High School

Garden Club in full bloom after 90 years

Pictured are some of the past club presidents. Back row, from left, Edie Hunnewell, Suzanne Hamill, Jeannie Delaney, and Nancy Whitman. Front row, Marie Ford, Helen Clements, Calantha Sears, and Angela Bonin.


NAHANT — As the Nahant Garden Club celebrates 90 years, long-time member and past president Calantha Sears is reflecting on its evolution.

Sears has been involved with the club for almost as long as it has been in existence.

“My mother was a member when the Garden Club started in 1927,” Sears said. “When I was about 9 or 10 years old, in the 1930s, I remember participating in an annual flower show, which was held every summer at the Town Hall. There would be flowers shown by town members, such as dahlias, and judges who selected the best of the bunch, and horticulture-related classes.

“Even the children participated in the display of flowers, in a very simplistic way, and we too would be judged,” Sears said.

When she got older, Sears served as a waitress at an afternoon tea that was also held during the show.

“That was a real honor,” she said.

In the 1950s, Sears had children of her own, and they participated with her just as she had with her mother.

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“When flower arranging was incorporated into the event, I did that,” Sears said. “It is a joy to watch as a vase and some flowers evolve into an integrated arrangement of beauty. While this annual flower show, which really was quite a social event in the town, ceased to exist, it is noteworthy that today’s Garden Club has a strong emphasis on flower arranging. It is as if we are going back to our roots.”

The Garden Club held a scaled-down version of its traditional flower show Thursday at The Cary Street Club in Nahant. About a dozen flower arrangement entries in four categories were received and critiqued by a panel of judges. Eight of the club’s past presidents were in attendance.

The club has about 100 members, including several male members, which president Margaret Blank said is not very common. Blank said membership has grown dramatically over the past few years.

Volunteers maintain the planters along Nahant Road, which they installed several years ago, the traffic islands in front of the Nahant Life Saving Station and near 40 Steps Beach. They also take care of the replanted garden in front of Spindrift, Nahant’s senior housing.

Members meet for fundraisers, recruit new members by inviting them for a beverage and pizza, and award a $2,000 scholarship to a high school senior annually.

This year’s recipient is Swampscott High School senior Karol Wabno, who will study environmental science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the fall.

About 30 members of the junior gardening program at the Johnson Elementary School maintain daffodil and perennial gardens behind the school. They are also working on a butterfly garden, Blank said.

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

Words to live by

A girl wears a decorated cap at the Medford High School and Medford Vocational Technical High School graduation.

High school seniors spend months anticipating graduation and just participating in a milestone event in their lives. As Malden High School class orator Felicia Lombardi put it: “I feel like I have been ready to graduate since August of 2013.”

The pomp and circumstances seem to pass in a flash and, in some ways, graduation day offers a reminder for people on the verge of adulthood to savor each and every moment.

Speakers at more than a dozen graduations held since late May in Lynn and surrounding communities took time to reflect and offer words of wisdom that are poignant for their ability to reflect youthful optimism and a refusal to look at the world as a dark and damaged place.

St. Mary’s High School salutatorian Katie Cadigan, waxing philosophical, reminded fellow seniors: “Time … has the power to rob you, and the power to give.”

In an equally eloquent reflection, Lynn Vocational Technical Institute senior Ashley Pimentel reminded classmates, “No one can tell us what lies ahead.” Her words are equal parts warning and message of defiance reminding the Class of 2017 that the time has come to fully take life into their own hands.

Lynn School Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham reminded Fecteau-Leary graduates that “60 percent of job opportunities are tied to your high school diploma.” Latham knows that the students who use their diploma as a stepping stone to trade skills training or an advanced degree put themselves on a path to lifetime success.

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Another veteran education leader, Peabody Interim Superintendent Herb Levine told Class of 2017 members to “be nice.”

“I know that sounds simple, but we need that in this world.”

Swampscott High class vice president Claire Powell urged classmates to greet the world with “determination and resilience.”

