NMS Student Creates '180 Ways That Love Wins At School' List For The Ana Grace Project
When current Newtown Middle School seventh grader Jeremy Voegeli was thinking about what service project he could complete before his October Bar Mitzvah, he remembered a presentation from when he was in fifth grade. That memory led to him creating a list of "180 Ways That Love Wins At School," for the Ana Grace Project.anagraceproject.orgis selling the posters for $1 and the cost of shipping online on Etsy, by searching for "AGPLoveWins."
Nelba Mérquez-Greene and her husband Jimmy Greene were visiting their son's class that year in honor of their daughter Ana's birthday. Ms Mérquez-Greene said it had become a tradition to visit their son's class each year.
"He wants to remember her alive, and he wants others to remember her alive," said Ms Mérquez-Greene. She said that year, the couple spoke about the Ana Grace Project, founded in memory of Ana Grace Mérquez-Greene, a victim on 12/14.
, is to promote "love, community, and connection for every child and family through three lead initiatives: partner schools, professional development, and music [and] arts."The Ana Grace Project's mission, according to its website,
"I thought that would be a really good place to get an idea for a project," said Jeremy. He particularly remembers cookies and stories and pictures of Ana shared at the presentation.
Jeremy's mother, Bonnie Voegeli, recalled as a fifth grader, how Jeremy was impacted after hearing the presentation.
"That made him decide that was the project that he wanted to support for his community service project for his Bar Mitzvah," said Ms Voegeli, who reached out to Ms Mérquez-Greene.
When describing how she came up with idea for Jeremy to create the list, Ms Mérquez-Greene said, "We are always thinking of practical tools for teachers in the classroom... It kind of spiraled from there."
Jeremy took to the idea right away, Ms Mérquez-Greene remembers.
"She said we need a list of 180 Ways That Love Wins At School, one for every day of the school year," said Jeremy. "I said, 'Okay. I think I can do that.'"
Jeremy said he began by focusing on five categories for the 180 Ways That Love Wins At School. Those categories were "be kind, have empathy, be helpful, take care of yourself, [and] have fun!"
"We came up with... ways to connect students with other students, adults meaning like teachers and their parents, and their community," Jeremy said.
Every night Jeremy said he worked to write new additions for the list. His family - his mom, his father Henry, and younger brothers Jason and Cody - helped him, too, and he used inspiration from his own life. Once in sixth grade, Jeremy said he brought in salsa and a friend of his brought chips.
That experience prompted "177. Ask a friend to bring the salsa, while you bring the corn chips!"
"Then one night we stayed up really late, because we were really close, and we just got through the whole thing," Jeremy said.
When the list was finalized, Jeremy said he used a Photoshop program to create a color-coordinated poster, and he made a regular list to handout to educators.
Ms Voegeli said she is "so excited to help spread the mission of the Ana Grace Project." As a psychologist and the chair of special services at Brookfield High School, Ms Voegeli said she has seen first hand the importance of work like what the Ana Grace Project is doing.
"I'm just really proud of Jeremy for taking this on, and hopefully kids will read his poster," said Ms Voegeli.
The end result is "gorgeous," Ms Mérquez-Greene said, who added that David Stowe of Dot Generation printed the posters at a reduced rate. The Ana Grace Project, she said,
For a planned November Love Wins professional development event for 1,300 educators in New Britain, Ms Mérquez-Greene said Jeremy's poster will be shared with each of the participants as a "reminder of how love wins at schools thanks to Jeremy."
Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, said Jeremy spent quality time on the project and he deserves recognition for his efforts.
"It was done to detail. It was really thoughtful in the way it was put together," said Dr Erardi.
Dr Erardi also said he would like to have the poster on view at the district's central office.
"I think that what I believe the Ana Grace Project represents and what I believe he tried to connect with his thinking was just a wonderful fit," said Dr Erardi.
Ms Mérquez-Greene said she was touched by how Jeremy reached out to do a project for a little girl he never met. Jeremy's act, Ms Mérquez-Greene said, is a reminder that he remembers Ana, and he honors the projects the Ana Grace Project is accomplishing.
"I think it is a pretty fantastic thing," said Ms Mérquez-Greene, adding that the Jeremy's project allows Ana to be remembered in a way that is meaningful to them as her parents.
Jeremy's 180 Ways That Love Wins At School ranges from "1. If someone is inconsiderate, think about what they might be going through at the time" to "180. Smile!"