Hats off to St. Mary’s grads

The St. Mary’s graduating class of 2017 celebrates.


LYNN Rain didn’t stop the 84 St. Mary’s High School graduates as officials, teachers, parents, and friends gathered at Lynn Memorial Auditorium for the Class of 2017 commencement.

“People say time flies when you’re having fun,” said Katie Cadigan, salutatorian. “Time flies during the good and the bad. It has the power to rob you, and the power to give.”

Grace Cotter Regan, head of school, advised students to look at time as it flies by and find grace moments.

Those moments provide spiritual and personal growth, she said.

“Ask yourself what lights you up as you move forward and go with what that is,” she said.

Valedictorian Michael Cerulli, who will attend Boston College in September, compared the graduation from St. Mary’s to an interview he watched with former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant.

The reporter asked Bryant if he missed playing in the National Basketball Association.

“No, the NBA is always a part of me,” he said.

Cerulli’s said graduation from St. Mary’s is a lot like Bryant’s exit from the NBA.

“Although we are leaving St. Mary’s, we should never think of St. Mary’s leaving us,” he said “Everything we know stems from what we learned here.”

He went on to list the accomplishments and milestones he and his classmates achieved, such as state championships, an award-winning drama production, and the outstanding college selections of his peers.

“I’d like to think all these remarkable achievements aren’t a coincidence,” Cerulli said.

Alumnus John J. Green, who graduated in 1967, spoke to the Spartans after being in their position 50 years ago.

“Today, you join a very special club of 12,000 members,” he said. “You are an alum.”

Green discussed the changes at the school since he graduated, including the cost of St. Mary’s tuition, which was just $50 dollars in the 1960s.

“What hasn’t changed is the amount of students moving on to higher education,” he said. “In my day, we had about 95 percent of our class moving on to higher education. The same goes for today, with over 95 percent of graduates moving on to colleges and universities, a percentage that is higher than the Massachusetts average of 75 percent and the 65 percent national average.”

Regan said the environment at St. Mary’s has impacted graduates and prepared them for their next adventure.  

“There’s a culture of care, compassion, and love that differentiates St. Mary’s from any other school,” she said.

Matt Demirs can be reached at

Peabody lays off on initial job-cut fears


PEABODY — It was a night of hard choices and lots of math for the School Committee this week as they made the final decisions on the 2017-18 school year budget.

A public hearing on the nearly $71.9 million school budget is scheduled for Tuesday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m.

At the most recent budget hearing Tuesday night, the committee added back several positions that had been cut from the budget initially presented by Interim Superintendent Herb Levine earlier this month. Those additions were the result of several cuts recommended by Levine, as well as an additional $108,000 added back into the budget by Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr.

“This is one of the hardest times we have when we are weighing one position versus another,” said School Committee member Brandi Carpenter.

Earlier this month, Levine presented a budget of close to $70 million for Fiscal Year 2018. To meet that number, the superintendent proposed cutting about 15 teaching positions from the schools, nearly half of which would have come through retirement or vacancies.

First-graders salute Memorial Day heroes

But Bettencourt added an additional $1.5 million into the budget, and last week, the School Committee made use of those funds to bring back a handful of teaching positions, primarily at the elementary levels, including a third grade teacher at the Center School and physical education and health department heads at the elementary and secondary levels.

Committee members also added back about $50,000 in funds for supplies and textbooks that Levine had recommended cutting from the budget to help make up a potential shortfall.

“Many of our teachers are already spending so much out of their pockets every year for supplies,” said committee member Joseph Amico.

As School Committee member Jarrod Hochman made the majority of motions regarding the final trimming of the budget, he said they were all made with one goal in mind.

“We have the most value by having teachers in front of the students,” he said. “These are hard decisions, but they are worth it if we can put a teacher back in front of students at the Carroll or Center School.”

First-graders salute Memorial Day heroes

First-grade students from the Aborn Elementary School perform at the Bethany Congregational Church.


LYNN — First graders at Aborn Elementary School put on a patriotic show in honor of Memorial Day at the Bethany Congregational Church on Thursday.

Donna Amico and JoAnn Sweeney’s Grade 1 classes dressed in their red, white, and blue and performed the 20th annual show in front of parents and faculty.

Teachers and parents cried tears of joy as they watched the children sing “God Bless the USA.”

Amico enjoys producing the show annually with her classes and Sweeney. She hopes they will remember all they learn for the years to come.

“We want the children to understand why we celebrate the different holidays and traditions throughout the year,” said Amico, who has taught at Aborn for 20 years.

Between singing the classics like “Yankee Doodle” and “This Land is Your Land,” students learned about our country, the national landmark, the flag’s history and the national symbols.

Justin Stackpole, a first grader, said he learned a lot of about his country he didn’t know prior to the show.

“I never knew the first Thanksgiving was in Massachusetts until we started practicing the show,” he said.

Warren rides the Blue Line into Lynn

Ava Howard, another first grader, said she learned the meaning of the different symbols by practicing the show.

“I now know about things like the bald eagle and the Statue of Liberty which are both some of our country’s symbols for freedom,” Howard said.

Students said not only how fun the show was and how much they learned, but how helpful their teachers were in putting the patriotic show together.

Nicolas Morgan credited his teachers for their hard work.

“They’re really helpful,” he said. “On a scale of 1-10, they are a 5 million.”

Like many other students, Morgan said he enjoyed having the support from his family in the crowd and knowing they were having fun.

“My favorite part of the show was singing ‘God Bless the U.S.A.,’” he said. “It made all the parents happy and it put a smile on my face.”

For Superintendent Dr. Catherine C. Latham, the show was a breather from the stresses of the job.

“If things get tough, it’s always nice to come down here and watch something like this,” she said.   

Matt Demirs can be reached at

Nahant student earns scholarship for service

Ryan Connolly will attend Northeastern University.

NAHANT The Utility Contractors’ Association of New England, Inc., based in Quincy, recently presented 12 $2,000 scholarships to high school seniors who achieved personal goals, scholastically and within community and civic, religious and volunteer organizations.

Ryan Connolly, son of John Jr. and Tiffany Connolly of Nahant, accepted his award at a dinner held in his honor at the Four Points by Sheraton in Norwood.

David Andrews of the New England Patriots served as guest speaker and assisted in the presentation.

Ryan will attend Northeastern University in the fall.

Labor of love in Revere

Mayor Brian M. Arrigo hands out high-fives as he gets ready to cut the ribbon for the brand-new playground.


REVERE  Children crowded the front gate, their eyes fixed on the green and purple play structure and merry-go-round.

Minutes later, the ribbon was cut at the new playground at the Lincoln School.

Hundreds of students, parents, elected officials, volunteers, and residents gathered behind the elementary school as Mayor Brian M. Arrigo welcomed everyone to the park.

“I look forward to seeing all the happy faces on the playground,” he said. “None of this would be possible if it weren’t for the teamwork from everyone in our city to make it possible.”

Elle Baker, an organizer for Revere on the Move, whose mission is to encourage exercise and healthy eating in the community, spearheaded the project.

“We are excited to be bringing a brand new community living space,” she said. “Playgrounds promote sharing and physical activity. Now that is accessible to everyone.”

Ward 3 Councilor Arthur Guinasso told the children they should be happy.

“It was the parents who came out to the city government and said we need a place for our kids,” he said.

Revere businesses, officials, teachers, and parents built the playground, turning the dream into a reality.

Derek Paicentini, a parent of two Lincoln School students, volunteered to help build the play structure along with dozens of other parent-volunteers eager to create a place for their kids to enjoy.

Baker: I like Tom — but I’m with Judy

“It means the world to be able to have this playground. It was all worth volunteering,” he said. “I’m so excited.”

Florinda Cacicio, a playground supporter and mother of Lincoln School students, said she is happy the playground is finally here.

“This is something that will bring the community together,” she  said. “We plan on using it frequently.”

The number of parents at the opening ceremony nearly outnumbered the amount of students, said music teacher Lance MacDonald, adding that he was impressed with the turnout.

“There are more parents here today than there are at parent-teacher conferences,” he said.

Stacy Whittredge, a third-grade teacher at the Lincoln School, said she is happy that the new play area will give her students something to do at recess.

“Going from nothing to this means a lot to us,” Whittredge said.

Marcella Bonfardeci said her mother was thrilled for the opening of the playground.

“My mom is excited because my brother went here and she believed that we needed a safe place to play,” she said.

Before the playground’s construction, students played on the dirt field and basketball court, according to second-grader Caleigh Joyce.

Her friend, Chloe O’Neil, chimed in, “I’m really excited to be able to be able to have recess on the playground for the first time tomorrow.”

Matt Demirs can be reached at

Malden school suspends hair extension ban

“Even if I get expelled, I don’t care; the policy is inappropriate,” Mya Cook said.


MALDEN — A Malden-based charter school has suspended its policy ban on students wearing hair extensions for the remainder of the school year following a directive from state Attorney General Maura Healey’s office  on Friday that the policy “appears to be … clearly unlawful.”

Mystic Valley Regional Charter School’s (MVRCS) board of trustees met in a closed meeting Sunday night to review the school’s Uniform Policy regulations, which include the hair policy. Following the nearly three-hour meeting, interim Director Alexander Dan announced the action.

“The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School board of trustees unanimously voted tonight to suspend the hair section of the uniform policy for the remainder of the school year,” Dan said to some media members outside the meeting Sunday. “The school will continue to work with the attorney general’s office to ensure that the uniform policy reflects our long-standing commitment to the rights of all of our students.”

Dan also said students who were facing consequences for violating that policy may now also resume all school activities.

On Monday morning, the school released a detailed letter, where it stood by its overall Uniform Policy and cited its value and results.  “Our Uniform Policy is central to the success of our students. It helps provide commonality, structure, and equity to an ethnically and economically diverse student body while eliminating distractions caused by vast socio-economic differences and competition over fashion, style and materialism.”

The letter went on, “Our formula consistently delivers top results. Our African-American students have higher MCAS and SAT scores than African-American students from all other districts in our region, and nearly all attend college. Our dropout and attrition rates for African-American students are not only lower than those from our sending district, but they are lower than Caucasian rates. The role that our Uniform Policy plays in our results, and those of all our students, is not insignificant.”

The MVRCS dress code policy regarding hair extensions, where two sisters, who are black, received before and after school detentions and other punishments for refusing to remove hair extensions from their braids, has been at the center of a recent controversy which has been reported nationally.

School responds to hair policy uproar

The mother of the two MVRCS high school students contacted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), NAACP and state AG’s office asking those agencies to investigate the situation, citing what she called discrimination based on her daughters’ race.

The mother and her daughters were among a contingent of protesters who were present at the start of Sunday’s MVRCS Trustees meeting, a number of whom waited until the end of the meeting for news.

A letter sent to the school Friday after a meeting at the Malden Square headquarters of the Department of Secondary and Elementary Education (DESE) stated: “State law prohibits discrimination by public schools, including charter schools, against students ‘on account of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin or  sexual orientation.’” The letter, obtained by NECN, reads: “We are concerned that MVRCS’s Hair/Make­Up policy violates state and federal law … by subjecting students of color, especially black students,  to differential treatment and thus denying them the same advantages and privileges of public education afforded to  other students.”

In its letter, Mystic Valley stated the school administration had already started implementing changes to its hair policy before the recent controversy, specifically to the provision against hair that is more than two inches in height.

“This change was made well before any outside interest group or government agency raised a concern, for the first time earlier this month, that our state-approved policy might be impacting any class of students unfairly,” the letter reads. “It should also be noted that in cases where a student had a substantiated religious or medical conflict with our policy, the school adjusted its policies to accommodate those concerns.”

Mystic Valley officials also stated they believed the existing policy would stand up in court, despite the AG’s assertions. “While we believe there is precedent confirming that our policy could stand a legal challenge … we do not wish to engage in a legal battle that would divert the focus and energy of our faculty and students, siphoning financial resources from the school and the students it serves,” the letter said.

The school will now work with the AG’s office on a Uniform Policy, and hair regulation, that “is consistent with our long-standing commitment to the rights of all our students,” stated the school’s letter.

School responds to hair policy uproar

Mystic Valley Interim Director Alex Dan speaks with the media.


As you may know, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Attorney General’s office has reviewed our uniform policy in response to a parent complaint about the policy’s prohibition on artificial hair extensions. That review included a meeting on Thursday, and has led to a preliminary course of action that is described below.

We wish to thank Attorney General Maura Healey for the productive clarity and guidance provided by her office. In prompting students to focus on what they have in common, our uniform policy is central to the success of our students.

It helps provide commonality, structure,and equity to an ethnically and economically diverse student body while eliminating distractions caused by vast socioeconomic differences and competition over fashion, style or materialism.

The uniform policy compels students to train their attention inward, on character and core competencies that allow students to pursue rich, happy lives.

Mystic Valley’s uniform policy has remained largely unchanged since the school was founded. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the school’s governing body, has reviewed it at least six times in the last 15 years, as part of each of the school’s three renewal visits and for three consecutive years while the school was on conditions.

In each of its reviews, DESE identified no concerns. Our formula consistently delivers top results. Our African-American students have higher MCAS and SAT scores than African-American students from all other districts in the region, and nearly all attend college.

Our dropout and attrition rates for African-American students are not only lower than those in sending districts, but they are lower than Caucasian rates. The role that our uniform policy plays in these results, and those of all our students, is not insignificant.

Of course, despite the vast importance of the uniform policy on the performance of our students, the policy must comport with our long-held commitment, as stated in our parent-student handbook and on our website, to offer the same advantages, privileges and courses of study to all students, regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.

Malden school suspends hair extension ban

Some have asserted that our prohibition on artificial hair extensions violates a “cultural right,” but that view is not supported by the courts, which distinguish between policies that affect a person’s natural “immutable” characteristics and those that prohibit practices based on changeable cultural norms.

You should know that we categorically rejected an order from the DESE, which was influenced by media reports, to cease all disciplinary actions associated with our entire uniform policy. We believe that following this directive would have disastrous consequences on our ability to create the structure and equity central to the success of our students, and that it would fundamentally alter the nature of the environment you chose for your children.

Attorney General Healey’s office did not assert the existence of a “cultural right” and, instead, based its opposition to the hair policy on its concern that the policy’s impact may fall disproportionately on African-American students.

To remedy its concerns, the attorney general’s office requested that the school stop disciplining students for violations of three specific components of the uniform policy’s hair section.

The school had already determined, eight months before the current complaint, that we would not enforce the provision against hair that was more than two inches in height, based on productive conversations with members of our community, according to our standard internal complaint procedure.

This change was made well before any outside interest group or government agency raised a concern for the first time earlier this month, that our state-approved policy might be impacting any class of students unfairly. It should also be noted that in cases where a student had a substantiated religious or medical conflict with our policy, the school adjusted its policies to accommodate those concerns.

