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21 students at Seven Valleys vow to put "service above self"


Students at Seven Valleys commit to Rotary Interact Club, community service

April 28, 2023

Twenty-one students at Seven Valleys New Tech Academy in Cortland vowed to put “service above self” on April 25 when they were inducted into the Rotary Interact Club during a ceremony at the OCM BOCES Cortlandville Campus. The new inductees joined 10 of their classmates who are already participating in the club, which is committed to community service.

Now in its fifth year, the Interact Club at Seven Valleys works closely with members of the Cortland Breakfast Rotary Club. Students have waded into the Tioughnioga River to remove garbage such as a 12-foot piece of siding and grocery carts. They’ve stood on street corners to clang bells for the Salvation Army. They’ve helped at festivals with face painting, serving food, and setting up booths. The list goes on.

Club Advisor Maria Claudia Gimma said the program is special, and she feels indebted to her team of club officers that include seniors Carrick Knarr, Justin Dermott, Hannah Cortez, Rachel Fish and Nate Edsall.

“Working with them has been such a privilege,” Gimma said at the ceremony. “I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

Gimma has a special connection to Rotary because the club helped her as a 12-year-old girl who had just moved here from Colombia. Gimma needed special materials to learn because of her dyslexia, a condition that had not been previously diagnosed. Rotary supplied those materials. It also helped her pay for her college education.

“It changed my life forever,” she said. “Without Rotary, I would not be here today.”

The president of the Cortland Breakfast Rotary Club, Conrad Janke, thanked the students, past and present, for their willingness to join the club and serve their communities.

Knarr, the club president at Seven Valleys, said his experiences with Rotary Interact have been significant because service to the community means students have “to truly act above their own wants, and above themselves.” 

Newly Inducted Members:
Cloey Allen - Cortland 
Sydney Brewer -  Cortland 
Caitlyn Burlingame - Cortland 
Anthony Buscemi - Cincinnatus 
Hannah Cortez* - Marathon 
Alessia Davis - Cincinnatus
Emma Dermott - Homer 
MacKenzie Golden - Homer 
Samuel Heller - Homer
Desiree Hurd - Cortland
Jayden Irish - Homer
Teressa Kastenhuber - Cortland 
Megan Marks - Cortland 
Alannah McMahon - Onondaga 
Anthoni Nemecek-  Cortland 
Grace Pealo - Cortland 
Alex Phillips - Homer 
Arwen Rice - Cincinnatus 
Rebecca Upson - Cortland 
Dylan Waite - Homer 
Serenity Wolf- Cortland 

Returning Interact Club Members:

Alan Borst - Cortland
Rachel Fish* - Homer 
Justin Dermott* - Homer 
Maddie Dermott - Homer 
Nathaniel Edsall* - Marathon 
Nathan Hardesty - Cortland 
Alexis Jackson - Cortland 
Carrick Knarr* - Homer 
Jessica O’Mara - Cortland 
Alyssa Porter - Homer 
*  Club Officer