The Chelsea convocation on the first day that teachers return for work after the summer break has always been a venue that Supt. Mary Bourque has used to unveil plans for the district.
Hundreds of educators from the Chelsea Public Schools, led by Supt. Mary Bourque (front row), made a statement Monday morning with ‘I (heart) Chelsea’ T-Shirts that sent a message to those on Beacon Hill that Chelsea Schools need a fix to the formula that funds the schools statewide. The scene came during the annual Back to School Address and Convocation by Supt. Bourque.
On Monday, though, she used her time to unveil a hope for the state of the state’s schools – and to send a message statewide that schools like Chelsea will not be defined only by a standardized test score and a series of cuts delivered in the state budgets.
Bourque said that this will be the year they reclaim the “heart and purpose” of who the Chelsea educators are. She said last year was one of the most difficult years of her career, and she is ready to put that behind.
“Whether it was the severe budget cuts we endured for a second year in a row, the lack of action by the state on the Foundation Budget Reform recommendations, the partial funding of the Economically Disadvantaged rates, or the noise, chaos, and pervasive negative rhetoric swirling around us from all layers of leadership – yes, in my career I will look back on 2017-2018 and say it was not an easy year,” she said. “But we…rose above it all and for that I thank all of you. We rose above it all and will continue to do so this year because we know we are succeeding in putting our students on the journey of life. While others may not hold public education to the high moral value and may not make the commitment to the next generation that is needed, we in Chelsea are different. We know and deeply value our purpose for being here in education, in Chelsea schools.”
Bourque said that the state has been on a very high-pressure, high-stakes mission of academic urgency for 25 years that has labeled every school as one-size-fits-all. That has played out in the labels given districts via the MCAS test results. She said that isn’t fair and has taken the heart out of education.
While she said such standards in the MCAS are valuable and worthy, the system needs to account for different districts like Chelsea that face different challenges – such as poverty, immigration and English Language Learners.
“I contend that the unintended consequences of this 25-year system is the loss of the heart of education,” she said. “The heart of who we are as educators. As a State, we have lost our way and forgotten what is most important in education. It is time then, to rise up and take the heart and purpose back, one classroom at a time.”
The end of the speech was a rallying cry in which Bourque called on all Chelsea educators to fight for things such as revamped state financing and Foundation Budget reform and other such changes at the state level.
“We will fight for our students and for what is right,” she said. “We will rise up as a collective voice, as a force of positivity, civility, advocacy, purpose, and heart whether at the local, state, or national level. We will lead the change that needs to take place from test score accountability framework to state education finances.”
Encore Boston Harbor and the Chelsea Collaborative started the first of many monthly job fairs last Thursday, Aug. 2, at the Collaborative’s Broadway headquarters.
The Collaborative’s Sylvia Ramirez said they want to make sure Chelsea residents can benefit from the 4,000 full-time casino jobs that are coming in June 2019, and time is of the essence.
She said Encore will begin coming to the Collaborative to discuss and assist potential applicants with the process. The first such meeting came last Thursday, and Ramirez said the next one will be Aug. 30.
“The Collaborative has a workforce development department and we are trying to forge partnerships for financial sustainability and better jobs,” she said. “We are collaborating with businesses around the community. It also has a lot to do with the casino. We want to teach career readiness so they can be prepared when the jobs come down the pipeline.”
Ramirez said the casino is going to affect Chelsea as much as it will Everett and Charlestown, and with that in mind, she said residents should be ready for the jobs that will be coming very soon. She also said Chelsea is falling behind, and now is the time to get ahold of the opportunities.
“This is the beginning of the conversation,” she said. “I don’t want to be behind on this. I think Everett is so far ahead of us with the Everett United organization. We need a coalition as well. We don’t know what it’s called, but we need to set goals and metrics to advocate for our Chelsea residents. Everett doesn’t have 4,500 people available to hire.”
By bringing in representatives from Encore once a month, Ramirez said it ensures that the company will commit to Chelsea. The city does have preference in line with Boston and Cambridge. Only Everett and Malden come ahead of Chelsea.
“We want to make sure they really commit to us and give some opportunities to our people. Just because some of our people in Chelsea have limited language, it doesn’t mean they can’t do a job there.”
Representatives from Encore will be able to help residents one-on-one in English and Spanish. They will be able to define the jobs that are available and what one needs to do to qualify for those jobs. Likewise, they will be discussing the new “dealer school” that is about to start at Cambridge College in Charlestown. The six-week course will begin in the fall, with applications coming soon.
