More than 500 Chelsea High students walked out of class on Thursday, March 15, as part of the national school walk-out movement to promote more efforts towards school safety.
Armed with only a megaphone, students marched into shin-deep snow and cold temperatures to participate in the movement locally, and to draw attention to school safety.
They were supported by the Chelsea Public Schools and the Chelsea Police, who stood in solidarity with the students, who ranged in age from 13 to 18.
“P-O-W-E-R,” yelled Stephanie Rodrigues, one of the key coordinators along with Diego Estrada. “We have the power. We have a voice. We can use our power…We deserve to be heard. We deserve to be safe. We don’t deserve to stand around and wait for someone to come kill us. You could be next. Unfortunately, the 17 students in Florida were killed by a man who should not have had a gun. This is not normal. We should not stand around and wait for someone to take action for us. We can take action.”
Student Eric Lazo entertained the crowd with impromptu chants and songs on the megaphone, for which most everyone in the crowd followed.
“I came out because this can’t happen again,” said Imane Rharbi. “We can’t have students being killed and unsafe. We need gun control right now. That’s why I came out.”
Junior Angel Vargas said he and many other students are concerned that they could be next, that the fear of something at Chelsea High is real.
“It’s important for all of us to come out here,” he said. “It was terrible what happened in Florida. That was the reason I came out. We are scared.”
Students cheered loudly, hats and scarves wrapped tightly around them, and then broke into a solemn moment as Rodrigues read the names of the 17 students killed in Florida on Feb. 14.
The national walk-out day was supposed to occur on March 14, and all over the state and country students staged walk-outs to call for more gun ownership restrictions and more funding for mental health services inside and outside of school. In Chelsea, the effort had to be postponed because of the blizzard on March 13 that cancelled school for two days.
Originally, the plan called for Chelsea students to have their walk-out in the school gym to avoid having to go in the snow. However, Rodrigues said she and Estrada were approached by students who said it should go on outside.
“We were approached by some students who felt we shouldn’t be focused on comfort by going in the gym,” said Rodrigues, who described herself as just another student and a track athlete. “We agreed. We shouldn’t be comfortable when making a stand. We wanted to show we were standing up no matter what the conditions were outside.”
Outside on Thursday, students carried signs that made many different statements.
Some depicted an anti-gun message, while others called for funding to help people who are mentally ill. Some signs blasted the National Rifle Association (NRA) and others called for remembrance of the Florida students.
Most striking, however, were the hand-made signs that read, “Am I Next?”
Rodrigues said it isn’t an overreaction in Chelsea.
She said students and adults are concerned about their safety in school, and it’s something that is a bit new.
“Honestly, I feel we are all scared, even the adults,” she said. “That’s what pulled us all together. We shouldn’t let our safety in school be in question. That brought us together…One day it could be us.”
Stephany Villatoro and Masireh Ceesay were two of about 500 Chelsea High students that participated in a walk-out for school safety on Thursday, March 15. Students said they came together because they were scared that one day they could be school shooting victims.
Nancy Baguada and Mauricio Rubi march through the snow to the walk-out.
Co-Organizer Stephanie Rodrigues fires up the student crowd at the Stadium with a megaphone.
Student Erik Lazo shouted out interesting chants and songs during the walk-out to get the crowd fired up.
Imane Rharbi said there can be no more school shootings. She said now is the time for stricter gun control.
Students rally on the Stadium field in the snow.
Junior Angel Vargas signs the petition from Chelsea High.
Student organizers standing with Chelsea Police Officers. Chelsea Police and Chelsea High security provided a safe perimeter for the students during the walk-out.
In the wake of a social media threat against the Chelsea High School posted last Friday, School Supt. Mary Bourque is putting students and parents on notice that there will be zero tolerance for any threats – whether verbal, written or posted on social media.
As a major footnote to that warning, she said she is initiating a citywide campaign aimed at parents of school-age children – calling them to be vigilant about checking their children’s’ social media posts.
“Any threats, whether verbal, written or posted on social media we will prosecute and we have prosecuted with our relationship with the Chelsea Police,” she said. “As a practice, the Chelsea Public Schools always talks serious threats to the schools and well-being of the schools. There are protocols we have with the Chelsea Police about prosecuting these matters. We will have zero tolerance for any threats.”
This follows on a threat made on Friday, March 2, via a social media post by a student at the high school. Using the protocol – and especially in the current environment following the school shooting in Florida – police quickly checked out the threat, searched the student’s home and determined it wasn’t credible.
But that didn’t get the student off the hook.
Police, according to protocol, placed the juvenile student under arrest for posting a threat via social media.
It won’t be the last time either, Bourque said.
And that got to the heart of the matter for the schools, and that heart is the schools want parents to really monitor their children’s’ social media accounts.
“We need help with this, as does every school district,” she said. “We also want to work with parents to start monitoring what their Chelsea are doing on social media. For us, it’s getting control of what’s going on in social media that’s of paramount importance…We need parents to be paying attention to all of the accounts. No child should have a password their parents don’t know about.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino and members of the City Council have also been asked to help with the campaign, and will do so.