While we believe there is precedent confirming that our policy would withstand a legal challenge and data showing that we have implemented the policy in an equitable manner, we do not wish to engage in a legal battle that would further divert the focus and energy of our faculty and students, siphoning financial resources from the school and the students it serves.

For these reasons, the board of trustees of the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School has voted to suspend enforcement of the hair section of its uniform policy for the remainder of the school year.

As we undertake our annual review of the uniform policy for the coming school year, we will work collaboratively with the attorney general’s office to make sure that the policy is consistent with our long-standing commitment to the rights of all our students. Mystic Valley remains committed to implementing the mission of the school and all of its underlying principles.


Entertainment, education at ‘Harrington Reads’

Amanda Kennedy’s K-2 class looks on as Lynn Museum Executive Director Drew Russo reads “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle.


LYNN — There’s something unnerving and empowering standing in front of a room full of fifth-graders telling them about the joys of reading.

That would seem to be a conflict of emotions, but it’s true. It’s unnerving because you see all these faces, and all these people of different shapes and sizes and nationalities just waiting to hear the pearls of wisdom coming out of the mouth of a man upon whom they’ve never laid eyes. You can only hope you don’t disappoint.

And it’s empowering because children from one generation to the next don’t change very much. Their minds are like sponges. They absorb a tremendous amount and they retain it. They may all look at you with blank faces, but the wheels are turning inside.

It was into this maelstrom of humanity I walked Friday morning at the Harrington School. It was “Harrington Reads” day, in which people with a certain degree of visibility go into the classrooms and read to the students. The idea is to reinforce to them the value of reading, not only as entertainment but for education as well.

I got a fifth-grade class — a great age. And before we got down to it, I wanted to give them my view of why I think it’s so important to develop good reading habits. It’s because beyond entertainment or education, books provide a portal into the hearts and minds of their characters much better than television and movies. I asked how many of the fifth-graders understood what “portal” meant, and no one answered. Rather than tell them, I had them write it down and then told them to look it up in the dictionary. Perhaps I should have told them to Google it, but the subject of the day was books, not computers!

I was able to read them three books. The first was called “Horn for Louis,” and it was about legendary jazz trumpet player Louis Armstrong. In the book, young Louis, who hung around dance halls so he could listen to jazz, pines for a cornet hanging in a pawnshop window. He dreams of nothing more in life than to play that cornet.

Louis scrimps and saves to raise the $5 he needs to buy it, but just when he’s finally earned the money, his mother comes to him looking for some of it so she can give his sister a proper birthday party. Crushed, and almost certain he’ll never get that cornet, he gives his mother the money she needs.

In return, she gives him enough money to buy the cornet.

What was nice about reading this story to the kids in the class is that quite a few of them knew that Louis Armstrong sang the ever-popular “What a Wonderful World,” which means that could relate to the story a lot better.

I think it also resonated with them that I told them I was old enough to remember seeing Louis Armstrong on TV.

Haitian flag raised outside City Hall

Next, we tackled the moon landing in “The Moon over Star.” A little girl on a farm pretends she and her cousins are the ones speeding toward the moon in July 1969, and then watches the landing on TV with interest while her cynical, hardened grandfather scoffs at the notion of a space program in a time when so many people on this planet are needy.

But when she tells him she, too, wants to be an astronaut, he switches gears and tells her that it would really be a great honor to the family if she could achieve that dream.

Finally, it was time to learn about Ted Williams and the year he hit .406.

The book went into great detail about how Williams was his own taskmaster when it came to practicing hitting. He wanted to be known as the greatest hitter who ever lived, and knew hard work was the only way that was going to happen.

But the crux of the book is that going into the doubleheader on the last day of the season against the Philadelphia Athletics, Williams’ average stood at .39955. He could have sat out and technically been recognized as a .400 hitter (a little math exercise in the midst of all the reading).

Williams wanted none of that. He played the games, went 6-for-8, and ended up with his .406 average.

It was probably not intentional on the part of Carole Shutzer, the wonderful Harrington librarian who organizes this day, to have the three books present a unified theme. But they did. All three speak to dreams and how important they are to children; and of how important it is to work hard to achieve your dream. And in the case of the Armstrong book, there was the added attraction of being faced with a real difficult choice, and despite every inclination to make the wrong one, Louis made the right one.

There is always a large contingent of city officials who take part in “Harrington Reads” day, including Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, Sen. Thomas McGee, Reps. Brendan Crighton and Dan Cahill, City Councilor Brian LaPierre, Joe Gill of Cahill’s staff and North Shore Navigators, funeral director David J. Solimine, Item CEO Beth Bresnahan, Taso Nikolakopoulos of John’s Roast Beef, District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, former Lynn mayor Thomas Costin, Drew Russo of the Lynn Museum, Lynn attorney Charlie Gallo and Lynn Teachers Union official Brant Duncan.

Fox Channel 25 reporter Kerry Kavanaugh read to an assembly of children, and reinforced the theme — accidental or not — that it’s important to have dreams, to go after them, and, especially in her case, embrace all assignments even if it means moving around (a Medford native, she’s been in Montana, Iowa, Florida and Atlanta before coming to Boston).  

Best of all from my perspective, my son Andrew is a Boy Scout troop leader in Lynn, and Eagle Scout, and someone Carole Shutzer felt was worthy of joining us. So along with everything else, it was a father-son bonding experience. Not to mention the perfect way of giving back to all the people who made our lives what they are.

Steve Krause can be reached at

Lynn teacher joins the march


LYNN Miriam Rodriguez-Fusco is one of hundreds of teachers planning to attend the Rally for Public Education Saturday at the Boston Common.

The speech and language therapist in the Lynn Public Schools and parent of a third-grader at the Aborn Elementary School plans to board a bus in Lynn for the trip into Boston.

Rodriguez-Fusco, an educator for nearly two decades, said she feels strongly about her son’s future and the challenges of public school funding as traditional schools compete with charter schools for limited cash.

“We must raise our voices so that we can stand up to Trump and tell him we need adequate funding for public education that is free and not privatized,” she said.

The protest is sponsored by the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) and the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, a grassroots organization of students, parents, educators, and concerned community members who are dedicated to preserving public education.

Entertainment, education at ‘Harrington Reads’

The Alliance said since Donald Trump was elected president, they have been standing up for women, immigrants, science and now they’ve turned their attention to public schools.

Protesters plan to meet on the Common at 2 p.m. and later march to the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center on Boylston Street where delegates from MTA’s Annual Meeting are meeting.

On the recent vote to defeat funding for a pair of middle schools in Lynn, Rodriguez-Fusco said she was disappointed.

“No one wants to pay more taxes,” she said. “But we’re talking about the children who are our future and we have to invest in them or we will never have better.”   

Thomas Grillo can be reached at

RAW celebration hits close to HOME

Guests at the Raw Art Works block party were asked to stand in an outline of a house drawn on the street.


LYNN — Raw Art Works threw a party Thursday night and everyone felt right at home.

As many as 200 people crowded the streets outside the nonprofit’s 23 Central Ave. base from 6 to 8 p.m., while an equal number were drawn inside to marvel at student-made artwork and films that explored what home means to them. The exhibit’s opening night party atmosphere was hotter than the temperature; Enzo’s sold pizza slices for a buck and White Rose Coffeehouse did a booming business with dollar hot dogs and sodas.

In addition, 34 seniors were honored during a graduation ceremony. “All of them have plans after graduation, either going to college or year-out college course training,” said Alex Ashley of the RAW staff. “One hundred percent of our seniors are graduating.”

And two students, Marylys Merida and Michael Escobar, were awarded Adobe scholarships.

Chris Gaines and Padriac Farma, artistic directors of the Real to Reel HOME film project, guided visitors through a room that featured touchscreens that transported attendees to Cambodia, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, thanks to films made by students who traveled to those nations that featured family connections.

“For many of these kids it was their first time out of state, let alone their first time on a plane,” said Farma.

Merida, who discovered RAW in 2012, her freshman year at English High, traveled to Guatemala and “used the skills I learned at RAW to film my surroundings. I had been to Guatemala before, with my family, but this was different. I didn’t feel like I was Guatemalan. I felt like I was American. I was there to bring back a film. I did see family there, and it was so hard to say goodbye.”

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Kristine LeBlanc of Lynn was at the celebration with her three daughters — Morgan, Delanie and Caitlin — all of whom have benefited from RAW programs. In fact, when Kristine was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013, Caitlin made a well-received film, “Dear Mom,” that chronicled her mom’s battle.

“The people here stepped up and supported and encouraged my kids and my family when we needed it the most. The girls have learned so much and made so many friends here. This is like a second home to all of us,” said LeBlanc, who is now cancer-free.

Luke Pulaski, an eighth grader from Swampscott, was proud of the orange wooden house he built and placed on a lamppost. The word “togetherness” was emblazoned on one side. “I feel like I’m home right now, everyone being together. You don’t need to know everybody. We can all be integrated on the basketball court or in the classroom or out here on the street. RAW is home for me.”

Michael Aghahowa of Lynn said he was first attracted to RAW as a youngster, when he and a friend were walking in Central Square and came upon a celebration just like last night’s. “Everyone was having so much fun. I wanted to be a part of it. RAW has changed my whole outlook on life. I’m more aware of what goes on in other cities and in my own community,” said Aghahowa, who has been involved with RAW arts since he was in high school and participated in the Core program, which works with juniors and seniors who are interested in visual art. This morning he is the commencement speaker at his Montserrat College of Art graduation in Beverly.

Lauren Stevenson, director of Adobe’s 1324 project, a new initiative designed to support, connect and amplify a global community of emerging artists ages 13 to 24 who are using creativity as a force for positive impact, spoke glowingly of Raw Art Works and its programs.

Two years ago, Adobe searched worldwide for innovative youth arts organizations for its Creative Catalyst Awards. RAW is one of only seven organizations in the world to receive this designation, said Stevenson, in a chat before the block party began. “RAW is innovative and transformative. It is exemplary in what it does to enrich the young people here. Two RAW students are receiving Adobe Creativity Scholarships. There are only 25 total worldwide.

“The staff here are true visionaries in their field, and their 27-year track record of success is unsurpassed. They and their HOME project is pretty extraordinary.”

Bill Brotherton is the Item’s Features editor. He can be reached at


Achievement awards for Classical students

Student Malina Sim receives her National Latin Exam Silver Maxima Cum Laude award from Foreign Language Department Head Fátima de Granda-Lyle.


LYNN — More than 300 Lynn Classical High School students were honored on Thursday with achievement awards.

Victoria Adams, a 17-year-old junior, couldn’t have been more surprised when her name was called for Best Effort in Speaking Spanish, one of a handful she received.

“I’m a little shocked,” she told The Item. “I do try. I’m hesitant to speak it aloud, but I want to be better at Spanish. I’ve been taking it since sixth grade.”

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Gene Constantino, the school’s principal, said the ceremony is special because it honors students who have done the right thing throughout the year in their classroom and in the community.

“It’s a special occasion,” he said. “We don’t spend enough time honoring all the positive things our students do. We really appreciate all the hard work they do.”

Patrick Tutwiler, the district’s deputy superintendent, said he was excited to be part of the celebration.

“These awards are for students who are our future,” he said. They work hard and show up every day. I salute you and say keep going.”

Perez Jeffrey Most Improved Student in COACh

Aleman Orlando Most Improved Student in COACh

Carranza Pedro Top Student in COACh

Alvarez Glendy Outstanding COACh Program Student Aide

Vasquez Rosaisela Most Improved in English 10

Gandolfo Anthony Grade 11 ELA Mark Twain Wise and Witty Award

Grady Meghan Grade 10 ELA Shakespeare Distinguished Scholar

Sin Sandra Grade 10 ELA Dickens Unsung Hero Award

Celestin Roberto Grade 10 ELA Alice Walker Sunshine Award

Escalante Andrew Grade 10 ELA Earnest Hemingway Award

Souvannarath Justin Grade 10 ELA Henry David Thoreau Humanitarian Award

Finnigan Shawn Grade 10 ELA Mark Twain Wise and Witty Award

Martinez Laury Grade 10 ELA Mark Twain Wise and Witty Award

Avila Kassandra Grade 10 ELA Mark Twain Wise and Witty Award

Bakas Elias Grade 12 ELA Mark Twain Wise and Witty Award

Stafford Jack Grade 12 ELA Mark Twain Wise and Witty Award

Andrews Joseph Grade 12 ELA Mark Twain Wise and Witty Award

Hennessey Meaghan Grade 10 ELA Shakespeare Distinguished Scholar

Phaen Perry Grade 10 ELA Shakespeare Distinguished Scholar

Jordan Rachel Grade 12 ELA Shakespeare Distinguished Scholar

Moccia Andrew Grade 12 ELA Shakespeare Distinguished Scholar

Bertwell Emme Grade 12 ELA Shakespeare Distinguished Scholar

Pineda Oscar Grade 10 ELA Dickens Unsung Hero Award

Escalante Robinson Grade 10 ELA Dickens Unsung Hero Award

Cheng Navana Grade 10 ELA Dickens Unsung Hero Award

Germano Richard Grade 12 ELA Dickens Unsung Hero Award

Lopez Elder Grade 12 ELA Dickens Unsung Hero Award

Matul Cacain Mili Grade 12 ELA Dickens Unsung Hero Award

Stafford Abigail Grade 10 ELA Alice Walker Sunshine Award

Carroca Jayden Grade 10 ELA Alice Walker Sunshine Award

Morales Angelica Grade 12 ELA Alice Walker Sunshine Award

Vigliotta Madison Grade 12 ELA Alice Walker Sunshine Award

Creamer Stephanie Grade 12 ELA Alice Walker Sunshine Award

Melara Ivan Grade 10 ELA Ernest Hemingway Award

Nguyen Avon Grade 10 ELA Ernest Hemingway Award

Figueroa Venita Grade 12 ELA Ernest Hemingway Award

Lopez Jonathan Grade 12 ELA Ernest Hemingway Award

Pena Omar Grade 12 ELA Ernest Hemingway Award

Fils-Aime Shaimir Grade 10 ELA Henry David Thoreau Humanitarian Award

McHale Maggie Grade 10 ELA Henry David Thoreau Humanitarian Award

Novoa Reyes Gabe Grade 10 ELA Henry David Thoreau Humanitarian Award

Perez Luis Grade 12 ELA Henry David Thoreau Humanitarian Award

Bucko Krista Grade 12 ELA Henry David Thoreau Humanitarian Award

Zikianda Anzyo Grade 11 ELA Mark Twain Wise and Witty Award

Concepcion-Baez Joel Grade 12 ELA Mark Twain Wise and Witty Award

Torres Yirmalia Grade 11 ELA Shakespeare Distinguished Scholar

Patrie Steven Grade 12 ELA Shakespeare Distinguished Scholar

Tran Alisa Grade 11 ELA Dickens Unsung Hero Award

Valeri Jensen Grade 12 ELA Dickens Unsung Hero Award

Wilson Dajon Grade 11 ELA Alice Walker Sunshine Award

Flores Lohalani Grade 12 ELA Alice Walker Sunshine Award

Spiridis Elizabeth Grade 12 ELA Ernest Hemingway Award

Anthony Samantha Grade 11 ELA Henry David Thoreau Humanitarian Award

Barrios Katie Grade 12 ELA Henry David Thoreau Humanitarian Award

Figueroa Yamile Grade 12 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Girdia Yosra Grade 12 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Nieves Madeline Grade 12 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Tranchant Stephner Grade 12 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Wrenn Kailey Grade 12 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Almeida Jeovana Grade 12 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Chicha Dante Grade 12 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Puwar Santosh Grade 12 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Nguyen Khan Grade 12 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Yeno Mamboumba Eva Grade 12 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Campbell Joseph Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Fonge Atebezi Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Molina Kathy Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Alcantara Vargas Celestina Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Buono Chase Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Cheers Javen Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Crayton Skyler Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Guerrero Alberto Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Vasquez Vanessa Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Adolphe Rose Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Baker Joshua Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Capellan Jahnielis Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