Meanwhile, Ramirez said the casino jobs Ð whether in the gaming area or in non-gaming functions Ð can provide a better income to help solve the rising housing costs in the city.
“Anyone who lives in Chelsea, they pay $1,500 in rent now and they’ll likely be paying $2,500 in the next few years,” she said. “ How can they keep up? They need to stay in the city and have jobs like these that pay well.”
The City of Chelsea will begin a downtown façade and signage improvement program in a kick-off meeting on July 12.
Business and property owners in the downtown, as well as other interested parties, are invited to this meeting to learn about the rollout of the program and to meet Nathalia Hermida.
Hermida will be available throughout the summer to provide free design services for signage and façade improvements of downtown properties. During this meeting, Hermida will detail the design process, what assistance she’ll be able to provide and how to engage her services.
Along with responding to inquiries solicited through this meeting, Hermida will also be approaching specific identified properties. Those interested in the program who cannot attend this meeting should contact Mimi Graney, Downtown Coordinator at email@example.com.
Design consultation with Hermida will be available both in English and in Spanish.
The City of Chelsea Façade and Signage Program meeting will take place on Thursday, July 12, at 8:30 a.m. at Chelsea City Hall, third-floor Committee Room.
Some 344 students walked across the stage at Chelsea High School on Sunday, June 10, as part of commencement exercises – becoming one of the largest classes to graduate in decades.
The Class of 2018 followed an unusually large class in 2017 as well.
At Sunday’s commencement, Supt. Mary Bourque said the class had distinguished itself by not only its overall numbers, but also its successes.
“All of you standing here are the living and breathing reason why we say our mission is to ‘We Welcome and Educate,’” she said. “No matter when you entered the Chelsea Public Schools, we wrapped our arms around you and moved you along the road to graduation. Class of 2018, I want you to know that we are so very proud of you and your accomplishments.”
Of the graduates, 64 percent are attending a two- or four-year college next year. Bourque listed off 79 colleges where students have been accepted, including Wellesley College, Williams College, Tufts University, UMass-Amherst, University of Maine, Hamilton College, Drexel University, Denison University, Bryn Mawr College, Boston University and Boston College – to name a few.
Scholarship awards from those schools totaled $4.4 million, the largest amount ever at Chelsea High.
The rest of the class plans include:
4% are entering a certificate program.
2% are entering a Trade School.
6% are taking a Gap Year.
2% are entering the Military.
20% are going directly into the work force.
2%, are still working on their plans.
The Class of 2018 was also special in that 180 of its students enrolled in the dual enrollment/early college program with Bunker Hill Community College.
“Together you earned 1,374 college credits equaling approximately 458
courses,” she said. “You saved over $250,000 on tuition and fees and saved another $40,000 on books.”
The average numbers of credits earned was eight, but Bourque said on student, Samir Zemmouri had earned 33 credits, the equivalent of a full year of college.
“Most impressive is that 69 students completed English 111 College Writing I course, a required course that often acts as a prerequisite for college coursework; and 15 students of the 69 entered our country and began their educational career at CHS as an English Language Learner,” she stated.
There were also seven members entering the military, including: Pedro Barrientos, Krishell Chacon-Aldana, Adrian Diaz, Nelson Hernandez Jr., Denis Martinez Pineda, Carla Romero and Melinen Urizar Perez.
Bourque closed out her comments about the Class of 2018 on Sunday with five points of wisdom. More than any achievement, she advised to live a life of purpose.
“Choose to live a life of purpose,” she said. “A life of giving back. Knowing our purpose in life empowers us, strengthens us, grounds us. It gives us the courage and conviction to fight the good fight and for the good reasons. A life of purpose is a successful life.”
The newest initiative of City Manager Tom Ambrosino has everything to do with being hospitable and nice.
Fatima Melara and Tania Ceja have recently been hired to serve as greeters at City Hall, helping residents to find the right place to go and to get things done faster. The new initiative is one that City Manager Tom Ambrosino proposed in mid-year budget requests last December.
Kind of an oxymoron in New England, but that’s just what is happening at Chelsea City Hall where two new greeters have been hired to welcome those coming in to conduct business with the City.
