Graduation in the Boston Globe
The Boston Globe was on-hand as 52 seniors graduated from Cristo Rey Boston in Dorchester's Strand Theater. Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley delivered the keynote speech to the Class of 2012. Valedictorian Madeline Sencion, bound for M.I.T. in September, told her classmates: "It is a new beginning, but I believe we are all equipped with the right tools we need to succeed and overcome our obstacles. Never forget the lessons learned throughout these four years and always remember your Cristo Rey Boston Class of 2012 family."
All Cristo Rey High School graduates are off to college
(from The Boston Globe, June 16, 2012. Click here for the full article on the Globe's website.)
By Johanna Kaiser, Town Correspondent, Globe Staff
The room was electric but tense Friday as the graduating seniors of Cristo Rey Boston High School waited to march into the Strand Theatre to receive their diplomas.
While some grew teary-eyed and others beamed, the graduates will have to get used to the pomp and circumstance--they all have a chance at more commencement ceremonies coming in their lives.
Like the two graduating classes before them, every one of the 52 graduates of the small Catholic school in Dorchester has been accepted into a four-year college or university, and each is planning to pursue a degree in the fall.
The students, all from low income families, have spent the past four years reading, writing, and studying like most high school students, but they have also worked for, and as part of, their education.
Along with a rigorous course load, every student at Cristo Rey works five full days a month as part of the school’s corporate work-study program that helps students pay for their education and gain experience.
The real-life application of classroom lessons along with the opportunity to learn communication, time management and other skills on the job has helped the school ensure that every graduating student over the past three years was accepted to college, school officials say.
“We know for a fact the work-study experience stays with them for the rest of their lives and while in school,” the school’s president Jeffrey Thielman said.
In addition to their educational benefits, the entry-level jobs at 115 companies in Greater Boston have allowed students to earn $1.9 million in the past school year, covering 60 percent of the school’s operating costs.
The ability of students to cover the bulk of their tuition through work is especially important at Cristo Rey, where the average family income is $27,672 and 82 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
“The fact they have worked--literally worked--to earn their education has made everything more meaningful,” said Rev. Jose Medina, the school’s principal.
The school’s support does not stop once a student is accepted to college. A college advisor and other faculty members work with students and their families to determine which schools are the best fit both academically and financially.
“We get to know students well. We get to help them. We get to know their families well,” said Thielman, who noted three students have chosen to attend two-year institutions.
The students, too, feel the close-knit community of just over 300 has been vital to their education.
“They all wanted us to excel. Without them we would have never gotten to this point,” Lisa Edouard, the class’s salutatorian, said before the ceremony.
During her address Edouard, who will attend Boston College, recalled private jokes with her class and how much she enjoyed being able to pop into a classroom just to chat with a teacher.
That message was echoed by Valedictorian Madeline Sencion, the first Cristo Rey graduate to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“This unity wasn’t created just because of our faculty and staff it was created by each and every single one of us who had our rough moments and our happy ones as well,” Sencion said.
City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley, who delivered a graduation address, commended he graduates for their hard work despite the obstacles they faced and thanked them for being an inspiration.
“You fought to get to this day. It wasn’t easy,” Pressley said. “Working solidly four years to further yourself and your education has better prepared you to emerge onto the world stage and to take on this big bad world, and that was certainly no easy task.’’