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This girl is on fire

Alyssa Lee '25

At Mercersburg Academy, volunteering to help the community is a core part of building culture and unity. Abhinandan Bam ‘24 and Scarlett McArthur ‘24, have been recognized for the time they have put into supporting the Mercersburg town community. Without expecting anything in return, Bam and McArthur are prime examples of helping out for a bigger cause. The two have been volunteering at the Borough Manager’s office and the Fire Department, respectively, since last school year.

Bam, a student from India, originally reached out to the Mercersburg Borough, the governing body of the town, for help researching his paper “Comparing Mayors of the U.S. and India,” when he stumbled on an opportunity to learn more about the government and help out the town community. 

“In May 2022, I was conversing with Mr. Sipes, and he told me about the town’s Borough Council. The next day, he took me on a ride and introduced me to the Borough Council Manager and the Mayor. That week, I started attending council meetings and committee meetings,” Bam said.

With the help of Senior Associate Director of Athletics Paul Sipes, Bam gained firsthand knowledge of the system. Bam said, “I learned a lot of things including how districts are made, how they report to the superior officer, and how they work collaboratively with other borough councils. I also got to know about water works and sanitation in the town.” 

While benefitng from this rare experience, Bam also helped plan and organize meetings. “After my research was done, I was so involved and liked the council, I decided to [continue to] work with them in the fall term, so I am working with them this term as well, and plan to help them organize the ordinances and other stuff that is needed on a daily basis.”

Bam spoke about the false stereotypes that many students have about the town, “I highly suggest students from the school go and help out people in town. We have always assumed that they don’t like people from the Academy, but they do, and they were very welcoming. It was a great experience, an Indian boy with a heavy accent was working with the local government in Mercersburg.”

Similarly, McArthur, who volunteers for the Mercersburg Montgomery Fire Company, said she had a great experience. She wanted simply to help out. 

McArthur explained how she came to volunteer at the Fire Dept. “I was at Food Lion stocking up last spring and saw a newspaper that said the fire station was in need of help/volunteers because there was a big walkout; a bunch of staff quit. I decided to start volunteering because they expressed urgency in needing these volunteers and it was something I was super interested in. I just wanted to help out in the community and give back.” 

McArthur leads weekly training sessions with the head of the volunteering program on the basics of EMS, and she cleans up the rigs and trucks when necessary.

Both students encourage other students from Mercersburg Academy to seek volunteer opportunities in the town. McArthur says, “It is a great opportunity for students to give back to the community and gain knowledge and experience in an area they could be interested in. Additionally, [the fire department] always needs more helping hands at the station.”

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