The surf is up for Chelsea’s Deedee
Hernandez, who might be the first and only Chelsea High valedictorian that
doubles as a surfer, a trumpet player and Ivy League student.
Hernandez has been very active in the school and community over the last four years, but being at the top of her class wasn’t something she thought would happen.
Valedictorian Degree Hernandez with Salutatorian Jocelyn Poste after graduation on June 9
“Honestly, I wasn’t aspiring for the
valedictorian of the class,” she said. “My only goal was just to get into a
college. That was a goal since I entered middle school. My mother always told
us that we had to go to college. That was always a goal we were reaching for.”
And not only did she reach it, but she
grabbed onto a great school in the Ivy League Dartmouth College in New
Hernandez, 18, said she was drawn to the rural landscape – being interested in the outdoors and hiking – but was also impressed with the alumni network.
“I was really drawn to the alumni network
they have,” she said. “A lot of them come back to the college and have
relationships and share their experiences with students. I thought that was
very unique. The college is very small and it felt like a family and people
At Dartmouth, Hernandez hopes to major in
environmental science – something she was drawn to by her swim coach, Traverse
Robinette, at the Jordan Boys & Girls Club.
In addition to swimming twice at the
National Championships in Florida, Hernandez and several other Chelsea kids
joined Robinette’s surf club. When surfing in Connecticut and Rhode Island, the
students learned about the various animals in the ocean.
“My swim coach was passionate about the
environment and pointed out the animals we saw,” she said. “I did research on
it and was drawn to the idea of preserving these animals. I love nature and
being outside, so it’s something I’m very interested in.”
In addition to those pursuits, Hernandez is
well known for playing the trumpet in the band – having been the designated
performer of ‘Taps’ for the City and the Soldiers’ Home for four years.
She said she started playing in fifth grade
when her former band teacher, Mr. Thomas, picked up a trumpet and played
“I heard him play that and I knew I had to
play the trumpet,” she said.
She does plan to pursue the trumpet in
college and hopes to play in their orchestra.
Hernandez has gone to Chelsea schools her
entire life, starting at the Silber ELC, moving on to the Kelly School, then to
the Clark Avenue Middle.
Hernandez credits her mother, Ana Moscoso,
for always pushing her to reach higher.
“My mother was always the type of person to
asked me what I would do next after I had accomplished something,” she said.
“I’ve found that to be useful because you see what else you’re capable of doing
and don’t get satisfied with one thing.”
Hernandez has two
brothers, Mike, 16, at Chelsea High; and Akanni, 10.
The story of the Chelsea High Class of 2019
won’t be complete with just a rundown of what happened in the hallways of the
In fact, it’s what this class did at City Hall, on social media and in rooms with powerful decision makers that will define the 312 seniors who will walk across the stage on Sunday to collect their diplomas and celebrate a journey concluded.
Workers on Monday began cobbling together more than 20,000 hard plastic squares over the new Chelsea Stadium turf field to protect it for the first outdoor graduation in many years. The new situation was a hard-fought win for the Class of 2019, and will likely define them for years to come, school officials said. Graduation takes place at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 9.
That story starts and ends with having graduation under what (hopefully) will be bright blue skies and sunshine – as the class celebrates their year-long fight to get graduation back outdoors and open up the celebration to many more family members.
will be bright blue skies and sunshine – as the class celebrates their year-long fight to get graduation back outdoors and open up the celebration to many more family members.
Principal Alexander Mathews said the class
is very accomplished academically, socially and athletically, but it has taken
an extra step of moving outside the school and advocating in the community.
“It’s a class that more than any I’ve seen
is driven to show leadership in a way that feels organized and professional,”
he said. “I’ve been really, really impressed with what I’ve seen at Chelsea
High this year – even in the face of discord among the adults at times…They
remained calm and serious even when so much was happening around them. It’s a
very community-minded ethic in the group. They are genuinely of a belief that what
they’re doing is best for the community and not necessarily their families
only. They believe they are doing this for the future of the other classes
behind them. That’s pretty impressive in a teenaged mind.”
The Class of 2019 decided early on that they
wanted to be able to graduate outside, and it wasn’t just to get some sun.
