Middle school students receive honor for community Web site | AspenTimes.com

Middle school students receive honor for community Web site

Eben Harrell
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A group of students from Aspen Middle School transformed part of the Aspen Recreation Center into a media room yesterday to announce that their hard work in the community is being recognized.

Peter Westcott’s sixth-grade class is the recipient of the 2003 National Philanthropy Day in Colorado Award for Outstanding Youth Group. The class received the award for its establishment of a Web site for nonprofit organizations.

The site, http://www.rfvolunteers.com, provides a forum where nonprofits can find potential volunteers by location, available hours and their interest. Currently, the Web site has 387 organizations and 25 to 30 volunteers registered, according to sixth-grader Max Zimet.

“We are pleased with the success of the Web site,” he said. “But we are currently running a campaign to double the number of volunteer postings in the next month.”

The class acts as the Web site board, and Web engineer Steve Wicks, who designed the site, has to report any changes to the class.

“Many visitors to the Web site are probably unaware that there is a sixth-grade class behind the curtain,” Wicks said.

The award includes a $1,000 grant, which the class will put toward its next project, a volunteer trip next April to Ignacio Allende, a small, impoverished town in Mexico.

The students hope to raise $10,000 for the trip, half of which will go to projects to help the town, including a mural at a local Mexican middle school.

Already the students have held a used book sale that raised $3,000 for the campaign.

“This is a very important trip for us, a chance to learn as well as be of help,” student Annie Parker said. “Each student has pledged to raise $200 to help.”

Westcott, a teacher for 22 years, said he tries “to create situations in which [my students] feel they are making a difference to society.

“Unfortunately with the increased pressures of CSAPs, community service is something that gets less and less attention.”

[Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com]

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