Maspeth High School’s ‘Maspeth Making a Difference’ club encourages students to clean up community

Students clean up community in “Maspeth Making a Difference” club at Maspeth High School. (Photo courtesy of Jesse Pachter)

Maspeth High School is encouraging students to clean up their community with the new “Maspeth Making a Difference” club.

Jesse Pachter, Maspeth High Schools’ assistant principal and athletic director, and Dalia Avivi, a health and physical teacher as well as a coach for several of the school’s athletic teams, are spearheading the club.

“With everything going on we aren’t able to have our after school activities, and we’re a pretty active high school, and now the majority of our classes are remote,” said Pachter, adding that the school has more than 20 sports teams and more than 50 clubs. “I said, ‘I gotta give these kids something to do.'”

Photo courtesy of Jesse Pachter
Photo courtesy of Jesse Pachter

Pachter said they soon realized a community service club would do the trick. About 15 to 25 students gather twice a week for a few hours in order to pick up trash, remove graffiti and participate in park cleanups.

They’ve also partnered with local organizations and elected officials’ offices, including Juniper Park Civic Association for town and park cleanups, Our Lady of Hope for an upcoming holiday toy drive, and Assemblyman Brian Barnwell to assist in snow removal for seniors who live within the district.

Pachter said the community has welcomed them with open arms, especially because the city cut costs on sanitation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic budget.

“We’ve already had people come up to us and thank us,” said Pachter.

Photo courtesy of Jesse Pachter
Photo courtesy of Jesse Pachter

Pachter said it’s also a win-win for students, who will get community service hours for college and have a chance to socialize in person, which they haven’t been able to do much of since remote learning began.

Tatiana Roa, who is in the 11th grade, has joined every single one of Maspeth Making a Difference’s cleanups.

“Honestly, with everything that’s been going on with the pandemic, I felt this was a great way to give back,” she said. “We have spare time, we’re kids and everyone else is working. I think the least we can do is help improve our community.”

Roa lives in Middle Village and said it’s also refreshing to be outside and meeting fellow students she might not have gotten the chance to interact with in class.

“We’re behind computers all day,” said Roa. “This is a moment to take a breather and enjoy the outside. It’s a good way to rest from studying online.”