Stevens High School senior is Claremont Chamber's "Model Youth of the Year"
By BILL CHAISSON
CLAREMONT — Madeline Ferland is a senior at Stevens High School and active in Key Club, the National Honor Society, and has also worked with Habitat for Humanity. On Friday night she received an award on the Claremont Opera House stage and was recognized as the “Model Youth of the Year” by the Greater Claremont Chamber of Commerce.
Ferland’s father Derek, a Claremont native, is the county manager of Sullivan County and retired from the U.S. Air Force in December 2016. His daughter and her siblings therefore grew up in several different places. They moved to Claremont from Lakenheath in Suffolk, England where Ferland had been stationed for the last year and a half.
Claremont was not entirely foreign territory; Ferland has been visiting her grandparents each summer through her childhood. It may have been more of an adjustment for her mother Dana, who is from Appleton, Wisconsin.
While they had a National Honor Society chapter at the base school in England, they didn’t have Key Club, which is the high school division of the Kiwanis Club. Instead Ferland did community service as part of her participation in Junior ROTC. When she transferred to Stevens in her sophomore year, she joined Key Club as a way to continue community service and was pleased to find out that her English hours of service transferred to the U.S. As a senior, Ferland is serving as president of the chapter.
The Stevens High Key Club has taken on a succession of fundraising projects. Last Halloween a group of students went door-to-door collecting donations to fund maternal neonatal tetanus shots. The money was sent on to the national Key Club.
Ferland said that Daniel Decker, a history teacher at Stevens and the Key Club advisor, manages the projects for the students, many of which are national project in which the local chapters take part.
However, the Claremont students also engage in local work. For example, they raise money leading up to Thanksgiving, purchase turkeys at Hannaford’s supermarket and deliver them to the Claremont Soup Kitchen.
“I’d say being a member of the honor society launched me into Key Club,” Ferland said. “I like community service; I like the idea of giving back.”
She finds the fundraising to be both rewarding and humbling. “You find out how good a person you can be,” Ferland said. “It is from helping others that you can learn leadership skills.”
Leadership, she felt, is very much about guiding other people in a good direction, about listening, and about being encouraging to others.
It is also apparently about acting on your own initiative. Ferland got together a team of six Stevens students and decided to get involved with Habitat for Humanity this past fall.
“We repaired the storm windows on an elderly couple’s house,” she said. “It was a day’s work and we got to learn how to use power tools, which was pretty cool.”
Although it might not sound like it, Ferland does have leisure time. A self-professed “book nerd,” she spends many of her afternoons reading, although she did confess to looking forward to going up to Ragged Mountain soon to do some snowboarding.
Like many high school seniors, she is now in the midst of making a decision about where she would like to go to college.
Ferland has already been accepted to her first choice, Norwich University, just across the river in Northfield, Vermont. While Norwich is the oldest military college in the country, they also have civilian majors.
The high school senior had been thinking of following in her father’s footsteps into the armed services, but she has recently decided to “take the civilian route.” She has not decided her major, but is interested in studying criminology or criminal justice at Norwich.