Mayor Walsh, Superintendent Chang Honor Boston Public Schools 2016 Valedictorians
Boston, MA - June 1, 2016 - Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang joined Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston School Committee Chairman Michael O'Neill at the BPS Annual Valedictorian Luncheon held yesterday at the Boston Harbor Hotel at Rowes Wharf in downtown Boston.
"This is one of my favorite events of the year," said Mayor Walsh. "The Class of 2016 is a very special one. More than half of these students are the first in their families to attend college. More than half of them were born outside of the United States. Eight of the 37 valedictorians have been in the Boston Public School system since kindergarten. This group of scholars is a testament to the BPS, and each student should be proud of their success. These students enrich our communities, schools and the City of Boston. Congratulations to the valedictorians and their families on this great accomplishment."
This year's celebration marks the 18th annual recognition ceremony of the district's valedictorians. Callie Crossley, the host of Under the Radar on WGBH, emceed the event and introduced each valedictorian.
"On behalf of the School Committee, I am so proud of each and every single one of these students," said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael O'Neill. "These students have shown great dedication and deserve to be recognized for achieving their goals."
"Congratulations to all of our students for achieving this remarkable accomplishment," said Superintendent Chang. "They make all of us so proud; they are hard workers, resilient, and they have an unwavering desire to succeed."
The biographies for the 2016 valedictorians are as follows:
Another Course to College: Joel Ortiz
Joel has taken a challenging course of study, which includes two Advanced Placement (AP) and eight honor classes. Joel loves science and technology and hopes to pursue these interests in college. He was instrumental in the success of ACC's robotics team as the lead robot software programmer. He has taught the basics of software coding to students and has led efforts to teach computer science. Joel is fluent in Spanish and speaks conversational Chinese.
Boston Arts Academy: Issel Solano-Sanchez
Hyde Park Resident
Issel is senior class president at Boston Arts Academy. She focuses on theater and has performed in three main stage productions - Grimm, In the Heights, and Inner City Blues - and was the stage manager for Romeo and Juliet. Issel is grateful for all the opportunities BAA has given her and is ready to move onto the next chapter of her life at Emerson College.
Boston Adult Technical Academy: Jacelina Gonçalves
Jacelina faced many obstacles in her life but nevertheless continues to strive to overcome life's challenges. Her goal is to be the first college graduate of her family and make a positive difference in the world. She aspires to use her success to help others but, most importantly, to serve as an example for others to prove that everything is possible when you believe and work hard.
Boston Community Leadership Academy: Bilal Lafta
Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Bilal is ambitious and hardworking as he has dreams of becoming a doctor someday. His home country was politically unstable and violently chaotic, making it difficult for his family to continue to live there. At the age of seven, his family was forced to separate and was sent to different refugee camps. Living with his father at a refugee camp, Bilal spent months without school, but his curiosity and passion for learning remained alive. He visited the local library to read as an escape from the harsh reality outside the library doors. Bilal's family was later reunited in Cairo, Egypt, where he lived for two years. Bilal and his family then immigrated to the United States, a place he can finally call home. He quickly learned English and performed exceptionally in his academic studies. A senior at Boston Community Leadership Academy, Bilal highly values community involvement and helping others to become leaders within their own community. Next fall, Bilal will study biomedical engineering at Brown University, where he hopes to make significant contributions to medical research.
ABCD University High School: Mikhailla Colon
Mikhailla is a hard working student driven by academic success. She is an all-around leader, and her positive energy is contagious. In the fall, Mikhailla will attend Northeastern University.
EDCO Youth Alternative High School: Joshua Damas
Joshua is a kind, intelligent, and observant young man who demonstrated deep resilience and self-motivation to get through high school. A skilled writer, his favorite discipline was science, particularly biology. Joshua will attend Norfolk State University in Norfolk, VA. He hopes to return to Massachusetts to attend Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in pursuit of his goal of becoming a pediatrician.
Boston Day and Evening Academy: Maritza Coren
Maritza plans to study biology at Curry College. Her goal is to become a veterinarian. This spring, she volunteered at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center. Maritza has also worked with several organizations in her community: STRIVE, United South End Settlements, Camp Hale, and Mission Safe.
Boston Green Academy: Suraia Silveira
Suraia is determined to excel and become a health care professional. This Cape Verdean immigrant is an organized leader who has made her mark on our community. She speaks four languages (Cape Verdean Creole, Portuguese, English, and Spanish) and has been savvy in utilizing her multilingual skills to communicate with different segments of the population both at home and abroad. Suraia has been a valuable contributor to Boston Green Academy through her participation in sports, displaying her heartfelt school spirit as a cheerleader and always representing BGA in the best possible light.
Boston International High School: Tarannum Rahman
Tarannum is a motivated, hardworking, and studious young woman of enormous potential who has exemplified the values of the school community. She has thrived in her transition from being a newly arrived immigrant student from Bangladesh to a young woman ready for college success.