In fact, since the graduation moved into the
indoor gym, many family members have been excluded from the ceremony due to
space reasons. With larger classes and larger families, many parents found they
had to go and watch the graduation on a telecast in the cafeteria.
Students in the Class of 2019 didn’t think
it was right and fought back against that.
“In some cases, relatives traveled hundreds
or thousands of miles to be there, but weren’t able to be with the family in
the gym,” said Mathews.
It seemed like an attainable goal, but then
they ran into the red tape of consumer affairs.
That came in the form of the warranty of the
brand new turf field at the Stadium where graduation would take place. That
warranty would be void, City officials learned, if the graduation were held on
the field without and protections in place.
And those protections cost nearly $200,000.
School officials and City officials
seemingly told the class members that it was a good effort, but couldn’t be
Leaders like President Jocelyn Poste and
activist Manuel Teshe would not take ‘no’ for an answer. They began to
fundraise and attend City Council meetings to speak in favor of finding a
solution to their predicament.
After a lot head scratching, City Manager
Tom Ambrosino, Supt. Mary Bourque, the School Committee and the Council found a
solution, but it cost $175,000. Students advocated that the expense was well
worth it so that families could be together on what was a very big day.
And the City agreed.
This week, workers have been cobbling
together 25,000 hard plastic pieces over the new turf field that will protect
it on graduation and preserve the warranty as well.
“I think these students have realized the connection
between their growing academic skills and their ability to influence policy and
important decisions around the city,” he said. “Seeing that connection is
really motivating for students.”
And those students, in what is another one
of the largest classes in several years (last year had a record 344), will take
the academic and advocacy lessons they have learned this year to a number of
great colleges, universities and workplaces.
Students will be attending schools such as
Dartmouth College, Tufts University, Boston University, Suffolk University and
others. There are also several full-ride Posse Foundation Scholars attending
schools such as Bucknell University, Denison College, Union College, and Centre
University in Kentucky.
take place on Sunday, June 9, outdoors at the new Chelsea Memorial Stadium at 1
p.m. – rain or shine.
Route 1 Northbound:
Approaching the Tobin Bridge from Boston, the workzone begins in the righthand
lane. 2 of 3 travel lanes will be open during daytime hours (5 a.m. –10 p.m.)
and at least 1 travel lane will be open during overnight hours (10 p.m.–5
Route 1 Southbound:
Approaching the Chelsea Curves from the North Shore, the workzone begins in the
lefthand lane. 2 of 3 travel lanes will be open during daytime hours (5 a.m.
–10 p.m.) and at least 1 travel lane will be open during overnight hours (10
Ramps: All on- and
off-ramps will remain open at this time.
Local Streets: The
Spruce Street temporary reconfiguration will remain in place for approximately
Most work will occur in
during daytime working hours (6 a.m – 2 p.m.) on weekdays. Some work will take
place during the afternoon (2pm – 7pm) and nighttime working hours (9 p.m. – 5
a.m.) and on Saturdays (6 a.m. – 2 p.m.)
There will be no work on
Monday, May 27 in observance of Memorial Day.
Summary of Work Completed
In the two weeks prior to
May 19, crews implemented additional lane closures to establish the median work
zone, installed new drainage in Carter Street parking lot, and prepared,
painted, and repaired portions of the bridge deck and joints.
Description of Work
Route 1 Northbound:
Demolish and excavate grid deck concrete fill, power wash grid deck, repair
bridge deck and joints, clean and weld new deflector plates.
Route 1 Southbound:
Install negative pressure containment system, powerwash and excavate around
support column footings, install micropiles, conduct surveys, upgrade
utilities, and deconstruct the median barrier.
Local Streets: Prepare and
pave new Carter Street parking lot.
The North Washington
Street Bridge Replacement is also underway which requires local traffic
impacts. For information or to sign up for project-specific construction
look-aheads like this one, visit the project website.
Drivers should take care
to pay attention to all signage and police details and move carefully through
the work zone. Police details, changes in lane markings, temporary controls
such as barriers and traffic cones, signage, and other tools will be used
throughout the project to control traffic and create safe work zones.
