Merrimack Cares initiative gaining ground at MHS

This year, Merrimack High School students and administrators partnered to start a service initiative called Merrimack Cares.

The idea for the organization, which is not a typical club, originated in the mind of Principal Kenneth Johnson. His goal, he told the students involved, is for Merrimack Cares to establish a presence in the school, as well as in the community, as a group that promotes service learning.

This term may be new to some people, as it was to some of the students in Merrimack Cares this year. But through weekly meetings, the students explored the concept of service learning and challenged themselves to make it the group’s focus.

Service learning is more than traditional community service, because it is service paired with instruction and reflection. By adding these academic elements, the service becomes more enriching and encourages students to understand the impact that their work may have on others.

The group started small, meeting for the first time in the fall with a few advisors and several students who were already actively involved in groups at MHS. Since then, it has grown – if not in physical size, then certainly by expanding its realm of influence and forging important connections.

Its first few projects included holding a food drive for the New Hampshire Food Bank and cleaning up the student courtyards to prepare them for renovations that the group plans to continue later in the spring. Merrimack Cares also hosted a family night that included trivia for adults and several activities for children of all ages.

This most recent event served as a fundraiser for Merrimack Cares’ biggest project thus far – its members are trying to raise money to sponsor an Honor Flight for 10 World War II veterans from New Hampshire. On an Honor Flight, the veterans can visit the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., at no cost of their own. Some have yet to visit the memorial, and Merrimack Cares hopes to honor them by sponsoring a flight.

Merrimack Cares has had a successful year thus far and is on track to grow next year, as well. Some of its long-term goals include establishing opportunities for scholarships and possibly internships for Merrimack students as it continues to expand its involvement in the community and connect with more service organizations.

For more information about Merrimack Cares, and particularly the Honor Flight fundraiser, visit

Emily Duval is a senior at Merrimack High School.