“I have long stressed to Department Heads and Employees the critical goal of providing customer service to our residents and the need to make City Hall more ‘user-friendly,’” he said. “It is still the case that many visitors to City Hall wander our corridors searching for their desired destination. They often end up asking for directions or assistance in other offices unrelated to their needs, creating frustration for both visitors and our staff. We have installed an information desk in the foyer area and have staffed it with personable, bi-lingual employees.”
Walk into City Hall now, and a new desk sits right at the main entrance.
Behind the desk will sit either Fatima Melara or Tania Ceja – both who have lived in Chelsea more than 10 years and are familiar with the community.
Melara, 20, is a student at UMass-Boston and has lived in Chelsea for 11 years. She attended high school in Chelsea and has been very involved in the community. She speaks both English and Spanish.
Ceja, 24, has lived in Chelsea since she was 4 years old. She speaks both English and Spanish and said she wants everyone to have a great experience at City Hall.
“As a greeter at City Hall, I’m hoping to make everyone’s visit with us pleasant, faster, and easier,” she said. “My goal every day is to ensure you leave with a smile on your face.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney are moving forward with the idea that the former Salvation Army Store on Broadway can be the catalyst for the entire block both in the future and in the present.
In his State of the City Address on Monday, Ambrosino laid out a plan for the building and said, now that the City owns it, they plan to move forward soon to seek proposals from developers for a mixed-use redevelopment with a major affordable housing component.
“Although the particulars of that development are unknown at this point, it will definitely include activation of the streetscape and affordable housing,” he said. “I really believe the redevelopment of the Salvation Army site could the spark for the transformation of that block between Fifth and Fourth Street.”
Meanwhile, Graney has been busy making temporary renovations to turn the old store into a temporary gallery, something being installed right now.
The exterior will be cleaned up and temporary walls and new lighting will be installed to show off rotating art exhibits. The first show scheduled is letterpress prints from middle school students of English teacher Lindsey Horowitz and art teacher Jennifer Porto of the Eugene Wright Science and Technology Academy.
Those students are composing poems about Chelsea and creating posters and other media of words and images. Chelsea artists interested in exhibiting in this space should contact Mimi Graney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, for the future of that block, Ambrosino said Graney is working to land a very significant grant from MassDevelopment for the block.
“For the last several months, our Downtown Coordinator has been working with the Chamber, business owners and property managers on Broadway on a grant application to MassDevelopment to help us transform the block between Fifth and Fourth St. on Broadway,” Ambrosino said. “We’ll know for sure in a matter of weeks whether we are selected for this Transformative District Initiative Grant, but we are certainly confident in our chances. And, regardless, we now have a committed team to help us tackle the challenges in that block.”
Cottage Street resident Sladja Vukovic is hoping to build community spirit in her neighborhood with a new project called Buy Nothing.
Vujovic is the administrator of the Chelsea Facebook group for the worldwide program in which neighbors give and receive free items from each other such as clothes, household goods, furniture, bicycles – really, anything is on the list.
“Currently we have 32 members in Chelsea,” said Vukovic, who is a realtor in Boston. “There are Facebook groups in many cities and towns in Massachusetts.”
Vukovic is originally from Bosnia and came to the United States in 2008. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice. She has lived in Chelsea since 2010. Her husband is former Chelsea High soccer star Vedran Vukovic, and they have a son, Banja.
The 31-year-old resident started the Buy Nothing group two months ago for residents in the southern half of Chelsea, spanning from Admiral’s Hill to Washington Avenue. She is looking for a resident to step forward and be the administrator for the northern half of Chelsea.
“Basically our goal is to give where you live,” said Vukovic. “If you have something that you want to give to someone or if you have something you want to lend – like a jacket – you post it on a Facebook page, and if anyone else needs it, they’re going to reply and take that item for free.”
The time period for giving and lending can vary from item to item.
“Let’s say I need to borrow something for a weekend, you can ask for it and someone can volunteer to give it you,” said Vukovic.
Buy Nothing can also provide free services such as lawn mowing, house painting, snow plowing, landscaping or even learning a new language. Vukovic speaks English, Serbian, and Spanish.
“You can’t advertise your business in the program, but if you have a service for free that you want to provide, you can do that,” she explained.
Vukovic is trying to increase the number of members in the Facebook group through marketing and personal contacts with her neighbors.
“Somerville has more than 500 members,” she said. “But they’ve been doing it longer than we have.”
The overall mission of the program, according to Vukovic, is to give items to neighbors and strengthen the bonds in the neighborhood.
