Chelsea High Unveils New Bi-Literacy Seal

Chelsea High Unveils New Bi-Literacy Seal

By Seth Daniel

Elsy Sanchez, 17, is one of 11 Chelsea High students to be awarded the new Seal of Bi-Literacy this year during graduation.

Elsy Sanchez, 17, is one of 11 Chelsea High students to be awarded the new Seal of Bi-Literacy this year during graduation.

Eleven new Chelsea High School (CHS) graduates will carry at least one more award with them this year than did other classes at CHS, and that award is the newly piloted Seal of Bi-Literacy that Chelsea and several other districts are implementing.

Sarah Warren of Chelsea Public Schools said Supt. Mary Bourque and the administration was looking for a way to recognize students who had strong bi-literacy skills. In Chelsea, because so many students are fluent in Spanish and English, the designation was meaning and was a way to market this unique skill to colleges and employers.

The Awards were given out at the annual Chelsea High Awards Night on Monday, June 5.

“We have just started this,” said Warren. “Dr. Bourque wanted us to see how we could get a meaningful designation in place that would recognize students that achieve bi-literacy,” said Warren. “As a district, we want to recognize students that become proficient in more than one language. We believe that is a very valuable skill for college and in the workplace. In Chelsea, we have a great amount of people who are proficient in more than just English. We’re very excited to be able to introduce this award when students achieve full proficiency in two languages.”

Bourque said she was very excited to be able to premiere the new award to 11 students in the class. She said they will move forward with it in the future as well.

“The Seal is a recognition of the fact that Chelsea Public Schools values students’ language skills and heritage as a huge asset,” said Bourque. “This credential will travel with our graduates as they move on to higher education and future employment. There is increasing demand – both in Massachusetts and nationally – for employees who are literate in two or more languages. By encouraging students to earn the Seal, we are sending the message that the ability to communicate in more than one language and to bridge different cultures is part of being a well-rounded global citizen in the 21st Century. It takes a lot of hard work to become fully proficient in two or more languages, and I couldn’t be more proud of these young people for their high level of achievement.”

Warren said there are three levels for the Chelsea seal.

Platinum winners achieve a 5 on their Advanced Placement Spanish Test and an advanced on their MCAS English Language Arts (ELA) test.

A gold winner scores a proficient on their MCAS test and a 5 on their AP Spanish.

A silver winner scores a proficient on their MCAS test and a 3 or 4 on their AP Spanish.

Elsy Sanchez, 17, was one of the first Gold Seal winners, and came to that point after starting out her high school experience in the English Language Learner (ELL) program.

Sanchez was born in Chelsea and attended the Sokolowski School and the Clark Avenue Middle School. However, after fifth grade, tired of going back and forth to Honduras where her parents had moved – having left Chelsea behind – she decided to stay in Honduras. However, after being in Honduras for some time, Sanchez realized that she had some pretty big goals for her future. She decided that getting to an American university from Honduras was going to be very tough, but getting there from Chelsea was more likely a successful path.

“My father asked me if I wanted a Quincenaera party or to go back to Chelsea,” said Sanchez. “I decided to come back here. So I came and quickly realized my English wasn’t as good as when I left for Honduras in 5th grade. One thing I wanted to do was go to college here.  When I came back to Chelsea, I understood what people were saying, but i couldn’t express myself…Sometimes I would start a sentence and not be able to finish it because I couldn’t think of the right word.”

Sanchez entered the ELL program, known as the Bridge Academy at CHS. There, her teachers saw she was talented and had big goals and just needed a push.

“The teachers always pushed me to challenge myself,” she said. “They are always there to support you. They work to make connections with you. If they see someone who they thinks needs a push, they will push you to do better.”

With that support upon moving back, Sanchez was able to move to the regular Chelsea High program by her sophomore year, regaining her English fluency again.

In her senior year, Sanchez has put her English headaches behind her and took six Advanced Placement classes, including Physics, Stats and Language.

She said she plans to go to Salem State in the fall to study biology and Spanish, with the goal of becoming a pediatrician.

“I really like kids,” she said. “I always thought that because I also like science, I could become a doctor and help kids and people feel better. That is the perfect combination for me.”

