Meet Project 351 Ambassador for 2020 Sophie Saquet

Feb 13, 2020 by

Published February 13, 2020

By JILLIAN STRING

PROJECT 351 Ambassador Sophie Saquet plans to team up with last year’s ambassador, Taleen Toby, to conduct a clothing drive to benefit Cradles to Crayons. (Jillian String Photo)

NORTH READING — Sophie Saquet, an eighth-grade student at North Reading Middle School (NRMS), was chosen as the new Project 351 Ambassador and represented the town at the annual Launch Day on January 18.

“Doing little things every day, just being nicer, actually pays off,” Saquet said. “When I realized that I was chosen (as ambassador) I was like, ‘Oh wow!’”

Founded in 2011 by then-Governor Deval Patrick, Project 351 unites eighth-grade students from each of the commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns in a day of service, seeking to develop a rising generation of “community-first” leaders.

Launch Day, convened by Governor Charlie Baker, served to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the holiday held as a tribute to the slain civil rights leader.

According to Saquet, local ambassadors boarded a bus at Market Basket in Woburn and traveled to Faneuil Hall in Boston where they were organized into service groups.

“Each bus had a bus captain to help just get people to be friendlier and talk to each other,” she recalled. The bus captain also “brought three boxes of doughnuts and that made everybody smile.”

She was part of the Josh Chalmers group. Chalmers is the co-author of the book, “Change the World Before Bedtime.”

Chalmers “introduced himself and talked about how his book was supposed to impact people,” Saquet said. “He gave every one of us a book signed (by him).”

The groups listened to various speakers, including Governor Baker, Massachusetts First Lady Lauren Baker, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross, and New England Patriots Captain Devin McCourty.

“It was really moving,” Saquet said of the presentation.

During Launch Day each group also participated in a service project. Saquet stated that her group went to UMASS Boston where they made over 30,000 meals through Meals of Hope for three local food banks.

“We made kits for soup for people that couldn’t afford food,” she said

Spring service project

In keep with the “community-first” leadership goals of the program, all Project 351 Ambassadors were encouraged to create a service project this spring that will benefit Cradles to Crayons, a Boston-based nonprofit that combats childhood poverty by providing children from birth to age 12 with essential items needed at home, at school, and at play.

Saquet stated that she and 2019 Ambassador Taleen Toby are planning a clothing drive together, although they have not decided upon the exact dates at this time.

“That’s awesome,” NRMS Principal Cathy O’Connell said upon learning of the girls’ plans. “That’s the first time that’s happened. I’m so excited.”

Student ambassadors to Project 351 must exhibit an exemplary ethic of service and embody the values of kindness, compassion, humility, and gratitude. At NRMS, each grade 8 team nominated a student whom they felt exemplified these criteria. The staff then voted to name Saquet as the 2020 ambassador.

O’Connell said Saquet “is an extremely compassionate, stand-up kind of person to do the right thing without being told, and that’s pretty special.”

In addition to being a Project 351 Ambassador, she enjoys playing guitar, ukulele, and piano. She is a member of the Student Council as well as the chorus, and recently performed in the school musical “Rock of Ages.”

Saquet is the daughter of Kristine Harris of Mt. Vernon Street and Chris Saquet of Stow.

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