McCusker Robert Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Musema Judith Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Phoeuk Dylan Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Sarita Yatzarys Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Williams Jocelyn Grade 10 ELA Outstanding Academic Achievement

Garcia- Koppenhaver Ariel Grade 10 ELA Mark Twain Wise and Witty Award

Silva Louise Grade 10 ELA Shakespeare Distinguished Scholar

Girdia Fatma Grade 10 ELA Dickens Unsung Hero Award

Castro Angel Grade 10 ELA Alice Walker Sunshine Award

Subedi Eshmirti Grade 10 ELA Alice Walker Sunshine Award

Chavez Yony Grade 10 ELA Ernest Hemingway Award

Lopez Alyah Grade 10 ELA Ernest Hemingway Award

Walker Taima Top Student in English 11

Boodhan Elliot Top Student in English 11

Cahill Jessica Top Student in English 11

Adams Victoria Top Student in English 11

Nguyen Huy Grade  9 ELA Top Student

Kong Darin Grade  9 ELA Top Student

Wilkins Amanda Grade  9 ELA Top Student

Garcia Jason Grade  9 ELA Top Student

Crayton Amber Grade 9 ELA Most Improved Student

Martin Sando Most Improved Student

Magar Bishal Top Student Award in ELA

Sanchez-Gil Chantal Most Improved Student in ELA

Mejia Junio Teacher’s Award in ELA

Acosta Acosta Micky LCHS Leadership Award

Vasquez Vanessa Grade 10 Continuous Effort Award in Learning Center

Prushinski Autumn Grade 11 Continuous Effort Award in Learning Center

Conlin Brandi Grade 11 Continuous Effort Award in Learning Center

Abshir Abdirizak MOST DETERMINED STUDENT ESL Department


Cortez Cantor Miguel Most Improved Student ESL Department

Perez Bamaca Ayleen Most Improved Student ESL Department

Pulami Monita Most Outgoing Student ESL Department

Sanchez Jessica Most Outgoing Student ESL Department

Basnet Ghanashyam Most Outgoing Student ESL Department

Owiringimana Pacifique FUTURE PUBLISHED AUTHOR ESL Department

Girdia Yosra MOST LIKELY TO BE FAMOUS ESL Department



Monteros Mauricio Leslie MOST HELPFUL STUDENTS ESL Department

Barahona Reyes Oscar MOST ENTHUSIASTIC LEARNER ESL Department



Peixoto Moniz Sophia MOST Responsible STUDENTS ESL Department

Alas Alvarenga Yaquelin MOST Responsible STUDENTS ESL Department

St. Jean Habigai MOST Responsible STUDENTS ESL Department

Ramirez Mendez Lesly MOST Responsible STUDENTS ESL Department

Magar Bishal MOST Responsible STUDENTS ESL Department

Figueroa Reyes Yamile MOST LIKELY TO MAKE YOU SMILE ESL Department

Sim Malina National Latin Exam Silver Maxima Cum Laude

Westin Zachary National Latin Exam Silver Maxima Cum Laude

Hernandez Dianne National Latin Exam Silver Maxima Cum Laude

Toledo Medina Jecser National Latin Exam Silver Maxima Cum Laude

Ovalle Jocelyn National Latin Exam Magna Cum Laude

McGaughey Isabel National Latin Exam Magna Cum Laude

Alecia Ivana National Latin Exam Magna Cum Laude

Til Tina National Latin Exam Magna Cum Laude

Aquina Leonardo National Latin Exam Cum Laude

Pao Marry National Latin Exam Cum Laude

Copithorne Alyssa National Latin Exam Cum Laude

Collins Ciara National Latin Exam Cum Laude

Nguyen Kathy National Latin Exam Magna Cum Laude

Brooks Louis National Latin Exam Magna Cum Laude

Macorri Eric National Latin Exam Gold Summa Cum Laude

McCarthy Kyle National Latin Exam Gold Summa Cum Laude

Jean-Charles Talyanna National Latin Exam Silver Maxima Cum Laude

Astuccio Andrew National Latin Exam Magna Cum Laude

Lange Kyla National Latin Exam Magna Cum Laude

Sordello Mario National Latin Exam Cum Laude

Lopes Crystal National Latin Exam Cum Laude

Finnigan Shawn National Latin Exam Gold Summa Cum Laude

Tineo Jennifer National Latin Exam Silver Maxima Cum Laude

Kelley Michaela National Latin Exam Magna Cum Laude

Karabelas Alexander National Latin Exam Cum Laude

Adams Victoria Most Effort in Speaking Spanish

Tobon Campos Elizabeth Most Consistent Improvement in AP Spanish

Prom Leakhana Most Cooperative Student Spanish IV

Desehoula Grace Super Star in Spanish 1

Sim Malina Most Improved in Honors Spanish 2

Simpson Reed Christian Most improved in Spanish 1

Petkevitch Troy Most Improved French 2

Tajiki Fereshtah Most Enthusiastic French 2

Didek Izabella Most Enthusiastic French 1

Morm Suy Khatelyn Most Improved French 1

Hansen Trevor Friendly and Team Player in Spanish II

Ennis Samuel Polite, Friendly and Team Player in Spanish II

Clay Carter Volunteer Service Award

Lemus-Pineda Maria Best participation in Honors French V

Shute Sarah Best Attendance in French III

Abdelkarim Limya Most Improved/Best Effort Spanish 1

Stafford Jack Guidance Aide

Lauria Matthew Guidance Aide

Jordan Rachel Guidance Aide

Scouten Alyssa Guidance Aide

Bakas Elias Guidance Aide

Bangura Agnes Guidance Aide

Aquino Espinal Yokaty Guidance Aide

Bertwell Emme Guidance Aide

Vigliotta Madison Guidance Aide

Castillo Miosoti Guidance Aide

Mota Jose Excellence in Peer Tutoring

Hoxha Blenda Excellence in Peer Tutoring

Grady Meaghan Excellence in Peer Tutoring

Melara Ivan Excellence in Peer Tutoring

Laroussi Haytam Peer Tutoring

Ma Andy Peer Tutoring

Chek Sarey Peer Tutoring

Ong Stephen Peer Tutoring

DeOliveira James Peer Tutoring

Ruiz Ruben Peer Tutoring

Anthony Samantha Peer Tutoring

MacDonald Ashley Peer Tutoring

Pres Tyler Peer Tutoring

Duvil Koralie Peer Tutoring

Morales Dwayne Peer Tutoring

Novoa Reyes Gabriel Peer Tutoring

Cahill Jessica Peer Tutoring

Adams Victoria Peer Tutoring

Fils-Aime Shaimir Peer Tutoring

Verdini Veronica Peer Tutoring

Phanekham Anulak Andrew Peer Tutoring

Nguyen Hoang-Anh Peer Tutoring

Batista Stephanie Peer Mediator

Villanueva Gabriela Peer Mediator

Palumbo Jodi Peer Mediator

Adams Victoria Peer Mediator

Biasetti Emily Peer Mediator

Chase Jonathan Peer Mediator

Dunnigan Shannon Peer Mediator

Alcindor Rhode Peer Mediator

Ryan Travis Peer Mediator

Luciano Anthony Peer Mediator

Carbone Samantha Peer Mediator

Rodriguez Diego Top Student in Theater Arts

Chea Celina Top Student in Theater Arts

Nwokeji Vincent Top Student in Theater Arts

Okrim Zaynab Top Student in Theater Arts

Bolduc Kenneth Top Student in Theater Arts

Stanley Nicole Top Student in Theater Arts

Santos De Leon Erika Top Student in Theater Arts

Mills Shannon Actor in a Leading Role

Wright John Actor in a Leading Role

Dulong Madison Actor in a Leading Role

Brunet Michaela Supporting Artist

Lessard Maddison Supporting Artist

Thaw Eh The Blay Supporting Artist

Rodriguez Diego New Talent Grade 9

Tiburcio Damian New Talent Grade 9

Zikianda Anzyo New Talent Grade 11

Truong Andy Top Student Artist

Matul Rodriguez Guisell Most Improved Artist

So Sophany Rising Star Student Artist

Adams Victoria Crown Trophy Student/Athlete Award for Softball

Barnard David Crown Trophy Student/Athlete Award for Baseball

Morrill Kayla Crown Trophy Student/Athlete Award for Girls Ice Hockey

Stafford Abigail Crown Trophy Student/Athlete Award for Girls Ice Hockey

Nieves Melvin Crown Trophy Student/Athlete Award for Football

Rivera Marcus Crown Trophy Student/Athlete Award for Football

Buono Chase Crown Trophy Student/Athlete Award for Football

Scuzzarella Michelle Crown Trophy Student/Athlete Award for Cross Country Track

Dejoie Emma Crown Trophy Student/Athlete Award for Volleyball

Durant Kevin Crown Trophy Student/Athlete Award for Cross Country Track

Lewis Susanna Physical Education Achievement

McCusker Robert Physical Education Achievement

Warner Shakia Physical Education Achievement

Lopez Eric Physical Education Achievement

Lang Jacob Classroom Leader in Algebra 1

Carmody Tyler Peer Tutoring in Algebra 1

Alukonis Anna-Marie Community Service Volunteer

Brooks Louis Service as Ensemble Officers in the LCHS Concert Band

Blevins-Jean Jayla Service as Ensemble Officers in the LCHS Concert Band

Guerro Josh Service as Ensemble Officers in the LCHS Concert Band

Castillo Miosoti Service as Ensemble President of the LCHS Concert Choir

Pop Towvary Service as Ensemble President of the LCHS Concert Choir

Von Brandon Outstanding Musicianship Award: LCHS Concert Band

Urena Kris Outstanding Musicianship Award: LCHS Concert Band

Jarjour Mario Outstanding Musicianship Award: LCHS Concert Band

Rubio Lazo Katheryne Outstanding Musicianship Award: LCHS Concert Band

Arias-Sanz Emilio Outstanding Musicianship Award: LCHS Concert Band

Zimiroski Jared Outstanding Musicianship Award: LCHS Concert Band

Telusma Christopher Outstanding Achievement in Music

Lopez Johanthan Outstanding Achievement in Music

Grady Meghan Outstanding Achievement in Music

Troisi Elizabeth Outstanding Achievement in Music

Biswa Bishal Outstanding Achievement in Music

Calabrese Sam Outstanding Achievement in Music

Lopez-De Leon Jeffrey Outstanding Achievement in Music

Phy Hannah Outstanding Achievement in Music

Roeung Adrian Outstanding Achievement in Music

Garcia Cotes Adianny Outstanding Achievement in Music

Argueta Jason Outstanding Achievement in Music

Dulong Madison Outstanding Achievement in Music

Dimis Pamela Outstanding Achievement in Music

Brunet McKennsie Outstanding Achievement in Music

Jolaoso Oladeji Outstanding Achievement in Music

Kebreau Chloe Outstanding Achievement in Music

Pena Lyz Outstanding Achievement in Music

Pohl Jackson Outstanding Achievement in Music

Horrigan Kimberley Outstanding Achievement in Music

Net William Outstanding Achievement in Music

Saint-Hilaire Guy Outstanding Achievement in Music

Severe Joseph Outstanding Achievement in Music

Eager Ethan Outstanding Achievement in Music

Igbinovia Orobosa Outstanding Achievement in Music

Lang Ryan Outstanding Achievement in Music

Aiworo Danielle Outstanding Achievement in Music

Portorreal SFL Department Outstanding Achievement in Music

Santos De Leon Erika Outstanding Achievement in Music

Rooney Justin Outstanding Achievement in Music

Ouk Christopher Outstanding Achievement in Music

Ellis Jonathan Peer Leadership in US History II

DeOlivera James AP Microeconomics Most Improved Student

Prushinski Rianon AP Microeconomics Outstanding Achievement

Lessard Madison US History I Outstanding Achievement

Padilla Montoya Allison US History I Outstanding Achievement

Conway Kevin AP US History Outstanding Achievement

Kaja Valentino US History II Outstanding Achievement

Nguyen Kathy US History II Outstanding Achievement

Arriaza Erazo Louis World History II Outstanding Achievement

Dunnigan Shannon World History II Outstanding Achievement

Carmody Tyler Overall Excellence in Honors World History II

Mazeregos Jose US Government Outstanding Achievement

Pulami Monita US Government Outstanding Achievement

Roy David Excellence in World History II

Verdini Veronica Top Student in Pre-Engineering Drawing

Arriaza Louis Top Student in Computer Applications 1

Wang Joey Top Student in Computer Applications 1

Nguyen Nhan Top student in Pre-Engineering Drawing

Thepbanthao Nathan Top student in Pre-Engineering Drawing

Musema Judith Top Student in Computer Applications 1

Dunwoody Corsia Top Student in Computer Applications 1

Garcia Billy Top Student in Computer Applications 1

Gomez Vanilda Most Improved in Computer Applications 1

Castro De La Rosa Mary Most Improved in Computer Applications 1

Arias-Sanz Emilio Most Improved in Computer Applications 1

Mendez Stacey Most Improved in Computer Applications 1

Nolazco Melissa Most Improved in Computer Applications 1

Mora Febres Alondra Most Improved in Computer Applications 1

Ovalle Osmar Most Improved in Computer Applications 1

Robertson Janna Eureka Award for Enthusiasm and Excitement

Silva Emily Eureka Award for Enthusiasm and Excitement

Gonzalez Marymil Eureka Award for Enthusiasm and Excitement

Karebelas Alex Eureka Award for Enthusiasm and Excitement

Aquino Ismael Eureka Award for Enthusiasm and Excitement

Hoxha Blenda Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry

Jordan Keyanni Chemistry Unsung Hero

Barry Shanelle Chemistry Unsung Hero

Jablonski Raphael Biology Most Improved

Gupton Morrison Jean Biology Most Improved

Hover Dylan Biology Most Improved

Kol Thieda Biology Most Improved

Wilkins Amanda Biology Outstanding Achievement

Summers Brandon Biology Outstanding Achievement

Laroussi Ayman Biology Outstanding Achievement

Lam Michael Biology Outstanding Achievement

Lang Jacob Biology Outstanding Achievement

Barrios Estefany Biology Outstanding Achievement

Noel Bertine Biology Outstanding Achievement

Monks Janelle Biology Unsung Hero

Ovalle Lopez Jocelyn Biology Unsung Hero

Valeri Lindsey Biology Unsung Hero

Aquino Diana Anatomy and Physiology Outstanding Achievement

Alcindor Rhode Anatomy and Physiology Outstanding Achievement

Garcia Joceline Anatomy and Physiology Outstanding Achievement

Bamaca Victoria Anatomy and Physiology Outstanding Achievement

Bucko Krista Anatomy and Physiology Outstanding Achievement

Kilima Nelson Anatomy and Physiology Outstanding Achievement

Sekiziyivu Nassibu Anatomy and Physiology Outstanding Achievement

Kaja Valentino Anatomy and Physiology Outstanding Achievement

Scuzzarella Michelle Anatomy and Physiology Outstanding Achievement

Ma Andy Anatomy and Physiology Outstanding Achievement

Koeun Sakura Most Improved Anatomy and Physiology Student

Wilson Dajon Most Improved Anatomy and Physiology Student

Deleon Kenia Most Improved Anatomy and Physiology Student

Wonsehlay Lois Most Improved Anatomy and Physiology Student

St. Ives Sidney AP Biology Outstanding Achievement

Boodhan Elliott Grade 11 Unsung Hero

Chek Sarey Grade 11 Unsung Hero

Ortiz Gio Grade 11 Unsung Hero

Ortiz Robles Sherley Grade 12 Unsung Hero

Cahill Jessica Outstanding Achievement in Marine Biology

Alvarez Glendy Outstanding Achievement in Marine Biology

Bakas Eli Outstanding Achievement in Marine Biology

Cheung Calvin Outstanding Achievement in Marine Biology

Jordan Rachel Outstanding Achievement in Marine Biology

Moccia Andrew Outstanding Achievement in Marine Biology

