Partner School Stories

Potsdam HS's Positivity Club - Making a Difference in the Community

By Maddie Wheeler

Over the past few years, the Potsdam Central School District’s Positivity Club has been rapidly expanding. What started as a group of kids crammed into a spare room has grown into an unparalleled movement to promote inclusion, positivity, and philanthropy while producing a tangible impact on its school and community.

The Positivity Club’s most rewarding project to date has been the development of the Potsdam P2 Food Market, the only student-run, free food pantry in the Northern New York region. It is a 501C3 non-profit organization, with monthly food shipments arriving from the Food Bank of Central New York. Customers are able to order an assortment of canned food, pasta, breakfast items, and personal hygiene products. We also offer fresh vegetables from our High School greenhouse every other week. Food Market customers can order anonymously online at our website, P2 Food Market.  


P2 Food Market - Potsdam HS

Pictured (from left): Stephanie Andreescu, Aliena Grainger, Johannes Richter, Maddie Wheeler, & Lindy Betrus.

The P2 Food Market is extending its reach to the local senior citizen population with the help of a $10,000 grant from the Kentucky Fried WISHES Foundation. For this project, Positivity Project Club members will visit local assisted living facilities to teach residents how to order food from the market using an iPad Kiosk provided by the grant. Club members will visit the facilities multiple times to answer questions as new users get acquainted with the process. As the project develops, we hope to install kiosks in more facilities throughout the district!

P2 Club KFC Check

Pictured (from left): Jay Baycura, Johannes Richter, Parker Huntley, Juliana Batich, Halle Varney, Kevin Bou-Abdallah, Stephanie Andreescu, Aliena Grainger, Lindy Betrus, Maddie Wheeler, Lola Buckley, & Viola Partridge accepting the KFC grant!

In addition to the P2 Food Market, the Potsdam Central School District’s Positivity Club members have extended their efforts within the high school. Club members have made a tradition out of providing support to incoming freshmen, offering them “Welcome Packets” that include a welcome letter, information on clubs and activities, and some branded goodies. In the last year, the club has gone even further, hosting an orientation program to introduce freshmen to the school through a series of club-run team-bonding activities. During the event, club members handed out P2 tote bags filled with Potsdam High School merch and information. It was a great opportunity for the freshmen to get to know each other and the high school, but it was an even more incredible leadership experience for the club members involved with organizing and running it.


P2 Club Welcome Bags

Pictured: Positivity Club member and Welcome Packet chair Viola Partridge handing out the welcome totes.

The Positivity Club’s internal effort doesn’t end with students. In an attempt to recognize kind and positive students and staff members, P2 has created two monthly awards. These awards, P2 Staff Member of the Month and P2 Student of the Month, are voted on by club members and awarded to students and staff members who exhibit positive traits throughout the month. In addition to being recognized district-wide, each winner is given a $10.00 gift card to the local Tim Hortons or Dunkin Donuts. 

P2 Club Staff Member of the Month

Pictured: P2 members Conner LeRoux and Jay Baycura presenting teacher Mr. Grant with the P2 Staff Member of the Month Award!

The Potsdam Central School District Positivity Club allows students to take charge and make a real impact on their community. In addition to benefiting the community and district as a whole, P2 students also benefit themselves by participating. Students have the opportunity to build leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving skills while also learning how to mentor future members from a team of dedicated, hardworking peers and advisors. The Positivity Club is a means to give back to the school and the community while fostering personal growth of everyone involved. 

Lessons Learned

How we got to where we are today is hard to explain; the club grew so quickly that it feels like somewhat of a blur. If I were to attempt to explain its success, there are two primary things I would credit.

The first is involvement. Students will often join a club as a resume-builder or a time-filler with no real intention to participate. While the growth in members may seem like a positive no matter their dedication, it doesn’t allow for longevity. In order to create sustainability, we’ve created a number of chair positions within the club, allowing every member to have a role. When people are given a job to do, no matter how big or small, it gives them a reason to continue attending meetings and being active within the club. Additionally, it allows us to allocate the work evenly.

The second reason we’ve been so successful is the support we’ve received from our community. When we needed prizes for school-wide competitions we held, our local Dunkin’ Donuts and Tim Hortons came through. When we hosted the hospitality room, local businesses stepped in to donate food and drinks for us to serve. When we started the food market, the majority of our funding came from local businesses and supporters. Building relationships with community members has been incredibly important to the growth of our club. Sometimes, when you need support, all you have to do is ask.

 The Potsdam Positivity Club is an action-oriented organization; we don’t just talk about the 24-character strengths, we put them into motion. Our goal is to embody each one of them and to encourage our school and community to do the same. I’ve been so lucky to have been a part of a club that has been able to make such an impact on my community.

Potsdam Central School District Positivity Club Leaders:

President: Juliana Batich

Vice President: Maddie Wheeler

Secretary: Halle Varney

Treasurer: Parker Huntley

RED Chair: Alivia Gilson

Food Market Managers: Johannes Richter, Kevin Bou-Abdallah, & Kaylee Green

Welcome Packet Chair: Viola Partridge

Food Market Creativity Manager: Viola Partridge

Event Coordinator: Stephanie Andreescu

If you’re interested in learning more about our program, check out our Instagram page (@pcs_positivity_club).

Additional Photos of the Positivity Club in Action

Pictured (from left): P2 President & Vice President Maddie Wheeler & Juliana Batich present high school staff with gift cards as a show of appreciation for their hard work.

Pictured (from left): Mattie Lomoglio, Johannes Richter, Maddie Wheeler, Katie-Jane Seymour, Aliena Grainger, Viola Partridge, and Lola Buckley helping out at the Hospitality Room P2 organizes during finals week.

Pictured: P2 advisor Lisa Boldt donating blood at one of our blood drives.


Pictured to the right: Maddie Wheeler and Juliana Batich awarding Cheryl Denny, Carole Bradley, and Kayla Peck with the Staff Members of the Month award.

Maddie Wheeler

Maddie Wheeler is a senior at Potsdam High School (Potsdam, NY). She is the former president and current vice president of her high school's Positivity Club.