PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Evelyn Rivera, a Lynn Classical student, left, receives her certificate for completing a semester of courses for the CommUniverCity program. Greeting her are Lynn Superintendent Catherine Latham and NSCC President Patricia Gentile.
BY GAYLA CAWLEY
LYNN — More than 100 students from the city’s three high schools were honored for completing a semester of courses at North Shore Community College Tuesday night.
The classes were for the kick-off semester of CommUniverCity at Lynn. The program offered students from Lynn Classical, Lynn English and Lynn Vocational Technical Institute, along with local students attending Essex Technical High School, a chance to take college courses for free.
The program was possible as a result of $80,000 in grants and donations. Students had to buy their textbooks, but could rent them with financial assistance from Lynn Public Schools. CommUniverCity offered 11 courses. Of the 139 students who enrolled, 103 students, or 74 percent, completed their studies. Each took either one or two classes. Those completing the semester included 15 freshmen, 23 sophomores, 69 juniors and 32 seniors.
Forty-two percent of completing students received an A, 35 percent got a B and 18 percent finished with a C.
Lynn Classical comprised 54 percent of the students completing courses while Lynn English had 40 percent of the total. Lynn Tech had 6 percent of the tally and 27 students from Essex Tech finished.
“All this sums up to one big conclusion,” said North Shore President Patricia Gentile. “Lynn schools have a lot of smart, talented, hard working college students in their high schools.”
Superintendent Catherine Latham said the enrollment celebration showed that Lynn Public Schools prepared its students well and urged them to thank their teachers.
“This certainly has been a wonderful initiative,” she said. “We are just thrilled with it.”
One of the courses, principles of macroeconomics, was taught by Kelly Rigby. She quoted Thomas Edison by saying “there is no substitute for hard work.” She told the teens that when they get discouraged, they should remember that Edison took 10,000 tries to get the light bulb right.
“You’ve done it,” Rigby said. “You’ve made it through your first semester.”
Willy Gomez, 17, a junior from Lynn English, took programming logic and design. He received an A. His first choice was business management, but was told no. He expected the course to be about fixing computers. Instead, it was about creating programs for companies, which was like learning a new language.
Gomez said he was challenged to come home from high school and then go straight to campus for the course. He learned that college professors tell students something once, while high school teachers are “on your back 24/7.” He gained knowledge about being more independent.
“It made me a stronger person,” Gomez said.
Sherley Ortiz-Robles, a senior at Lynn Classical, received an A in her speech class. She said nothing great is ever accomplished without perseverance and persistence. She spoke about the advantages the country gives people with education. She cited statistics that only 56 percent of children in various countries finish primary school. The other 44 percent usually drop out because it is too expensive or work is more important.
“You have to use your education to your advantage because it can change your entire world,” Ortiz-Robles said.
Roatha King, program coordinator at Bentley College and graduate of Lynn Classical, spoke of being a first generation college student. She said her parents were survivors of the Cambodian Genocide in the 1970s. She compared her preparation to running a half marathon to the students getting through their college courses.
“What matters most is the sense of accomplishment you get when you cross the finish line,” King said.
Gayla Cawley can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.