Malden Catholic Headmaster Thomas Doherty reminded graduating seniors “we are truly a family” with bonds to the school enduring long after graduation. Classical High School salutatorian Calvin Cheung referenced Mark Twain to remind his classmates that graduation might be the day they detect their life’s purpose.

Latham amplified that theme in remarks to English High School seniors when she urged them to go through life with an open mind to new ideas and a willingness to take chances.

Some of the thousands of Lynn area students who marked this spring by graduating from high school will leave their communities for distant places. Some will travel halfway around the world to serve their country. Some will start college careers. Some will stay in Lynn, Malden, Medford or Saugus.

We urge all of them, including Revere and Knowledge Is Power Program seniors who graduated last night and Marblehead seniors who will stride across the stage on Sunday to heed Medford High School faculty speaker Andrew Milne’s suggestion: “Get yourself to your own starting line.”

Congratulate a graduate in print

Congratulate a student or an entire class on the day their photos appear in The Daily Item and/or La Voz.

Take a look at the schools we will be covering this year:

  • Bishop Fenwick*
  • Lynn Classical
  • Lynn English
  • Lynn Tech
  • Lynnfield High*
  • Marblehead High*
  • Malden High*
  • Malden Catholic*
  • Medford High*
  • Peabody High
  • Revere High
  • Saugus High*
  • St. John’s Prep*
  • St. Mary’s
  • Swampscott High*

* Daily Item only

We will provide expansive coverage of this year’s local high school graduations beginning on June 5 and concluding on June 17 within The Daily Item.

La Voz will feature coverage in its June 15 edition.

Say congratulations through a color business card size ad (3.38″w x 2″h) for $50.00 ($25.00 for greyscale).

Call us at 781-593-7700 and simply say, “I’d like to place a graduation ad.” Our customer service team will be happy to assist you.

Larger ads are available. For additional information call 781-593-7700 and ask for the sales department.

All photos published in the Daily Item can be purchased online by visiting Itemlive.com. Talk to our customer service team for instructions.

Students explore careers at Shadow Day

Saugus Police Department Det. Frank Morello, left, and Det. Sgt. Paul VanSteensburg, third from right, taught Saugus High School juniors, from left, Brittaney Sudanowicz, Robert McGrane, Briana Forgione, Mike Rothwell, Allie Kotkowsky, Hayden Costa, Tiffany Bravo, Alexa Faysal, and Christian Heffernan, how to safely handle and shoot a gun.


SAUGUS — While some high schoolers were learning how to bake Thursday morning, others were learning how to safely shoot a gun.

More than 60 high schoolers shadowed professionals in the workforce to get a taste of the careers they are interested in. Laurie Golan, a math teacher at the school who retired last spring, organized the program for more than 20 years. This May, the tradition was passed on to guidance councilor Bethany Norton.

Saugus Firefighter Bill Cross said he’s been volunteering for Shadow Day for more than two decades and has seen at least five students grow up to work for the department.

Three juniors took on a day as a firefighter Thursday: Danny McCullough, Ryan Groark, and Nick Sanderson. All three admitted the job was more difficult than they expected, though none of them were ready to step down from the challenge.

“We did a simulation of a fire and it was really hard doing that simulation,” said McCullough. “We wore back out shields and had no idea where we were. But (in this job) you’re making a difference.”

“It’s cool how they do their jobs and save lives,” said Sanderson.

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During their visit, Cross said they put up an aerialStere practicing in an unrealistic setting that didn’t involve smoke, heat, or the anxiety of getting someone out of a burning building.

“They did it all wrong, they didn’t stick together, but that’s how you learn,” Cross said.

Next door at the Saugus Police Department, about half-a-dozen teens toured the station, got a glimpse at the holding cells, and learned how to shoot AR-15 rifles and glock handguns. The students were taught about firearm safety before setting out for the shooting range.

Alice Kotkowski, a junior, said she recently decided to pursue a career in law enforcement. She’s interested in becoming a private investigator or working in forensic science.

