Photographer Dr. Marshal Reiner and Ansu Kinteh, RN, of Chelsea Jewish Elderly Care stand in the room dedicated to Dr. Reiner’s work. Reiners amazing wildlife and landscape photography from around the world was on display last Thursday, Oct. 26, in the annual Chelsea High and Chelsea Jewish Elderly Care joint art show.
The Chelsea High Volleyball team takes a knee during the National Anthem on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 3, in a game at home against Notre Dame, who chose to stand and salute the flag. The girls, including (L-R) Arianna Pryor, Xiana Herasme, Masireh Ceesay and Guidairys Castro, plan to continue taking the knee all season to highlight inequities the lives of minority youth and immigrants. One school in Methuen has asked that they do not come and take a knee at their venue, choosing to forfeit the game instead.
The Chelsea High School girls’ volleyball team – a team loaded with seven seniors – has been together for several years and so it is that they’ve developed a family-like bond and a chemistry that sometimes helps them to act in unison.
It’s almost telepathic, they say.
In fact, when they first decided to take a knee during the National Anthem to make a statement on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Whittier Tech, it was something they didn’t rehearse or plan in advance.
It just happened, and now it has happened two other times and – like other National Anthem protests – is sparking a robust conversation in Chelsea High, outside in Chelsea and even into the other cities and towns where they play.
All 11 players on the team are now taking the knee and did so as recently as this past Tuesday afternoon at Chelsea High.
“When it happened first, it wasn’t planned and it was just spontaneous and we all went down,” said Arianna Pryor, who pointed out that they took the knee before it became something much greater with the NFL protest on Sept. 24. “We gave each other the look and then it happened. It was just a natural thing. We had talked about it, but never planned on doing it. It was almost like mental telepathy.”
Leaders of the team say they are all taking the knee for several different reasons – whether it be for immigration issues, discrimination, economic opportunity, or better resources – but in general they seem to want to draw attention to the fact that they don’t see the country as being “free” or all of created “equal.”
“For me, a majority of us have immigrant parents and they came to the country to provide a better future for us,” said Rym El Mahid, a first-year player. “. What kind of American Dream is there if things are working against our parents all the time?”
Ruchellie Jimenez said she also takes the knee because she has seen how others are treated, how people treat her. She wants that to change, and this was one way to draw attention to her cause.
“I don’t think it’s fair how we have systematic forces against us and are always in the backseat of America,” she said. “We struggle and get the scraps of everyone else. My parents were immigrants and I see the way they are treated and the way I am treated. That’s why I take the knee. It isn’t fair.”
She added, as an example, that she recently wanted to improve her SAT score and went to a counselor outside Chelsea for help.
“I was sitting with the counselor and they looked at my score and said I was a minority and from a low-income area, so I was all set; there was not need for me to try to get better,” she said. “That’s not how I want to be treated. I just want to do better on my SAT.”
Pryor said others have been taking a knee to make a difference, and she saw that and brought it up to the rest of her team. They had talked about it, but made no plans. As time went on, she said she wanted to be one to make things known, to let people know that things are not right.
“I take a knee because I want to be there with the others that are trying to make a difference,” she said. “I take a knee because things need to change.”
All agreed that they don’t mean disrespect to any soldiers, and are grateful for the service of veterans – those who have died and who have returned injured. They said, however, they picked the National Anthem because it was a non-violent and because it was one of the few outlets they had as high school athletes.
“Our team is very ethnically diverse and culturally diverse,” said Capt. Jessica Martinez. “We feel strongly about how our country has been going, and we wanted to make our point in a way that wouldn’t seem violent or aggressive, but rather intelligent. We wanted to do something that showed we took a lot of time thinking out our actions.”
She added that if they had made their protest at City Hall or another public venue, it could have taken a violent course – which they didn’t want.
Added Jimenez, “We’re very grateful for what the veterans have done and they have given us freedom of speech to take the knee. I don’t think there is any other way for us to do this publicly. Everyone knows what taking a knee is.”
At school, it’s been a mixed reaction.
A lot of students don’t agree with it, they said, while others are wholeheartedly behind them.
Already, last Friday, the Chelsea High cheerleaders took a knee before the home football game.
Coach Serena Wadsworth said when it became obvious how her girls felt about taking the knee, and that they planned to do so the rest of the year, she sent out a letter to other schools. Most, she said, understood, but one school in Methuen preferred that the girls not come to their school and take a knee. The school indicated it didn’t feel it respected its school values. They were willing to forfeit the game, and also were willing to play at Chelsea.
Interestingly, the girls said their message isn’t really for those in Chelsea as much as it is for the other schools they play, many of which aren’t as diverse or understand the life that they lead.
