Face of the Week: Adam Powell of Franklin Middle SchoolTeam BCPS is made up of thousands of accomplished and interesting students, employees, and community supporters. “Face of the Week” introduces you to some of the people who make BCPS such an amazing mosaic of talent, caring, and commitment.
Sometimes, life teaches us, there are no fancy explanations for why people do what they do. Sometimes the answers are simple and direct and pure, and no further discovery is needed to understand a person’s motivation.
So it is with Adam Powell and his desire to do good. “I like doing community service because I love giving back to other people,” the Franklin Middle School Grade 8 student says without a lot of rumination or fuss. “People should know it can be a lot of fun, even if it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun sometimes.”
Adam’s reasons for volunteering may be straightforward and modest, as perhaps befits a 14-year-old boy. But his love of service led recently to regional recognition from the Kiwanis International clubs. At the beginning of the school year in 2016, Adam was named recipient of the organization’s district Leadership Award for his work, including with Project Clean Stream, the Soldiers Delight Trail Maintenance program, and the local Kiwanis Club pancake breakfast.
The work came through Adam’s involvement with the FMS Builders Club at Franklin Middle, where he is president this year. Started by math teacher Chris Sakers in 2010, the club is the middle school version of the Key Club in high school; both are affiliated with the Kiwanis International.
Sakers, who now teaches at Southwest Academy in Woodlawn, worked with Adam for two years at Franklin and remembers a conscientious, hard-working young man. “Adam Powell is the latest in a proud line of student leaders within the Builders Club,” he says. “I believe Adam is destined to achieve great things throughout the course of his life, as his opening chapter has already produced many accomplishments.”
Spreading his talents
Adam credits his mom, Joyce Powell, for encouraging his interest in volunteering. A special education teacher at Reisterstown Elementary School, Joyce Powell has supported her son’s volunteering for the Special Olympics, making blankets for hospital patients through Project Linus, and giving his time to lead nature hikes or work with children at the Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills. He also has spent time outside of school playing on Unified soccer teams in the fall, which include children with special needs as part of the countywide soccer clubs.
A longtime volunteer with Special Olympics, Joyce Powell remembers her son’s interest starting early. “When Adam was five months old, he started attending practices and events with me. Everyone helped look after him and as soon as he could walk, he started asking to ‘help,’” Powell says. “Adam just naturally started shadowing our coaches, and it has evolved over the years into him being one of our most consistent and more reliable volunteers.”
His work at Irvine has since fanned an interest in taking care of nature and the environment; he hopes to attend Western School of Technology and Environmental Science in Catonsville for his Grade 9 year. “I’d like to do environmental science when I’m older” at Irvine and elsewhere, Adam says.
Adds his mother, “When Adam got too old to attend their programs and camps (at Irvine), he asked on his own to volunteer. He has since accrued over 100 hours of volunteer time just at Irvine. When parts of Irvine were destroyed in recent storms, Adam took $30 of his own money and asked me if he could donate it toward repairs.”
Adam says he hopes to join or – if there isn’t one already – create an organization at Western devoted to community service. He’s not sure where he’s headed after high school, but it’s likely going to be a school or career having a strong ecology component to it. “I like taking different classes that (challenge) me, but science and math are my favorites,” he says.
Blossoming in Builders Club
But it’s in the Builders Club where Adam has really shone, taking a variety of awards and recognitions in the past two years. These included the club’s Grade 6 Attendance Award (perfect attendance, by the way), the K-Family Appreciation Award, the club’s Service Award (for his 23 service hours obtained through club activities), and the Grade 6 Member of the Year Award. After serving as secretary and treasurer of the club last year, he rose to the group’s president this year.
And in his time, the club has “earned a hugely positive reputation within the school and surrounding community,” Sakers says, including the completion of thousands of service hours, the donation of more than $2,000 to the March of Dimes, the raising of more than $10,000 in community service projects, the adoption of needy families during the holiday season, assisting homeless families at the holidays, and working with Franklin and Owings Mills high schools on their activities as well.
“Much of this would never have occurred,” Sakers says, “had I not been given the opportunity to have awesome student leaders within the Builders Club such as Adam.”
Volunteering means so much to Adam, Joyce Powell says, that he usually chooses community service over activities with peers – especially if it involves the Special Olympics. “He is currently begging us to let him skip the 8th grade promotion ceremony because it overlaps with Summer Games,” she says.
“Adam may have grown up seeing me volunteer, but I can honestly say he has developed his sense of dedication and commitment on his own at this point,” she adds. “He just takes the initiative and loves what he does.”
Adam remains nonplussed by the attention; “I was glad” to win the leadership award, he says, but adds there is still more to do, more organizations to assist, more projects to undertake.
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