“I just think it’s really cool how they can figure out who people are through such little evidence and with science,” she said.

Brittney Sudanowicz liked learning how to shoot a gun. She hasn’t decided on a career path, but said that law enforcement is in the running. She was surprised to learn Thursday how many different jobs there are in police work.

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

Celebration time for North Shore students

Lisette Orellana, Lynn Vocational Technical Institute graduate and North Shore Community College Class of 2018, was a student speaker.


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.

Nowicki a circular sensation for St. Mary’s

Mia Nowicki has turned in one of the best performances in Spartans softball history.


There are certain moments that can define an entire career, or games that can define an entire season. Monday’s game between the Austin Prep and St. Mary’s softball teams is one that can be deemed an instant classic, and a huge moment in the career of Spartans senior, Mia Nowicki.

Nowicki turned in one of the best performances in Spartans softball history Monday, as she did it all against Austin Prep on the road to lead St. Mary’s to a 1-0 win in 13 innings.

Nowicki went the distance for the Spartans, striking out 27. As if that wasn’t enough, she also cracked a solo home run to give her team the win in the 13th, handing St. Mary’s rival Austin Prep its first loss of the season. The Spartans (10-1) clinched a state tournament berth with the victory and moved into a tie for first place, with Austin Prep (9-1), in the Catholic Central League. It also helps ease the pain of the Spartans’ loss to the Cougars in last season’s Division 3 North final.

“I haven’t seen anything like it,” St. Mary’s coach Paige Licata said of Nowicki’s performance Monday. “I can’t even describe what it was like.”

The righthander, who has committed to play softball at Assumption College next season, has been pitching for the Spartans for six years. Widely regarded as one of the most formidable pitchers in the area, Nowicki lived up to the hype Monday, as she does almost every time she steps into the circle.

“Dominant isn’t the right word. It’s hard to come up with a word for what she did,” said St. Mary’s athletic director Jeff Newhall. “For that to happen against an opponent that’s undefeated, it carries even more meaning.”

“My riseball and two-seam fastball were working really good,” Nowicki said, adding that she was able to locate her pitches better than she had over the past few games.

In the 12th, Nowicki ran into trouble with two outs and the bases loaded. The Spartans intentionally walked two of Austin Prep’s best hitters, and it was up to Nowicki to keep the runner on third.

“I knew I just needed to get her to hit it and not walk her,” Nowicki said. “I think being a senior captain, and taking on that role of always staying positive and not showing defeat or nerves, it helped keep me in it.”

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She ran the count to 3-1 on the hitter, but buckled down to strike her out and keep the game going.

“I don’t know how a kid in high school handles that, we’re on the road and it was a big crowd,” Licata said. “Everyone was screaming, and there’s a girl 60 feet from scoring. One bad pitch and she could score. But she wasn’t panicked at all. I think I might need a pacemaker, but I don’t know how she could do that, with all the pressure solely on her. Unbelievable.”

Nowicki clearly handled the pressure well, because she knocked in a home run to give St. Mary’s the lead the next half inning.

“I had struck out my past two at-bats, and I made an adjustment because I struggle with outside pitches, so I moved closer to the plate,” Nowicki recalled. “I stopped thinking and relaxed, and swung at the first one I liked.”

The win was a game to remember for St. Mary’s.

“It’s a big win because we beat a phenomenal team,” Licata said. “Three great things happened today.”

It was also a thrill for the big crowd that came to watch, which included Newhall.

“Anyone who was there probably hasn’t seen a softball game quite like that before,” said Newhall, who coached Nowicki for five seasons with the St. Mary’s basketball team. “I can’t imagine they’ll see another like that again.”

And, Newhall said, it was especially sweet to see the hard work Nowicki has put in over the course of her high school career pay off in a big way.

“It’s always nice to see it happen to someone who has put as much work into her craft as she does,” Newhall said. “This is a kid who works really hard at this game, she puts 365 days a year into it.”