Rodriguez Laurie Outstanding Achievement in Marine Biology

Vanna Monica Outstanding Achievement in Marine Biology

Nguyen Lyla Outstanding Achievement in Marine Biology

Adams Victora Outstanding Achievement in Mathematical Biology

Alcindor Sophonie Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Aleman Farewell Orlando Ruby Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Barrios Robles Estefany Lucia Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Carranza Pedro Manuel Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Chandler Maryah Allyse Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Chau Tommy Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Cheng Dana Otthara Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Cheng Navana Saeda Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Comeau Andrew Joseph Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Garcia Jason Alejandro Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Kelley Michael Patrick Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

McCusker Robert Allen Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Mendez Mendez Christopher Misael Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Morales Yauco Javier Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Net William Sopheak Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Nguyen Huy Minh Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Nguyen Alexander Wongsee Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Nguyen Hoang-Anh Ngo Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Oscar Vanessa Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Phaen Perry Jack Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Quintana Eusebio III Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Santos De Leon Erika Isabel Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Shaw Trevor William Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Souza Anna Carollina De Melo Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Tavarez Julio Francisco Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Thach Shayla Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Touch Kanya Stephanie Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Tran Amanda Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Westin Zachary Andrew Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Zorrilla De La Rosa Samuel Perfect Attendance School Year 2016-2017

Calabrese Sam Best Algebra 1 Student

Braymiller Alexis Best Algebra 1 Student

Pha Christopher Best Algebra 1 Student

Chhim Alvin Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Net Anna Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Martinez Jennifer Guerra Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Horton Tyarah Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Ly Han Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Barrientos Jose Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Sang Benjamin Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Burgos Janeury Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Tully Thomas Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Galvan Carolina Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Pedro Alexander Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Garcia Joceline Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Mejdi Younes Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Pena Serina Best Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Lao Emily Best AP Calculus Student

Macorri Eric Best AP Calculus Student

Aquino Ismael Best AP Calculus Student

Mejia Manuel Martinez Best AP Calculus Student

Pres Tylor Best AP Calculus Student

Hickenbottom Jacob Best AP Statistics Student

Tohe Mirna Best Discrete Math Student   

Maldonado Astrid Best Geometry Student

Laroussi Ayman Best Honors Geometry Student

Ouk Christopher Best Honors Geometry Student

Aquino Leo Best Honors Geometry Student

Lessard Maddison Best Honors Geometry Student

King Victor Best Honors Geometry Student    

Lam Alvin Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Ma Andy Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Chau Celina Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Abreu Dianjenis Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Blas Josue Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Nguyen Kathy Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Kelly Biv Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Grady Meghan Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Esteban Rich Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Sirois Sarah Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Ong Stephen Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Le Tien Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Ryan Travis Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Kaja   Valentino Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Adams Victoria Best Honors Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Lemus-Pineda Maria Best Honors-Calculus Student

Hernandez Thania Best Pre-Calculus Student

Yung Jessy Best Pre-Calculus Student

Barrios Estefany Most Improved Honors Geometry Student

Monks Janelle Most Improved Honors Geometry Student

Jesus Mendez Most Improved Honors Geometry Student

Tucker Marcus Most Improved Honors Geometry Student

Rios-Padilla Josiris Most Improved  Algebra 1 Student

Escobar Jose Most Improved  Discrete Math Student  

Jordan Rachel Most Improved  Honors Calculus Student

Deleon Bryan Most Improved  Honors Geometry Student      

Tejada Stephanie Batista Most Improved  Pre-Calculus Student

Portillo Fredy Most Improved Algebra 1 Student

Morales Angelica Most Improved Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Mendez Gricelda Most Improved Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Santana Emely Most Improved Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Thoeun Amanda Most Improved Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Ennis Gerald Most Improved Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Mendez Yaniel Most Improved Algebra 3 and Trigonometry Student

Cheung Calvin Most Improved AP Calculus Student

Minaya Gilbert Most Improved Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Clougherty Michael Most Improved Honors Pre-Calculus Student

Tesh Sara Most Improved Honors Pre-Calculus Student

McCusker Robert Superior Learning Center Class Leader

Cheers Javen Most Improved Achievement

Cheng Dana Outstanding Student

Shute Sarah Most Consistent Student

Pauls Oriah Most Dedicated Math Student

Diaz Emy Awesome Attitude  

Charles Joshua Jean Awesome Attitude  

Anderson Dayshon Most Engaging Student

Masse Jazzmine Best Accounting  Student

Chhoum Catherine Best Accounting Student

Peralta Rusvenia Best Accounting Student

Roberts Cindy Best CISCO Student

Vo Kenneth Best CISCO Student

Bou Ponn Best CISCO Student

Nguyen Alex Best Computer Literacy

Deleo Dominic Best Computer Literacy

Chek Rayya Best Computer Literacy

Kaja Valentino Best Student Computer Applications

Dabash Aya Best Student in Web Design

Kelley Ryan Best Student in Web Design

Chan Matthew Best TV Production Student

Ngyuen Thao Best TV Production Student

Martinez Walter Best TV Production Student

Santini Azhanea Most Improved Accounting Student

McCusker Robert Most Improved Accounting Student

Madera Xavier Most Improved Accounting Student

Vargas Brian De Leon Most Improved CISCO Student

Craig Ryan Most Improved CISCO Student

Camell Sheldon Most Improved CISCO Student

Mejia Junior Most Improved Computer Literacy

Nicosia Michael Most Improved Computer Literacy

Lopez Rosaura Chavez Most Improved Computer Literacy

Nguyen Khanh Most Improved in Web Design

Arreaga Linn Most Improved in Web Design

Cabezas Xiomara Most Improved in Web Design

Chan Christopher Most Improved TV Production Student

Woods Kevin Most Improved TV Production Student

Crespo Victoria Most Improved TV Production Student

Source: Lynn Public Schools



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.

Intoxicated teen at elected official’s home

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 Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

Tweens and teens to showcase business ideas

Eric Schwartz of Skyline Exhibits, shares presentation tips with Matt Ciampa, Sofia Vasconcelas, and Brandon Heath in preparation for YEA! Trade Show.


PEABODY — Two Peabody High School students have been working overtime to join the next generation of great business leaders through the Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

Sofia Vasconcelas, 15, and Brandon Heath, a junior at the school, are among the seven local students who have taken part in the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce after-school program for the past 30 weeks. On Saturday, the public’s invited to stop by the Northshore Mall for the YEA! Trade Show to meet the students, learn about their ideas and business approach, and in some cases, even purchase products.

“The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is offered through the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce as a means to instill real life skills in our future workforce, teaching them how to make a job, not just take a job,” said Deanne Healey, president and CEO of the chamber. “We are incredibly proud of these kids and all they have accomplished.  We’ve had tremendous support from the local business community willing to offer their expertise in areas of law, tax, marketing, sales, finance, graphic design, and websites, to name just a few.”

At the heart of the program are the 12- to 18-year-old students who have found an idea for a business, written business plans, pitched to investors, created websites, and more.

Pickering Middle School honor roll

For Vasconcelas, that business is Generosi-Tee, specially designed T-shirts with a portion of the profits coming back to Boston Children’s Hospital. Heath’s business idea is Brain Bucket Safety, which promotes safe motorcycle habits.

Matt Ciampa, 12, of Lynnfield, had his idea for Treasure Socks stem from his own need to carry around allergy-related medicine. Treasure Socks have a special fabric pocket ideal for medicine or small objects. Ciampa was selected to pitch his idea in this year’s MassChallenge and is negotiating with a manufacturer for a large scale retail with the possibility of a product launch in 2019.

The Chamber of Commerce partnered with Community Credit Union in 2015 to start the YEA! Program, which is the only one in the state. The students’ start-up capital was provided by a number of local organizations, including Community Credit Union, Cranney Companies, Eastern Bank, Energi, Holden Oil, Peabody Wealth Advisors, Phil Richard Insurance, Rousselot of Peabody, Salem 5, and TD Bank.

The YEA! Trade Show is at the Northshore Mall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the food court area.


Pickering Middle School honor roll

The following Pickering Middle School students have made the Honor Roll for the third quarter:

GRADE 6 HIGH HONORS: Ava Allaire, Ava Anderson, Ava Barbuto, Nyla Crowder, Delaney Dana, Madison Donahue, Ryan Dunn, Khanyka Fialho, Emely Flores-Castaneda, Allie Fritz, Lauren Hennessey, Roberto Lopez Ramirez, Anuragh Mangar, Veronica Oung, Zachary Perry, Asif Rahman, Victoria Samuel, Ava Thurman, Justin Touch.GRADE 7 HIG

H HONORS: Tia Barker, Cody Beauchamp, Matthew Bushway, Aida Corado Hernandez, Julia Gonzalez, Catherine Herrera, Ashley Hughes, Christopher Kelley, Thomas Malone, Molly Mannion, Cameron Moloney, Gianna Nikolakakis, Shaylis Rodriguez Soto, Ava Ruma, Sofia Saren, Madison Spencer, Olivia Teague, Olivia Waterman, Ethan Wilson.

GRADE 8 HIGH HONORS: Aaliyah Alleyne, Andrea Brazell, Sailor Brinkler, Khoa Bui, Lucas Fritz, Nanima Guerrier, Jack Hogan, Shakib Idris, Alexis Irawandi, Emeline LeJeune, Devin Monaco, Alyx Nelson, Samantha Parker, Anna Phelan, Cole Story, Caeley-Ann Thomson, Brooke Warren.

GRADE 6 HONORS: Adam Abdel Salam, Aida Bellal, Alyssa Bennett, Trent Brown, Abeline Calixte, Krystian Callor, Lily Caplin, Nevaeha Chandler, Timothy Chez, Katelyn Comeau, Nicholas Costa, Angelina Costin, Katieri Cutone, Ashley Dewan, Timothy Donahue, Ryan Dugan, Josephny Eang, Taylee Emerson, Brendan Falasca, Dayana Garcia, Jamie Germano, Pablo Granados Mayen, Melenie Gutierrez Rivera, Sammy Ho, Akibul Islam, Kirsten Kouch, Jack Mancaniello, Yvana Masse, Madelyn Mateo, Emma Murray, Jatniel Negrin Castillo, Alex Nguyen, Chloe Nguyen-Som, Samuel Parker, Jayden Patrick, Iris Perez Escobar, Madelyn Rivera, Kevin Saing, Tyler Santiago, Tae Thaw, Fernando Vasquez, Jazlynn Ventura, Alondra Vilorio Castro, Brady Warren, Kevin Whalen, Turner White, Asia Wilkey, Alexander Wonoski.

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GRADE 7 HONORS: Jack Anderson, Fatiha Ashraf, Madilyn Aubrey, Kaylee Bamaca Lopez, Lissett Barraza, Ricardo Beato Padilla, Romane Bellevue, Joselyn Bonilla, Aaliyah Bonilla –Sanchez, Kaleigh Breen, Reese Brinkler, Nicholas Chan, Jordan Chhay, Chloe Clement, Gianna Coito, Ava Correnti, Annabelle Dao, Isabella Faessler, Sydney Finnigan, Anna Flaherty, Nicole Fogarty, Ava Foglietta, Ryan Fraher, Sherlyn Gonzalez Mejia, Gabriela  Guzman Simez, Aleya Hill, Heather Holey, Charles Krol, Samira Krol, Richard Lebrun, Sean Leonard, Drew Logue, Steven Lopez, Ema Macorri, Patrick Mannion, Jose Mariano, Natalia Masse, Patrick McHale, Quinn McHale, Kenzie McLaren, Darrin Mel, Yarelin Merida De Leon, Katherine Miller, Maggie Nerich, Jariah Nolasco, Felix Pol, Jose Portillo, Melanie Rivera Collazo, Ashley Roepsch, Marcus Ryan, Olivia Shultz, Joseph Strangie, Ben Tartarini, Kenneth Tetrault, Darlenys Tolentino, Alexander Towles-Emmons, Amanda Tucker, Mikayla Vega, Bremely Velasquez Esteban, Thomas Walsh, Grace Young, Kaitlyn Zayac.

