RHS students awarded Superintendents’ Certificates
Garfield students talk gun safety at State House
By Tara Vocino
Two Revere High School seniors received a Certificate of Academic Excellence from the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents during last Tuesday’s School Committee meeting.
Recipients Shiara Pyrrhus, whose “dream school” is Columbia University to study International Relations with a focus in developing nations, and Julia Tran, who hopes to go to Brown University to study English with a concentration in writing, have both taken eight Advanced Placement (AP) classes, among countless extracurricular activities.
Besides the eight AP classes, Pyrrhus is taking four dual enrollment courses at North Shore Community College and Salem State University. Model UN President, she also serves on the Student Senate Executive Board and as a Book Club/Culture Club member. Emigrating from Haiti when she was eight, she is co-founder of the English Language Learners Club. A former Recreation Center employee, she has volunteered at the Jack Satter House, in the Massachusetts General Hospital Healthcare Program and at Garfield Middle School Field Day. After college graduation, Pyrrhus hopes to work at a nongovernmental organization helping Haitians with life and career advancement.
Along with taking the eight AP classes, Tran is a member of the Muslim Student Association, Walk for Hunger, and the National Student Leadership Membership Conference, and she is a Massachusetts Audubon Beach Ambassador. She has worked at Game Change, an anti-domestic violence organization, and her favorite, as a Massachusetts General Hospital Program Scholar.
“They are both driven, have a good work ethic and took advantage of their time here,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dianne Kelly said of the two girls.
After receiving the certificate, Pyrrhus said in the school lobby that it’s nice to see her hard work recognized. “I get no sleep during exams,” Pyrrhus jokingly said.
Her mother, Marie, said she is her sweetheart and her oldest daughter. “I love her very much,” Marie Pyrrhus said. “She works very hard, and she is worried about her homework.”
She added that she attributes her daughter’s talent to her Christian faith and close familial bond, adding that she helps her with the smallest of tasks.
Her sister, Shayhara, 4, said she’s proud of her, adding that she wants to be like her when she grows up.
Tran, whose family wasn’t present, said in the lobby that she was surprised that she was chosen, but that meant her hard work was worth it.
Validating student voices: Garfield students visit State House
Also during the School Committee meeting, Garfield Middle School Grade 7 student Santiago Gil shared about his experience visiting the State House with English Language Arts (ELA) and homeroom teacher Bridget Sheppard to talk about the gun bill with Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop). The bill, which was passed this summer, allows family members or close friends to report whether a gun owner is a danger to safety; police can then temporarily take the gun away as a precautionary measure, according to Sheppard. They wrote letters about the issue of gun violence to DeLeo about action steps they’d like him to take.
“Their voices matter,” Sheppard said before the meeting. “The purpose of this visit was to create change. They may feel underestimated when speaking about the problem of gun violence, because they’re young, but people listen to them.”
Santiago responded that it was interesting to be a part of something as big as that. “Although I don’t know people personally who own guns, the Speaker was glad that we enforce safety in our community and that we had interest in something that most kids wouldn’t,” Santiago said.
DeLeo said Monday afternoon that he was so happy to welcome these students to the State House last week. “To encourage and cultivate just this kind of student activity, we passed a civics education bill this session, which is now law and will require civics studies by our middle and high school students,” DeLeo said. I applaud them for their leadership in their efforts to engage with their government.”
Along those same lines, School Committee Vice Chairman Carol Tye encouraged people to register to vote before they turn 18 so that they can make a difference. “It looked like a wonderful experience for them,” Tye said. “We encourage them to be civic activists.”
School Committee Member Stacey Rizzo asked if it was student-initiated. Sheppard replied it was a mixture of staff and student participation.
Student Layla Guarino, who wasn’t present, said she wasn’t interested in writing letters to politicians, because she didn’t think politicians would listen to “just kids.” Rizzo replied that, hopefully, students who thought that their voice didn’t matter will now change their opinion as a result of this presentation.
After the presentation, Principal Steve Pechinsky said this project exemplifies what they want to promote. “That is making learning applicable to daily life,” Pechinsky said. “What students learn in the classroom goes into action.”
Tara Vocino may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.