EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 20, 2014

Students present projects designed to help the community

(Continued)

Jason Velasquez, 13, and Bryan Martinez, 12, chose drug abuse as their topic.

“Drug abuse is a problem in our community, with people selling and using drugs,” Martinez said.

Martinez said he learned a lot, after he and Velasquez did extensive research on drugs.

“It encourages me not to try them, because I don’t want to end up dead at a young age,” Martinez said.

Research about environmental matters taught Eldred Costigan to recycle more and Jonathan Bruno to shut off the lights once he leaves a room and turn off the water while brushing his teeth.

“We can all help by doing a little bit at a time,” Bruno said.

The UP Academy at Leonard Middle School is part of Receiver Jeffrey Riley’s turnaround plan. It educates students in sixth to eighth grades from 7:25 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The school has 120 students in each grade and 47 staff members, said principal Komal Bhasin. They also have arts, music and fitness classes as well as daily tutoring and a computer learning lab to help students hone their English and math skills.

“We’re unlocking their potential,” Bhasin said. “I believe that when we set high expectations, they rise to them.”

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