Classical High is career driven

Students look at different tables set up for the career day.


LYNN — Brandon Von isn’t sure what he’ll do after he graduates.

But the Classical High School senior couldn’t miss the two U.S. Marines dressed in uniform who manned a booth at the school’s Career Fair Thursday.

“The Marines have a band and I want to perform musically,” said Von, a clarinet player. “They told me it’s very competitive, but if I got accepted I’d play for the president.”      

Von was one of more than 700 seniors who crowded the school’s gym for the annual career event. In addition to all divisions of the military, a dozen schools and nonprofits were represented.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Aaron Smith, 20, who is stationed in Okinawa, Japan, made the pitch to a handful of students, including Von, who approached.

“I came out of high school, joined the Marines and it was the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Smith, a Gloucester resident.  “It’s an opportunity to travel, get a free college education and experience the world before you step out into it.”

On the possibility of seeing combat?

“Whatever happens, happens,” he said.

Dr. Bryan Cousin, a Lynn dentist who operates a dental assistant school that offers a certificate program, said the entry-level job is a way into the field. They offer two courses totaling $3,850.

“Some Classical students may not go to college and this is an alternative,” he said. “We have 2,000 graduates who earn between $15 to $20 per hour.”

Senior James DeOliveira talked with Cousin, but it’s unclear how serious he is about becoming a dental assistant.

“I need to floss more, but I keep forgetting,” he said. “If I was a dental assistant, it would be more of a reminder.”

Two heads better than one in Swampscott

Amy Lee, the admissions director at Southern Maine Community College, said the South Portland school is an excellent option for students who want the college experience at a community college price.

“We offer housing and programs for students who want to do trades like automotive, construction or machine work and live away from home,” she said.

Tuition for full room and board is about $9,000 annually for the two-year program.

The most popular booth was manned by the Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics. The Woburn school offers skincare and spa training programs. Tuition ranges from $6,000 to $16,500, depending on the program.

Student Esthefania Martinez said she is intrigued by the possibility of an esthetics career.

“I would like to learn how to do makeup for a career. Since I was little, I’ve done my own makeup and practiced on my friends,” she said. “So, I think this might be the right career for me.”

Gene Constantino, Classical’s principal, said the fair provides students with a variety of career opportunities to consider.

“Many of us had no idea what we would do after high school,” he said. “I was trained as a social worker and never worked a day in that job. For 40 years, I’ve been an educator.”

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


St. Mary’s hosting Holy Week retreat


LYNN — From noon on Friday through Easter vigil services on Saturday, local teens will go without food, cell phones, and shelter while praying, ministering to the homeless in Boston, and volunteering for various community service projects.

It’s all part of a 40-hour retreat for high school students that focuses on service and prayer while celebrating the Triduum, a three-day period on the liturgical calendar from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday.

This weekend,  the Hunger for Justice Retreat will draw crowds of hundreds of teens for the 20th year in a row. St. Mary’s of Lynn has hosted the event for about a decade.

The participants are seeking sponsors for each hour of the fast. Proceeds will go to Haiti180, a mission that has built a school, orphanage, and a home for the elderly, and is currently building a medical clinic benefiting the Haitian villages of Duverger and Dan Dann.

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The weekend will begin with a service at Short Beach in Nahant. After the prayer service, the teens will march to St. Thomas Church, carrying a cross and praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary for a Good Friday service and a veneration of the Cross.

They will then go to St, Mary’s for their Last Supper. The meal will be followed by games, prayer and team building activities. They will spend the night in the gymnasium. A weekend of service in Boston and Lynn will follow.

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

‘Welcome to Student Government Day’

Lynn District Fire Chief Stephen Archer leads a training session as students Gabby Graham, left and ElizabethWeeks listen.


LYNN — High school students were handed the keys to the city on Tuesday, when they were able to take over roles such as the fire chief and superintendent, or assume a place on city council.