As for the seal, she said it has the potential to open doors not only for school, but also in the workplace.

“I think it will help me in many different ways,” she said. “We live in a country with many different languages and being able to be fluent in multiple languages will open doors for me along the way. This helps me to market that and it goes on my transcript and on my resume.”

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Small Relief:New Chelsea Street Bridge Driver Notification System Debuts

Small Relief:New Chelsea Street Bridge Driver Notification System Debuts

The Chelsea Street Bridge has become the bane of existence for more than a few residents that need to cross between Eastie and Chelsea – as when it goes up, one can only settle in and wait it out.

One of the warning signs tat will warn drivers that the bridge is going up.

One of the warning signs tat will warn drivers that the bridge is going up.

Residents, businesses, City Manager Tom Ambrosino and even Massport have all complained about the Bridge raising during heavy traffic times like the morning rush hour, or at the shift changes in Logan Airport – preventing employees from getting from the Chelsea parking garage to the airport. Now, at the least, drivers will have advanced notice of the inconvenience through new warning signs that use real-time technology to inform drivers that the Bridge is going up.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has announced it has activated a new notification system that uses real-time technology to trigger messaging on numerous road signs to inform drivers of the raising and lowering of the Chelsea Street Bridge which carries traffic between East Boston and Chelsea.

“Through our collaborative efforts with local municipal officials and members of the public, we have developed an early warning system that alerts drivers in real-time when the Chelsea Street bridge is being raised or lowered,” said Acting Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “This notification system is an important resource for members of the public and helps ensure drivers are able to make informed decisions and take the most appropriate routes when traveling to the places they need to get to throughout these local communities.”

Using Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technology, an opening of the Chelsea Street Bridge will now activate eight roadway signs in the area that will read “Chelsea Street Bridge Closed Ahead.”  These eight signs are strategically located at points throughout Chelsea, East Boston and Revere in order to provide drivers with an appropriate amount of time to make informed decisions and seek alternate routes if necessary.

“The Chelsea Street Bridge is an important and heavily used link between the East Boston neighborhood and the City of Chelsea,” said Boston Transportation Department Commissioner Gina N. Fiandaca. “By notifying drivers when the bridge will be closed to traffic, this innovative new system will encourage drivers to seek alternate routes.  As a result, the frequency of motor vehicles backing up on local streets while waiting for the bridge to re-open is expected to be reduced, and air quality will improve due to the decrease in emissions from idling vehicles.”

“The City of Chelsea is very grateful to MassDOT for listening and responding to the City’s concerns about the negative impact upon local traffic, and Chelsea residents, whenever the Chelsea Bridge is closed,” said Chelsea City Manager Thomas G. Ambrosino. “We are hopeful that this new early warning system will help to minimize gridlock and aggravation. It will certainly give motorists the opportunity to avoid roadways heading toward the bridge before they become clogged with traffic and the opportunity for detour is foreclosed.”

The total cost for developing and installing the new notification system for the Chelsea Street Bridge was approximately $234,000. The bridge handles a daily volume of approximately 37,000 vehicles and is raised an average of five times per day to allow for the passage of incoming vessels.

The Chelsea Street Bridge was constructed in 2012 and carries traffic on Chelsea Street over the Chelsea Creek. The bridge is approximately 450 feet in length and when raised has a vertical clearance of approximately 175 feet.

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Ambrosino asks Council for $230K More for Highland Park

Ambrosino asks Council for $230K More for Highland Park

By Seth Daniel

The extensive improvements to Highland Park’s basketball courts and playground are now being expanded to include lighting improvements and a rehabilitation of the parking lot – at an extra cost of $230,000.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino broke the news to the City Council on Monday night, June 5, and told the Council that the scope of work needed to be expanded.

While the original work included just refurbishing the basketball courts, playground and sitting areas at Highland, once the City’s Planning Department began designing the improvements, they realized there was a desperate need to make additional improvements.

“As the City began to look more carefully at this park during the design phase, it determined that the parking lot area was likewise in desperate need of repair,” he wrote. “

The lighting fixtures were outdated and the irrigation system was not working.