“I was looking for groups on Facebook and the Buy Nothing project seemed like a great neighborhood-strengthening group,” she said. “I searched it Chelsea and found out that the city didn’t have it. So I became an administrator and here we have it.”
Vukovic is considering an appearance during the a City Council meeting to help publicize the group.
“My goal is for people to get know about this project,” she said. “I think it’s a great way for people who have something to give, to give it to someone else for free.”
(For more information, please go to Facebook and search for: buynothingchelseasouth,ma)
When Supt. Mary Bourque and administrator Gerry McHugh were working in a teaching exercise last year to help them to be able to sell their schools to a skeptical parent, they began listing off all the attributes of the Chelsea schools – one by one.
Their evaluator, Barry Bluestone, former executive and director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Planning, sat patiently as the two Chelsea chiefs rattled off the social emotional supports, the specialized instruction and the programs offered in the schools.
When they finished, he was mystified, as he thought Chelsea schools were only about catching kids up who were way behind.
“At the conclusion of our description of what Chelsea Public Schools offers, Mr. Bluestone sat back in his chair and was truly in awe,” Bourque told a gym full of teachers Monday at the Convocation Breakfast. “He was in awe because as he stated to us, ‘Chelsea schools have a reputation as being all about remediation.’ His statement just hung in the air between Gerry and me. Mr. Bluestone went on to challenge us to change the reputation, change the perception, and change our collective identity both internally and for the external world. We took the challenge to heart and we began the work of obtaining stakeholder feedback, yours included, and we began to craft our new five-year vision. In the next five years, we will build upon the work of the last five years and we will expand opportunities for all our students.”
Bourque is in her sixth year as superintendent and she told the gathering of teachers, staff and administrators that in 2011 she came out with a five-year plan. This year, that plan expired and many of its objectives, she said, were accomplished – such as building more family and community organization partners. On Monday, she unveiled the 2016-2021 Commitments to Our Students plan.
For the first year of that plan, this year, Bourque said they will focus on rigor, making lessons move faster and the work be more complex – while at the same time bringing every kid along and making sure they are ready to move on to the next grade and to be successful.
“All of the plans prioritize teaching and learning–the work for us this year is focused on rigor as defined by complex text, complex task, and accelerated pace of lessons,” she said. “Our goal is for each student to be ready to move onto the next grade and be successful. To achieve this goal we must accelerate our teaching and learning to include annual student growth as well as catch-up student growth. Just achieving annual growth for many of our students will not be enough to be successful in the next grade. We can’t water down our teaching nor slow down our pace of teaching and learning and expect catch-up growth. These plans reflect work that will be demanding, robust, relentless, more intentional, and laser focused than ever before. We are pushing students to the top and pulling students up from the bottom.”
One particularly interesting point she made in hammering home the point of moving faster and expecting more is that she said teachers and administrators should not pity the students, or give them special accommodation because they are from Chelsea and may be living in tough situations.
“Throughout all of our work, we want to avoid misplaced compassion for our students,” she said. “We want to hold our student performance expectations high. If you expect a suburban student to do the work, then expect a Chelsea student to do the same work. Don’t expect less of a Chelsea student because he or she is a student of poverty or a second language learner. Expect your students to do the heavy cognitive lift and learning in each class. There are resources both human and material at each school to help you do this.”
One of those tools is a new assessment system for internal testing that the schools will implement, a system called Mastery Connect. The system will be used in all grades, from kindergarten to 12th grade. That, along with other work connected to the system, is implemented with the hope that each student in Chelsea is on track to reach the ‘Proficient’ benchmark in state testing.
Some of the other initiatives in the five year plan include:
Build a tiered system of support to meet all diverse student needs (struggling students, English language learners, and Special Education students).
Deepen social and emotional supports and expand the use of the trauma sensitive classroom. The schools will pilot the trauma sensitive classroom work and the Mind-Up Curriculum in the Hooks and Kelly Elementary Schools with the goal of rolling it out in all nine schools in the next five years.
1:1 Technology (each student with a computer) in grades 1-12.
Expand College Board Advanced Placement (AP).
Offer an Associate’s degree pathway for students through dual enrollment.
Offer a local diploma credential for bi-literacy.
Build a middle and high school community service project continuum.
Expand the school day at all three middle schools, grades 5-8.
Expand dual language program at the Kelly School through grade 8.