GRADE 8 HONORS: Maria Bustos Gonzalez, Michael Carey, Kyle Chear, Liliana Cruz, Melanie Cuevas, Daniel Finnigan, Tyler Furlong, Nicholas Galeazzi, Ammy Gonzalez Rivera, Trevor Henry, Catherine Hines, Richard Johnson, Kameron Ky, Michelle MacPhail, Kathleen Mannion, Riley Mannion, Adam Mariano, Astrid Marte, Cormac Miller, Gabriel Minaya, Antonio Morganelli, Giovanni Morganelli, Leakhana Ngeth, Lisa Nguyen, Diomedes Ortiz Cid, Melissa Ortiz Valenzuela, Jessica Page, Keiry Paniagua Cabrera, Harrison Parker, Mathhew Patrie, Isabella Pavei, Promise Peralta, Juan Perez, Kyle Phommachanh, Jadalise Richards, Kacey Rouse, Salwan Sabil, Safwan Samir, Daniel Sampaio, Ryan Sansone, Jessalyn Simms, Gay Soe, Damion Sok, Anthony Timmons, Hannah Tobin, Kevin Torres, Uchenna Uzoma, Zachary Vega, Precious Ven, Brandy Vuong, Ryan Walker, Olivia Wallace, William Whalen, Aryanna Wlodkowski.

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 Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Malden school faces state ACLU complaint


MALDEN — The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has filed a complaint against Mystic Valley Regional Charter School for allegedly disciplining and suspending African-American and biracial students because their hairstyles violate school policy.

The Associated Press reports that the ACLU filed the complaint Monday with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for what it says is a discriminatory policy at the Malden charter school.

Coincidentally, the DESE headquarters are located on Pleasant Street in Malden Square.   

Mother says daughters punished for hairstyles

Parents say students were punished for wearing braids with hair extensions. They contend white students have not been disciplined for coloring their hair, which also is banned under the dress code, according to the AP.

The school does ban hair extensions, which tend to be “very expensive,” a statement last week on behalf of Mystic Valley Interim Director Alex Dan said. But Jennifer Rosenberg of Howell Communications, an agency representing the school, said Monday that braids are not banned.

Last week’s statement said the ban on hair extensions is designed to “foster a culture that emphasizes education rather than style, fashion or materialism.”

Blueprint could help close ‘achievement gap’

Legislators want to help increase third grade reading proficiency rates.


MALDEN — A group of  state senators have launched what they believe is a strategic blueprint to raise reading proficiency in third graders statewide, and enhance their lives overall.

Two local legislators, Sen. Jason Lewis, D-5th Middlesex, Malden, and Sen. Sal DiDomenico, D-Everett, Cambridge,  are among the Senate’s Kids First working group, commissioned last October by Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst.

To dramatically increase third grade reading proficiency rates and support the whole child, the Senate’s Kids First initiative has established four broad areas to focus specific strategies: Access, Quality, Readiness, and Integration.

“I am proud of the comprehensive vision put forth in the Kids First blueprint,” said Lewis.  “In it, the Senate makes a vital commitment to the fundamental integration of services in critical areas including mental health and social-emotional learning.  

“The social-emotional learning component of Kids First is essential to strengthening the critical thinking, communication, and interpersonal skills of our young people.  Kids First will serve as an invaluable guide, and it was a privilege to serve on the working group.”

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Lewis said the Kids First working group invited experts in diverse fields including early childhood development, health, education, housing, and nutrition, among others, to share their knowledge through questionnaires, meetings, and presentations.

Kids First announced it has tackled the challenges of the fact 40 percent of Massachusetts third graders are not reading at that grade level, with the number sharply rising to 60 percent among low-income students.

According to the Kids First report, the lack of reading proficiency creates “a growing achievement gap” for the future and action is needed immediately. The group proposes to reduce by half the number of third graders lacking grade level proficiency by the year 2027.

DiDomenico, chairman of the Kids First initiative, said the plan laid out in Kids First is not meant as a blueprint for a series of legislative initiatives or any piece of legislation in particular.  “It is offered as a statement of the Senate’s vision for children and a statement of budgetary priorities in the years to come,” DiDomenico said.

Budget cuts end Summer Police Academy

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


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.

Reasons why suicide series concerns supers

This image released by Netflix shows Katherine Langford in a scene from the series, “13 Reasons Why.”


Local superintendents have alerted parents to their concerns about a new show, “13 Reasons Why,” which is centered around a teenage girl’s suicide.

According to a description of the Netflix show, based on a novel by the same name, after high school student Hannah Baker’s suicide, a classmate receives a series of tapes explaining the 13 reasons why Baker chose to carry out the act.

“While viewing the series, young children and teenagers could interpret the message that suicide is a viable or romanticized option,” Lynn Superintendent Dr. Catherine C. Latham wrote in a letter home to parents. “The content of the show is extremely graphic, with disturbing scenes in each episode, which may be difficult for impressionable minds to watch and process in a healthy way. It also addresses the issues of cyberbullying, alcoholism and depression.”

Latham said the series has several shortcomings: There is no mention of mental and behavioral health treatment options; the notion of suicide is glamorized; there are no examples of help-seeking by the teens portrayed in the series; there are several scenes depicting serious trauma including rape, bullying, alcoholism, fights and suicide in which the teens do not seek help or resources; and the graphic portrayal of Hannah’s actual suicide was unnecessary and potentially harmful to young people facing challenges.

Latham urges parents to talk to their children about the show or book, if they have seen or read it, and reminds them that there are resources, support and assistance available to them at the schools through their student support services. Some support services include social workers, school psychologists, school adjustment counselors, guidance counselors, principals and teachers.

Swampscott School Superintendent Pamela Angelakis provided The Item with a letter about the series sent home to parents from the Swampscott Public Schools Mental Health Task Force.

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In the letter, the task force details some concerning themes: The series explicitly details a graphic death by suicide, and portrays it as the only viable option for the main character; there is no mention of mental illness, which is the leading cause of death by suicide; the adults in her life, namely her parents, school counselor and school administrators, fail the character and her peers over and over; there are no examples of appropriate or healthy coping strategies, nor is there any help-seeking that is successful; and school mental health providers act in unethical and incompetent ways throughout the series.

The task force also urges parents to find out if their child has watched the show or read the book, and recommends special caution if their child is vulnerable or has had suicidal ideation, because the “highly suggestive show could be risky for adolescents who struggle with isolation or self-harming behavior.”

“School counselors and mental health professionals in our district are highly trained professionals whose competencies include working with susceptible students,” the letter reads. “Be assured that the district counseling professionals are thoughtful, intentional, and ethical in their everyday work with your children.

“The district has created resources specifically designed to address our most vulnerable students, such as the recently created SWIFT and Harbor programs at Swampscott High School, which will be replicated at Swampscott Middle School next year.”

A letter sent home to parents from Lynnfield Superintendent Jane Tremblay touches on some of the same points, and warns about the possible dangers of allowing their children to watch the series.

She said youth could perceive the message that suicide is a viable and glamorous option to challenges and difficulties. She added that the graphic content and troubling scenes may be difficult for the teenage mind to watch and process in an appropriate way.

Tremblay provided a list of talking points for parents and their children regarding the series. One of those points is that “it is important to know that there are many treatment options for life’s challenges, distress, and mental illness” and that the illness is treatable.

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

Mother says daughters punished for hairstyles


Update: Jennifer Rosenberg of Howell Communications, an agency representing Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, responded Monday with the policy outlined in the 2016-2017 student-parent handbook. She said hair extensions are prohibited, but braids are not. The school’s hair / makeup policy reads below:

“Students must keep their hair neat and out of their eyes. Students may not wear drastic or unnatural hair colors or styles such as shaved lines or shaved sides or have a hairstyle that could be distracting to other students (extra-long hair or hair more than 2 inch in thickness or height is not allowed). This means no coloring, dying, lightening (sun-in) or streaking of any sort. Hair extensions are not allowed. Hair elastics must be worn in the hair and not on the wrist. No make-up of any sort is allowed. Nail polish or artificial nails are not allowed. Tattoos are not allowed. Students are not allowed to write or draw on themselves. Bandanas or hats are not allowed during school hours. Headbands may be worn, but must be functional in nature and not worn over the forehead. Facial hair is not allowed. Unshaven young men will receive a warning in the first instance and detentions thereafter.”

MALDEN — The mother of twin 15-year-old African-American girls says officials at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School lack sensitivity to diversity after she claims her daughters were punished for wearing braids and hair extensions.

Colleen Cook has filed complaints with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Massachusetts Anti-Defamation League, according to televised reports. Her daughters are named Deanna and Mya.

Other African-American and biracial students who have worn braided hair have been punished with before- and after-school detention for refusing to remove the braids or extensions as well, reports say.

In response, the following prepared statement was released by a representative on behalf of Mystic Valley Interim Director Alex Dan.

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“The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School serves a diverse student population from surrounding communities that include Everett, Medford and Malden, among other cities. The school consistently ranks among the top schools in Massachusetts in MCAS testing, SAT testing and college admissions.  

“We send students from all walks of life, including those of color and those from limited means, to the best colleges and universities in the nation.  One important reason for our students’ success is that we purposefully promote equity by focusing on what unites our students and reducing visible gaps between those of different means.  

“Our policies, including those governing student appearance and attire, foster a culture that emphasizes education rather than style, fashion or materialism.  Our policy on hair extensions, which tend to be very expensive, is consistent with, and a part of, the educational environment that we believe is so important to our students’ success,” the statement said.

School officials were not able to be reached for further comment.


Push for 2nd charter school renewed in Lynn

Frank DeVito still has to raise about $250,000 for the school to launch.


LYNN — The prospect of the city’s second charter school gained traction this week thanks to funding from some big name donors.

While the Equity Lab Charter School has yet to receive state approval, the proposed alternative school received a $215,000 grant from the NewSchools Venture Fund. The California-based foundation boasts a group of wealthy benefactors, including Bill and Melinda Gates, known for Microsoft Corp., and Facebook’s Mark and Chan Zuckerberg, who vowed to fund educators who launch innovative public schools.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Frank DeVito, the school’s founder. “The money will make a huge difference in making this a full time effort, and help pay for staff and consultants to get the school up and running next year.”

The 5-12 school, which would start with 160 fifth and sixth graders, will eventually have 640 students. So far, there’s a waiting list of more than 150 families, DeVito said.

DeVito is a member of Waltham-based Education Development Center’s National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools team, where he develops, implements and tests new ways to boost effective practices in high schools.

Last year, DeVito and his 22-member team of local educators was one of 50 finalists to win $10 million toward opening the new school in the XQ: Super School Project. Emerson Collective, chaired by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs, sponsored the $50 million competition.

While DeVito and Equity were chosen among 700 teams from 45 states that submitted applications for new or redesigned high schools, the Lynn proposal lost.

But that hasn’t slowed DeVito. He said the NewSchools cash revitalized the effort to bring another charter school to the city.

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DeVito, a 52-year-old Lynn homeowner and father of two, said he is focused on finding space for the school. He has looked at the former St. Michael’s Church, school and rectory on Summer Street, but can’t ink a deal until his school receives approval from the state Department of Education (DOE). A decision is expected to be made in February. If he gets the green light, the school is expected to open in the fall of 2018.

If his proposal for a new school is accepted by the state, they will provide $800 per student or $128,000 to lease or purchase space. In addition, they would receive $2.1 million from the state or $13,223 per student who switch from the Lynn Public Schools to the charter.

DeVito, a former teacher at Chelsea High School, said he would still have to raise about $250,000 for the school to launch.

“The state really wants the school to open in Lynn,” he said. “They have been very supportive and have offered coaching in order for us to succeed.”

If it does get the go-ahead from DOE, there will be no welcome mat from the city.

While Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and the City Council have sparred over a number of issues this year, they are united in their fight against any new charter schools. They argue such schools take much needed cash from the public schools.

While proponents insist charter schools are public schools, Lynn’s elected officials say they don’t like the formula for funding because it takes more than $1 million from the regular school budget.

If Equity Lab wins approval, they will face competition from the only other charter school in the city, KIPP Academy.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at


Students get a taste of the Real World

Danielle Coughlin and Devin Lofton register to vote.


PEABODY — Students from the Peabody Community High School are getting a taste of the real world this week.

Nearly two dozen students from the school met with Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. in his corner officer at City Hall Thursday morning to hear about the challenges and successes of running the city.

“I’ve been mayor now for about five years; it’s a wonderful job but it can be very difficult,” said Bettencourt. “I know things haven’t always been easy for you, you’ve had some challenges. I’m very happy to talk to you about what we do in the city and my responsibilities and what I do on a daily basis.”

The Peabody Community High School educates students with social emotional disabilities in a public day school, and each year, the school holds a Real World Week, according to Craig Macarelli, the program administrator. There are currently 27 students in grades 9 through 12 in the program.

“We set up a week where we talk about life transitions into adulthood, from financial literacy to even car maintenance,” said Macarelli. This week, the students even went into Boston to learn about local history.

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At City Hall, the focus was on civic responsibility and what it takes to effectively run a municipality with a $170 million budget and 1,400 employees.

“My job as the mayor is to try to move the city forward to make it a better place for everyone, and there are a lot of different parts to that,” said Bettencourt. “My job as the mayor is to be the CEO. I oversee all the different departments, and of course, the biggest one is the schools.”

Bettencourt talked about several current projects in the city, including the revitalization of the downtown and the dredging of Crystal Lake. He also answered several questions from students and teachers about those projects, as well as why he wanted to run for mayor.

“With this job, you can really make things happen, and not all jobs can give you that good feeling that you are contributing,” Bettencourt said.

Community high school student Bryanna Burgess said she looks forward to the Real World Week every year, adding that this year was the first time they have visited the mayor. She said she especially appreciates the opportunity to get out of the classroom and into the community.


Profiles in courage

Breed Middle School student Ksena Gaskin (glasses, blue shirt, front row) served as a Project 351 youth organization honor guard during a Boston ceremony awarding President Barack Obama the John F. Kennedy Profile In Courage Award.


Middle school student by day — honor guard at night: It’s all just a normal week for Lynn’s Ksena Gaskin.

The Breed Middle School student was among Project 351 youth organization participants who provided an honor guard at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston where President Barack Obama was honored last Sunday night.

Wearing blue and white Project 351 T-shirts, Gaskin and other students selected from around the state were on hand as black-tie gala attendees mingled and applauded as Obama accepted the Centennial John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

“President Kennedy built a vision of public service, based on a foundation of courage and inclusion,” said Carolyn Casey, executive director and founder of Project 351. “For seven years, Project 351 has been committed to lifting up young people as the best example of kindness, compassion, and generosity. We are honored to be included with other nonprofit organizations who carry forward President Kennedy’s legacy of service.”

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Project 351 is a statewide, youth-driven service organization that convenes an eighth grader from every city and town in Massachusetts for a transformative year of development, enrichment, and impact through unique service opportunities

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award™ is presented annually to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences.

The award is named for President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers, incurring the wrath of constituents or powerful interest groups, by taking principled stands for unpopular positions.

The opening lines state: “This is a book about that most admirable of human virtues – courage. ‘Grace under pressure,’ Ernest Hemingway defined it.”

Project 351 is supported by private sector and civic leaders including Carob Tree Foundation, John Hancock, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Martin Richard Foundation, Converse, HYM Investment Group, the Carmen Family, and the O’Brien Family.

