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Bilingual students publish high school redesign proposals

May 26, 2016


“This book is important on many levels. It’s a work by students about issues, in and out of school, that affect them, and this is intrinsically important. It’s as rare as a red moon when we actually ask young people for their opinions about the workings of the world they live in.”

—Dave Eggers, 826 National Founder
and author of the book’s foreword

826 Boston proudly announces the release of Attendance Would Be 100%: Student Proposal for High School Redesign Boston. Students, teachers, 826 Boston staff, and city leaders celebrated the achievement of the authors at the Bolling Building, the hub of the Boston Public Schools.

The book they wrote is a compilation of research, interviews, and personal stories that lends the student perspective to the much-anticipated High School Redesign Boston effort. Students interviewed more than 60 community stakeholders, including Dr. Tommy Chang, Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. These bilingual students provide a vital student voice in the ongoing work to re-imagine the future of education in Boston. The culmination of a year’s worth of original research, writing, editing and hard work, this book is a call to action to civic leaders across the city.

Student authors signed their works and celebrated the conclusion of the monumental effort. Some author excerpts follow:

“During the summer of 2015 my mind was on getting money. I got hired at a McDonald’s in Boston with a 24/7 drive thru, and it was right next to a highway exit. I had one of the most undesirable shifts: the overnight shift from 10:00 p.m. — 6:00 a.m . . . If our body needs 9 hours of sleep and we don’t start feeling tired until about 11pm, but we have to get up at dawn, tell me now, where can we fit in those 9 hours of sleep? Start high school later!”

—Roger Rafael Rojas, 19


“All my life, people have told me to speak up — that I was too quiet. I never enjoyed being the center of attention, but in music class it’s the opposite. My music teacher often tells me to play a little softer. In music, I like being the person playing the main melody and that’s because music gives me a voice louder than anything else in my life. Dyslexia has made reading hard for me. Learning to read music has been my greatest accomplishment. Without the music education program at my high school, I would have never been able to discover my passion for music through both struggle and achievement.”

—Christie K. M. Huggins, 18


“Waking up for school in elementary school used to be fun. In middle school it was a burden, and as soon as high school hit it turned into a worry. Imagine walking to school with a gun strapped to your waist or a knife in your pocket, then going to the bathroom to put it away in your bag. Or sitting in class hoping that the school day won’t end, but getting distracted because you’re wondering about what’s going to happen after school. This is a situation that thousands of public school students deal with every day. Violence and gang involvement are major problems that we need to address. Boston Public Schools have to understand student’s personal lives to allow them to see the light at the end of the tunnel. About 750,000 of kids don’t see the brighter things in life because of violence and gang involvement.”

—Luis Otero, 19


826 Boston is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.

Our services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this understanding in mind, we provide after-school tutoring, field trips, creative writing workshops, in-school tutoring, help for English Language Learners, and in-depth publishing projects.

Each of our free programs seeks to strengthen each student’s power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice.


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