The contractors are
coordinating with local event organizers and police to provide awareness and
manage traffic impacts during events. For your awareness, during this
look-ahead period, the following events are scheduled:
Playoffs (TD Garden): To be scheduled
Red Sox (Fenway
Park): May 19 at 1:05 p.m., May 27 at 4:05 p.m., May 28 at 7:10 p.m., May 29 at
Boston Calling Music Festival (Harvard Athletic Complex): May 24 –
BHCC Honors Class
of 2019 at 45th Commencement Ceremony
On Thursday, May 23, Bunker Hill
Community College (BHCC) awarded 1,754 degrees and certificates to the
Class of 2019 at the 45th Commencement Exercises.
BHCC President Pam Eddinger opened the
ceremony with the annual “ritual of gratitude,” where
graduates thank family and friends in attendance for their support
throughout their educational journey. Eddinger also reflected on the cultural
wealth of the graduates and how it left a positive impact on her as College
“I am braver today because I have learned
from your struggles and have seen your courage,” said Eddinger. “I am more
hopeful, because you have shown me, in your multiple languages, your ancestral
songs, and your lived experiences that while life can be harsh, it is also
limitless and ever-renewing.”
Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher
Education Carlos E. Santiago delivered the keynote address. In his remarks to
the graduates, he encouraged the graduates to use their education to give back
to their communities. “Your communities benefit from your time and
talents,” he said. “As students at our community colleges, you are uniquely
connected to your cities and towns. I urge you to stay connected – to hold
tight to your civic compass. Let it point you to where you can make a
Santiago also received the President’s
Distinguished Services Award in recognition of his extraordinary service to the
community and BHCC. Santiago has served as Commissioner of Higher
Education since July of 2015. Santiago has made a great impact on important
issues affecting the BHCC’s students; in particular his commitment to equity in
higher education is something that resonates with us at the College.
The BHCC Nurse Education
Department was awarded with the Trustees Distinguished Service
Award, presented by William J. Walczak, Chair of the BHCC Board of
Trustees. The department was recognized for the success of its
collaborative leadership, steadfast resolve and decisive actions toward a
secure and thriving program, and in recognition of the increased success of
their graduates on the NCLEX Examination.
For the past two years, new leadership
and the full and ongoing engagement of the Nursing Education program’s faculty
and staff were all critical during an intensive reaccreditation process. The
program’s faculty and staff have implemented high impact student success,
pedagogical and post-graduate student interventions that have achieved
immediate results: most notably an NCLEX Examination pass rate of 94% for its
fall 2018 graduating class. Dean of Health Sciences Maryanne Atkinson,
Assistant Dean Donna Savino, Director Elizabeth Tobin and Associate Professor
and Chairperson Kristen Wenger accepted the award.
at Thursday’s ceremony were faculty speaker Bryan D. Craven,
Student Government Association President Joan Acosta Garcia, and
President’s Leadership Award recipients Cam Do and Eva
After more than a year of research, reflection and evaluation, Bunker Hill
Community College (BHCC) has revealed a newly designed bulldog mascot to
represent the College’s Athletics program. The new BHCC Athletics Bulldog was
revealed at the College Faculty/Staff Forum on March 12.
The refreshed mascot design features a running bulldog, energetic and with
its eyes focused forward, seeking success in a manner congruent with the
program’s mission and consistent with the uniqueness of BHCC.
The bulldog has long been the mascot of BHCC Athletics. New Director of
Athletics Dr. Loreto Jackson, who joined the College in 2017, felt that the
mascot needed a refresh to better align with the College’s purpose and
values. “The former bulldog had many different renditions,” explained Dr.
Jackson. “The designs were not unique to BHCC, and, more importantly, did not
embody the philosophy of BHCC.”
The College enlisted national brand identity firm Phoenix Design Works to
assist with the mascot development. After research and discussion with
department stakeholders, Jackson wanted to remove the common ideas of
bulldogs—that they are mean-spirited, arrogant, combative or lazy. Instead, the
BHCC Bulldog should portray respect, tenacity, a competitive spirit and
loyalty. Also important was a gender-neutral mascot, unrestrained by the
classic bulldog spiked collar.