A new approach to fighting opioids


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.”


Enjoy more young talent Saturday in Lynn

Yensi Munoz performs during an open-mic night at Land of A Thousand Hills Coffee Company.

LYNN — Enjoy a morning filled with children’s music, art and fun at the first KIPP Academy Lynn Elementary Art & Music Show.

The show will be held from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday at Land of A Thousand Hills Coffee Company, 61 Munroe St. Kindergarten students will perform from 9:30-10:30 a.m., and first-grade students will perform from 10:30-11:30 a.m.

The show will display artwork and showcase live music from students. There will be free juice, coffee and tea. Brownies and cookies will also be on sale for $1-2.

Land of A Thousand Hills hosts fun night


Math changes add up in Malden


MALDEN — The Malden School Committee has approved sweeping changes in how Malden High School students will be taught mathematics and science.

First-year Malden High School principal Ted Lombardi proposed the major change in mathematics curriculum, forecasting potential improvements in Malden’s performance on state assessment tests.

Instead of taking the three traditional math classes of Algebra, Geometry and Algebra 2 in that order in Grades 9,10 and 11, Malden High students will next year be taught a mix of the three separate subjects in courses called Math 1, Math 2 and Math 3.  

Lombardi, who came to Malden High after serving several years as principal at Lawrence High School, told the School Committee that he oversaw institution of similar curriculum changes at that school “and the (MCAS) scores went up.”

A renewed focus on improving state assessment test scores at Malden High School has been embraced by the school board. An example is its recent hire of a new superintendent of schools, John Oteri, who was questioned extensively in the interview process on his role in the dramatic improvement from a Level Three school system in Somerville to a Level One state rating. MCAS scores play a key part in this state assessment of school systems.

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Lombardi said Malden would be joining “many districts (that have) moved to this curriculum,”  which involves joining together of math topics as opposed to learning one specific area or subject such as Algebra or Geometry.

In an effort to improve MCAS science test scores, the School Committee also approved a change in science curriculum proposed by Lombardi. Instead of freshmen students taking college preparatory classes in Biology, they would now be offered an Environmental Science class in ninth grade and would take Biology their sophomore year.

The Malden High principal said it made more sense for this change in the science curriculum since sophomores take the MCAS science test and it would give them a better chance at attaining higher scores.

In addition, Lombardi said exploratory classes in business and technical education would be offered to ninth graders in subjects such as woodshop, engineering and others.

“These changes will better suit our students and give them a better chance to succeed,” Lombardi said.

GE + NSCC = A bright future

A rendering of the new GE building and location in Boston.


LYNN — If General Electric Co. is looking to partner with the region’s schools to further innovation, they need not look farther than North Shore Community College (NSCC).

As GE broke ground on Monday for it new corporate headquarters in Boston’s Seaport District, the $130 billion company is strengthening its Massachusetts ties.

“When GE creates products, we are here as a community college to be of service by creating a skilled workforce and to upskill their existing workforce,” said Dianne Palter Gill, the school’s dean of corporate and professional education. “We and our sister community colleges can provide them with skilled workers and they can help us with curriculum and scholarships.”

Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled. The skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled, according to The Manufacturing Institute. There are two major contributing factors to the widening gap: baby boomer retirements and economic expansion.

GE’s new global headquarters in Boston is scheduled to open next year and will be the home for 800 employees.

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As part of the project, the company will restore two historic brick buildings and build a 12-story building on a 2.4-acre campus.

Gill said GE has said they want to partner with local schools including universities, technical schools and community colleges.

Among the many programs NSCC offers include the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Certificate Program which provides an introduction to the manufacturing industry and prepares students for entry-level employment. In addition, electives allow students to focus on technical courses that align with individual educational and career goals in manufacturing, according to the school’s program description.

“We offer a machining program and it would be great to have more connections around that and a partnership with GE would be great,” said Gill.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at


Land of A Thousand Hills hosts fun night

Jaileen Malave, front, James E. Austin, left, Sokhan Prak, and Esther Summersett enjoy the open mic event.


LYNN — It’s only about 10 minutes into the Finals Week Breather + Open Mic at Land of A Thousand Hills Coffee Company, and Emily Urbina is hopeful for a good crowd.

The event, hosted by the The Haven Project, was open from 5:30-8 p.m. Monday for students and young adults. “Take a break; vibe out with us; enjoy great talent,” said a small flyer for the event.

Urbina, program director for The Haven Project, said the talent could include poetry, hip-hop performances, and more. Her hope for the event was that it engages the community in a greater way, she said.

Inside the coffee shop is a mural, titled “Our story.” It says, “In 2012, The Haven Project opened a center for high-risk young adults without a safe, stable place to live.

“By purchasing coffee and food at this social enterprise, Land of a Thousand Hills, you are supporting our program which offers vital services such as access to education and job training.

“Most importantly, you are building a path to success for a vulnerable population in our community.”

Can’t keep a good (fire)man down

Inside the shop, on a counter, was a two-sheet, double-sided survey: The 2017 Youth Count Housing and Homelessness Survey.

Over the past two years, the results of similar surveys have helped the state legislature to invest $3 million in housing and services for young people who have experienced housing instability, it said.

The survey asked questions such as, “Where did you sleep last night?” and “Do you have a safe place where you can stay on a regular basis for at least the next 14 days?”

The answers to the survey remain confidential, it said, and are “a key contribution in helping Massachusetts better understand housing instability among youth and young adults.”

In addition, respondents to the survey were handed a ticket for a complimentary drink: A cold brew iced coffee, a peach Italian soda, or an iced green tea lemonade.

Visit  to find a copy of the survey.

Contact for more information about the work to expand housing and resources for youth and young adults experiencing housing instability.

David Wilson can be reached at

After 52 years, a coach calls it a career

Frank DeFelice coached baseball, football and other sports for 52 years.


SWAMPSCOTT — One of the longest-standing and most illustrious eras in Massachusetts coaching history will end this spring when Frank DeFelice steps down as an assistant baseball coach at Endicott College in Beverly.

DeFelice, who told Coach Bryan Haley of his decision to retire Wednesday, will close the book on a 52-year career as a coach in various schools in both football and baseball that took him from Christopher Columbus High School in Boston all the way to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Along the way, DeFelice, of Swampscott, coached two of the best athletes the state has ever seen — Dick Jauron and Doug Flutie — and was inducted into the Massachusetts State Baseball Coaches’ Hall of Fame.

“I felt it was time,” said DeFelice, who is 76. “It was awfully tough making the decision. (Endicott) is a great school, and it’s a great (baseball) program.”

He’s not quite ready to ride off into the sunset. He just wants to be able to do what he does on his own terms.

“I’ll still be around the program,” he said.

DeFelice spent the majority of his coaching years — 40 — at Swampscott High. He had two stints as a baseball coach (1966-71 and 1977-2005), winning 465 games while losing 257 (.644 percentage). In the state tournaments, his teams were tougher, with 45 wins in 65 games (.692). And in 1993, the Big Blue won the Division 3 state championship.

But baseball only tells half the story. He was an assistant football coach during Swampscott’s golden era, working alongside the likes of fellow assistant Dick Lynch and under the legendary head coach Stan Bondelevitch. Included among the players he coached was a who’s who of the town’s athletic luminaries — Bill Adams, Tom Toner, Mike Lynch, Sandy Tennant and Jauron (who became an all-pro safety with the Detroit Lions, and NFL Coach of the Year with the Chicago Bears, and a college football hall of famer).

Summoning up Swampscott’s yesteryears

Later, he was an assistant at Boston College, a job that took him to Miami in November 1984, where he had a sideline view of Flutie’s “Hail Mary” pass to Gerard Phelan that defeated the Hurricanes. On Jan. 1, 1985, he was in Dallas to help coach the Eagles to their Cotton Bowl victory over Houston.

“I consider myself very fortunate,” DeFelice said, “to have been around two of the greatest athletes you will ever see — Dick Jauron and Doug Flutie.”

DeFelice considers himself fortunate for a lot of what has come his way in life.

“I had great mentors, beginning with my brother, Bobby,’’ he said. “I coached with him in 1965 at Christopher Columbus High School in Boston.

“Then, I went to Swampscott and became associated with Dick Lynch and Stan, both outstanding men, and great mentors. They were hard-nosed men who preached discipline, and they were smart.”

DeFelice also had plenty of admiration for the students he coached.

“I think the words ‘student-athlete’ are tossed around way too much,” he said. “But in Swampscott, back then, we had real student-athletes.

“Dick Jauron went to Yale. Carl Kester went to Amherst and he’s now a professor at Harvard. Sandy Tennant went to Harvard. Mike Lynch and Andy Rose, Harvard. Bill Adams went to Holy Cross. There were so many from that era.”

There was a similar situation with DeFelice’s 1993 baseball team that won a state title.

“Peter Woodfork, who was an underclassman, knew more about baseball at his age than most of us, and he went to Harvard,” said DeFelice. “We had two pitchers (Kevin Rogers and Brian Hayes) who didn’t lose a game.”

Other players on that team went onto have successful college careers, such as Brendan Nolan (BC) and Traeger DiPietro (who played at New Hampshire until the school discontinued baseball).

DeFelice also served as head football coach at Swampscott (1977-81) and Xaverian (1972-76). He was also an assistant basketball and track coach at Swampscott. He had been on the baseball staff at Endicott for the past six years.


Push to name baby giraffe ‘Gio’ falls short

Giovanni “Gio” Maggiore died at age 6 of a congenital heart problem.


MEDFORD — The bid by hundreds of schoolchildren and others across the city of Medford united in a push to memorialize a lovable 6-year-old local boy has fallen short.

The family of the late Giovanni “Gio” Maggiore led a local and regional voting drive to name a baby boy giraffe with the moniker, “Gio”. The baby giraffe was born to April the giraffe at the popular Animal Adventure Park in upstate New York, shortly after the Brooks School first-grader died from a serious congenital heart problem.

Students at the Brooks School got behind the voting drive and it swiftly spread around most of the other Medford schools. “Gio” made the top 10 in the voting finals, which ended Sunday, April 30.

Animal Adventure Park officials announced Monday that the newborn giraffe will be called “Tajiri,” the name that topped the voting list.

Tradition comes to a ‘head

April, the mother giraffe, was the subject of a record-breaking internet live-stream as she endured what seemed to be an never-ending labor. She finally gave birth over Easter weekend, around the same time Gio was laid to rest.

Gio was a friendly, outgoing boy who embraced the positives in life and just loved giraffes, according to his mother, Maya, who is a teacher at the Columbus School in Medford.

“It was his favorite Halloween costume and even his first pacifier had a giraffe printed on it,” she said.

Lynn lays down the law for students

Juvenile Court Chief Justice Amy L. Nechtem welcomes more than 50 students and educators.


LYNN — Students from three Lynn schools got a detailed look at the judicial system Monday during annual Law Day events held in several locations.

Founded nationally by President Eisenhower in 1958 and marked annually in Lynn Juvenile Court for 15 years, Law Day shows students how the courts work and engages them in discussions on the law and what it means in their lives.

“Hopefully, they walk out of Juvenile Court saying, ‘This is somewhere I might want to work,’” said Associate Justice Garrett J. McManus.

Juvenile Court Chief Justice Amy L. Nechtem welcomed students from three local high schools — English, St. Mary’s and Fecteau-Leary — to the Essex County Juvenile Court session on Sutton Street and urged them to contemplate the liberties protected by laws in the United States.

“These liberties must be guarded,” Nechtem reminded the students.

Law Day’s value

Retired Chief Justice Michael F. Edgerton focused his remarks on Law Day 2017’s topic — The 14th Amendment and how it transformed American democracy.

With its roots in post-Civil War years, the amendment laid out legal standards of due process and equal protection that became the battleground for landmark cases initially institutionalizing and, later, striking down segregation and laws upholding separate but equal racial barriers.

“The Supreme Court has relied on the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. It provides tangible protection against state and local laws that discriminate,” Edgerton said.

Lectures on the law were only part of Law Day. Students submitted essays and Fecteau-Leary students presented Law Day organizers with the seventh Law Day mural they created featuring a three-dimensional design.

Law Day participants, including Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, state Sen. Thomas M. McGee, state Rep. Dan Cahill and School Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham,  participated in other Law Day events Monday scheduled at Classical High School and Connery Elementary School.

La Vida scholars earn acceptance

Jose Perez reacts as Allison Zacarias pops confetti for the La Vida Scholars.


LYNN — High school seniors from the La Vida Scholars officially announced their college choices on Monday.

The annual announcement is known as senior signing day, when students in La Vida Scholars make the final commitment to their schools.

“This is a very happy, satisfying day,” said Dave Zagunis, executive director of La Vida Scholars.

The 17 seniors in the program committed to schools such as the University of Southern California, Hamilton College, Clark University, Salem State University and Endicott College, according to Zagunis.

“Our mission is to help high achieving, low income Lynn students get into the best colleges possible,” Zagunis said.

To do that, Zagunis said the after-school prep program for students from grades 10 to 12 works on both acceptances and scholarships. He said La Vida doesn’t give out scholarships, but helps students search for them.

The average scholar, after obtaining scholarships, financial aid and grants, pays about 10 percent for their college, with some not responsible for paying anything at all, Zagunis said. More than $12 million in scholarships, grants and awards have been received by the 98 students who have graduated from La Vida.

Zagunis said most students in La Vida are first-generation college students, and many are from immigrant families. Their parents may not be familiar with the college process, which can be overwhelming.

Parents are educated through the program and students are exposed to all of the top schools in the region, so they aren’t applying to a school that “under matches” them, or doesn’t match their abilities, Zagunis said.

Signs of the times in May Day march

Evelyn Deleon, 19, a senior at Lynn English High School, said she was born in the United States, but lived in Guatemala for 10 years. She received a full scholarship to Clark University, where she will study aesthetics of architecture, with plans to minor in psychology.

Before receiving the full scholarship, her application had been denied for other ones she had applied to. She said the thing she worried about most for college was financial aid. She lives with her sister, and Deleon said she didn’t want to put her sister or herself in a difficult situation.

“It’s like a big weight lifted off my shoulders,” Deleon said.

Korintha Tongo, 18, a senior at Lynn Classical High School, received a full scholarship to UMass-Boston, where she will study nursing. She said she was born here and her family is from Nigeria.

Tongo said she felt the scholarship showed how hard she worked over four years of high school, and gave her the money to succeed in college.

“It hasn’t hit me yet, but I am excited to go to college and see what happens there,” she said.

Ismael Aquino, 17, also a Classical High School senior, received a full tuition scholarship, and will attend Hamilton College, where he plans to study biology.

He is a first generation college student, and said his plans for school are exciting because he knows that his family didn’t have the same opportunities. He said his family always gets emotional with everything that he has accomplished.