“Our message isn’t really to be taken to only those who are doing the discrimination,” said El Mahid. “People who aren’t minority – the white and well off – don’t know the discrimination we face. It’s a way to get the discrimination out there.”
When the 2017 Chelsea High volleyball team is remembered, all of them agreed that it will probably be for their stand. They hope that it helps people think about what they did, and perhaps is something that’s continued.
“There are other teams and other seasons,” said Masireh Ceesay. “They will see what we did and see it as an example, I hope, and carry it on and find ways to go forward with our statement.”
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.”
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:
Boston College – Woods College of Advancing Studies
Johnson and Wales 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.”
The Chelsea High School will hold its annual Graduation exercises on Sunday, June 11, at 1 p.m. at the high school.
Principal Priti Johari, Supt. Mary Bourque, and members of the School Committee will bestow diplomas to the graduates. Speeches will be made by Johari, Valedictorian Ashley Salazar and Salutatorian Tracey Flores.
Ariel Urena and Mirialie De Jesus dance together at the Chelsea High School Senior Prom at the Hilton Hotel at Logan Airport on Saturday, May 20. Hundreds of students gathered for the annual celebration as the school year begins to wind down.Chelsea High’s graduation exercises will take place in a few short weeks, on June
Tournament co-directors Cesar Castro and Kyle Umemba hold a jersey promoting their Second Annual Let It Fly Classic on Saturday, Aug. 13 at Highland Park.
The first annual Let It Fly Basketball Classic was such an overwhelming success that it surpassed the expectations of co-tournament directors Cesar Castro and Kyle Umemba.
Eight teams competed in the inaugural event on a hot summer day at Highland Park. Teams from Revere, Cambridge, and Lynn came to Chelsea to play in the highly competitive tournament. Lynn won the title.
The Chelsea Police, led by Chief Brian Kyes and Officer Sammy Mojica, supported the event with their presence at Highland Park. There were trophies, music, basketball jerseys, and great food, free of charge, for all participants.
Castro, a Chelsea High basketball coach and former star (1,252 career points) and a student at Salem State University, and Umemba, a graduate of Buckingham Browne and Nichols and George Washington University, are back for a second year of “Let It Fly” on Saturday, Aug. 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Highland.
Castro, 25, and Umemba, 23, were surprised but quite pleased that last year’s event was so well received by local basketball players and the Chelsea community.
“We knew it was going to be a decent event, but as it was going on, we said, ‘wow, this may be something big,’” said Castro.
“We had a vision of it and a plan to execute, but when it actually happened, so many people were there to support it and enjoy it,” said Umemba. “I hadn’t experienced an event in Chelsea like that in a long time. Everybody was happy.”
Castro said in high school he had played in tournaments in other cities and his thought was, “Why not do a tournament in Chelsea? Let’s bring basketball back to Chelsea.”
Umemba and Castro are role models who want to inspire youths to have an impact on their community.
“We want to show the youths that we can do this tournament, raise a lot of money for scholarships, and then give out scholarships to kids who aren’t that much younger than we are,” said Umemba. “You can make an impact at any age.”
Through proceeds from the tournament, the Let It Fly Classic was able to give scholarships to three Chelsea High School graduates who will be attending Providence, Bates, and UMass/Amherst.
“We’re aiming for five scholarships this year,” said Castro.
“We want to help students who have taken the initiative of going to college,” said Umemba.
The tournament co-directors said they are grateful to local businesses and organizations including Alex Johnson of Early Start Co (a clothing line), main sponsor Chelsea Black Community, an organization led by Kyle’s mother, Joan Cromwell, the Chelsea Department of Public Works and Joe Foti, and the Chelsea High Scholarship Committee.
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino and Chief Brian Kyes are sponsoring teams. Robert Bradley, executive director of Chelsea Community Cable Television, hosted a show with the co-directors promoting the tournament.
The two long-time friends are proud of the tournament they founded and they welcome Chelsea residents to attend the games at Highland next week.
“Kyle and I have been friends for a long time – you know what they say, teamwork will make the dream work,” said Castro.
“We just go and do it – we leave the extra stuff aside,” added Umemba. “We’re here for the kids.”
(Please visit the Web site: www.letitflyclassic.com for more information).
Leonardo Ampuero (center) dances with his hat and teammates during a traditional Bolivian Caporales dance during the 10th annual Encuentro Folklorico Latino Americano Festival at Chelsea High School last Saturday, May 28. More than 100 people came to watch three bands perform from Bolivia, Guatemala and Mexico. The proceeds from concessions helped local people in Chelsea.
