5 Questions With Deborah Casagrande
Paul R. Baird Middle School, Ludlow, MA
Q: How long have you been “Purple?”
Baird became “Purple,” in the fall of 2014. After Ludlow CARES brought Chris to our school, I had a group of five students approach me about bringing THP’s Project Purple Initiative to our school and I agreed to become advisor. We started with 5 students three years ago and now have over 70 students who want to be part of the Project Purple Initiative in some way.
Q: What activities are you doing this year that you’re most excited about?
All the activities we sponsor are for the entire school community to participate in, and are thought up by students. I can’t pick just one, but here are a few that we have really enjoyed and are looking forward to!
- A group of 20 Project Purple students went to Chapin Street School (which are grades 2 &3), read a story, talked about making good choices, had students take the Red Ribbon Week pledge, and ate lunch with the elementary students
- We sponsored 2 school wide spirit week activities around being “purple.”
- We had an “I AM,” poster contest for our school.
- We had a drug facts week where we do a drug fact of the day and have a drug facts game for prizes during lunch.
- New this year we are doing a Dodgeball Tournament.
- We will be working with another club to bring a Community Color Run to Baird.
- We will be holding a Project Purple Initiative night during one of our local amateur soccer team’s games and holding our 3rd annual Project Purple Initiative 3 v 3 Soccer tournament in March.
Q: What advice do you have for other schools looking for ideas to bring to their school and communities?
Talk to the students, find out what are activities they would like to see done then work with the school and community to make it happen. The Project Purple Initiative at Baird is not only supported by the school, but by the Ludlow CARES coalition, our local Boys and Girls Club, and families.
Q: How has THP Project Purple Initiative changed your school and community?
I believe it has taken on more of a leadership role in our school. Our “club” has the most number of students wanting to be part of it in some way and we sponsor a variety of activities inside and outside of school hours for any students who wish to participate. The majority of adolescents want to be part of something important and worthwhile. When you provide a safe, student centered environment kids will respond and want to participate.
Q: Favorite piece of gear?
The students love their t-shirts. I was able to secure a small grant through the MTA to purchase t-shirts for all students in our club and to use as prizes for students participating in our activities. Ludlow CARES also purchased more for us this year due to the large number of student’s part of The Project Purple Initiative.