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Posts Tagged ‘high school’

Photo: Getty Images
Wynton Marsalis performing in New York City in April 2016.

John was in Belarus for work last week but wasn’t too distracted to forward another good blog topic. It’s about a very busy celebrity who took a day out to surprise student musicians and a high school music director who was retiring.

Johanna Seltz writes at the Boston Globe, “Jazz great Wynton Marsalis took the stage at the Foxborough High School Pops concert last weekend — much to the surprise of retiring music director Stephen Massey, who was running the event.

“Massey was just introducing a piece by the Foxborough High School Jazz Ensemble — and explaining that the band had been chosen as one of 15 nationally to play at the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Festival in New York’s Lincoln Center where Marsalis runs the jazz program — when Marsalis stepped out from behind a tuba, playing ‘Joe Avery’s Blues’ on his trumpet.

“ ‘My reaction was shock, total shock, and disbelief,’ Massey said later, although he calmly announced, ‘Wynton Marsalis, ladies and gentlemen,’ to the crowd of family and friends sitting at tables at the high school.

“ ‘The generosity of that man to drive four hours up, visit us for half an hour, and drive four hours back — with his schedule and his life — is beyond my comprehension,’ Massey said.

“Marsalis improvised with the student musicians and then gave a moving tribute to Massey, who is retiring after 37 years in Foxborough and 46 years as a music educator. …

“Massey has brought Foxborough high school jazz bands to the elite Essentially Ellington festival 17 times over the years and gotten to know the Pulitzer Prize and Grammy-winning Marsalis, who judges the event, in the process. …

“ ‘There’s kind of this simpatico communication that we have without many hours of talking to each other, just mutual respect for the things we do,’ Massey said. ‘Music is powerful, very powerful.’

“A video of the surprise appearance is available at www.facebook.com.”

More at the Globe, here.

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Jerry and Priscilla’s granddaughter, recently accepted at Stanford, founded a club at her Vancouver high school to collect and distribute food for residents experiencing homelessness.

She feels pretty strongly that, in modern society, the distribution of resources is out of whack, and she wanted to reach out to those who have little. She started with donations from one bakery willing to give her fresh leftover bread at the end of the day.

CBC caught up with Kristen Anderson in the giving season, last Christmas.

“Grade 12 student Kristen Anderson founded ‘Kitchen on a Mission’ in July of 2015.

” ‘I tried at first to go down and hand out sandwiches but realized I couldn’t afford to buy the bread every day for this, so I had to rethink my idea.’

“Anderson was then inspired by an article she read about New York teens collecting leftover restaurant food and feeding the homeless. …

“Anderson and other volunteers from Winston Churchill Secondary set out collecting, not only bread, but Danishes and other baked goods and dropping them off at shelters under the umbrella of the Atira Women’s Resource Society.

“She knocked on more bakery doors and soon enlisted [four more]. Since its early days, the club has grown to five schools and 100 students who collect goods for 10 different shelters. …

“The club members say their volunteer work is satisfying and eye opening.

” ‘I didn’t realize what a community the Downtown Eastside was before going down there each day with my friends. They are such kindhearted people down there. They were giving me advice on my life, to stay in school and listen to my parents. I even had one man play guitar for me, which was really touching because I love to sing.’ ”

Pretty amazing young lady.

Video of the interview here.

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Dorcas International of Rhode Island is a refugee-resettlement and immigrant-support organization that also offers education programs and services to native-born residents.

On the nonprofit’s website, you can find uplifting stories of DIIRI beneficiaries. Here is one.

Sidy Maiga, a master percussionist from Mali, wanted to take his skills to the next level. The first step was to get over his insecurity about education.

“His mastery of the djembe, a drum of West African origin that is rope-tuned [and] shaped like a large goblet, has taken him on tours all over the world and as a teacher in schools all over the East Coast … But without a high school diploma, he felt like he had hit a wall. …

“Sidy heard from friends about things you could do at Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island. …

“He admits he was hesitant about going to school again. … He enrolled in an ESL [English as a Second language] class to get up to speed” before taking the high school equivalency test known as the GED “and felt himself getting discouraged — so he stopped going to class.

“However, after getting encouraging calls from DIIRI staff, Sidy decided he would give it another shot. … ‘I think they saved my life, and I’m glad I came back.’ …

“With the help and encouragement of DIIRI staaff, Sidy decided the next step would be college.”

Sidy starts at Berklee College of Music this year and says, “Once I learn the academic way of music, then I can teach African music to the world.”

More here.

