On Monday, Jan. 21, hundreds of Chelsea residents gathered at Chelsea High School (CHS) for the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration Breakfast.
This year’s celebration had a catchy theme, “Reaching our Dream, A Community of Unity.”
This annual event was once again sponsored by the Community of Chelsea and People’s AME Church. From 9 to 10 a.m. attendees enjoyed a continental breakfast and social hour while Chris and George Athas provided music in the background. At 10 a.m. everyone moved into the auditorium where a group of Chelsea Girl Scouts under the leadership of Elaine Cusick opened the formal program by leading the audience through the pledge of Allegiance.
Rev. Sandra Whitley, Pastor of People’s AME Church here in Chelsea, served as Mistress of Ceremonies. She welcomed everyone and introduced the CHS Cantare led by John Nichols. The Cantare led the audience in singing ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing.’
Richard Randazzo followed with the invocation.
A short historical video clip addressed the question, “Why We Are Here” and Dr. King’s hopes for today. Then, the Cantare continued its impressive presentation with another inspirational song titled “My Tribute.”
Whitley introduced the three presenters for the Essay Awards: State Representative Eugene O’Flaherty, Matthew Laidlaw from State Senator Sal DiDomenico’s office and School Superintendent Dr. Mary Bourque. They gave their greetings and Dr. Bourque shared information about the annual essay contest. She also acknowledged the work of the Writing Coordinator Michele Sodergren. At this point the stage was set for each of the three essay contest winners to read their winning essays.
Jenny Le, the elementary school winner is in the 4th grade. The middle school winner was 6th grader Emani Gonzalez and the high school winner was 11th grader Sarah Bourouis. Each student received an award from the state government and Superintendent.
The audience then enjoyed another short video focused on educators and community service. After the video, O’Flaherty introduced the keynote speaker, the Honorable Andrea J. Cabral. Cabral is the former Suffolk County Sheriff whom Gov. Patrick recently named as his new Public Safety Secretary. Her powerful address highlighted Dr. King’s legacy, the importance of courage and kindness, and the need for hope.
After the keynote address, the attendees received a special treat from Cambridge when a group of about 20 young people, ages 4 to 14, from the St Paul AME Church Liturgical Dance Ministry blessed everyone with a dance selection.
After the dance selection, O’Flaherty and Councilor Calvin Brown announced the Spirit Award Winners. These recipients displayed the principles of Dr. King through action in the community.
This year’s winners were: Susan Clark, Henry David Wilson and Shirley Thompson.
Deborah Washington then announced the Young Adult Dreamers and Achiever’s Award winners. This year’s winners were Michael Mason and Kendra Sanon. The MLK Program committee then surprised Whitley by presenting her with a bouquet of flowers as a small token of appreciation.
As the program approached the end, Whitley introduced a Chelsea teen, Jerry Mariero, who delivered a prayer for the Chelsea Community.
The Cantare then led the audience in singing the signature song of the Civil Rights Movement, “We Shall Overcome.”
Father Succes Jeanty, from the St Rose of Lima Parish, formally closed the program with the benediction.
The Chelsea Elementary School Essay Contest Winners:Jenny Le
Edgar F. Hooks School
Parents: Mr. Thao Le & Ms. Chierly Duc, Teacher: Mrs. Dawn McCarthy
Principal: Mrs. Adele Lubarsky
Martin Luther King believed in equal rights. He tried to say “Don’t judge people by the outside; judge them by what’s within.” He wanted everybody to respect each other. My family believes the same things and we are trying to help people in the country that we came from.
I am a fourth grade girl and I go to school at the Hooks School in Chelsea. My name is Jenny and my family comes from Vietnam. My family recently adopted a small family in Vietnam. My family feels it is important to help people who have less than we do. We save money every day, at the end of the month we send it to the family in Vietnam. We hope they can live a better life.
I am helping people from Vietnam but when I grow up, I hope to help homeless people in America. There are lots of people who are not treated right here in this country. They are homeless because they have lost their jobs, had some bad things happen to them, or have a mental disorder. I hope to make their lives better too, and make the world a better place.
Wright Science and Technology Academy
Parents: Ms. Anita & Luis Chamizo, Teacher: Ms, Kerri Babish,
Principal: Mr. Andrew O’Brien
My name is Emani Gonzalez, I am eleven years old and attend the Wright Science and Technology Academy, grade 6.
I feel that what I contribute to society is the willingness to learn, keep an open mind and appreciate the individuals in our community.
The way I learn is by asking questions if I come across a new experience such as new foods, new clothing and new languages. I don’t shy away from new information. I ask all the questions I can in order to keep myself knowledgeable.
I keep an open mind by realizing everyone is unique and that interest me. What a boring world it would be if everyone was exactly alike.
In appreciating the world’s individuals I feel I am passing along a positive message in where everyone can learn to love the differences we have.
In conclusion, I hope this will be start to what I can contribute as a member of society.
Chelsea High School
Parent: Ms. Dounia Bourouis, Teacher: Mr. Jay Kirby
Principal: Joe Mullaney
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights activist and one who believed in equality for all and unity in society. Dr. King fought for freedom, equality and importance of all races and people Racism is an ideology that is still around today. It coexists alongside stereotypes, discrimination and prejudice. There are examples of these everyday. They can happen in my own community, or in France or in Madagascar. These credos are often so common and unseen to the people that are part of the community that they are often viewed as the social norm. And other times it’s obvious when these tenets are occurring.
I spend more than half the time that I am awake in school. I am around so many of the people and around the same things that almost everyone feels the same way about a certain sports team or about a certain teacher. My school has a special program called ESL, English Second Language. That is where the new students who have just come to America, who don’t know the English language, learn and spend their entire day. They are known as the “greenside wetties.” It is out of the social norm to socialize or interact with people part of this department. If you go to any lunch and just scan through the cafeteria, you will soon notice that all the students from ESL sit at the green side end of the cafeteria. It is very rare for you to find someone that isn’t part of ESL socializing, mingling or interacting in any type of way with a student from ESL. Even in sports teams there will be a divide in the team into a number of cliques if there is an ESL student or students participating in a sport. If you get caught talking to a fellow peer from the ESL program, you will be cracked jokes on for a period of the time. In my community there area different types of people who handle this criterion. There are the students who don’t participate in social norm. There are the students who don’t engage in the torment of the ESL students but stay away so they won’t get mocked. There are students who ridicule the ESL students and there are the students who see it happen and don’t say anything. The ESL students are discriminated against their lack of ability to fluently speak a language that others have been practicing since birth. Due to the discrimination that occurs in my school, there is a lack of unity in my community.
I am a student. I am a student who is exposed to and recognizes the prejudice. I am a student that has stereotyped before. I am a student that has been stereotyped before. I am a student that doesn’t have English as my first language. I am a student that chooses to walk away from the social norm. I am a student that chooses to socialize with the ESL students that are in my classes. I am a student that chooses to become friends with ESL students on my soccer team. I am a student that discourages other peers to partake in the common conception on my peers. I will contribute to making my society allied. I will continue to not stereotype people. I will continue to try to view people by the content of their character and not by what they have and don’t have. I will continue to try not to judge people before understanding them and their situation and struggle. This unifies me to the part of my community that share the same outlook. If everyone else that was detached from the unification opened their eyes, ears and minds to these fundamentals of making society incorporated as one, the world would be a better place, a unified community.