A final piece of her plan called upon the City Council and the City Manager to assess the needs for, perhaps, building a new school. In a community like Chelsea, which has taken such building projects slowly, it was a big thing to say.
“As a community, we need to answer the question, do we need another school building in order to continue to offer the programming necessary to support a college and career 21st century education for all our students?” she asked.
Bourque concluded by saying it is an ambitious plan and will be very difficult, but rewarding, a she believes all students in Chelsea can succeed at a higher level.
“This is the Chelsea school system of today, this year, and the next five years,” she said. “This is the work, this is the vision we heard from you and from the community. It is both exciting and scary at the same time, yet the reassurance for all of us is that we are not alone and that we will do this work together. We believe it can be done.”
As the cast and crew started rehearsing for ‘Hamlet’ in the PORT Park last week, the mildly sunny day soon gave way to a heavy, thick fog that rolled in off the Chelsea Creek and covered the park and the s
Actor Brooks Reeves (center) will play ‘Hamlet’ in Apollinaire’s Theatre in the Park production this month, which kicked off last night, July 13, at the PORT Park. The unique production has Hamlet giving his famous speech on top of one of the salt piles.
ets put in place for the production.
Brooks Reeves, 33, who is playing Hamlet, looked around at the surreal surroundings, heard a fog horn in the distance and said, “This is going to be very interesting,” he recalled.
“Sometimes you get thunderstorms and sometimes you get happy accidents,” he said this week. “Being outside is challenging and extremely rewarding. It’s especially rewarding when the weather is just right. The other day we were rehearsing and fog just started drifting heavy into the park. It was so beautiful and the sound travels so well in the fog. You could talk regularly on the set and be heard at the other end of the park.”
‘Hamlet’ by Apollinaire premeired for this summer’s run in the PORT Park on Marginal Street Wednesday night, July 13, and will continue until July 31 from Wednesdays to Sundays at 8 p.m. and is free thanks to generous donors and supporters of Apollinaire. Those interested in taking in the interactive, moving production are invited to bring a blanket and walking shoes – as there are 10 different locations within the Park that the audience will have to travel to.
“There are probably around 10 locations we’ll have sets on, and that means that the lighting and setup has been very challenging,” said Director Danielle Fauteaux Jacques. “This year is going to be very interesting because Eastern Salt has been working with us to create sets on top of the salt. We just did that on Monday. It’s going to be really fun and adds something very unique. It’s also an industrial landscape and so you have things going on around you. Even at Mary O’Malley Park we were also in a shipping lane. Sometimes having a massive boat passing in the background just adds to the atmosphere. It can be an exciting to have the things like that happen that aren’t expected.”
Jacques said it is notable because for the first time in more than a decade, they’ll be presenting a Shakespearean play – and on the Bard’s 300th birthday to boot.
“It is the first Shakespeare play we’ve ever done,” she said. “It’s different than a lot of plays because its something you’ve been familiar with all your life. We thought a lot about it before we decided to do it, but as you get further and further into it and deeper into it, you see the story and things jump out at you that you never really caught before.”
Reeves, who is now in his fifth show with Apollinaire and his 21st show in Greater Boston since moving here from Wyoming, said the moving sets are quite interesting in the outdoor setting.
“We’re pretty much using every part of the park except the jungle gym,” he said. “The ‘To Be or Not to Be’ speech I give is on a large salt pile that I have to climb up. The graveyard scene has also been transformed into this moving salt structure. The show is really fun. Don’t expect to just sit down and be there. Expect to move around and be part of the action. Expect expert sword fighting and a great cast and crew.”
Jacques said that those watching will have to move, and that’s part of the program with many Apollinaire productions and has been a hallmark of their outdoor shows the last 13 years. Even so, she said anyone who needs a wheelchair or walker will be able to get one from the crew. Those items will be on hand to borrow.
“There’s a lot of movement in the play and we go back and forth from the amphitheater,” she said. “When we leave the amphitheater, we go to numerous locations in the park and then move back to the amphitheater. It’s going to be a fun production run.”
This is Apollinaire Theatre Company’s 13th year of offering free bilingual productions in English and Spanish. In anticipation of the fall opening of its new youth theater, this summer our Chelsea Youth Theatre students will present the Spanish production on July 30 and 31 at 6 p.m.
Audience members are encouraged to bring blankets and beach chairs, and a picnic to enjoy along with the harbor views.
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.