Project 351 Ambassador Fiona Brandt a ‘Leader Amongst Her Peers’ at Saltonstall

Posted on: February 2, 2024
Project 351 Ambassador Fiona Brandt

Saltonstall eighth-grader to be recognized at Feb. 5 School Committee meeting

SALEM (Feb. 2, 2023) – There are folks around Greater Boston who are a little warmer and more comfortable this winter and stray felines with forever homes, both in part to Saltonstall School eighth grader Fiona Brandt.

Ms. Brandt is Salem Public Schools’ ambassador of Project 351, a Boston-area youth-led school-based movement that sparks positive change through eighth-grade student-leaders in the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns.

Ms. Brandt will be honored as Salem’s Project 351 ambassador Monday, Feb. 5, at the Salem School Committee meeting (7 p.m.) at the Collins Middle School chamber. When told she had been selected by Saltonstall Principal Bethann Jellison and the Saltonstall faculty and staff, Ms. Brandt admits to having no idea what Project 351 was.

Alas, she has exemplified the movement’s core values and mission.

“It just makes me really happy to help out in the community,” Ms. Brandt said.

Thus far, Ms. Brandt has joined her Project 351 colleagues for a recent clothing drive at Cradle to Crayons in Newtonville, Mass., where they collected and sorted mounds of clothing items for donation. 

A second clothing drive in Salem is scheduled for May. Though yet to finalize details, Ms. Brandt is seeking volunteers. “We’re still sorting out a location, she said. “I’m hoping my parents, friends and students will help me.”

Following their service as eighth graders, Project 351 ambassadors are encouraged to return as sophomores to serve as group leaders to a new eighth grade class. Ms. Brandt’s group leader is Salem High School sophomore Kate Heppener, whose younger sister, Isla, is a colleague of hers at Saltonstall.

Ms. Brandt fully intends to return. “I hope to come back and lead one of the groups,” she said. “It’s been a really fun experience.”

Before she was selected as an ambassador, Ms. Brandt understood the importance of giving back. Along with her family, she volunteers at the Marblehead Animal Shelter, where she cleans cat cages and socializes with the felines before adoptions, so that they grow accustomed to people.

“I love animals and I want to be a veterinarian,” she noted. “Until it’s time to do something like that, I like to help out.”

Along with her volunteerism, Ms. Brandt is a member of the SHS Color Guard, which earned a gold medal at the New England School Band Association (NESBA) Fall Final. She is also a member of the Saltonstall Orchestra and them middle school cross country program.

“Fiona is a great example of all elements of Saltonstall Pride,” said Ms. Jellison. “She has a passion for helping others, demonstrated by her continuous volunteer efforts at the Marblehead Animal Shelter. There is no doubt her actions will have a positive impact on her community as she moves onto high school. She is a hard-working eighth-grader who is a leader amongst her peers.” 

Ms. Brandt’s work with Project 351, as well as her personal volunteerism, reflects the core priorities of the Salem Public Schools Strategic Plan, particularly that of maintaining high academic standards and building welcoming and supportive communities.

Ms. Brandt is the daughter of Rick and Sarah Brandt.

About Salem Public Schools

Salem Public Schools is an urban public school district in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem is a small, diverse city with a proud maritime and immigrant history. Our leaders and our teachers are all passionate about education and understand the urgency of improving student achievement with equity and social-emotional needs as the lens we view all of our work through. We respect and value the racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of our students and their families, and have a strong commitment to the Salem community. Salem Public Schools staff serve all of our students, regardless of ability or language. Salem Public Schools enrolls approximately 4,000 students across its eleven schools.