They’re being Great for Nate again on Saturday in Portsmouth

Second annual event to benefit scholarship, Every Student Initiative

By Jim McGaw
Posted 6/11/19

PORTSMOUTH — The second annual Be Great for Nate Night promises to be bigger and better than ever, according to Steven Peterson, program director of Every Student Initiative (ESI). 

ESI …

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They’re being Great for Nate again on Saturday in Portsmouth

Second annual event to benefit scholarship, Every Student Initiative

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — The second annual Be Great for Nate Night promises to be bigger and better than ever, according to Steven Peterson, program director of Every Student Initiative (ESI). 

ESI is a student group formed in the wake of Nathan Bruno’s suicide on Feb. 7, 2018. The Portsmouth High School student was 15. The group, which falls under the umbrella of Be Great for Nate, a nonprofit started by Nathan’s father, Rick Bruno, advocates for more mental health resources in the schools.

This year’s Be Great For Nate Night will run from 4-9 p.m. on Saturday, June 15, at Schultzy's Snack Shack, 346 Park Ave. (The rain date is Sunday, June 16.) It’s being hosted by Be Great For Nate and the Island Park restaurant.

“We can expect something that’s even bigger and better than last year — something that will really be a celebration of Nathan’s life,” said Mr. Peterson, noting that Nate’s birthday is June 19. “This is bringing everyone together to celebrate him.”

About 700 people turned out over the course of last year’s event, “and it was a rainy day,” said Mr. Peterson. He expects more than 1,000 attendees this year. 

There will be face-painting, music programmed by ESI members and raffles all to raise money for Be Great For Nate and its programs, including ESI and the Nathan Bruno Scholarship.

“It’s not officially established yet,” Mr. Peterson said of the scholarship. “When (Nate) passed, there was money coming into the Bruno family and they thought, ‘What are we going to do with all this?’ We’re looking to take some of the money to establish the scholarship.”

Using some type of essay contest, the group expects to award the scholarship to one member of the Class of 2020 next year. “The winner will be decided by the Bruno family itself,” he said.

The fund-raiser will feature more than double the raffle bundles this year that last. “We have over 80 donations from local businesses. We had about 35 things last year,” Mr. Peterson said.

New merchandise will also be on sale — T-shirts, tank tops, hats and more, he said. 

“There will be an information table so people can learn about Be Great for Nate and ESI,” said Mr. Peterson, adding that Portsmouth Prevention Coalition will also be there with an information table. “They have been a strong ally with us.”

Finally, visitors will have the opportunity to film a 30-second video in which explain how “they’re being great for Nate,” he said.

Growth of ESI

Membership in ESI has grown by leaps and bounds, according to Mr. Peterson.

“It started with three members in the basement of our present, Owen Ross, and then it built from there,” he said.

By the end of last summer there were 14 core members, and then subcommittees for the classes of 2020 and 2021 were formed — 11 members each, he said. 

“We’re standing at 36 members overall and we expect to have over 70 members next year,” Mr. Peterson said. “Next year we’ll have seniors on down to sixth grade in the middle school involved.”

That’s because ESI members have made presentations at the middle school, and word has since spread among younger children and other community members, whether it be through confirmation classes at St. Barnabas Church or Tenth Gate Center for Yoga and Meditation’s “The Nest,” a community youth center dedicated in Nate’s memory which opened in January.

“We have fourth-graders who say, ‘How do I join ESI?’” Mr. Peterson said.

For more information, e-mail Mr. Peterson at StevenPetersonESI@gmail.com.

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