Ashlie Thatcher: A fitting ambassador for WMS


By Carolyn Pontes,

Principal, Westport Middle School

The Westport Middle School is proud to announce Ashlie Thatcher as the 2014 Project 351 ambassador to the State.  The students selected for this great honor come from an exemplary group of eighth grade service leaders who represent every city and town in the Commonwealth.

Project 351 is guided by the vision of strengthening the Commonwealth through a new generation of service leaders and unites a diverse group for an inspirational year of community service, leadership development, and enrichment.  The ambassadors representing their schools all characterize the values of compassion, commitment, humility, kindness, and generosity of spirit.

Ashlie was nominated by her teachers for a variety of reasons. She is a model student and exemplifies what it means to be a positive force within the walls of the Westport Middle School as well as in the community.  Ashlie carries herself with poise and is never without a smile. She demonstrates leadership skills as an officer of the Middle School Student Council and was recently voted the eighth grade president for this year. As a member of the Middle School softball team she is often seen providing encouragement to her peers and to lower grade students.  Ashlie continually models kindness and integrity.

On Saturday, Jan.18, Ashlie represented the Westport community at the Ambassador Launch in Boston. The ambassadors first met at Fanueil Hall and then, after listening to an encouraging speech from Governor Patrick, they spent the afternoon doing community service for underprivileged schools. Ashlie described the nomination as “very humbling and exciting."  She said that is was wonderful to meet such a diverse group and be able to come together with the purpose of service.  Ashlie asked the governor what inspires him and his answer was, “It is you and the aspirations you have to help the community.” Through her experience in Boston, she has made several new friends that who plans to keep in contact with.

Project 351 celebrates the power of young people as a force of change in their community. In the year ahead it will feature three more cornerstone community-building events. They will have a leadership reunion in June, and two opportunities to lead service in their hometowns called Local Impact Days. The first of which will be Spring Greening – a statewide service campaign in support of Cradles to Crayons.

The Westport Middle School is extremely proud of Ashlie and the many students here with similar qualities.  Project 351 will give Ashlie the opportunity to recognize the strengths and abilities she possesses.  She is a perfect representative of what the Town of Westport is about and we are fortunate to have Ashlie as a member of our school and community.


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.