Photo: Dorcas International Institute
Malian djembe drummer Sidy Maiga says Dorcas staff “saved my life.”

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Imagine my surprise, driving along, flipping channels, to hear the unique voice of John and Suzanne’s high school history teacher, long retired. And he was on Only a Game. I know the show’s host is eclectic, but I couldn’t see how Bill Littlefield was going to work into his sports show Eliot Lilien’s expertise in World War I or Russian history.

Well, what do you know! It turns out Only a Game was focusing on the high school’s 50 years of a sport that Mr. Lilien started there: fencing.

Littlefield writes that 50 years ago, to get the program started, Mr. Lilien “found a few opponents at other secondary schools in the Northeast, and some at colleges, and some at clubs. …

“ ‘When you first began the program 50 years ago,’ I asked, ‘did you ever imagine that it would still be going strong in 50 years?’

“ ‘I didn’t think about,’ he said. ‘But I’m very grateful that it has been, and that this high school has been willing to support it.’

“Some of Lilien’s first recruits showed up hoping to bring Dungeons & Dragons to life with swords. He had to teach them that the sport required not fantasy but discipline, balance, tactics, psychology, and brains — most of the time.

“ ‘Of course, if you’re faster than anyone else, and stronger, it becomes less important,’ Lilien said.

“ ‘The mental part of it?’ I asked.

“ ‘If you can launch a gigantic attack, it doesn’t make any difference how smart the other person is. He’s gonna get hit,’ Lilien answered.”

Listen to the interview at Only a Game.

I wonder if the 50-year mark at the high school as anything to do with the local resurgence of interest in fencing. The space across from my hairdresser, where the wonderful craft shop Dabblers used to be, has morphed into a fencing studio. Fun to watch when you’re getting your hair cut.

Photo: Jesse Costa/Only a Game

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Do you remember a blog post about a photography and interview initiative called the Humans of New York? I wrote about it here.

It seems that a frustrated parent of a high school student who had no Spanish teacher decided to let it all out when asked what she was feeling, and the Humans of New York entry about her went viral. Now the school district must save face and choose among many offers of help.

Brandon Stanton saw Annette Renaud on the subway and asked to  interview her. As Soni Sangha writes for the NY Times, Renaud was upset.

” ‘We’ve got a new mayor and a new chancellor … So we aren’t blaming them. But they need to know how impossible they’ve made it to help our kids. Trying to get something fixed in these schools is like praying to some false God. You call and email hoping that God is listening, and nothing happens.’

“Someone was listening,” says Sangha. “The post immediately went viral, with 150,000 likes on the Humans of New York Facebook page, it was shared more than 16,000 times, and it had strangers from across the city and the country pledging to call the school in protest on behalf of the students. Someone in Michigan started a change.org petition calling on the school to hire a foreign language instructor; another Connecticut petition asked the Department of Education to help the students — it has more than 1,000 supporters. …

“ ‘We continue to work closely with the school community to ensure students have access to the courses they need,’ said Marcus Liem, deputy press secretary of the New York City Education Department. Mr. Liem said that officials from the department were planning to meet with the school’s administration about this and other issues even before the posting, but that those meetings have now been moved up.” Read it all here.

Photo: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
Alejandra Figueroa, a senior at the Secondary School for Journalism, believes the loss of her Spanish teacher jeopardizes her chances for an Advanced Regents diploma.

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The Boston Private Industry Council is made up of employers who pulled together in 1982 to commit to helping Boston Public School students get summer jobs, internships, training — and eventually full-time jobs. They get the experience of working, earning money, and adapting to the soft skills needed in a workplace.

I went to the PIC annual event today to see a young friend who was receiving an award along with 17 other students, employers, and mentors.

I had no idea what a big event it would be. Boston Mayor Menino spoke, as did presidents of community colleges and companies. There were great success stories, several seen in this PBS video feature by Paul Solman.

In 2006, my young friend had been rescued by mentors who worked for a PIC program designed for out-of-school youth. After much hard work, he is now attending a highly regarded local college and expecting to graduate in 2014.

Here’s a description of the out-of-school program, one of the PIC’s offerings:

“Young people who are neither in school nor working have few prospects in today’s economy. That is why the PIC works with those who have dropped out of school and those who finished high school without passing MCAS.

“PIC dropout recovery specialists and career center counselors work with these young people to help get them back on track to education and employment. They help young people take the next step by enrolling them in school, GED programs, training programs and jobs.”

Read more.

Photo: http://www.bostonpic.org/programs/out-school-youth

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