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KIPP charters a course for graduates

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Valedictorian Rachana Chau speaks at the graduation.

By MATT DEMIRS

LYNN — Constant commotion from the audience didn’t stop KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate graduates from celebrating proudly Thursday night at City Hall.  

The Class of 2014 was asked to look back at freshman orientation by Drea Jacob, KALC school leader.

“That day you signed your commitment to be the best you can be,” she said. “And you are.”

Graduates will be moving on with an impressive achievement: 90 percent of the class will be moving onto higher education.

“The class of 2017 submitted 1,340 college applications and received 550 acceptances,” said Jacob, who also spoke of other accomplishments such as the record setting basketball team, the impressive cast of the musical In the Heights, and the poetry club Indigo Society, who won the state championship this year, and even performed at the graduation ceremonies.

“You have made the path and continue to make the path for students to follow since you were in kindergarten,” she said.

Valedictorian Rachana Chau spoke on how thankful she was for the memories shared between her classmates, friends and teachers, yet managed to still keep things real for the class moving forward.

“It doesn’t get better,” she said. “There will be setbacks, there will be tears but everything is temporary.”

Yesenia Bandoo, the class elected speaker, had similar encouragement in a speech reaping plenty of laughs.

“No matter what happens in life, it won’t last,” she said. “That means the happy times, like today, won’t last forever, but so won’t the bad. Aye?”

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High school was difficult for Bandoo. During her junior year she wanted to drop out and give up on everything, she said. She was told she wouldn’t make it and began doubting her own abilities.

But it was that guidance and encouragement from the community at KIPP giving her the confidence to make strides. Now, she’s graduating and off to college.

“Change I can’t to I just did,” she said. “Push other people like someone pushed me.”

Graduates cheered loudly for their keynote speaker and his relationship to them and their school.

Damian Ramsey, a former teacher, delivered fond memories and sound advice, many from his own experience.

“Remember having to earn your chair and desk in the fifth grade or writing persuasive essays to get your teacher to eat insects?”

These were just some of the memories shared by Ramsey who also spoke of the potential they developed at such an early age.

“From the day you first came you were destined for greatness.”

In addition to making the Class of 2017 chime into a sing-a-long of the theme song from Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Ramsey asked the graduates to set goals past college.

“Getting to college or even getting through college is not the end goal,” he said. “It is about accomplishing one goal and pursuing the next.”


Matt Demirs can be reached at mdemirs@itemlive.com

 

 

 

 

Celebration time for North Shore students

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Lisette Orellana, Lynn Vocational Technical Institute graduate and North Shore Community College Class of 2018, was a student speaker.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — McKennsie Brunet, a high school freshman, celebrated the completion of her first two college courses Wednesday night.

More than 225 Lynn high school students earned college credits through the Early College Program at North Shore Community College this year. The Early College Program at NSCC allows qualified high school and home-schooled students to earn college credit while completing high school graduation requirements in a variety of ways.

Credits can be earned through dual enrollment in college courses offered at the high school, on the college campus, or online; by transferring approved course credits from high school course work to NSCC; by earning Advanced Placement credits from high school courses with a successful AP exam score; or by earning a qualifying score on a College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam.

Brunet, 15, was one of 12 freshmen to participate in the afternoons following her regular school day at Lynn Classical High School. She hopes to become a district music teacher and plays the clarinet, saxophone and piano.

“I’m planning on getting my first degree out of the way so I can go for my next degree,” she said.

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“It took a lot of courage to get to this point,” said Dr. Catherine Latham, superintendent of Lynn Public Schools. “Just to sign up for a course took courage. And you did it. You have made all of us at Lynn Public Schools very proud. It validates what we do and what our teachers do.”

Dr. Patricia Gentile, president of NSCC, told the students they outperformed the school’s regular program students with 85 percent of enrolled students completing the program. About 79 percent of students who enroll in the regular college courses complete the classes, Gentile said. The average age of a regular student is 27 years old.