Boston Latin Academy: Mayerly Smith
Mission Hill Resident
Mayerly is a strong, moral, and ambitious young woman. She enjoys courses in biology and health sciences. As an intern at the Brigham and Women's Hospital's Student Success Jobs Program, Maya works in the Division of Infectious Diseases. She also volunteers her time tutoring students it the Homework Help Program at the Copley Library. Maya is truly passionate about helping others. In college, Maya hopes to decide on an academic major, travel, and expand her horizons. She is deciding between a scholarship at Harvard and Northeastern for the fall of 2016.
Boston Latin School: Terry Ni
Jamaica Plain Resident
Terry enjoys many interests, whether taking walks around the city, managing the school newspaper. She also enjoys animals, swimming and playing the flute. She will attend Harvard College in the fall.
Boston Latin School: Xuan Qin
West Roxbury Resident
Xuan has pursued a vigorous program of studies at BLS. She has successfully completed nine AP courses, ranging from Latin to economics. She is also involved with a non-profit dance company, Project Moves, and competes in mock trials.
Brighton High School: Ebony Atwell
Ebony was born in Brooklyn, NY, and came to Boston in August of her freshman year. She immediately took advantage of opportunities available to her at Brighton High School. She participated in Summer Search, where she had the chance to travel to North Carolina and Costa Rica for community service. She also tutored children in English, painted classrooms, and improved living conditions for communities abroad.This year, she became a member of the student council and the National Honors Society. Her efforts in serving her community directly led to her receiving the Boston University Community Service Scholarship.
Jeremiah E. Burke: Flavia Freitas
Flavia immigrated to the U.S. from Cape Verde at the age of 10. Flavia has been accepted to Northeastern University, Bentley University, UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, Gordon College, Bridgewater State University and more.
Charlestown High School: Minting Chen
South End Resident
Minting came to the United States in September 2013. As a newcomer to the school, Minting excelled in all of her courses. Minting is a member of National Honor Society. She is one of the six juniors who received a College Book Award last year. She is a member of Charlestown High School's Chinese Club. Additionally, she was selected to work at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company as a student intern. Minting volunteers at the Chinese Immigrant Student Leadership program. She is attending UMass Amherst next fall.
Community Academy: Steven Rodriguez Jr.
Steven is a charismatic, respectful, and strong student. He has emerged from difficult life circumstances to become a young man with unlimited potential. His resilience and passion for success are noted by his family, peers, and the entire staff at Community Academy.
Community Academy of Science and Health: Darphens Rene
Darphens was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1999. He moved here with his family after the earthquake in Haiti in March 2010. He attended the Mildred Avenue Middle School and then enrolled at Community Academy of Science and Health in the fall of 2012. During his high school career, Darphens has been involved in numerous activities including varsity soccer, community service projects, and the National Honor Society. He has a strong interest in science and math and competed in the state science fair as well as the Blue Lobster Bowl competition at MIT while a student at C.A.S.H. He plans to major in mechanical engineering at Northeastern University in the fall.
Dorchester Academy: Nerciany Gomes
As a first generation college student who moved to the United States only six years ago from Cape Verde, Nerciany has worked hard to accomplish high levels of academic achievement. She has volunteered at the Catholic Charities Teen Center and plans to attend Bunker Hill Community College in the fall.
East Boston High School: Albert Suanders IV
East Boston Resident
Albert William Saunders IV participated in baseball, hockey, football, and the National Honors Society. He was awarded first place in the school-wide science fair for three years. He has accepted the Northeastern University Valedictorian Scholarship and will be pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering.
English High School: Diosaris Leonela Lorenzo
Diosaris was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the United States when she was 11 years old. She was involved in various clubs and organizations and plans to attend Framingham State University to study nutrition and wellness.
Excel High School: Minh Nogc Le
Minh has been a hardworking and caring leader throughout her four years at Excel High School. Born in Vietnam, Minh immigrated to the United States in 2011, where she has been dedicated to her education. Her role as president of the National Honor Society and her participation in BuildOn, the Environmental Club, and orientation for new students, demonstrates her initiative and diligence to making her a community a better place. She enjoys playing with numbers and listening to music. Minh has received the four-year John and Abigail Adams scholarship, and will be attending UMass Boston in the fall.
Fenway High School: Chelsea Contreras
South End Resident
Chelsea's favorite subject is math. She is a member of the softball and step teams. She volunteers at Room to Grow, an organization that provides help to students who need support. Chelsea will study biology in college and plans to become a pediatrician.
Greater Egleston High School: Joy Young
Joy plans to study psychology, and sociology, and likes to create artwork. She plans to attend Pine Manor College in the fall.