Aquino said he was shocked to receive the Posse scholarship because he thought other candidates seemed more qualified. He was nervous, but once he got it, he said he was so excited. He said it means that his family won’t have to worry about the finances, and that college wouldn’t be a burden for them.

He said he was excited to go off to college to be independent and for the many things he gets to do in the future.

“I just want to tackle it all,” Aquino said.

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


Law Day’s value

Two of the kids appeared to be dozing; a couple others engaged in whispered conversation, but most of the 50-plus students who attended annual Law Day ceremonies on Monday listened with varying degrees of attention to their courthouse hosts.

Law Day is a slightly misleading name for an event that requires weeks of preparation not only by courthouse employees, but also by Fecteau-Leary High School students who every year for the last seven years have painstakingly assembled three-dimensional, table-size murals representing the American institutions upheld by a working judicial system.

Partly a recruiting opportunity, partly a history lesson, Law Day gives students a chance to look past television, news media and Hollywood depictions of the legal process and see and hear for themselves what the American judiciary is all about.

The people who organized Law Day took time out of busy jobs working as judges, clerks, court officers, attorneys and prosecutors — to name just a few occupations — to organize, prepare speeches and schedule their time to participate.

The law sounds like a cut-and-dried subject when judges talk about it. But the realities of law and the courts seem much more confusing:

A football player takes his life in prison and suddenly the question of vacating the legal decision that put him in jail becomes a serious topic of consideration.

Immigrants and the children of immigrants advocate for rights and ask for justice and hovering over the debates and marches is the question of legal citizenships.

La Vida scholars earn acceptance

Everyone seems to have legal advice to offer on the Internet, even though most of the online advisers have never been in a courtroom or cracked open a law book.

When retired Justice Michael Edgerton started speaking on the 14th Amendment Monday morning, a few students must have stifled yawns or shifted restlessly on the hardwood benches in the Juvenile Court First Session courtroom.

Edgerton’s student audience included teenagers from different ethnic and racial backgrounds and his mini-lecture quickly focused on topics they could wrap their imaginations around.

He talked about a post-Civil War America where slavery was replaced by segregation laws. He noted the end-of-the-19th century Supreme Court decision that upheld separate-but-equal segregation and he talked about the parent who got fed up with having his child walk to school through a rail yard when an all-white school was located seven blocks from home.

Edgerton concluded his history lesson by talking about the dramatic shift in Supreme Court membership that set the stage for segregation’s overthrow. Without driving his point home too hard, Edgerton showed the students how the law, and its tumultuous ride through American history, defines how they live their lives, where they go to school and the types of aspirations they can hold for their future.

The law in America is alive and well thanks to Law Day.

Nahant artwork spans three seas

Artist Stacey Wilson-McMahon unveils the Three Seas mosaics.


NAHANT — Three of the world’s seascapes translated into art are the latest addition to Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center thanks to dedication by local children who worked through spring vacation to complete the 30,000-piece mosaics.

The three mosaics depict coastal habitats of New England, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Northwest. They were unveiled in a Thursday night ceremony Kemari McCauley of Marblehead attended with friends and classmates.

“I think it’s a good thing because people are going to understand the oceans more if they can look at the art,” said McCauley, 10.

Working under the direction of artist Stacey Wilson-McMahon, who is also the director of Apatchworks, the middle and high school students attached thousands of small bisazza tiles from Italy to create the mosaics representing Northeastern University’s Three Seas program. Undergraduate and graduate students in the program live and study in New England, Caribbean, and Pacific Northwest coastal habitats throughout the course of a year.

Apatchworks is a nonprofit organization with a goal to create vibrant spaces in hospitals that might otherwise seem dreary or scary to children.

Happy Khmer New Year

Wilson-McMahon began working on the project nearly two years ago with members of Girls Inc. of Lynn’s Beach Sisters organization, a six-week program that focuses on STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, art and math. In 2015, a group of girls spent about seven hours working to complete the first of the three mosaics.

Because Wilson-McMahon lives in France, the project took a hiatus until April vacation approached. Youth from Lynn, Marblehead, Malden and other North Shore and Greater Boston communities opted to spend their break learning about science and creating art. The group completed the final two mosaics to complete the project.

“The kids spent some time on science and some on art,” said Val Perini, who coordinates outreach programs for k through 12 at the Marine Science Center. “They spent half the day learning about these habitats and then put what they learned into art.”

The three mosaics hang side by side within the center’s bunker.

“This bunker doesn’t always look cozy,” said Dr. Geoff Trussell, director of the Marine Science Center. “I think using artwork to express marine science is a good way to capture interest in marine science.”

He encouraged the youngsters to consider a career in the field, adding that he changed his mind many times before settling on Marine Science at the end of college.

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

City seeking student sanctuary


LYNN — The School Committee adopted a policy to protect students from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“It would be bad if we turned our backs on these kids,” said Oscar Ross, who has a daughter in Lynn Public Schools who dreams of being both a police officer and a cook. “If we don’t give them the chance to be what they want to be.”

Mary Sweeney, a retired teacher, said that during her career, students had to worry about getting their homework done.

“I never faced situations of kids being deeply afraid,” said Sweeney. “I think with the issues of immigration and ICE — it’s a reality.”

The panel voted unanimously to adopt a policy that affirms the schools are safe and welcoming sanctuaries for all students, regardless of their immigration status. The document said the resolutions are intended to ensure that all Lynn Public Schools students have the same right to a free, public education and will be treated equally.

“The mission of Lynn Public Schools is to maintain a multicultural school community dedicated to the realization of the full intellectual, physical, social and emotional potential of its students,” reads the resolution. “The city is enriched and strengthened by its diverse cultural heritage, multinational population, and welcoming attitude toward newcomers.”

Committee member John Ford pointed out that while he agreed with where the resolutions were coming from, he believed they were only reaffirming what the district already does. Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham agreed.

“I believe we have welcoming schools and that our teachers are wonderful and welcoming,” said Latham. “We have not had a case where ICE has come into our schools.”

She added that she believes ICE is restricted from taking immigrants into custody at schools and churches.

“Rather than us saying we already do that, we’ll be able to say that we have a policy for that,” said committee member Donna Coppola. “I think it would be a huge reassurance to our students. Let’s be upfront and be what we are — a proud community — and show others that we care.”

Immigrant-worker march set for Monday

Latham and committee members expressed concerns about a resolution included in the original draft that prohibited federal immigration law enforcement officers, or personnel assisting them, from entering a school building.

“I worry about training teachers not to allow law enforcement to come into the building,” she said.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy added that she was “very uncomfortable” with the section of the resolution because it should be recognized that federal law supersedes local law.

“It seems to me that it’s not a valid exercise of a city’s rights in the presence of federal government,” she said.

The panel amended the resolution to state that law enforcement can enter the building, but must remain in the main office until his or her credentials are verified and the superintendent is notified. The vote will be subject to final approval of the language.

Under the policy, the district will not inquire about, record, or request information intended to reveal the immigration status of a student or their family members. They will not disclose private information without parental consent, and staff will refuse to share all voluntary information with immigration agencies to the fullest extent permissible by the law.

All requests for information from a student’s education record will be immediately forwarded to the School Department’s attorney. The motion also noted that the district does not ask for immigration status when families register children for school.

A letter will be sent to parents and staff summarizing the resolutions in simple language. A list of all available resources, including community-based organizations and legal service organizations, will be provided to each student and made available at each school. It will be translated when necessary. Teachers will be trained on the policy before the start of the school year, when they become familiarized with all other policies.

In the next 90 days, Latham will be expected to develop a plan for training teachers, administrators and other staff on the new policy and best practices for ensuring the wellbeing of students, who may be affected by immigration enforcement actions. The plan will be implemented within five months.Legis

A copy of the resolution will be submitted to the Massachusetts Attorney General and to Lynn’s federal, state, and local legislative representatives.

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


Students share at poetry slam

Student judges Felicia Reppucci and Connor Gagne raise scores during the poetry slam.


SAUGUS — A piece about a girl who lost her father to his heroin addiction took first place in the seventh grade age category of Belmonte Middle School’s poetry slam Wednesday night.

Performed by Aiva Brusgulis, the poem’s persona talks about her father’s demons and how they eventually became her own.

“How could you be so blind to not see that I needed you here with me?”

Brusgulis ended the night with a score of 29.9 out of 30.

Sixth grader Yessenia Guevara, with 30 points, and eighth grader  Olivia Tamanga, with 29.7 points, also took first place.

A poetry slam is a competition during which artists read or recite an original piece of work — either alone or in teams — before an audience, according to The work is judged on both the manner and enthusiasm of its performance and the content or style. A panel of two teachers and three students judged the work.

The competition structure stems from poet and construction worker Marc Smith, who performed at a Chicago jazz club in 1986.

Love live in Lynn

There were two dozen students going head to head and English Language Arts teacher Terrie Bater said this year’s competition is the first to be held school-wide.

“Last year, I coordinated a smaller version, which was held for just students on one of the seventh grade teams,” Bater said. “The students really enjoyed creating poetry and presenting it in the slam format so this year, the event was opened up to the entire school.”

Lauren Robinson earned an honorable mention for her poem about Syrian refugees; also Ruby Mower for her poem “The Absence of You,” which judges said had the most powerful imagery; and Brennan Donahue for having the bravery to share his poem about the aftermath of suicide.

Giorgia Fiore recited her poem “Dancing with the Ribbon,” which is about her grandmother and two uncles’ battle with cancer.

“It gets tied around you and sometimes it doesn’t unravel,” she said.

Prizes were donated by Banana Splits and Barnes and Noble and awarded to the top poet in each grade.

Bridget Turcotte can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

Malden mayor spends day helping seniors

Pictured is Malden Mayor Gary Christenson.


MALDEN — Malden Mayor Gary Christenson joined a group of local elementary school students who used their creativity and talent on an art project to try and brighten up the day for some senior citizens.

Christenson trekked to the Linden STEAM Academy on Malden’s east side with volunteers from the RSVP Program coordinated by Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) and helped create placemats that will be given to nursing home residents around the city. They worked with students from the Linden’s second grade class on the project.

It was part of the mayor’s participation in fifth Annual Corporation for National and Community Service’s  “Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service.” He was one of more than 4,200 mayors nationwide who took part in the service day.

Christenson partnered with the MVES RSVP program, which has more than 500 volunteers, many of them local seniors from the region, including residents of Malden, Medford, Melrose and Everett.

“It was great to work with the volunteers from the RSVP Program. They care about our community and it shows in their volunteer work,” he said.

Nahant house goes to the birds

About 40 mayors from Massachusetts participated in the Mayors Day, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone.

“A coordinated day of recognition presents a unique opportunity to spotlight the key role that national service plays in solving local problems and challenges,” said Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Kim Mansaray in a statement. “Participating in the day will highlight the impact of citizen service, show support for nonprofit and national service groups, and inspire more residents to serve in their communities.”

The RSVP Program Christenson took part in is involved in many  community activities, including assisting community members at senior food pantries, providing one-on-one counseling on financial independence and health benefits, working with schoolchildren to increase literacy and comprehension, and serving meals to older adults at senior lunch sites.


Salad days ahead for Ford School

Krystle Fandel and her son Julius Ruiz, 9, work to screw in a metal corner for an outdoor raised planting bed.


LYNN — Students at Robert L. Ford Elementary School will soon live off the fat of the land.

When students return to school on Monday, they’ll begin planting lettuce seeds for a spring gardening project. Six weeks later they’ll harvest the lettuce and use it to make salads for lunch. They’ll have the option to take what’s left over home with them, said Jenn Coverdale, a FoodCorps service member working on The Food Project initiative.

“These kids are learning to grow and eat their own food,” said Coverdale. “This is a project we’re doing with all of the city’s third-graders, so all 500 students will grow lettuce.”

The Food Project is a Lynn-based nonprofit that works to help youth and adults from diverse backgrounds build sustainable food systems. The organization offers youth and community programs at different levels and in multiple seasons. Its goal is to engage young people in personal and social change through agriculture.

According to the FoodCorps website, one in three of the nation’s children are overweight and on track to develop diabetes in their lifetime. More than 30 million kids rely on their school for lunch; more than 12 million for breakfast.

Peabody finds cash to cover safety costs

Third-grade teachers Melanie Maselbas and Nicole Guarino helped break down old, deteriorating garden beds and build new ones Friday morning. Julius Ruiz, a third-grader at the school, and his mom, Krystle Fandel, also showed up ready to work during school vacation week.

“It’s healthy for you to eat the food that grows,” said Ruiz, 9. “I like that we’re helping nature.”

His mom said she was impressed by the project and is attempting to start her own garden at home this spring.

Guarino said the hands-on activity fits with what the students are learning about plants in class. She said she felt the project would give the children a sense of ownership to see the work that goes into growing their own food.

Maselbas added gardening will benefit her visual learners.

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

North Shore Community Promise: free tuition

North Shore Community College will offer a “free college” pilot program starting in the fall.


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.

Health center may be news for Malden

“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 Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte


Lynn has designs on its future

Arlen Stawasz explains the re-imagining of Lynn urban design.


LYNN – It might be one of the region’s best known ditties: “Lynn, Lynn the city of sin, You never come out the way you came in.”

That phrase inspired a team of students and faculty from two architectural schools to reimagine the city’s waterfront from gritty retail to world class destination.

“Our students who came to Lynn from around the globe were changed,” said Edward Mitchell, a Yale School of Architecture professor. “For the better.”  

The Lynn Museum and MassDevelopment’s TDI Partnership hosted the exhibit Tuesday titled “Visions of Lynn,” a display of urban design concepts proposed for Lynn and the surrounding region.

The 10 students who worked on the project were asked to redesign the waterfront given that experts expect the waterfront will be vulnerable to 6-foot higher swells by 2066.

In response, the students devised a series of designs that  replaced stores with canals, green spaces that could be flooded but used when they dry, a high school, a water treatment plant, and a public safety facility.

“Rather than fighting to keep the water out,  the students propose that we let it in and learn to thrive with it,” said Arlen Stawasz, a Lynn native, architect, and teacher at Perkins + Will,  the Boston-based architectural company.

Zion Baptist Church marks 115 years

Noah Geupel, a 26-year-old student at the Boston Architectural College, who helped create some of the designs, said while some of the proposals differ from a master plan done by the city a decade ago that calls for a mix of housing and small retail, they work.

A wastewater treatment plant may not be conventional and super exciting and there’s opposition because people think it will stink,” he said. “But there’s technology to deal with that and we see it as a public amenity.”

Bill Mosakowski, a former Lynn resident, said he came to exhibition to see what the city is up to.

“This was inspirational,” he said.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at

Pursuing your passions is a lifelong activity

Pictured is caramel bread pudding. Find the recipe below.


