting for the school’s new Builders Club last year, she had almost 50 students show up. Then, she said, she knew she had found a new way for middle-schoolers to get involved in service. Today, that club includes 75 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who are energized to help in their very own community.
The Builders Club, a program sponsored by Hudson Kiwanis, has a goal of building future leaders. It offers students a chance to do “good works” in their hometown. Following the Roberts Rules of Meeting, it also teaches students how to make a club successful.
So far, the Builders have cleaned up Hudson parks, helped at an Akron-area animal shelter and recently chalked the school’s sidewalks with inspiring messages to celebrate the Portrait of an Explorer Day at their school.
Fritsch said she truly enjoys being the club advisor because it allows her to show young students just what they are capable of doing.
“I think they realize after one of our work sessions that even at the age of 12, they can make a difference. They can have an impact – that is super powerful to learn,” she said.
While having 75 members in its inaugural semester is a great testament to the popularity of the Builders Club, Fritsch anticipates the group will grow even more this school year.
“I had a lot of seventh- and eighth-grade students tell me that they want to join but cannot attend the monthly meetings right now because of fall sports practices. But they will start attending as soon as they can,” she said. “I want the students to try all activities at our school, sports, clubs, everything.”
She also sees the value in the Builders Club as one of those activities that can bring students together after two years of pandemic disruption.
“We have a group meet-up on a weekend or after school, and they are able to do an activity with their peers,” she said. “Our eighth-graders especially have experienced a lot of changes during their middle school years, with online school, hybrid school and socially distanced events.”
Fritsch said the idea of helping others through philanthropic works is close to her own heart. She served as the vice president of her high school’s Key Club and also worked in philanthropy through her college sorority Chi Omega at Kent State University.
“I kind of got the community service bug in high school, and it has really been a part of my life ever since then,” she said.
She hopes to help the 11-to-13-year-old members of the Hudson Middle School Builders Club catching that “bug” even earlier. ∞
Featured Photo: Members of the Hudson Middle School Builders Club, a new community service extracurricular, chalk the walkway with positive messages for Explorer Day on Friday, Oct. 7.Photo submitted.