Roxbury's Youngest Rotarians Define Being 'Awesome'

Franklin School Early Act Club kids and Roxbury Rotary President Steve Alford Credits: Gary Ribe

ROXBURY, NJ – Be careful Roxbury police. Your status as “Roxbury’s Finest” might be in jeopardy.

Anybody who attended Thursday’s meeting of the Franklin Elementary School Early Act Club would agree: The fourth-graders in the organization are pretty fine too.

Early Act is a Rotary Club offshoot for youngsters that serves as a precursor to Rotary’s Interact Club for high schoolers. Thursday’s gathering was this year’s installment of an annual session that takes place in early June. 

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The Early Act kids “host” the adult Rotarians at a formal luncheon, and they go through many of the same rituals you’ll find at big person Rotary meeting including a recital of the Rotary Four-Way Test: "Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?"

Packed into the upstairs dining room at La Strada Ristorante, many dressed in business-appropriate fashion, the 49 Franklin pupils on Thursday reported their accomplishments and presented their Roxbury Rotary Club sponsors with a check for $586, money they raised to help Rotary’s fight to eradicate polio.

“This is our favorite meeting of the year,” said a beaming Roxbury Rotary Club President Steven Alford as the children listened politely (for the most part). “We are completely impressed and blown away by you guys.”

Alford assured the youngsters that their maturity, ambition, selflessness and good behavior is likely to bode well for them as they grow up. “When I look out at you guys, I just sit here and wonder,” he said. “I just kind of look out at your faces and wonder where are you guys going to be in 10 years or 20 years? What are you going to be doing?”

Pointing to a table occupied by some Roxbury High School Interact Club members, Alford predicted bright futures. “I look at my Interactors over there, who I’ve known for a long time, and I know that some of them are going off to college - and they’re going to end up doing really cool things and great things when they come out - and I hope you guys do too.”

The Franklin School Early Act Club was the “very first chartered (Early Act) club in the country,” said Alford in an interview. He credited its founding to former Franklin School teacher Carol Pellet who retired in 2014. The club is now mentored by Russell Redmond, a physical education instrurctor at the school, said Alford.

One of the club’s activities is maintaining a garden at the school. Last year, it grew tomatoes, beans, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce and zucchini and then donated the produce to Roxbury Social Services.

Additionally, the club collected socks and underwear for the needy, sent holiday letters to senior citizens and made them cookies for their holiday luncheon, raised $939 to give to the Helping a Hero program for veterans and made blankets that were given to a children’s hospital.

“How is it possible to be that awesome?” asked Alford at the luncheon. “I would like somebody to answer that.”

Among the answers he received from Roxbury’s finest kids: “Do your best to be awesome” and “Be confident in yourself.”

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