“These are college-level courses,” Gentile said. “They’re not watered down. By the time you graduate, you can have up to 30 credits to your name. That’s one full year of college; one full year of college free. It’s going to give you an edge that not every high school student gets.”

Applications for the Summer 2017 Early College program are due May 25. The semester runs from July 5 to Aug. 15.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Budget cuts end Summer Police Academy

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Jeffery Robles, left, and Aratris Chaviano dust for fingerprints at the Lynn Summer Police Academy.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — The Lynn Summer Police Academy has been canceled because of shortfalls in the budget.

The Lynn Police Department posted on its Facebook page Tuesday that the six-week program would not run in the Summer of 2017 because of  “severe budget cuts.” Last year, the academy graduated 47 students from the six-week program in its 10th year.

The free academy is broken up into classroom time and hands-on activities with lectures by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Lynn Police Department. It’s intended to offer teenagers interested in law enforcement real-life policing experience.

It is organized by student resource officers Bob Hogan, Ryan McDermott, and Mark Lee, who work hands-on with the students, and paid for by the city. More than 90 teens, age 13 to 18, applied last year and 60 were chosen to participate. According to the Facebook post, applications had already begin to flow in for this summer’s program.

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The students, or cadets, learn about Lynn’s domestic violence unit, gang unit, drug task force and identification unit. The crime scene reconstruction unit creates a mockup of a scene and challenges the participants to act as detectives and solve the crime.

The cadets go on field trips and learn from agencies that don’t typically offer such services, McDermott said. A trip to the State House, Gillette Stadium, both Lynn courthouses, Middleton House of Corrections, and a ride on a State Police boat were just a few of the group’s adventures last year.

Police Chief Michael Mageary told the City Council’s Public Safety and Public Health Committee in April his department is operating with 181 officers, down from about 193 in 2013. Based on next year’s budget and contractual obligations, he predicted the trend would continue. Last year, the department downsized to six patrol cars with two officers in each, from six one-person patrol cars and four, two-person cars, he said.

“We hope to bring this program back in 2018. We apologize to everyone who already submitted an application,” the post reads.

A new approach to fighting opioids

By STEVE FREKER

MALDEN The city and Medford will fight opioid addiction with a pair of first-in-the-nation financial settlements engineered by state Attorney General Maura Healey.

Medford Public Schools this week announced they would be using their $18,000 grant for an opioid education program designed as a curriculum addition in the schools. Malden officials are still formulating plans for use of the $21,000 grant they received through the program.

Medford Public Schools and the Malden Public Schools are two of 40 school systems or public service agencies receiving grants to fund two-year programs in conjunction with the attorney general’s newly-formed Youth Opioid Prevention (YOP) program.

Healey announced the formation of the program shorty after a  landmark $1.4 million settlement with CVS in November 2016 over opioid dispensing policies.

At that time Healey said $500,000 of the settlement funds would be seed money for the YOP program. Two months later, a second first-in-the-U.S. agreement on a $200,000 settlement with Walgreens was announced. All of those funds were designated for the YOP program, Healey said.

“Supporting youth opioid education and prevention programs is a top priority for my office and we are seeing an incredible unmet need for funding across the state,” Healey said. “That’s why we decided to structure these settlements to put as many resources into local communities as possible. This won’t allow us to fund every great proposal, but it’s an important step toward beating this epidemic.”

A representative from Healey’s office said the successful Malden and Medford grant applications were among 125 applicants who sought close to $4 million to fund proposals to educate youth on the dangers and consequences of opioid use and addiction.

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Medford Public Schools plan to implement a multi-step program called The Michigan Model.

A report prepared  by the Medford High Health and Physical Education Department and Director Rachel Perry, is a “nationally-recognized comprehensive and skills-based health curriculum that is aligned to national health education standards” that has “consistently  shown effectiveness … including declining numbers in alcohol and drug use, unhealthy eating and other risky feelings such as anger and stress.”   

