AB United Way was honored to receive the 2018 William L. Ryan Community Service Award at the ABRHS Commencement Ceremony on June 1, 2018. Interim Superintendent, Bill McAlduff, gave the following remarks:

"Since 1995 the ABRHS graduation ceremony has included a community service award to individuals or organizations within the Acton and Boxborough communities whose contributions have made a positive impact on the community, and particularly on its young people. This award is symbolic of the support the whole community provides in bringing our young people to this point in their lives.

In 2009 when Superintendent Bill Ryan retired, the school renamed the award “The William L. Ryan Community Service Award” in his honor. I would like to invite Rita Gupta, the Major Donor Manager at Acton-Boxborough United Way to come to the stage.

AB United Way created the Healthy Teen Initiative (HTI) in direct response to their 2015 Community Needs Assessment. The program's goal is to positively impact our community's teen mental health, the most often cited concern of those surveyed.

After raising $55,000 to fund this initiative, the United Way awarded three Healthy Teen Initiative grants this year for programs that address the mental health needs of Acton and Boxborough teens.

One of the three grants was the AB Wellness Initiative: AB Because You Matter. This was a collaborative program with the High School as the lead agency partnering with AB student leaders, Danny's Place Youth Services and the Metrowest Behavioral Center. This year-long program was designed to positively impact teen mental health by creating a community discussion around positive mental health, increasing the dialogue among students within school, and ensuring that teens have increased access to mental resources.

The cornerstone of this initiative was a series of monthly lunchtime wellness  workshops including topics like mindfulness, life balance, and expressive art. Each month advisory teachers were asked to teach a companion extended advisory lesson related to the wellness topic that month. The grant also allowed the school to begin the year by giving all students interactive wellness planners and wellness bags. Because of the planners, bags, and connection to the advisory program, this grant has likely touched every Acton and Boxborough student and family during the school year.

The community and the school district are profoundly grateful to the AB United Way for its leadership and determination to bring effective, innovative and collaborative programs to support our teens' mental health."