“Thank you for coming and visiting our class. I really enjoyed your story about how your love of cooking began.  I thought it was really funny how you used to pretend that you were on a cooking show when you were 9 years old.  And you would pretend your little brother, 7 years old, was your assistant. When you said you started liking to cook at a young age it reminded me of me. You are so lucky you got to be on a real cooking show on TC. Were you nervous when you first got up there? I would be but I love baking so much I would forget fear and be very excited. I wish your restaurant was still there, I would have loved to go there. I bet everyone loved your restaurant a lot.

With love, your friend, Anis.”

Our daughter Danielle invited my husband and me to speak about our careers to her fifth-grade class. Very shortly thereafter, we both received thank-you notes from the students. The above note from Anis was one of the many I received. I was very touched by the warmth and sincerity that was expressed by all of the children.

Danielle later told us that she thought it was important for her students to show their appreciation to us for visiting. The kids asked many questions, such as “How long did it take you to make the tasty coffee cake you brought us?” Others wrote, “What was the hardest part of managing your restaurant?” and “What’s your favorite meal to cook?” A heartwarming comment from another; “You inspire me.”

What could be better than that!

My grandchildren are a huge part of my life and I feel blessed to have them. Many couples do not have children or grandchildren. I am struck by the opportunities available to people my age, who are retired, to spend more time with young people. There are kids who need help with their lessons, with reading, writing and arithmetic, craft projects that are creative and fun, and other activities.  

My daughter Kathy, who does not have children, corresponded with Danielle’s students when she was teaching in France. She really enjoyed sending them pictures and Danielle translated some stories for the class. Kathy also enjoys sharing her time with seniors, doing art and crafts and cooking.

Alice Waters, a fabulous chef from California, has worked to introduce gardening to inner-city kids in the Los Angeles area. Teaching children about healthy food choices and the feeling of empowerment that growing your own food can generate, has inspired many to plant gardens throughout the city.

Volunteering at a school or a local Y is very worthwhile.  

Until recently, four of my grandchildren were at the same school; now two have moved on to higher grades. I feel that my presence at their school is important as a role model to my grandchildren. They have observed me making lunches, reading stories, helping in the art class, baking cookies and more as a volunteer. But it’s not just good for them: Being around young people provides me great joy and helps keep me young.

Making beans lovable

Often I meet old friends who are eager to share with me some of their newfound interests — in some cases, old interests. I hear stories about how they always loved to cook or do arts and crafts when they were young and now that there is time they are returning to those activities. One woman told me she was preparing jars of pickles to sell at farmers’ markets.

I encourage kids to pay attention to the activities that give them pleasure. I tell them that as a 5-year-old on Revere Beach I was making tarts with stones and clams while my cousins were making sand castles. My love for food has given me so much pleasure and now I can inspire young people by sharing what I’ve learned, what a gift!

Gwen Gaillard for many years was the chef at the Opera House on Nantucket, where she and her husband, Harold,  ran a successful restaurant. In addition to being a fabulous cook, she really knew how to create ambience that was eclectic, making her restaurant inviting by using old stuff. She was from the “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing” school of decorating. The walls in the restaurant were covered with art, 3-D artifacts, several chandeliers hung above the bar, which was a tiny zinc piece they found at a Paris flea market.

When I was putting together my restaurant, Gwen was my inspiration, for food and for ambience. I will never forget her making omelets in full view of guests on a Sunday at her restaurant. She delighted in chatting with guests, signing her cookbooks, including “Recipes with Love,” and turning out the best omelet you’ve ever tasted.  

Caramel Bread Pudding (Inspired by Gwen Gaillard)

Butter a casserole or baking dish well, and sprinkle over the bottom 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar.  

Butter six slices of white bread (Gwen recommends Pepperidge Farm), removing the crusts. Cut into 1-inch pieces. I use brioche when I have it handy.  

Sprinkle 1 cup or more of chocolate chips over the sugar; place the bread evenly on top.  

Whisk 2 cups of milk, 1 cup of coffee cream, 4 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 teaspoon of salt together. Pour over the bread, sugar and chocolate chips.  

Let it rest for 20 minutes, for bread to absorb the liquid.  

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.  

Serve with whipped heavy cream. (“Once in a while, you can add a half cup of coarsely chopped pecans to the brown sugar,” according to Gwen.)

Ruggiero put her best foot forward

She didn’t get picked to be Peabody’s next school superintendent, but Harrington School Principal Debra Ruggiero’s bid for the job reflected brilliantly on her and on Lynn public schools.

Ruggiero is a smart, committed, tough and ambitious educator who brought talent and experience to Peabody’s quest for a new school leader. She was the last candidate standing when the Peabody School Committee voted Wednesday to scrap its current superintendent search and keep Interim Superintendent Herb Levine on for another year.

Levine is an experienced superintendent with a steady hand and people in the know anticipate he will mentor an experienced veteran educator now working in the Peabody school system to become a superintendent candidate once a search resumes.

Committee members said they wanted candidates with collective bargaining and budget-building experience. At least one member pointed out the challenges of overseeing a school system with more than 6,000 students, 1,000 employees and a $72 million annual budget.

The Lynn public school’s enrollment, staff size and budget dwarfs the Peabody schools and Ruggiero is well-versed in the school system’s operations. She has literally sat in the front row at Lynn School Committee meetings and listened carefully as committee members and Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham discuss school spending, personnel needs, enrollment and dozens of other topics.

Ruggiero denied Peabody superintendent post

As Harrington School principal, Ruggiero and fellow educators have made the big Art Deco school on Friend Street a place where pride dwells. Ruggiero has fostered a strong sense of school spirit during her tenure. She has supported an annual reading initiative and she takes a no-nonsense approach to education that puts a priority on kids and learning.

She is a strong, maybe the strongest, example of a Lynn principal embracing a principal’s responsibilities as defined by state law. She is clearly in charge at the Harrington and the school’s state assessment test scores speak to Ruggiero’s accomplishments and her ability to expect the best from her colleagues.

Peabody committee members made the safe choice in passing on Ruggiero in favor of continuing with Levine until a superintendent research can resume again in late 2018. Picking Ruggiero would have been a bolder move on the committee’s part. It would have also been a smart one.

Ruggiero has a strong connection to Peabody. She has hands-on leadership experience and it would be hard to find Lynn educators who do not think Ruggiero is a quick study when it comes to learning and mastering skills.

It will be interesting to see if Peabody’s next search for a superintendent yields a strong candidate crop. One or two candidates with superintendent experience are sure to be a perfect fit for Peabody. An associate or deputy superintendent will probably apply and bring strong budget and bargaining skills. Then again, a strong principal like Ruggiero will apply and seek an opportunity to show off his or her leadership skills.


Ruggiero denied Peabody superintendent post

Debra Ruggiero answers questions during an interview for the superintendent position.


PEABODY — Interim Superintendent Herb Levine will likely serve one more year as the head of the school district.

The search for a new superintendent came to a temporary end Wednesday night, when the Peabody School Committee voted to request a waiver from the state’s Department of Education allowing Levine to stay on for another year because of a critical shortage of qualified superintendent candidates.

The vote means Debra Ruggiero, the principal of Lynn’s Harrington School and the last finalist standing in the committee’s superintendent search, will not be offered the Peabody position.

Committee members praised Ruggiero, but the members were united in saying they were disappointed there were no candidates brought forward with the kind of central office experience they believe Peabody needs. The two other finalists, John Oteri and Arthur Unobskey, were offered the top school jobs in Malden and Wayland, respectively, and withdrew from consideration in Peabody.

“I think the three finalists we had were excellent people, I just think they lacked the district experience,” said School Committee member Tom Rossignoll. “We want somebody with district experience, and that was not offered to us.”

Several committee members also said they believed the search process, which was overseen by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, started a little too late this year to bring in enough qualified candidates.

“I think one of the problems with starting a little late is that candidates were scooped up quickly,” said School Committee member Brandi Carpenter. “If we’re going to do it again, we need to start earlier and we need to think outside the box.”

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Carpenter also said she felt Ruggiero was an excellent candidate, but that she and the other finalists lacked the budget and contract negotiation skills needed in such a large district.

“I too, although it was not the fault of the candidates, was disappointed in the pool,” said committee member Jarrod Hochman. “This is a quasi-urban community with over 6,000 students, over 1,000 employees, and a $72 million budget. We had candidates who did not have experience with collective bargaining, and not one candidate had experience formulating a budget beyond the building or department level.”

Committee members noted that the process next year should wrap up by March, rather than April, in an effort to get a jump on the best candidates.

For Levine, the 2017-18 school year will be his third year in a row as interim superintendent in Peabody. The former Salem school chief was also the interim superintendent in Peabody during the 2011-12 school year.

Levine said he is willing to stay on in the interim position for another year, but that he was drawing a line in the sand.

“I’m not going to work beyond that; I’m going to be 70 years old,” he said. “I’m proud to have the privilege to steer the ship for one more year.”


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.

Easter Dinner: Ham or lamb?

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 Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Symposium brings big ideas to Lynn Museum


LYNN – A vision for the city’s future is coming to the Lynn Museum in the form of a symposium next week.

The museum and MassDevelopment’s TDI Partnership is hosting a gallery exhibit entitled “Visions of Lynn,” a display of urban design concepts proposed for Lynn and the surrounding region. A number of speakers will host a conversation about the work on April 18, following a gallery viewing at 5:30 p.m.

The work, which went on display at the beginning of the month, includes plans, renderings, and models prepared by professional design firms and student work from the Yale School of Architecture and the Boston Architectural College, according to a release about the exhibit.

MassDevelopment Lynn TDI fellow Joe Mulligan said the seeds for the project were sown a couple of years ago, when the urban planning department at Yale began a study on New England gateway cities.

Mulligan called the symposium a germane opportunity to think outside of the box about the city’s future. He said that although the designs are students’ work, many are achievable.

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Drew Russo, executive director of the museum, said he was blown away by some of the concepts, some of which were done by students from around the world.

Arlen Stawasz and Tyler Hinckley of architect firm Perkins+Will characterized the designs on display as big ideas that look at the opportunities the city has to enliven its waterfront space.

The exhibit extends through the month of April with presentations scheduled throughout and a closing event on May 2.

‘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 Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

A day for optimism

Lynn District Fire Chief Stephen Archer talks with student Gabby Graham.

If it’s spring it must be Student Government Day, with bright-eyed young men and women from Lynn high schools filling the City Council Chamber on Tuesday to hear speeches about how they can make a difference in the world.

Student Government Day serves the admirable dual purpose of highlighting young people who want to aim high with their aspirations and celebrating the best and most noble aspects of city government.

City department heads, City Councilors and school officials step back from their jobs for a few hours and pair up with student councilors, student fire chiefs, a student mayor, and a student school superintendent.

Student Government Day is partly an opportunity to reward some of the city’s best students with a glimpse at careers in government. It is also an opportunity for public service employees to provide insights into how government at the local level works.

There is value in giving young people an understanding of why a career in public service is a goal worth pursuing. People who work in government are consistent targets for critics who claim public servants are underworked, overpaid, and less than honest. These attacks have probably been around for as long as human beings have organized governments.

‘Welcome to Student Government Day’

The people who start Student Government Day off by talking about their jobs are, in many cases, familiar to the students sitting in the Council Chamber and listening. They are neighbors, parents of friends, couches and scouting leaders.

Some of them are city leaders only slightly older than the students. State Reps. Brendan Crighton and Dan Cahill have stood in the Council Chamber and told students about how they pursued public careers to make a difference and improve life for their neighbors.

Part of Student Government Day is dedicated to giving student councilors the opportunity to debate topics they consider important to their peers. In past years these debates centered around school topics such as giving students more latitude in leaving school grounds. Sometimes the debates center on topics that hit close to home for young people, including violence and addiction.

The mock debates are typically five minute-long exchanges bearing no resemblance to the Lincoln-Douglas debates. But they may provide a student interested in civic life with an opportunity to speak out loud about a topic of interest in a place where important city business is debated and decided.

The greatest part of Student Government Day is the way, if only for a day, optimism in government replaces cynicism and people who only see possibility and potential stand at center stage and talk about the future.

High school students sample life at NSCC


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.

Upcoming film festival walks two worlds

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

Upcoming film festival walks two worlds

High school students Yakelin Lopez, Farzana Alfrose, and Kushma Monger watch videos about their lives for the first time.


LYNN — The Living in Two Worlds Film and Photo Exhibition on Wednesday, April 12 will allow viewers a peek into the lives of students from around the world.

Peer mediation coordinator Ginny Keenan said the program, which meets once per week, is in its fifth year thanks to funding from the Cummings Foundation/One World Boston and the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation.

Keenan said the films evolve over the course of the year through meetings with individual students, many of whom are recent immigrants. They’re interviewed about their personal stories, which are eventually edited into finished pieces.

“They’re very heartfelt,” said Keenan. “It’s become a real passion to work with these kids … The students stay very connected to it.”

A father-son reunion at Brickett Elementary

In addition to the 11 short films, six students will tell their stories through photography with narrative and captions.

This year the program has students from Iraq, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Guatemala. Keenan said they purposefully cultivate a diverse group, and that she has been personally struck by many of their stories.

“Sometimes you don’t know who’s sitting in your class,” said Keenan. “It’s really just a great experience for everybody.”  

The festival will be held in the Lynn English High School auditorium from 6-8 p.m.

Leah Dearborn can be reached at

NSCC president lays out 2017 goals, plans

LYNN — There’s a lot going on at North Shore Community College (NSCC) over the coming months, including a new bookstore.

Patricia Gentile, the school’s president, said there are plans to move into the new development on the Lynn Campus over the month of June.

The temporary entrance on the side of the main campus building will remain, and the current bookstore will be moved from the interior of the building into an area that is now occupied by offices, said Gentile.

The new bookstore will be open to the public for retail and carry more than just textbooks. The college has submitted a request for proposal for potential bookstore vendors.

Gentile said that by 2018 they’re hoping to have the bookstore settled so the college can move on to other renovations within the building. The school is seeking funding for a Lynn-based veterans center and is in the midst of building a health center. The work, funded by the Workforce Skills Capital Grant Program, is being done over the summer and should be completed by fall.  

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A number of events are coming to the campus, such as the Forum on Tolerance at 6 p.m. on April 20 and a town hall meeting with Congressman Seth Moulton this Saturday. Law Day on April 27 at 7:30 p.m. constitutes a presentation about the 14th Amendment regarding immigration rights.

“We’re trying to get the public involved as well as students,” said Gentile.

She said another new initiative at the college is a pilot of the North Shore Promise Award, which reduces the direct cost to attend NSCC to zero for the first 100 full-time students who are eligible for financial aid but lack enough grant funds to cover tuition and fees.  

“We know affordability is becoming a major hardship for folks,” said Gentile. “Coming to a community college makes a lot of sense but even that can be individually unaffordable.”

Gentile said the award is a response to the fact that financial factors have dissuaded many students who apply to the school from attending.