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NSJHS Builders Club focuses on connecting students to community, each other

The North Syracuse Junior High School Builders Club, which consists of more than 100 members, has been nominated for a Spirit of Caring Award by the United Way.

The North Syracuse Junior High School Builders Club, which consists of more than 100 members, has been nominated for a Spirit of Caring Award by the United Way.

— For many school clubs, getting cut from the district’s budget means the end of the road.

For the Builders Club at North Syracuse Junior High School, it just meant organizers had to get creative.

“Most people, once your organization is cut, it’s cut,” said social studies teacher Chris Leahey, the club’s co-advisor. But we think it’s an important thing, particularly for those kids who don’t have a lot of connections at school. So we kept it going… It’s something that we value — the school values it, the administration values it. Even if the money’s not there, I think it’s a valuable thing and something worth keeping.”

The main purpose of Builders Club is to help students build connections on three levels — within the school between students, within the North Syracuse Central School District and in the Central New York Community as a whole.

“Builders Club is an effort to get all kinds of students involved in building all kinds of connections between the school and community, get out to the public and just kind of renew the civic mission of schools,” Leahey said. “It’s kind of unique because we have open membership. People just kind of come and go throughout the year. Some students stay all year, and some students come in the fall, but they play a spring sport, or the other way around. And we also try to do three levels. We’re a club that, if you want to come and help out, you can come. It’s kind of a non-hierarchical, non-cliquey, just kids that want to come together and do positive things. If you came to a meeting, you would see some kids that look like the kinds of students that don’t necessarily join clubs or get picked to be on a sports team.”

In order to accomplish the club’s mission, co-advisors Leahey and Kathy Carr, also a social studies teacher, do activities within the building as well as throughout Central New York, from helping out with the North Syracuse Christmas tree lighting to dropping off toys at the Salvation Army for Toys for Tots to cleaning up the community for Earth Day. That’s why the lack of funds has made things difficult.

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