Bunker Hill Community
College is a member of the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association
(NJCAA), Division III. For more information on BHCC Athletics, please
When it comes to dentistry it seems that the
apple does not fall far from the tree and Dr. Jeffrey Benecchi, DMD is living
Sure he could have become an
environmentalist, he graduated from Bates College with a degree in
environmental science and economics, but it was the influence of his father
John, also a dentist, and grandfather Leo, a physician in Revere, who steered
him toward dentistry and to being a 2009 graduate of the Tufts Dental School.
think it’s in our family history. I always had it in me with my father being a
dentist,” Benecchi said from his office at 140 School St. He loves dentistry
from the hands-on nitty gritty parts of the business to the patient
interaction. His father John graduated in 1976 from Tufts Dental School and
started his practice a couple years later
Today Jeffrey runs the practice by himself
since his father retired at the end of last year. He has 10 employees. Most who
also had worked for his father.
“He’s still says hi to everyone,” Jeffrey
Jeffrey has always liked working with his
hands and he felt dentistry was a natural fit. He liked being around the
patients and see what his father was working on. Not the corporate model of
dentistry but a hands-on approach.
“I still like that personal touch,” he
“It’s been a good job to help people and be
able to see things done with the artistry of dentistry,” Jeffrey said. “I like
everything there is to do with dentistry.”
The Benecchi dental practice specializes in
general dentistry for everyone from children to the elderly.
“Basically we offer what a lot of people
need to have done.” Jeffrey said.
Keeping up with the latest technology, Dr.
Benecchi uses digital scanners to avoid goopy mouth molds for dental
There are also digital x-rays and cameras
now that they use when working with a
local laboratory for caps and crowns.
He noted that he will also be having a
couple of associates added to the practice to help with an increasing patient
Bunker Hill Community College
(BHCC) appointed Kristen P. McKenna as Dean of Workforce and Economic
Development. In this role, McKenna will oversee corporate learning and
development and community education programs at the College. The
renamed Division of Workforce and Economic Development supports area
businesses and community based agencies with career pathway building,
customized training and individualized support to grow workforce and economic
development for the greater Boston metro area.
McKenna possesses over 20
years of professional implementation, management and policy development
experience in higher education, workforce development, nonprofit and government
funded programs. She has held senior leadership positions focused on program
improvement, enrollment and the development of industry supported training for
workforce development at River Valley Community College in Lebanon, New
Hampshire, and Bristol Community College in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Working with the Rhode
Island Governor’s Workforce Board and the Institute for Labor Studies and
Research, McKenna has also implemented a number of projects designed to
accelerate credential attainment with technology-based solutions. She’ll bring
expertise to the College’s workforce development initiatives and the development
of non-credit to credit career pathways.
The Greater Boston
community has come to rely on BHCC’s community education programs for English
language instruction, test preparation, continuing education and international
learning programs. In the 2018 academic year, over 2500 students enrolled in
customized training, community education and adult basic education at the
College. With a focused commitment on workforce and economic development, BHCC
will expand access and equity with additional course development and innovative
pathways development so all community members have options and flexibility in a
The division is working
with partners like Facebook to offer future opportunities that will support
local entrepreneurs with workshops on social media marketing and more.
McKenna holds a Masters of Education in Adult Learning and Higher
Education Administration from Eastern Nazarene College, a Masters of Education
in Educational Leadership from Bridgewater State University and a Bachelor of
Fine Arts from Rhode Island College. To learn more about BHCC’s Workforce and
Economic Development program and to view the courses that are offered visit
Frankie Bernard was an inspiration to all, a man who never let his physical challenges deter him from his pursuits in
Frankie Bernard was a noted newspaper cartoonist and caricaturist whose artwork was enjoyed by many people.
life. With the support of a loving family and friends who enjoyed being in his presence, Frankie lived each day to its fullest.
Born with Spina Bifida, Frankie graduated from Chelsea High School in 1986 and attended the Massachusetts College of Art. He became an accomplished cartoonist and caricaturist, delighting readers on the pages of the Chelsea Record and its sister publications with his creativity and keen sense of humor.
He brought joy to visitors to Faneuil Hall Marketplace with his caricatures and taught others the craft of art and to appreciate it while serving as an instructor at Bunker Hill College and in school programs in Chelsea. Through social media, he developed friendships with other artists all over the country.