“There has to be a zero tolerance for this,” he said. “Kids can’t be posting these kinds of things on social media. They will get in trouble for it. There are just too many serious things going on with this to be making these kinds of threatening posts.”
Bourque said there have been no credible threats discovered from the posts that have happened this year, including the one on Friday.
Most of the time, she said, it’s about posturing, but it’s a posture that’s going to land kids in serious trouble.
“It’s mostly students trying to portray themselves as something they are not,” she said. “They are bad judgment calls in putting themselves out there in that way, but it’s something that will get them in trouble.”
Senator Sal DiDomenico recently joined State Senators and Representatives from throughout the United States during the 2017 National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Summit held in Boston. Each year elected officials meet to share information and best practices at this conference held in different part of the country. This year’s summit was the largest in several years with over 6,000 legislators convening in our Capitol. Senator DiDomenico is a member of several NCSL committees, including Student Centered Learning, and he participated in several sessions on topics such as redistricting, education, intergovernmental affairs, media relations, and manufacturing. This summit was also attended by associations, foundations, and governmental agencies and DiDomenico met with many of these organizations including the Nellie Mae Foundation to speak about their work funding educational initiatives throughout New England. “It was great to join colleagues from throughout the country, and gather information that we can use in our own districts and throughout the Commonwealth,” said DiDomenico. “Having this summit in Boston also allowed us to showcase our collaborative approach to governing that has moved our state forward.”
Since 1975, NCSL has been the champion of state legislatures. They have helped states remain strong and independent by giving them the tools, information and resources to craft the best solutions to difficult problems. They fought against unwarranted actions in Congress and saved states more than $1 billion. They strive to improve the quality and effectiveness of the state legislatures, promote policy innovation and communication, and ensure states have a strong cohesive voice.
For less than the cost of movie ticket, Chelsea students can enjoy the magic of Boston Red Sox baseball at Fenway Park this summer. The Red Sox are offering young fans affordable tickets to games through the team’s Student 9’s program, which provides high school and college students the opportunity to purchase $9 tickets with a valid student ID at every home game.
“We want to make sure that this new generation of fans finds Fenway Park accessible, affordable, and enjoyable. It’s essential to the future of our game,” said Red Sox President Sam Kennedy. “We introduced the student 9’s to remove cost as a barrier for students, and allow for the spontaneity of deciding to come to a game last minute. Students can now come to Fenway Park for less than the cost of a movie ticket and with little advance planning.”
Student 9’s are the lowest priced tickets at Fenway Park and provide access with guaranteed standing room tickets and the potential for an upgrade pending availability.
Young fans can register to receive student offers by visiting redsox.com/student or text ‘students’ to the Red Sox at 23215 to sign up for alerts at any time.
Student tickets will be delivered to mobile devices or available through the Ballpark App. Students can scan their ticket directly from their phone when they arrive at the ballpark gates, and are asked to bring their student ID for verification to gain entry.
Student 9’s are part of the Red Sox’ “Calling All Kids” initiative, an ongoing effort to connect baseball to the next generation of fans. Calling All Kids aims to provide greater access to Red Sox games, enhance the kids experience at Fenway Park and celebrate the game of baseball in the community.
Chelsea Police are following several leads and interviewing witnesses regarding a brazen and brutal stabbing on Blossom Street Monday afternoon by multiple attackers.
Capt. Keith Houghton said the 14-year-old is a student at Chelsea High School (CHS), but was not at school on the day of the attack.
Supt. Mary Bourque confirmed that the student was absent and the school – though nearby – was never part of the attack and was never in any jeopardy. She did confirm he was a student there, but could not give his name.
Police said around 1:40 p.m. the young man was stabbed multiple times by at least three people – one of whom was on a bike.
Witnesses at the scene said they had observed the attack and saw the three alleged perpetrators flee up Carmel Street.
Those witnesses then found the young man lying in the street and gravely injured. They alerted police, who responded and had the young man transported to Mass General.
He was in serious condition at first, but is now in stable condition.
“Two detectives interviewed the witnesses and have briefly been able to speak to the victim at the hospital,” said Houghton. “Based on that information and evidence recovered at the scene, we are working on identifying his attackers.”
Houghton said one of the first things police did when they found out the age of the youth was to check CHS and make sure the incident hadn’t started there or filtered into there. It was quickly confirmed, he said, that all was quiet at the school and that the young man had not reported to school on Monday.
Unconfirmed reports on the street were that the young man – after having been stabbed – was crawling up Addison and Blossom Street and pleading for help, calling out that his attackers were going to kill him. Those cries for help, perhaps, are what alerted several nearby witnesses to the brazen daylight attack and sent the perpetrators fleeing.
The summer will officially come to an end for several thousand school children in Chelsea early next week when they report back to school for the fall semester.
Superintendent Mary Bourque said school will start on Tuesday, Aug. 26 this year and students should be ready to report to their various schools bright and early.