Medford School Superintendent Roy Belson noted the adoption of The Michigan Model system is intended to fortify opioid education from the ground up, not just at the high school level, on a schoolwide basis.

“Making good decisions is at the heart of any viable effort to prevent addiction … Our goal is to build resiliency and coping skills in our elementary and middle school students by providing them with strategies for healthy decision making,” Belson stated in a recent report to the Medford School Committee as it announced acceptance of the grant.

Malden city officials also welcomed the funding. “We are very pleased to receive this grant and it will be used to enhance our ongoing effort to educate our youth in our community,” Malden Mayor Gary Christenson said.

One of the most recent initiatives announced recently by activist group Malden Overcoming Addiction (MOA) and President Paul Hammersley, parallels Medford’s anti-addiction strategy by initiating an educational model on opioid addiction at the earliest levels in the school system.

“We will never get control of this epidemic until prevention becomes a priority,” Healey said in a statement. “With these grants, we will partner with schools and community organizations to empower young people and protect the next generation from falling victim to this public health crisis. But, these grants are only a start, we must continue to address this unmet need.”

 

Deadline Friday for Lynn Youth Summer Jobs

BY BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — Applications for the Lynn Youth Summer Jobs program are due Friday.

The program is supported by the Lynn Parks and Recreation Division of the Department of Public Works.

Young adults ages 17 to 21 will be considered for the five-week parks and recreation summer job program, which runs from Wednesday, July 5 to Aug. 4, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Counselor positions pay $11 per hour; supervisor positions $13 per hour; and clinic instructors are paid $11 per hour.

Applicants for a counselor position at the Lynn Special Needs Camp should be between the ages of 16 and 21. The five-week job will run from July 5 through Aug, 4 and pay $11 per hour.

Applications are available at Lynn City Hall’s Personnel Department Room 412, the DPW at 250 Commercial St., and online at www.lynnma.gov. They should be returned to Room 412.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

O’Brien: Lender hurt homeowners

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN  Southern Essex Register of Deeds John O’Brien applauded the Division of Banks’ decision to temporarily suspend Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC’s ability to do business in Massachusetts.

“Ocwen is a financially troubled company that has been misleading and hurting innocent homeowners for some time now,” said O’Brien in a statement. “In their quest for financial gain, Ocwen has been victimizing these homeowners and it has to stop.”

Massachusetts took the action Monday with more than 20 other states to address issues related to the Florida-based company’s operations.

Ocwen services 34,472 loans in the Bay State. Of that number, 1,256 mortgages are held by homeowners who own property in southern Essex County since 2004.

Among other violations, the commissioner charged Ocwen has failed to accurately manage escrow accounts.

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The multistate examinations and monitoring revealed serious violations of consumer protection statutes and regulations and significant concerns with Ocwen’s ability to remain a growing concern, the state said.

“With the filing of these actions it gives me hope these homeowners will see an end to this injustice and that Ocwen will finally be held accountable for their actions,” O’Brien said.

Of paramount concern is the company’s deteriorating financial condition. Ocwen has lost nearly $1 billion since 2014, and will not be profitable by its own estimations for at least two years, the state said.  The company has not developed or implemented an effective plan to curb these losses, the state said.

The order requires Ocwen to implement a plan to transfer its loan servicing activities for Massachusetts consumer mortgage loans to state-approved servicers.  It also requires Ocwen to fund or place mortgage loan applications in process with other lenders at no loss to applicants, and to cease accepting new applications.

“Our office alone has received numerous calls over the years from homeowners regarding Ocwen’s bullying tactics,” said O’Brien. “If any homeowner in Essex County requires any deed or mortgage documents from our Registry in their fight against Ocwen, we stand ready to assist. Please contact us at 978-542-1700 or email us at southernessexcustomerservice@sec.state.ma.us.”

In response, Ocwen has filed for restraining orders and injunctions against Massachusetts and Illinois regulators arguing the cease and desist demand will harm consumers.

“Ocwen has a responsibility to its customers, shareholders, and employees to vigorously defend the company,” the firm said in a statement.