“Welcome to Student Government Day,” said EDIC/Lynn Executive Director James Cowdell to the participating high school students. “This is one of our favorite days of the year. We hand over the keys to the city to the students, the future leaders of our great city.

Participating schools included Lynn Classical High School, Lynn English High School, Lynn Vocational and Technical Institute, St. Mary’s High School, KIPP Academy and Fecteau Leary Junior/Senior High School.

“Whatever school you’re from, we’re all from Lynn and sometimes outside of Lynn, people look at us in a negative light,” Cowdell said. “Wherever you go, be proud of your roots. You’re from Lynn, Mass. Say that with pride.”

Gabby Graham, 18, a senior at Fecteau-Leary, was district fire chief for a day, pairing up with District Fire Chief Stephen Archer. She was shown a rapid access mass decontamination drill at the former Thurgood Marshall Middle School on Porter Street, which simulated a situation where there is a large number of people exposed to some contaminant, Archer said.

Archer said in that situation, firefighters would get exposed people quickly hosed down and thoroughly decontaminated before they could be taken to the hospital. Water volumes and pressures are played with until the effective washdown is achieved. The drill showed how people are instructed to walk through a massive stream of water.

“It only takes one contaminated person to shut down a hospital and that’s what we’re trying to avoid,” Archer said.

Graham said her eyes were opened to see how much firefighters do, rather than just go into burning buildings.

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Fire Chief James McDonald was paired with his niece, Elizabeth Weeks, 18, a senior at St. Mary’s High School. He said he took her to his office, fire stations, and then to the 911 call center, where she learned what calls needed to be dispatched.

Weeks said it was interesting to see how government affects everyday life.

“You can (only) learn so much in a classroom, but having that firsthand experience gets you so much more immersed,” she said.

Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Lynn might bump smoking age to 21


LYNN – The city is considering raising the legal age for buying tobacco to 21, setting a new bar for public health.

“I like the idea,” said Michele Desmarais, Lynn’s public health director. “We need to combat TV ads that suggest smoking is cool and we just want our teens to be healthier.”

The Board of Health will consider a proposal Tuesday at City Hall to increase the age to purchase tobacco products from 18.

So far, 145 Bay State communities have adopted the proposal. There’s a bill on Beacon Hill that would raise the age statewide to 21.

A 2015 report by the National Academy of Medicine concluded that raising the tobacco sale age to 21 will enhance public health and save lives.

The study found that raising the tobacco sale age will reduce the number of teens who start smoking; reduce smoking-caused deaths; and improve the health of adolescents. About 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21, the survey said.

Proponents argue increasing the tobacco age will counter the industry’s efforts to target young people at a critical time when many go from experimenting with tobacco to regular smoking.

Christine Neals, communications manager for the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce, said the organization has not taken a position on the issue.

But Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, said his members oppose raising the age.

“Tobacco is a legal product, let consumers and stores decide what they want to buy and sell,” he said. “On the North Shore, smokers already drive a short distance to buy cigarettes in New Hampshire. If Massachusetts raises the age, more sales will leave the community.”

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Sam Vitali, a Lynn attorney who represents the Mobil station on Chestnut Street, said while merchants are not opposed to raising the age to 21 they will fight two other proposals. One would ban the sale of so-called blunt wraps. Similar to a cigarette rolling paper, they are made of tobacco.

“Why should the Board of Health prevent you from buying a product that is legal today,”  Vitali said.

In addition, he is against another plan that would restrict prices of cigars. Under the new rule, a merchant could not sell single cigars for less than $5.

“Today, I can buy a nip at a liquor store for 99 cents, but I would not be able to buy a $1 cigar,” he said. “It’s totally inconsistent.”

Joyce Redford, director of the North Shore/Cape Ann Tobacco Policy Program said she favors the measure because 18-year-old high schoolers would no longer be able to buy cigarettes and influence their younger classmates.

“It would remove that 18-year-old from high school and make cigarettes less available to eighth and ninth graders,” she said.

