Early on the morning of October 19, students from Thornton Academy donned their maroon and gold and filed into Linnell Gymnasium at 5:30 a.m. to celebrate their work contributing to the WGME School Spirit Challenge. The School Spirit Challenge supports the Good Shepherd Food Bank, which is the largest hunger relief organization in Maine. Proceeds from TA's rally also went to support a close community partner, the Saco Food Pantry. Each week this fall, different schools hosted a rallies that were broadcasted live on WGME with the shared goal of helping those in need and of winning the Spirit Challenge Cup. The Thornton Academy community placed third raising $14,462 and 10 pallets of food to donate reaching a total of 78,134.5 pounds of food.
Headmaster Rene M. Menard ’88 said, "We are so pleased to see our students come together and support this great cause. We often speak about compassion, one of Thornton Academy's core values, and the obligation we all have to give back to our community. It's great to see our students take that message to heart and then step up to help others in need."
In order to support the Good Shepherd Food Bank and the Saco Food Pantry for the challenge, Thornton Academy enlisted leadership from Student Council advisors Caryn Lasante Ford and Mary Ann Martin. The women headed up the first challenge TA participated in three years ago and helped the school to secure second place.
"This year was WGME’s Tournament of Champions and we were invited back again because, although we had come in second, we had collected the most food the first time around,” said Ford. “Each year, our Student Council holds a food drive for the Saco Food Pantry. We have a wonderful relationship with them and they depend on our support and generous efforts each November. Funds and food go directly to The Good Shepherd Food Bank with 25% of our collection going back to Saco.”
For this year's challenge, Ford and Martin rallied students, faculty, staff, and community members to donate non-perishable items and cash donations. Student Council members helped to organize and facilitate a door-to-door food drive on Saturday, October 13. At the end of the drive, the students set up a display with all of the donated food items to showcase during the live broadcast.
"The Thornton Academy community has been all hands on deck. The holiday season can be tough when it comes to gathering around the dinner table and we want to make a difference. If it means putting in hours of community service work to reach our goal, we are happy to do it," senior Natalie Ben Ami said.
Echoing Ben Ami’s sentiments, senior Dominic Dadiego shares, “The WGME School Spirit Challenge has been a ton of fun for me. I enjoy what it stands for and how much I am able to participate. It’s such a beautiful sight to wake up early in the morning and see so many TA students all in the gym for a good cause. The challenge is really about bringing food to the families who are unable to get their own, and support the community, there is nothing better than supporting and being involved in our community.”
To add additional interest to the event, they secured two mopeds donated by Paulin's Tire and Auto Care with helmets donated by Danielle Williams. At the end of the broadcast, two winners, both students from Thornton Academy, were drawn.
In closing, Ford shares, “We cannot thank the Saco, Dayton, and Arundel communities enough for their support. TAMS collected over 3,000 items alone and everyone was very generous during another trying time.”