Going Purple: WESTFORD, MA
Streams of purple sprinkled throughout a sea of maroon and white as graduating Westford Academy seniors walked across the stage at graduation last spring.
The purple cords that draped from 25 or so graduation robes signified the graduating seniors who were proudly part of Westford Academy’s Going Purple group and emphasized yet another purple moment put forth by Westford Academy since the school launched the program in 2012.
“The students are proud to be part of the Going Purple movement. They asked if they could have purple cords. I thought it was great,” said Melanie Jozokos, Westford Academy’s veteran health/wellness teacher, who directs the school’s Going Purple group.
Since the Going Purple group launched at the school in 2012 more than 300 of the 1700 Westford students have joined the movement.
In an effort to launch the group successfully at Westford Academy, Jozokos said the goal was to start out slowly. Now, Westford Academy, which has welcomed Chris Herren twice, holds weekly meetings and hosts a variety of outings to provide an alternative to attending parties. In just three years, Westford Academy’s Going Purple group has more than 300 members and six staff members involved, including a stipend position and involvement from a dean of students.
The goal is to continue to increase participation and awareness and engage students at an earlier level. They have already begun the first steps towards their goals.
Last spring Westford Academy’s team of nearly 35 Going Purple members hosted a presentation for 456 eighth graders at a nearby middle school that feeds into Westford Academy. The program highlighted what the Going Purple movement means to the students. When those eighth graders entered Westford Academy as freshman this past fall, they were already aware of the group.
“I think we are changing the tide. The message is getting out there. They don’t have to go to parties to be cool,” said Jozokos. “It’s okay to be me.”