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

Police sweep for safety

Middleton K-9 officer Rob Peachey and his dog, Kai sweep Classical High School.


LYNN — Police and a K-9 unit swept the city’s four high schools looking for drugs and weapons on Wednesday and came up empty.

“We found nothing,” said Oren Wright, the school’s security officer who was in charge of the exercise. “The dogs found no drugs or weapons and that’s a very good day.”

As police from Lynn, Manchester by the Sea, Middleton, Winthrop, Nashua, N.H., and the state entered the schools at around 10 a.m., the buildings were in lockdown. No one was allowed in or out while students and faculty were confined to their rooms.

That’s when Vorik, a four-year-old Belgian Malinois, and his owner, Officer Guido Marchionda from the Nashua Police Department, got to work at Classical High School. Students studying math in Room A103 were asked to drop what they were doing and gather in a nearby hallway. They did so silently as the dog sniffed more than two dozen backpacks. The task was repeated in other random classrooms, but the team failed to discover weapons or narcotics.  

The hour-long task was repeated across town at English High School, Lynn Vocational Technical Institute and the Fecteau-Leary Junior/Senior High School.

While contraband was not found this time, it sends a message to students that drugs and weapons are unwelcome in the district’s schools, Wright said.

“We want the word to get out to anyone that might want to do harm or to a student who might be thinking about bringing drugs to class,” Wright said. “These lockdowns make everyone think twice since they are random.”

If drugs or weapons are found, the student faces immediate arrest, suspension and possible expulsion, he said.

Gene Constantino, Classical’s principal who accompanied Vorik and Marchionda on their rounds searching lockers and classrooms, said the annual event is a school safety check.  

“For the last five years, we’ve used this approach to let kids know we don’t want drugs in school,” he said.

One year, he said, they found narcotics in a locker and the student was suspended. But such instances are rare, he said.

Jaye Warry, deputy superintendent of schools, said over the last few years, the search has turned up few drugs or weapons.

“By and large it’s been clean with a few exceptions,” she said. “Our goal is to assure the public that we’re watching over our schools and they’re as safe as they possibly can be. It’s our way to communicate to students that drugs are not tolerated.”

St. Mary’s branching out with STEM building

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


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

Classical hero ready to hit the bigtime

Classical’s last-second hero, Marcus Rivera, celebrates the Rams’ 21-20 Thanksgiving Day win over English with teammate Nick LaBella.


LYNN As jazz artist Dinah Washington once sang, “What a difference a day makes.”

Lynn Classical’s Marcus Rivera woke up Thursday morning with nothing more on his mind than winning a Thanksgiving football game to cap off a bittersweet season.

He woke up Friday morning fielding phone calls from ESPN.

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Video of Rivera’s improbable 83-yard kick return with no time on the clock has gone viral. It was the No. 2 play on ESPN’s Top 10 plays overnight, and representatives from the network called him first thing Friday morning

As a result, he will be featured in a future segment on the network’s signature “Sportscenter” next week. But there’s a bit of a price to pay.

“They’re going to call me at 7 in the morning,” he said.

Rivera went through the same jumble of emotions as everyone else who saw Thursday’s Classical-English game.

“I thought we were done,” he said. “I thought it was over. I thought I had lost the Thanksgiving game in my senior year.”

He thought that way because English had scored a touchdown with eight seconds left in the game that, in and of itself, was the culmination of an inspired fourth-quarter comeback.

With the score 20-15 and the game pretty much considered academic, English kicked off. Classical mishandled it, and the Bulldogs got the ball back.

Now, there was bedlam on the English side of the field as fans, who had been congregating in the scoreboard corner of the end zone, spilled onto the field.

“I just wanted it to be over,” Rivera said. “I was crushed.”

But the game was not over. The referees had called a penalty, and it was against English. The Bulldogs would have to kick it over.

This time, the squib kick took a crazy bounce right in front of Classical’s Melvin Nieves, and it practically bounced into his hands.