The allegations do not arise out of a recent assessment of Ocwen’s business activities, the company said. Instead, they come from a 2015 multi-state examination of the firm’s mortgage servicing business by the Multi-State Mortgage Committee, which covered Ocwen’s activities from January 2013 to February 2015.

The company said they remain committed to working with Massachusetts and the other state regulators to resolve any valid concerns, and has commenced those efforts.

“Ocwen’s ability to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure remain in their home through responsible loan modifications continues to positively impact communities across the country,” the company said.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

North Shore Community Promise: free tuition

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
North Shore Community College will offer a “free college” pilot program starting in the fall.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN North Shore Community College is launching a program that will help students who don’t qualify for full financial aid go to school for free.

The school is seeking 100 new, full-time students to apply for the North Shore Promise Award pilot program, which will launch in the Fall 2017 semester. The initiative offers free college to prospective students who are being priced out of higher education because they are not poor enough to qualify for full federal and state grant aid but also can’t pay out of pocket.

NSCC will be the first community college in the Northeast to offer a self-funded free college program.

“Commonwealth residents are opting out of pursuing post-secondary education and training as the sticker shock of a college degree and pervasive stories of crippling student debt have many questioning the return on college investment,” NSCC President Patricia A. Gentile said in a statement. “This is especially true for lower and middle income families who are rapidly being priced out of the college-going market. And this is especially bad news for area employers competing for skilled and credentialed workers.”

Gentile said years of analyzing the school’s enrollment led to the realization that there are a significant amount of potential students who, despite the relative affordability of community college, fall into the gap of not believing they can afford an education. Annual tuition and fees for a full-time student total $6,060.

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“With a booming economy, these folks are choosing employment but we know that without post-secondary qualifications they are at great risk for unemployment or lack of advancement potential when the economy declines,” Gentile said. “NSCC is committed to making college affordable for even more students to achieve the life-long dream of a college degree with less student debt.”

Applications are being accepted at the school on a first-come, first-serve basis for the first 100 qualified students. Interested potential students need to apply for the award and be accepted by May 1.

To be eligible for the award, potential students must:

  • Enroll as a new student with at least 15 credits in an eligible Commonwealth commitment pathway or an eligible NSCC program for the Fall 2017 semester
  • Be a Massachusetts resident
  • Have a high school GPA of 2.3 or higher
  • File a 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) prior to May 1
  • Be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant
  • Be willing to complete a degree at NSCC in two-and-a-half years or five continuous semesters
  • Meet NSCC’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements throughout enrollment

Gentile said the school anticipates that most of those who will take advantage of the program will be first-generation college goers who likely come from more disadvantaged North Shore neighborhoods.

“These are the folks who are having the most difficulty affording the cost of a college degree, yet they compose the largest untapped pool of underdeveloped talent for those future high and middle skilled jobs,” Gentile said.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

 

High school students sample life at NSCC

By LEAH DEARBORN

A number of students from Lynn Public Schools toured North Shore Community College (NSCC) Friday morning to get a better sense of what it has to offer.

“Even a two-year degree will help you find a job that’s a living wage job,” said Dr. Karen Hynick, vice president of academic affairs, as she spoke to a group from English, Classical, and Lynn Vocational Technical Institute high schools.

She said the college has strong academic support programs and a lot of opportunities for extracurricular activities.

Following an introduction, students were brought through three “mini classes,” got a chance to speak with members of the faculty, and took part in a student panel.

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Nineteen percent of new students at the college come from public high schools in Lynn. Overall, 25.6 percent of the students at NSCC live in the city, according to statistics provided by Laurie J. LaChapelle, assistant vice president of planning and research.

Dr. Dianne Palter Gill, dean of corporate and professional education, said this is the second year the college has done such an event, with financing by a grant from the public schools.

She said that last year, a number of the students who came to the tour did end up attending NSCC. Out of the crowd on Friday, a number had already been accepted and all of the seniors present for the event filled out free applications.