Henderson K12 Inclusion School: Joe-Freddy Francois
Joe is dedicated and passionate, and is thrilled to be top of his class this year. He looks forward to pursuing the next chapter of his academic career and plans to attend Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers: Boihitta Thomas
Boihitta Thomas was born in Olney, Maryland to parents both from Sierra Leone, West Africa. Boihitta has taken AP English Language and AP Biology in junior year and this year, she is taking AP courses in English, psychology, and history. In May 2015, Boihitta enrolled in a Japanese class at the Orchard Gardens Community Center in Roxbury. Boihitta is a member of the National Honor Society, is an anchor for EMK TV, and works after-school in the Bio-Medical Engineering Department at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Boihitta plans to become a cardiologist and intends to be on the Pre-Med track. She plans to attend Northeastern University on a full scholarship.
Mary Lyon Pilot High School: Andrea Flores
West Roxbury Resident
Andrea serves as a leader and mentor in and out of school, working summers as a camp counselor at the Jackson Mann Community Center where she supervises kids and organizes their activities. Her hobbies include listening to music, drawing, skateboarding, playing the guitar and video games, which she does frequently in the company of her friends. Andrea will attend the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Madison Park Technical Vocational High School: Evelise Moreno
Evelise is a hard working young woman who has excelled tremendously in academics, vocational and extracurricular activities. During her time at Madison Park, she has demonstrated the qualities of a person who has the potential to make an extraordinary difference in this world. She is involved in many school and community activities. Evelise will be traveling to Rwanda as part of a community service project, working with homeless children. Evelise will be attending Bridgewater State University in the fall. She is the recipient of Madison Park CV Friends and Family Scholarship.
McKinley Preparatory High School: Denise Britt
Denise has continually demonstrated perseverance and growth throughout her academic career and personal life. Faced with the adversity and struggle of becoming a mother and raising her daughter, Denise worked to provide for her family while balancing her academic focus.
McKinley South End Academy: Juan Lopez
Juan participates in athletic events, cultural activities, and school wide initiatives. In classes, he is always the first to offer a hand to others to help all students achieve their fullest potential. Academically, Juan loves science and hopes to pursue a job in this field and travel.
Margarita Muñiz Academy: Estephanie Ramirez
Hyde Park Resident
Estephanie immigrated to the United States at the age of five along with her family. She was a student at the Hernández Dual Language Elementary School and continued her studies at Muñiz Academy. She will be the first in her family to attend college and is interested in pursuing a health science career. She plans to attend UMass Amherst in the fall.
New Mission High School: Natalia Phillip
Originally from Dominica, Natalia and her family immigrated to the United States when she was 13. She tutors her peers and helps others however she can. She will be attending Bryn Mawr College by ways of the Posse Foundation Scholarship.
John D. O'Bryant: Ina Dodoveci
Ina moved to the United States from Albania. Despite language barriers, Ina gained admission to O'Bryant for her sophomore year. She will be attending Boston University in the fall.
Quincy Upper - Josiah Quincy Upper School: Johnny Fang
South Boston Resident
Johnny Fang is a resilient young man who triumphed over an unstable childhood that included time in foster care. Johnny was selected to participate in Harvard's Crimson Summer Academy where he found his voice through expository writing and computer coding. He also participated in dual enrollment at Bunker Hill Community College to expand his math skills. Johnny is passionate about his volunteer work with his church and his academic and computer literacy tutoring with younger students. Johnny is a recipient of the Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship and will major in Computer Science and English at Harvard College on full scholarship. He is the first JQUS student to be admitted to Harvard.
Snowden International School: Venus Pimentel
Venus has a strong passion for community service. Most recently, Venus attended a service learning trip in Jamaica. There she volunteered at an orphanage and taught classes at a primary school. Venus has also raised money to buy school supplies for the primary school in Jamaica. Venus continues to give back to her community. Currently she volunteers at Friendship Works. She teaches English to medical personnel.
Next year, Venus will attend Northeastern University on a full scholarship.
Tech Boston Academy: Jacqueline Huynh
Jacqueline was a founding mentor of Tech Boston's Asian Students Association this year. She also participates in many community service activities, including Summer Search. Jacqueline will be attending Northeastern University in the fall as a student in the Bouve College of Health Science.
Urban Science Academy: Michael Brown
Michael is a hard working young man who has attended Boston Public Schools since kindergarten. He joined Urban Science Academy during his senior year (due to the restructuring of Dorchester Academy, his former high school for three years). Completing challenging AP courses in government and statistics, he earned his place as valedictorian out of 146 seniors. He will attend UMass Boston in the fall.
West Roxbury Academy: Gesar Naksi
Gesar has played on the soccer team, and served as a member of both the student government and the National Honors Society. Gesar has completed two years of college courses at both Fisher College and Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology. He will be enrolled in the Bouve College of Health Science in hopes of graduating with a degree in biology and continuing his education in the medical field.