WEST NEWBURY — Two youngsters from Pentucket Regional High School are sharing their love of surfing while helping to keep local beaches clean with their new volunteer Pentucket Surf and Service Club.
Bradley Latham and Matthew Beaulieu formed the Pentucket Surf and Service Club to create an inclusive club for students to work together to help the environment, as well as introduce others to the sport of surfing.
Pentucket Regional High School students are required to complete 20 hours of community service during their high school career in order to graduate.
Pentucket Superintendent Justin Bartholomew said his high school students were traditionally required to complete 40 cumulative hours of community service over four years. That number was halved to 8 p.m. in 2020 due to a lack of opportunity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
The Pentucket Surf and Service Club has already racked up over 150 combined volunteer hours while picking up over 350 pounds of trash at area beaches such as Pirates Cove and Jenness Beach in Rye, New Hampshire, and The Wall in Hampton Beach. .
The volunteer service club started with about 25 members during its first beach cleanup in January, according to Beaulieu, who said it had grown to about 50 volunteers.
“People become more intrigued when they learn about what we do and want to engage,” he said.
Latham’s mother, Jamie Latham, works as a reading specialist at Helen R. Donahue School in Merrimac and is the club’s counselor.
She said her son and Beaulieu had prepared a detailed proposal and mission plan for the club that was approved by high school principal John Seymour in the fall.
The club has also partnered with the New Hampshire Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and the Seacoast Paddleboard Club to help coordinate their beach cleanups, according to Bradley Latham, who said he also monitors for plastics and debris. waste through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. .
“It’s been going so well so far. I’m so proud of it,” he said.
The club has seen a wide variety of students enroll, according to Latham.
“We have people who play sports and people who don’t. It’s great for anyone who wants to help,” he said.
Latham has been riding the waves for the past eight years and says the sport has helped him connect with the ecosystem around him.
“You realize the importance of everything around you and the importance of maintaining that as well,” he said.
He said the club had planned two more beach cleanups this month, the first at Jenness Beach on Saturday May 21 and the second at Pirates Cove on Saturday May 28.
“We want to keep the momentum going, while doing some surfing outings over the summer,” Latham said. “We want to get them to experience the culture and something that I find so much fun in.”
Beaulieu will begin its second surfing season this summer and the two friends said they will continue doing beach cleanups until their senior year.
The two high school students said they hope to continue surfing for a long time. Latham aspires to become a pilot in the US Air Force and Beaulieu plans to study medicine after graduating from Pentucket next June.
Beaulieu said he and Latham have spent the past five months seeing how far they can go with their new service club and hope it can continue even after they graduate from regional high school.
“Right now we’re figuring out what works and hopefully that sets up the people who will come after us,” he said.
Jamie Latham said running the club has given his son and Beaulieu a chance to connect with other students while helping the environment.
“I’m so proud of them and all the kids. Come rain or freeze, they show up and they’re happy to do it,” she said.
To visit the Pentucket Surf and Service Club Instagram page, go to: www.instagram.com/pentucketsurf/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=.
Writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.