Coming Sunday: Armuchee High School.
Giving back what was given to him, Justin Rufen-Blanchette helped spearhead community service projects at the new Boys & Girls Club center in South Rome.
Darlingtons senior class president not only helped spearhead a drive to get more than 1,000 books to the new club, but he also got the rest of his class involved by helping assemble furniture and landscaping and working on the playground.
Justin, who is graduating from Darlington today, says hes only giving back to the organization that helped him.
I was part of a program in the Boys Club of New York which gets kids 13 and up to boarding school, said Justin. I went through the process, and after going to public school for eight years, I felt I needed to pursue education somewhere else.
So four years ago, after a tour, he joined Darlington on a scholarship from the New York club.
I was nervous so far from home, said Justin, who is also head prefect for the Moser House where he helps other students get involved with the school and keep homesickness at bay. You have to buy into it because you will miss your friends.
Its tough sometimes, but you have to see what Darlington offers, he said, adding it was important for new students to get involved.
He said his favorite night was senior night when his parents came to watch him play basketball. They havent had the chance to see my play, and everyone was cheering, he said. It was great we won the game.
Justin also helped mentor students at nearby McHenry Primary.
It was awesome little kids are awesome, he said. They just make me smile, and it brings back memories. If I had someone help me from high school, I would be pretty happy. Its someone to look up to.
He said it was very different from New York though, being at Darlington.
It was a challenge, the culture and adjusting. New York is not as nice as here, he said, adding his previous school had thousands of kids and wasnt as one on one. Its a different culture. New York is not as structured.
Ive definitely grown up, he added. Ive matured as an individual and am prepared for college.
He hasnt decided which college he will attend, though hes leaning toward Florida State University.
Id like to study business and political science, he said. Ive thought about being a sports agent or maybe working for the Boys & Girls Club of America.
The local club is where Justin, who said he got along with everyone at school, will leave his mark for now.
The Boys Club helped me go to Darlington and now to college, he said. This is my way of giving back.
Click here to watch a video on Justin Rufen-Blanchette.
Click here to view the Graduates of Distinction special feature page.
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