Wow. Congrats, guys! I am beyond proud of us today. As Drake said, “We started from the bottom, now we here.” Here we are, the Chelsea High School class of 2016. We’ve all worked extremely hard to be sitting in these seats, about to walk across this stage. I may be biased, but our class is by far the best! We’ve been through so many challenges. There have been things to celebrate and things to mourn. However, through all the loss, all the happiness, and all of the changes, we have come out on top time and again.
Today is bittersweet. Some of us are saying goodbye to our friends, our family and our home.
Some of us are embarking on our journeys closer to home. When we walk across this stage and receive our diplomas, we will be ending this chapter of our lives. It is scary and exciting all at the same time. With the end of this chapter, we begin a new one. A chapter filled with adventures and anecdotes that will help shape us into adults. So yes, today is sad, but tomorrow is filled with opportunity. I know that each and every one of us will take the world by storm, just like we did in high school. We started from the bottom, but we still have so much more to achieve.
Every person in this room is capable of creating waves in the world. I hope that you all continue
to enact change in college and beyond. Most importantly, I hope that we come back to Chelsea.
We all owe this school, this city immensely. There are many ways we could make tremendous
differences to create a better place for the next generation of Chelsea High School students. We cannot forget that we were once devils, too. We cannot forget that we will always be devils.
As I look out into the crowd, I see the people who have helped us get where we are today: parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers. I also want to congratulate the families and friends of the graduates. Without your constant love and support, many of us, including myself, would not be sitting here today. Also, a big shoutout to all the teachers and guidance counselors who supported us, who were always there when we needed help, who became more like friends than teachers. Knowledge is the best gift that you could have given us.
I’m very happy to be here today with all of you. I couldn’t ask for a better class. I hope you are all proud of what you have accomplished! Good luck on your future endeavors! Go B16 or Go Home, 2016!
2016 Class President
This is to unreal. The day has finally come, today we receive a piece of paper that we’ve all been trying so hard to get. A piece of paper that says we are Chelsea High graduates. Class of 2016, I want to start off by saying, thank you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be your Class President over the past two years. If you guys know me, you’ll know I’m a loud person, I’m usually good at talking to large crowds. But there’s something about all of you guys, that gets me extremely nervous.
As I was writing this speech, I could not stop shaking. It had finally hit me, we are graduating. This is the scariest, most exciting thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I want to scream and shout out of excitement but I lowkey want to hug Tobar and Almquist and not let them go. On May 27, our last day of school, I realized that I am graduating with the best class Chelsea High has ever seen! What other class do you know, gets their senior prank ruined then decides to throw the craziest 20 minute block party during 3rd period to make up for it? What other class do you know, who didn’t get to watch their senior video but instead of complaining and whining, they decide to get up and dance with one another to enjoy themselves and make the best of time? NO other class, I repeat! No other class will ever compete with 2016!
I want to wish everyone who awaits a diploma, the best of luck in the future. Whether you’re going to college, to serve the country, or whatever it is you choose to do in life after today, I wish you all luck my friends.
The real world is serious, we may or may not be ready for it. But it’s like hide n seek.
Ready or not, here it comes. I want you guys to leave here with something that I found very inspiring, In the movie, Big Hero 6, Hero’s older brother, created Baymax. He did not get Baymax on the first try, He tried over and over again but nothing, you could see the frustration in his face. He never once gave up because he knew Baymax would make a difference in life.
Finally, after 84 tries, Baymax was created. The excitement and joy Hero’s brother had was on another level. He knew he had finally done it. The message I hope you guys get out of this is, Life will get frustrating, but never give up. Sooner or later great things will come and you will impact this world for the better.
My fellow classmates. Seniors. Class of 2016. It’s been real. Congratulations to each and every one of you. To all the teachers and admin, thank you guys for not giving up on us but it’s time for us to go, we want our diplomas! CLASS OF 2016! WE DID IT!
2016 Class Salutatorian
Good Afternoon Everybody, Before I start, I would like to thank everyone in the crowd, because one way or another you have helped at least one of these graduates make it here. Of those people I would like to specifically thank my parents, for telling me “Ponte las pilas mijo” nearly everyday and encouraging me to be the best I can be. I would also like to give a special thanks to the teachers that did more than just teach. Whether it’s for writing a caring letter to a student that did not get accepted to their dream school, or taking a group of students out to eat brunch, your actions are appreciated, but now I would like to address the following to the graduating class of 2016.
Ever since I was about 6 years old I asked myself the same question: Would I rather be the best player on the worst team or the worst player on the best team?
And for over 10 years I never had a definite answer. It wasn’t until this year that it came clear to me that the latter option was the correct one.This year, as part of the Chelsea High School Varsity Soccer Team, I spent most of my time on the bench. I was cautious of every pass I attempted, and the few times I had the opportunity to play a game, I nearly wet my pants. So why would I think this was the best option?
