Giving more than 120 Granby sixth graders a chance to dance, play games, compete in contests, socialize, eat and have a good time all around at this year's Monster Mash event, the Granby Youth Action Council (YAC) also raised more than $1,000 for its two scholarships and collected more than 100 items for Granby's town food bank Friday night.
The YAC (comprised of 16 members, four students from each of Granby Memorial High School's four grades), planned, organized and executed the event with help from Granby Youth Services Bureau director AnneMarie Heller Cox and YAC director Brita Gotberg.
"They set it up, they do the shopping, they do the t-shirts and fliers, they do everything," Gotberg said, noting that each one of the YAC members committed an entire Friday evening as well as plenty of preparation time to the event. "Our mission is to make Granby a better place for its youth. It all comes from the kids."
The dances are part of YAC's repertoire of events and fundraisers aimed at engaging and connecting young residents in town. Granby's senior center and youth services bureau building held about two-thirds of the town's entire sixth-grade population, all having fun while contributing to worthwhile causes, and was roundly deemed a success.
"It was a blast," said YAC member R.J. Mooney, a ninth-grade student at Granby Memorial High School (GMHS).
"The majority of kids brought one or more items [to donate to the food bank]," Gotberg said.
In 2005, Granby sixth-grade students were moved from the town middle school to the Kelly Lane and Wells Road schools. Those sixth graders were therefore no longer able to attend school dances held at the middle school, fun social activities that also foster a sense of community and personal growth.
Since 2006, YAC has hosted two sixth-grade dances each year, along with other events aimed at bringing together Granby youth in a fun, positive fashion.
"This fills a need," Gotberg said.
YAC brings together high schoolers from a wide-cross section of the student body that often have official and unofficial leadership roles. Members include athletes, fine arts students, student government leaders and kids that are simply interested in helping others and promoting good causes. That mix of students, providing input from a variety of perspectives, ensures that everyone who attends YAC events enjoys themselves.
"We make it a point to make sure we get kids from all different groups," Gotberg said. "We want to make sure people have a fun time."
"They're an awesome group," Heller Cox said. "They've come together so well."
Sam Kuhnly, a ninth-grade student at GMHS, said he joined YAC because he can have fun while helping other students and contributing to a positive, constructive organization.
"It's a good way to get in your community service and help out the town," he said.
The members of the 2012-2013 Granby Youth Action Council are:
- Hanna Crose
- Lily Holm
- RJ Mooney
- Sam Kuhnly
- Kevin Bates
- Melanie Nash
- Kaitlyn Goodridge
- Peter Marzo
- Curt Field
- James Rice
- Jessie Sweeney
- Stella Courtchmere
- Mia Olsen
- Meredith Hauser
- Peter Brodeur
- Garret Salazar