July 25, 2002 – The Daily News

SALISBURY — A group of students from Solstice Day School in Rowley spent a good part of their day Friday helping build a house for people they’ve never met.

The school offers a summer experiential education program centered around thematic courses such as hiking and survival to its high school-aged students. Just under a dozen of the alternative, therapeutic day school’s students spent Friday morning and afternoon doing some volunteers work on Essex County Habitat for Humanity’s Old County Road property.

Essex County Habitat for Humanity is building and filling three duplexes and a single-family home on Old County Road.

Three families live in one of the duplexes and the single-family unit, with four more families slated to move into another pair of duplexes currently under construction on the Institution for Savings-donated property.

Solstice Day School Dean of Students Barry Pellatt said his students had been helping to install a pipe in one of the foundations Friday morning, as well as working on drainage across the street from the housing complex and fixing a pair of broken wheelbarrows.

“The students really seem to enjoy working hard and giving back to the community and that has been great to see,” he said.

Rising senior Ryan Borge found himself leading the wheelbarrow repair job and said he was also catching up on his tool knowledge.

“I needed a little bit of a refresher, since I hadn’t used a ratchet in quite a while,” he said.

Students at the Solstice Day School spent last week focusing on service learning and made the trip to; Pavilion Beach for a beach cleanup in Ipswich on Monday; furniture moving at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Peabody on Tuesday; blueberry picking and vegetable planting at Maple Crest Farm in West Newbury on Wednesday; and also unloaded trucks at the Somebody Cares New England food pantry in Haverhill on Thursday.

Reading specialist Jamie Oddy said students worked well together all week.

“So many of our students have had a chance to shine this week because, school in the classroom can be difficult and this gives them a chance to get out here, move their bodies and feel useful. We have some really motivated kids who definitely want to keep this going, so we hope to incorporate this into our year, moving forward,” she said.

Rising junior Anneke Tapt said she felt good doing some volunteer work.

“This is a nice way to help the community and I am glad I am able to do it with my school,” she said.

Borge said he and his fellow students also got a chance to learn about what a gray tree frog was when one of the amphibians ended up hitching a ride on their van earlier in the week — a sight noticed by Pellat.

“He was with us from our school and out to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Peabody and then back with us,” Pellatt said.