By Alan Burke
---- — PEABODY — Eight Peabody High students recently earned two letters — GP — for their extracurricular activities, and it had nothing to do with athletics.
Blazers sporting those letters were handed out at a recent School Committee meeting, designating each student a “George Peabody ambassador,” someone who promotes the school and the values preached by the city’s favorite son and namesake, 19th-century philanthropist George Peabody.
For example, the students played a key role hosting a contingent of British students who arrived from London earlier this year, students who live in the affordable housing that Peabody set up for working people in 1862.
They were celebrating the 150th anniversary of the George Peabody Trust, which still runs the housing.
The ambassadors helped introduce the British youngsters to the city and to the important place that George Peabody still holds here.
“And we still even keep in touch with them,” said Ali D’Orsi, one of the ambassadors.
The ambassadors project began last fall, with Superintendent Joe Mastrocola becoming a driving force behind the idea.
High school Principal Ed Sapienza took over from there, naming the eight members: Erin Burbridge, Chris Ciampa, Ali D’Orsi, Randy Lemenger, Andrew Najjar, Stephanie Parsons, Shantel Silva and Andrew Troung.
“He wanted the best and the brightest,” noted Bill Power of the Peabody Historical Society.
For his part, Power went to work arranging for the blazers, which have a stylized “GP” copied from the shroud that draped George Peabody’s casket on its journey from London to the Harmony Grove Cemetery in Salem.
“These are George’s modern representatives,” Power said. They’re meant to illustrate the value of education, charity to the working poor and the development of the arts.
“The ambassadors will carry the flag for the legacy of George Peabody,” he told the School Committee meeting.
Mayor Ted Bettencourt made the presentation of the blazers.
Six of the ambassadors are graduating seniors, and it’s expected that new ambassadors will be chosen next fall.