Both Rivera and coach Tim Phelps said that as impromptu as that play may have seemed, it was tantamount to a busted play.

“It was supposed to go the other way, left,” Phelps said. “All our blockers were set up over there, and so was their defense.”

What makes Phelps marvel is that the play ended up being a happy accident.

“If it had gone the way it was supposed to have gone, he’d have had to weave his way in and out of a whole bunch of English defenders, and who knows what would have happened.”

So how did it get messed up?

“Melvin was supposed to turn and toss it to me, but he faked instead because he thought he saw a seam,” Rivera said.

But the seam closed quickly.

“Then he looked for me,” Rivera said. “But I was too far away for him to throw the ball. We had to run to each other, and just as he was getting tackled, he tossed the ball up to me.”

Then, Rivera turned the corner and started running down the right sideline.

“All I saw was green,” he said. “I just saw three people, and one of my teammates, Chase Buono, blocked the only guy who could touch me.”

“Actually,” Phelps said, “I think Chase ended up getting two guys on that play.”

After the last English defender was dealt with (this time by Nashaun Butler), Rivera had nothing but green fields and goal posts in front of him as he turned on the jets and sprinted to the end zone.

“I didn’t believe it,” he said. “Eight seconds earlier and we’re going to lose. Now, it’s ‘I’m gonna win the Thanksgiving game for us!’”

The year ended a lot better than it began for Rivera. Three plays into the team’s opener against Gloucester, Rivera suffered an injury that left him out of action for the first four games. Compounding that was the fact that the Rams lost that game, 21-19, on a last-minute touchdown pass by the Fishermen.

“That really affected our season,” said Rivera, who was vital to Phelps’ plans this season.

He came back in Week 5 against Marblehead, and was on the field for Classical’s win two weeks ago over Malden.

It took a while for the shock to wear off.

“I think it was around 8 o’clock Thursday night,” he said, “I started seeing it on the news. That’s when it sunk in.”

A day after, Phelps was thinking of his coaching brethren across the field.

“That had to be awfully tough for Chris (Carroll) and English,” Phelps said. “But I admire the way they came back in that game. It was really a good game as it was.”

Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com.

Frights and sights at Swampscott harvest festival

A knight and his dragon appeared at the Harvest Festival at Swampscott High School on Sunday. The knight was Owen Gaudet accompanied by his brother Aiden Gaudet as the dragon.


SWAMPSCOTT — Crowds flocked to the second annual Harvest Festival, organized by For the Love of Swampscott, for frights, laughs, food and a day full of family entertainment on Sunday.

The festival was held at the same time as the last outdoor farmer’s market of the season, with both at Swampscott High School and the adjacent Senior Center, and immediately after the market’s Halloween Costume Parade, where kids participated while dressed up.

Children dressed as princesses, vampires, witches, animals and their favorite movie characters finished at the parade and then explored the festival’s offerings. They made their way through the haunted house, witnessed entertainment from frequent Fenway Park performer, Davey the Clown, took part in games like the bean bag toss and pumpkin bowling and snacked on pizza and dessert from the Pizza Goddess and Cookie Monstah respectively.

Joanna O’Neil, president of the nonprofit, For the Love of Swampscott, said funds raised from the festival go back into the community. She said the idea was to have an event where people could come together. Swampscott Middle and High School students also volunteered.

“We really wanted to create an event that every demographic could enjoy,” she said.

Isabella Rakhmanov, 10, of Swampscott, said she wanted to try out the haunted house to see if she would get scared.

Meghan Nolan, of Marblehead, said her daughter Clara Quigley, 7, participated in the parade dressed as a parrot and then she noticed the festival. She said the clown was really engaging.

Barbara Kaufman, of Swampscott, came with her 3-year-old daughter, Madelyn Dupis, who was dressed as Ariel, from the Disney movie “The Little Mermaid.” She said she came because the festival sounded like a lot of fun.

“I love it,” Kaufman said. “It’s really nice to have the community come together.”

Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.