Two new Higgins Middle School students will take on the mantle as Peabody's ambassadors among more than 300 fellow eighth-graders next year in a statewide leadership and service program.
The kickoff for Project 351 will be at the State House in January. Students represent the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts throughout the year with numerous local leadership and service opportunities, such as clothing and food drives.
Jacob Gustin and Ava Marotta will serve as Peabody's ambassadors in the service program with Gov. Deval Patrick and both were nominated by Higgins Principal Todd Bucey.
Bucey and Schools Superintendent Joe Mastrocola praised both students for their "exemplary ethic of service and values of kindness, compassion, humility and generosity of spirit" in an announcement to the School Committee.
They further described Jacob and Ava as role models for all students and instrumental already in establishing initiatives that benefit the entire Higgins community. Both students are peer mentors, members of the Student Advisory Board and candidates for the National Junior Honor Society.
Patrick, who launched the program back in 2010, has said Project 351 is designed to inspire and challenge the next generation of civic and community leaders to give back and work toward lasting change in their communities.
Patrick usually hosts a morning Youth Town Meeting at the State House in January, before joining the young ambassadors for the afternoon at five nonprofit and educational organizations across Boston.The day's activities conclude back at the State House where students and Patrick reflect on the day and celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.