Well, that is because I found my purpose on the team. I filled the water bottles, helped teammates with homework assignments and Performance Assessments, and best of all, I was there to support and hug my best friend the night we go eliminated from States. Why is this story even relevant? Because this is how life will be from now on.
We will interact with people that have done things that we never dreamed we would be able to to do, and we may feel intimidated, maybe even insignificant, but we can’t let these thoughts consume us. We cannot start off wanting to be the very best like no one ever was, because that will be overwhelming. Instead we must start off wanting to be the best individuals we can be, and the rest will follow.
I know that we can push ourselves to do it because I have seen it happen. It is because of our passion that we had to have two AP Bio classes for the first time at CHS. It is because of our passion that our class has broken many school records.
But why stop there? Because of our passion, we can become professional athletes, lifesaving doctors, great authors, artists, actors anything we dream of. But don’t let your dreams be dreams. I want you guys to promise me that everyday you will wake up and work hard at it. Make your dreams come true. I’m not telling you it will be easy, because it won’t. Some days we’ll cry and some days we’ll cry even more. But remember, Albus Dumbledore once said, “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light,” and turn on the light we shall.
Class of 2016, we’ve had a great four years, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Good luck to everyone and remember, only you can control your future.
Chelsea High School Principal
Welcome 2016 graduates, parents and family members, Chelsea High School Faculty, Superintendent Mary Bourque and other members of the Chelsea Public Schools. I would also like to thank our esteemed School Committee and City Council members as well as our many valued community partners for attending today. I am truly thrilled to present to you Chelsea’s graduating class of 2016; they are a talented and motivated group.
This fall, as many of you know, I become a mother…I know, this sounds like a strange place to start a commencement speech for high school students. But every day I think about the kind of world I want my daughter to grow up in and what she might do with her life. My husband and I actually brought our daughter, Mira, home from the hospital the very same day as the attacks in Paris. I keep a little notebook for Mira in which I try to jot down at least one thought or moment from the day. On November 15th, I wrote, “The Paris attacks have left me anxious for the world you will grow up in. But we will raise you to be strong and to make the world a better place in your own way.”
And so, young leaders, with this sentiment in mind I’ll begin with the same advice I heard President Obama recently impart to a group of college students, “fulfill your destiny and shape our collective future — bend it in the direction of justice and equality and freedom.”
On your journey, embrace your authentic self. Each and every one of us is different than the other. Not only are we from different cultures and traditions, but in Chelsea all of these cultures and traditions blend together in a different way. In the words of Dr. Bourque we Chelsea-ify everything! In dance class the other day, I observed students choreographing an original piece with hip hop, Bollywood and Honduran moves. Every day at lunch I hear students seamlessly move between English, Spanish and Chelsea slang. On multicultural night you’ll find papusas, pizza and fried chicken all on the same plate. One of the most important lessons I have learned in Chelsea is that there is no ONE way to be. The way to fit in, at least in Chelsea, is not to be one way, but to be yourself. Carry this lesson with you as you move forward and spread this message.
As much as we are different from one and another we also have a shared of experience. Walking across this stage, in this gym, in this city is a shared experience between us. Being nervous about presenting your Capstone project and asking a friend how theirs went, walking on tiny sidewalks piled high with mountains of snow and growing up in urban microcosm are all experiences you share. These shared experiences help us build empathy. But we must also have empathy for people with whom we do not have as many shared experiences. You are going out into the world – to college, to serve our country, to work – and you will encounter people with very different backgrounds or different core beliefs and it is our role to try our best to understand them and their perspectives. Being open to differences and divergent perspectives can help you to live a fuller life.
I know this senior class to be one that is incredibly passionate and enthusiastic. But passion is just the fuel on the road to change. Change is in fact incremental – requiring a plan, patience and perseverance. It does not happen overnight. And as a result, sometimes people lose focus or don’t see it. BUT the people sitting in this room have changed this school. You are leaving Chelsea High School a different place than it was four years ago. It is members of this class who came together and created a new student leadership class, members of this class who shaped and defined our capstone project, members of this class who led sports teams to shatter school records, members of this class who sat down with administration to revise the school dress code policy to reflect greater gender equity. These are all changes — changes that will live beyond your time at CHS and whose impact future students will both feel and build upon. I tell you this not so that you think your work is done, but to keep you in action. There is so much more to be done.
I hope that your time at Chelsea High School has made you strong — strong of mind, strong of character and strong of will. As you go into the world bring Chelsea with you and make the world a better place in your own way.