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Article Published November 20, 2018
Melillo Students Take in 1,100 Books for New Haven Reads
Nathan Hughart

For Honors Society students at Joseph Melillo Middle School (JMMS), the month of October was taken up by a book drive to benefit a New Haven non-profit organization.

New Haven Reads is a community book bank that allows residents to take out books. The organization also offers free one-on-one tutoring to kids.

Every month, the JMMS Honors Society undertakes a new community service project. In September, the students took in pet supplies to support dogs rescued by the East Haven Animal Shelter from North and South Carolina following Hurricane Florence. The group also raised $300 for the food pantry ahead of Thanksgiving.

The students themselves came up with the idea for a book drive, in part based on their own reading experiences.

“As kids are growing up, if they had books from when they were little, they don’t use them anymore,” said Rocco Lombardi, an 8th grade Honors Society member.

“Giving them away is better than throwing them away,” agreed Taya Ragaini, another 8th grader.

Katlynn Seipold, a co-advisor of the Honors Society, previously tutored for New Haven Reads. She said that kids’ books, like the books JMMS students have been receiving, are the most-needed category at the book bank.

Though the book drive officially ended in the beginning of November, the club is still receiving books and may continue to do so until Friday, Nov. 30, when the group will personally deliver the books to New Haven Reads.

“They weren’t able to come here to pick them up, so we booked a bus and we’re going to take the 41 kids there,” said Lauren Myers, a JMMS teacher and co-advisor of the Honors Society. “They’ll go on a tour, they’ll meet the staff, and get a little more educated.”

The students collected more than 1,100 texts, with books coming in from students and parents. They advertised the program with posters and in-school announcements.

“It was our third [project] this year, we’re already on to another one,” Myers said.

The group will move on to raise money for February’s upcoming Clothe the Children event with a program called “penny wars.” Schoolwide, JMMS students can collect pennies to earn points for their grade and larger coins to subtract points from other grades.

The Honors Society also has plans to continue its community service throughout the school year.

“It’s nice to work with that core group of kids that want to be there,” Myers said.

In addition to these projects, Honors Society students must maintain High Honors grades. They entered the program on their merit and the recommendations of their teachers.

“They’re role models for the rest of the school,” Seipold said.