Leah Dearborn can be reached at ldearborn@itemlive.com.

Now’s your chance to be a Patriots cheerlader

FOXBOROUGH — The New England Patriots cheerleaders will hold open auditions for the 2017 squad on Saturday, March 4, inside the Pieri Gymnasium at Dean College in Franklin, according to a press release.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m., with the day concluding at 7 p.m., for those advancing past all rounds of the preliminary tryout.

From a biochemical research associate and an electrical engineer to a nursing assistant, financial planner and middle school teacher, last year’s team was comprised of a spirited group hailing from a number of exciting and eclectic backgrounds, the release said.

Approximately 28 members will make up the 2017 squad. All women 18 years or older are invited to audition.

Aspiring members must first complete an online application via the Gillette Stadium website. On the day of the auditions, candidates will be taught choreographed dance routines and will be given an opportunity to perform a freestyle combination. At the end of the preliminary rounds, judges will narrow the field to 40-50 women.

The group will be invited to the final round of auditions Saturday, March 18. A more detailed description of the audition process can be found at www.patriots.com/cheerleaders.

In addition to performing at all Patriots home games in front of nearly 70,000 fans, those selected will have the opportunity to participate in various community-involvement experiences, and are requested to attend a minimum of two rehearsals per week.

Members of the squad will also be able to take part in a number of travel opportunities including a trip to the Dominican Republic in June for their annual calendar and video shoot. Since Sept. 11, 2001, cheerleaders have visited deployed military troops in more than 25 countries and performed in over two dozen combat areas.

Most recently, during the team’s trip to Houston for Super Bowl LI, cheerleaders appeared on nationally-televised programs such as “Good Morning America,” ESPN’s “First Take” and “Inside Edition.” The squad has also been featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, Maxim and Muscle and Fitness Hers.

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Apply for Civilian Police Academy in Saugus

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — The Saugus Police Department is accepting applications for its 9-week Civilian Police Academy program.

The academy is free to the public and begins on Feb. 15. The department offers the program to inform community members about a wide range of police-related topics, including firearms awareness, domestic violence, juvenile and drug problems, accidents, motor vehicle law, and patrol procedures.

Participants will go for a ride-along with a police officer and tour the Middleton House of Correction.   

Applications are available online at www.sauguspd.org under the News section and on the Saugus Police Department’s Facebook page. Completed applications should be mailed, dropped off at the Police Department at 27 Hamilton Street in Saugus or emailed to smoynihan@sauguspd.com by Tuesday.

Residents 18 and older who are interested in becoming a police officer or curious about the inner-workings of the police department are encouraged to sign up.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

 

KIPP ACADEMY LYNN LOTTERY APPLICATIONS NOW AVAILABLE

KIPP Academy Lynn Elementary, Middle, and High Schools are free, open enrollment, charter public schools serving students grades K-2 and 5-12 in the 2017-2018 school year. KIPP welcomes all families interested in enrolling their children at KIPP to fill out an application to enter into the random lottery, which will be held the week of Feb. 27, 2017. Lottery applications and additional information are available at www.kippma.org/enroll or can be picked up at 90 High Rock St., and 20 Wheeler St., Suite 404.

The deadline to submit lottery forms is Friday, Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. Late applications cannot be accepted.

KIPP staff and leadership will be hosting Open Houses at 90 High Rock St. (middle and high schools) on Thursday, Jan. 26 and Thursday, Feb. 9 from 5-7 p.m.

KIPP’s program is based on a longer school day and year, academic and character development, a relentless focus on student outcomes and college graduation, and support for students to and through college and career.

If you have questions, please call:

KIPP Academy Lynn Elementary School (grades K-2)
Rebecca Hazlett 781-558-9263

KIPP Academy Lynn Middle School (grades 5-8)
Mariela Alvarez 781-598-1609 ext 1133

KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate High School (grades 9-12)
Monica Bruno 781-598-1609 ext 1134