“I want to welcome all students back for a year of purposeful learning on Tuesday, August 26,” said Bourque. “Our faculty and staff are working hard to prepare our buildings and our lessons to support a year of student success. We are excited to begin the 2014-2015 school year with everyone.”
This week, new teachers have already reported for training, and administrators will be on a retreat today, Aug. 21.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes greeting Chelsea High School (CHS) students is new Principal Priti Johari – who officially took over the reins this past summer from former Principal Joe Mullaney. Johari said in an interview over the summer that she is ready to welcome students back and build new relationships with parents and the community.
The annual Teacher’s Breakfast with Superintendent Bourque will take place on Monday, Aug. 25.
Mary Beth Tinker (center, top) visited Chelsea High School
last week to talk about her family’s groundbreaking Supreme
Court fight (Tinker Case) in the 1960s that changed
First Amendment rights for students in public high schools.
After giving a presentation to the students, she toured the
school. Pictured here (front) Journalist Mike Hiestand from
the Student Law Center, CHS History teacher Ilana Ascher.
(back) CHS Principal Joe Mullaney, Sarah Bourois, Tinker,
Kathleen Castillo and Milica Ivanis.
It’s not often that an ordinary person who made extraordinary history can visit a classroom and enlighten students about the details and downfalls of what they went through to make history.
However, that was just the case when Mary Beth Tinker visited Chelsea High School (CHS) last Wednesday afternoon.
“I think the students had a great time with Mary Beth, and as a history teacher it was dream situation for them to learn details about the Constitution and talk to a person who made history regarding the Constitution,” said CHS History Teacher Ilana Ascher. “This is a person who 30 years later is still involved in making change. The students learned that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. You don’t have to be elected to a political office. She was a great role model for our kids and it’s something that will definitely stay with them.”
The Tinker Case – as it has come to be known – was a groundbreaking decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1969 and it rewrote the rules for the First Amendment rights of students in public schools. It also gave birth to the Tinker Test, which is still used by administrators across the country as a measuring stick for what is and is not allowed.
The case began in December 1965 when about two dozen students of all ages in Des Moines, IA agreed to wear black armbands with peace signs to school to support a truce in the Vietnam War. School officials there found out about it prior to the action, and agreed to suspend students wearing the armbands.
On Dec. 16, 1965, many students wore the armbands, but Tinker, her brother, another male student and two others were singled out for suspension. The case took a wild and difficult ride through the courts, but by February 1969, the Supreme Court came down with its groundbreaking decision in favor of the Tinkers, thus changing the rights of public school students from then on.
It didn’t come without a cost though, as the family had numerous death threats and harassing phone calls. Once, someone even stopped at their house and threw several cans of red paint all over it. After the case, they were pressured to move away from Iowa.
Ascher said the visit was very much about good timing.
Last spring, students in her Advanced Placement History class were embarking on a research paper and video project. The young people wanted to research court cases that had to do with teen-agers, and so that led them to the Tinker Case. As fate would have it, they found an e-mail for Tinker and contacted her.
“The students were pleasantly surprised when she e-mailed them back and was willing to answer their questions and be part of their project,” said Ascher. “They asked her several questions and she responded. This fall, she announced that she was taking a nationwide tour to promote student activism. Due to last spring’s project, she contacted us and asked if the tour could come to Chelsea High. We were thrilled.”
Ascher said for students to meet someone who changed the course of the country – and helped give them rights in school – was quite a unique experience.
“I think what they got out of it was that at any age you can make a difference,” said Ascher. “They heard it’s important to fight for your rights and that you have rights no matter what age you are…It was a pretty cool message, especially coming from someone who as a teen was able to make a big change in the country.”
Chelsea resident Tracy Syverain will appear on the popular
‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ show this afternoon at 12:30
p.m. on WCVB. The 33-year-old resident said if she wins, she
will give most of the money to her mother.
Chelsea resident and Chelsea High graduate Tracy Syverain was announced this week as a contestant on the popular ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ game show – with her appearance coming today, March 14th.
The show with Syverain will appear on WCVB Boston (ABC) at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14th.
While the details couldn’t be revealed prior to the show about whether or not Syverain actually became a millionaire, the 33-year-old Cottage Street resident shared that if she did become a millionaire on the show, she would give it mostly to her mother.
“My mom is the love of my life,” she said. “She was a single mom, raising my siblings and I, while working two jobs seven days a week. Yet, she was always home in time to help us with our homework. After 30 years of working non-stop, I want to thank my mom by giving her most of my winnings.”
Syverain is a 1997 graduate of CHS and still resides in Chelsea, after having attained a degree in political science from UMass-Amherst.
She said she is well known around Chelsea for riding her hot pink motor scooter – which she has named ‘Cherry Darling’ – whenever she has to run errands in the neighborhood. Additionally, the scooter also brought her true love, as her boyfriend worked at the dealership where she bought the scooter.
In addition, if she happens to strike it rich on TV today, she said she would pay off her student loans and go to law school.