Middleborough Elementary is tucked into a small peninsula in Essex, surrounded by Hopkins Creek, Norman Creek, and Middle River. Does this mean that we, the Middleborough Mariners are isolated? Not at all! In fact, this year we have been making a conscious effort to build relationships both within our building and beyond. This past fall, when Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, our Student Council decided to help. We contacted a school, Kirk Elementary, which had suffered great damage and offered to send them resources to assist in their recovery. During Halloween week, members of the Student Council sold Boo Grams. For a dollar, a student could send a note and trinket to a friend, and the profits went towards helping Kirk Elementary students hundreds of miles away. The Boo Grams sold out quickly each day, and by the end of the week, our students had raised $561.72! Closer to home, we have forged a connection with a technology innovation class at Chesapeake High School. The high school students are learning game design and needed a target market…and our fifth graders were glad to be just that! By skyping between the two classes, their students have learned the interests and motivations of one of our fifth grade classes. Meetings between teachers at both schools have insured that the games, though engaging and based on these interests, will actually prompt students to practice math skills that they find challenging. In March, we will take our fifth graders to Chesapeake High to try out the games made just for them, and to see some of the technology opportunities that lay ahead for them in high school. Everyone involved is quite eager! Relationships are also being nurtured within the walls of Middleborough. This year we began a mentoring program which matched intermediate students with primary students. The “buddies” connect daily before school. Their meet-ups might involve goal setting, reading together, or organizing their materials. Then, at the end of the day, mentors touch base again with their mentees to follow up on how their day went. Teachers report that the mentees strive harder to achieve in the realms that they address with their older buddies. And the buddies love the sense of responsibility and importance that this role provides. By encouraging our students to see themselves as empowered citizens of the school, the local area, and the nation, it is our hope that they will also come to understand their ability to change the world!