Francis J. ‘Frankie’ Bernard Jr., son of Mary L. (Manning) Bernard and the late Francis J. Bernard Sr., died on Dec. 18 after a brief illness. Frankie was 51.
“The most important thing I would want people to know is how strong he was, what he endured, and he just took it with a grain of salt,” said his sister, Maureen Bernard Jurgelewicz. “The hospitalizations, the procedures, and the tests, things most people couldn’t endure, Frankie met them head on as a fact of life.
“Interestingly enough, they told my mother that Frankie would live to be about 2 years old, so he defied that by a lot,” said Maureen. “He surprised the doctors with surviving and flourishing.”
And he did flourish, demonstrating an early gift of proficiency in art and caricatures. “That came out pretty much when he was a toddler – he was able to draw and he could pick up any song and play it on the keyboards, even though he never had lessons,” said Maureen. “You could see he had that gift at a young age. He was very artistic.”
Maureen recalled how Frankie would engage in recreational activities with the other children on Gardner Street and in the neighborhood, participating regularly in games like kickball and kick the can.
“He would try to keep up with us and he could,” said Maureen.
She describes her mother, Mary Bernard, as “an angel,” who devoted her whole life to Frankie with her care, her uplifting manner, and her kindness.
“Frankie and I had a good relationship, sometimes I was like a second mom to him, though he didn’t always like that too much,” said Maureen. “We did a lot together, the past two years especially.”
Maureen said her brother loved Chelsea. “I tried to get him to move closer to me, but he wouldn’t budge – he loved everything about Chelsea. He loved his Chelsea friends.”
Sean Richards was one of Frankie’s closest friends, according to Maureen.
It was Maureen who wrote the beautiful eulogy that was delivered by Frankie’s nephew, Michael Bernard Jr., at the funeral Mass Dec. 22 at Our Lady of Grace Church.
Following is the eulogy:
Eulogy for Frankie
Love can cure your problems/You’re so lucky I’m around/Let my love open the door.
These are the lyrics to one of Frankie’s favorite songs from one of his favorite bands. They seem so fitting today as we pay tribute to our beloved friend, uncle, brother and son Frankie.
We love your strength and hope Frankie. Your Chelsea-strong fighting spirit. You showed us that strength means never giving up in the face of another hospital stay, another surgery or another social rejection. Your hope was for a better new day, each day, and that never waivered.
Frankie, we love that God blessed you with the gift of art. You loved to draw your caricatures and cartoons. It was your passion and profession. Other than a big tip or paycheck, you liked nothing more than to make people smile with your caricatures.
We loved your gusto for life. It was there as a kid playing kick-the-can on Gardner and Parker. Always keeping up with the neighborhood kids. It was there for concerts and karaoke as an adult. For attending your beloved Celtics and Red Sox games. You were always ready, willing and able to pursue a good time.
Frankie we love that you were a great friend. You loved nothing more than spending time with your friends. From your friends awakening you from hospice care in the ICU to meeting you at the PPC or the Brown Jug, you cherished each and every moment with them.
We love your love for family. As an Uncle, Brother and Son you have taught us so much. You gifted us with the lessons of patience and perseverance. You were a living example of never sweating the small stuff. You and Mom were a living example of dedication and truly unconditional love. This love was truly the best medicine of all.
Cross Country standout Yarid Deras may not talk much about her achievements, but the senior Chelsea High scholar-athlete has plenty of others to tout her accomplishments.
Aside from her coaches and Athletic Director Amanda Alpert, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has also honored her.
On Nov. 14, at the MIAA Recognition Breakfast, Deras was named the Commonwealth Athletic Conference’s Female award recipient. It’s an honor she will add to being the upper division league MVP this year in Cross Country.
“It’s very surprising to me how fast four years have gone,” she said. “I didn’t start running until my freshman year. It was the first thing I really did my freshman year. I didn’t really think I would enjoy it. I enjoyed the team and not so much the running. The summer after my freshman year, something happened and I really learned to love the sport for what it is. I will definitely continue running after high school, maybe for a club team in college.”