The added improvements include paving the lot, replacement of the perimeter irrigation system, landscaping, an putting in modern lighting to illuminate the area more effectively. He also suggested installing new lighting on the Willow Street side of the park to help illuminate that busy area as well by the Jordan Boys & Girls Club and the Al Huda Society Mosque.

In the original scope, the City received a state grant for $400,000 and contributed $170,000 to the project through the City Capital Improvement Plan.

He called for the Council to tap into the $34 million Free Cash fund.

The full expenditure will now be $800,000.

The Council filed the request and will take it up for a second reading at Monday’s meeting.

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Chelsea High Graduates the Largest, Most Accomplished Class in Many Years

Chelsea High Graduates the Largest, Most Accomplished Class in Many Years

By Seth Daniel

graduating seniors processing into the gym during the opening ceremony. It was the largest class in 15 years at Chelsea High, with 309 members.

Graduating seniors processing into the gym during the opening ceremony. It was the largest class in 15 years at Chelsea High, with 309 members.

The last time Chelsea High School (CHS) graduated a class as large as the Class of 2017, the Boston Red Sox still hadn’t won a World Series in more than 90 years.

This year’s class featured more than 300 students in the class, the most since 2002, and teachers at CHS said it is one of the most accomplished in many years.

Supt. Mary Bourque said the class is noteworthy not just from the data, but also from their character.

“The class president came to us from Africa when she was 5 years old,” said Bourque. “She spoke movingly at graduation of having returned to her birth country for a visit last year for the first time in 13 years. She came back to CHS with the beginning of the school year, but she came back with open eyes of how she and her peers need to value this country and the opportunities that are presented. She thanked CPS for embracing and supporting her and her peers along the way.

“We are a proud immigrant community; we welcome and educate everyone,” she continued. “The students in our schools are from 58 countries and speak 36 languages. We are not perfect and we still have much work to do to improve our student outcomes, but it is for days like Chelsea High School’s graduation for which we work. It is the renewal and joy we feel when we celebrate our students’ accomplishments.”

One of the most telling statistics is that some 70 percent of the class is moving on to attend a two- or four-year college next year. Another 13 percent are going directly into the workforce, while 6 percent are entering a certificate program or trade school.

Some 3 percent are going to the military.

Of those going to college, the list of schools includes:

  • Babson College
  • Bentley University
  • Boston College – Woods College of Advancing Studies
  • Cornell University
  • Johnson and Wales University
  • Suffolk University
  • Tufts University
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts, Lowell
  • University of Connecticut

Additionally, Bourque said students earned $2.3 million in local scholarship programs and scholarships from colleges and universities. That was the most ever.

Students in the Class of 2017 also took advantage of dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses.

More than half of the senior class, 160 in total, enrolled in an AP course.

Students enrolled in dual enrollment at Bunker Hill Community College earned 1,162 college credits while still in high school. Those credits will transfer to their new school in the fall, saving them valuable time and money.

“Dual enrollment graduates saved on future college debt, in tuition and fees, more than $200,000 and $50,000 on books,” said Bourque. “On average, dual enrollment students earned eight credits each; one student earned 27 credits. This student in effect completed one-third of an Associate’s Degree before she even received her high school diploma. Within the next four years, we will have students graduating with an Associate’s Degree at the same time as they graduate from Chelsea High School.”

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ZBA Approves Winnisimmet Lounge by Ciao

ZBA Approves Winnisimmet Lounge by Ciao

By Seth Daniel

The Chelsea Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved a special permit and variances that pave the way for the newest culinary advancement in the City – with the owners of Ciao Pizza and Pastas moving forward to open a small plate lounge that will serve alcohol and gourmet foods.

The proposal by Edson Coimbra and Marvin Posada, owners of Ciao, completes a recent aggressive expansion by the gourmet pizza parlor on Williams Street. The Lounge will be on the first floor of a new building at the old location of Parrotta’s Bar.

Coimbra lined up many supporters who came to speak on behalf of the owners and their vision for the space, which does include a bar, but not the kind of rowdy bar that the space was known for when Parrotta’s occupied it.

Some abutters have not been happy with the plan as they believe it could re-ignite troubles at the location that existed when the old bar was there.

Coimbra has said he plans to bring an upscale dining experience similar to the small plate restaurant Barcelona in the South End.

With their approvals in hand, Coimbra said they would begin work on the new restaurant hand in hand with the development of the dwelling units.

Meanwhile, Ciao is nearly complete with the build out of a gourmet grocery and pasta factory at a space in Chelsea Square.

In other ZBA news:

  • The 45-unit apartment building proposed at 170 Cottage St. was continued once again.
  • Variances and a special permit were granted at 157 Clark Ave. for an awning for a store and an increase in the parking lot from 14 spaces to 28 spaces.
  • A cell phone store was okayed at 364 Washington Ave.
  • Combining two lots was allowed at 25-27 Suffolk Street in order to build a new four-family dwelling.
  • A minor modification was granted to a dental office at 950 Broadway for extension of office space.
  • A minor modification was granted to the car wash at 284 Eastern Ave. to use another building.

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MassPort Reports that Runway Closures Will End on June 23

MassPort Reports that Runway Closures Will End on June 23

This week, almost a month into work, the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) is pleased to report that the critical Runway 4R-22L Resurfacing and Approach Light Pier Replacement Safety Project is progressing on schedule and will result in the rehabilitation of one of Logan Airport’s key runways and the replacement of a light pier used in operations.

The runway is expected to reopen for use by June 23.

This project is necessary to maintain the high standards of safety at Logan, MassPort said.

The runway reconstruction project began in mid-May with the closure of Runway 4R-22L and is expected to continue through June 23 as critical work is done to maintain and repair one of Logan’s major runways. The paving in the majority of the phases has been completed, with pavement markings, landscaping and lighting work remaining.

Additional work not requiring the extended closure of 4R-22L will continue through November.

The continuous work schedule and closure was agreed upon in consultation and coordination with the airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration enhances safety and will reduce the overall construction timeline, bringing normal operations back faster. This important project is running on schedule and Massport expects Runway 4R-22L to be open again for use at the end of the day on June 23.

“Safety is Massport’s top priority,” said Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn. “While routine, this project will repair one of our critical runways ensuring the safest environment for the traveling public, our employees and communities. We appreciate the patience of our neighboring communities and the traveling public as flight patterns have changed and apologize for any inconvenience this work may have caused.”

This work is part of routine, but essential, safety maintenance projects that occur annually throughout airport property. The main goal of this project will be to replace the asphalt pavement that has deteriorated. The pavements were last rehabilitated in the years 2005, 2006 and 2008.

This project will include work both on the runway and at the runway’s end to replace the light pier. The existing wooden pier will be replaced with a concrete pier designed to last 75 years; the current pier was originally constructed in 1955, with repairs last made in 2016. Work on the approach light pier replacement is progressing according to schedule.

Massport Community Relations can be reached at 617-568-3711.

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Best Weekend of the Year Chelsea Art Walk Starts June 17

Best Weekend of the Year Chelsea Art Walk Starts June 17

By Seth Daniel

The annual Chelsea ArtWalk will take place this Saturday and Sunday, June 17 and 18, in venues throughout the downtown area.

It will be the 9th Annual Chelsea Art Walk.

Throughout the Downtown, there will be galleries and alternative venues offering art, music and theater. Most venues are handicapped accessible, and all events are free of charge. The events include pop-up art in the park, shows by the Griffen Museum of Photography and 555 Gallery, a scarecrow competition at the Community Garden, an independent film festival, photos of Cuba by Chelsea artists at Mystic Brewery, and much more.

For a complete listing of events, please visit www.chelseaartwalk.com.

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Police Briefs 06-15-2017

Police Briefs 06-15-2017

NO BAIL IN FATAL BEATING

A Chelsea man will continue to be held without bail in the beating death of 32-year-old Melvin Cortes earlier this year, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.

Kamaya Farikafi, 23, of Chelsea, was arraigned Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court on a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the Feb. 5 assault in Chelsea that claimed Cortes’ life nearly a week later.  At the request of Assistant District Attorney Lynn Feigenbaum of the DA’s Senior Trial Team, Clerk Magistrate Lisa Medeiros ordered Farikafi held without bail.