Deras’s coach, Don Fay, had nothing but good things to say for his senior leader and league MVP.
“I have coached Yarid for the last four years,” he said. “She is one of the most impressive young ladies I have ever met. Extremely smart, hard-working and competitive. She never misses practice, and never complains. Yarid is a truly nice, genuine person.”
Alpert said Deras is soft-spoken and very humble, always the last person to talk about any of her achievements.
Deras said the team is small, with about eight girls, but they are very competitive. She said over the years she has learned to be a leader, but that may not always come vocally.
“I think I don’t really lead vocally,” she said. “I don’t say much, but I think I lead by example. I don’t do much with words, but I set the example for the younger runners on my team. That’s how they have come to respect me as a leader.”
Even though she was this year’s league MVP, Deras said the highlight of her Cross Country career was last year when the team won the league meet and went undefeated for the entire season. Her sophomore year, she also won the league MVP and turned in an excellent 21.04 time in the 5K.
As a senior, she still has outdoor track to look forward to, and the Chelsea girls are also very strong in that sport as well. She said she will run the one-mile and two-mile races for the team.
She is currently looking at several colleges, including Smith College and Providence College.
Supt. Mary Bourque explaining CHS’s five-year vision during a panel discussion and visit from Gov. Charlie Baker and his administration last Weds., Sept. 5. Baker came to CHS to review and hear about Chelsea’s innovative college credit program in association with Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC).
The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation awarded $2.4 million to Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) to establish the Early College program at BHCC, marking the largest private grant awarded in the College’s history.
The announcement was made in Chelsea Wednesday afternoon at an event celebrating the early college designation to Chelsea High School’s Early College program by the Baker-Polito Administration. Board Members from the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation joined Governor Charlie Baker to see firsthand the impact of Early College. At the event, Governor Baker and the legislators in attendance heard from four Chelsea High School students who shared how their experiences in the program influenced their decision to pursue a college-level program.
Transformation to a Consolidated Early College Model
The funding from the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation allows BHCC to consolidate its Early College efforts into a core model that anticipates growth in scale and performance, as well as distillation and dissemination of its promising practices to the field. The $2.4 million grant covers a three-year project horizon, and will serve more than 500 high school students, coming from a portfolio of partnerships with high school and community-based organizations in Greater Boston.
“We are so thankful to the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation for this extraordinary grant. It allows us to consolidate and scale our early work, to gather data and evidence of success and to make a strong case to the leaders of the Commonwealth that Early College is a viable and scalable solution to talent and economic development,” said BHCC President Pam Eddinger.
An early adopter of Early College, BHCC currently collaborates with seven high schools and community-based organizations, serving nearly 500 early college students in addition to almost 400 participants in dual enrollment. Increasing demand and initial successes with traditionally underserved students and the potential for greater educational equity and student achievement pressed the College to consolidate the Early College efforts into a core model and make it central to the College’s Mission. The grant supports the Early College effort exactly at this important inflection point and gives the College the financial and structural lift to reach the next level of success.
“The Foundation’s Board of Trustees is pleased to be partnering with one of the Commonwealth’s leading community colleges to bring a transformative model proven in other states to Greater Boston. By bridging high school and college experiences, Early College will help many students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and enjoy the benefits of the Commonwealth’s strong economy,” said Lynne Doblin, Executive Director of The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation.
Early College: A Cross-Segment Convergence in Education Strategy
This important work signals a convergence of new thinking from education leaders and policymakers around the State.
“An important goal of the Early College program is exposing students to college-level work while they are still in high school so they can envision themselves on a track toward a college degree,” said Governor Baker at Wednesday’s event. “The college-level experience, combined with the credits they earn in the courses, sets many students up for success by the time they arrive on a campus.”
The Secretary of Education, the Board of Higher Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education all support the effort to recognize Early College work by awarding designations to strong partnerships around the Commonwealth, with the promise of sustainable funding in the near future. These designations, of which BHCC is a part, will stimulate experimentation, document effective practice and demonstrate impact.
The standard-setting work of BHCC’s Early College will be a powerful proof point, and the data to be gathered over the next three years will provide strong evidence as to the efficacy of Early College as a way to increase high school graduation and college completion and broaden career exploration.