Farikafi has remained in custody since his Feb. 23 arraignment in Chelsea District Court.

Feigenbaum told the court that on the morning of Feb. 5, Farikafi and Cortes became involved in a verbal altercation with a man known to Farikafi. At the time, Farikafi had a metal baseball bat visible under his distinctive camouflage jacket.

During the course of the argument, Cortes produced a screwdriver from his pocket. Farikafi then struck Cortes in the head with the bat and continued to hit him after he was on the ground.

Cortes was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he remained until his death Feb. 11.

After the fatal encounter, Farikafi disposed of the bat in a nearby dumpster and abandoned the distinctive jacket in an alleyway. Those items were recovered by Chelsea Police detectives and State Police detectives assigned to Conley’s office, who also recovered surveillance imagery and interviewed witnesses during the course of an investigation that identified Farikafi as the alleged assailant.

On Feb. 6, Farikafi traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was apprehended Feb. 15 with the assistance of the State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section and US Marshals.

Jennifer Sears is the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. Farikafi was represented by attorney Bernard Grossberg.  He returns to court July 27.

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Technology is Killing Us

Technology is Killing Us

It often is said that technology is a two-edged sword. While it certainly is true that advances in technology bring many benefits, those benefits often find themselves subject to the law of unintended consequences.

The dramatic rise in cell phone use represents a clear example of how technology can have an adverse impact on our society.

According to a 2016 study published by Harvard Medical School researchers, an estimated 40,200 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2015, marking not only the highest number of traffic fatalities in nearly a decade, but also the sharpest rise — after years of decline — in more than five decades.

And the chief culprit implicated for the dramatic increase was cellphone use — more than a quarter of car accidents are caused by phone distraction, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).

According to a recent article in the New York Times,there is overwhelming evidence that even hands-free phone use is just as cognitively distracting as holding the phone. In some cases, such as when issuing voice commands, it may be even more distracting.

The article in the Times continues, “According to a University of Utah study, using a phone, whether hand-held or not, impairs driver performance as much as, or more than, drinking. And many safety advocates hope that distracted driving soon carries the same behavior-altering stigma.

“At least 32 countries across the globe have laws targeting hand-held phone use while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In Portugal, all phone use while driving, including hands-free, is illegal. The U.K. has recently doubled the fines drivers may face for using a mobile device behind the wheel, and British lawmakers recently proposed life sentences for drivers who kill when using their phones.

And there is this eye-opening conclusion, “Taking your eyes off the road at 55 mph for the five seconds it takes to send or read a text is similar to driving the length of a football field with your eyes shut.”

All of us talk and drive these days and many (if not most) of us text while driving (even though the latter is now against the law in Massachusetts, even if stopped at a red light).

So, as our parochial school nuns might say, “A word to the wise is sufficient.”

We urge all of our readers to understand the dangers inherent in cellphone use while operating a motor vehicle and we encourage our readers to curtail, and even eliminate, what truly can be described as risky behavior.

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TILL Central of Chelsea Presented an Appreciation Award to City Manager Tom Ambrosino for His Outstanding Work on Behalf of till Central.

TILL Central of Chelsea Presented an Appreciation Award to City Manager Tom Ambrosino for His Outstanding Work on Behalf of till Central.

On May 8, members of TILL Central Chelsea participated in a community service project planting flowers in Chelsea Square.

Pictured at the award presentation ceremony are (from left): Chinaza Okparaoko, Paula Jean, Stephanie Stevenson, City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Bruce Nicole, and Cordelia M. TILL Central Chelsea is an organization that assists people with disabilities and helps local organizations such as the Salvation Army, St. Rose Church, and My Brother’s Table in Lynn.

Pictured at the award presentation ceremony are (from left): Chinaza Okparaoko, Paula Jean, Stephanie Stevenson, City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Bruce Nicole, and Cordelia M. TILL Central Chelsea is an organization that assists people with disabilities and helps local organizations such as the Salvation Army, St. Rose Church, and My Brother’s Table in Lynn.

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