14 Sep 2014
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MetroWest Students Honored at Diversity Breakfast

MetroWest Students Honored at Diversity Breakfast MetroWest Students Honored at Diversity Breakfast MetroWest Students Honored at Diversity Breakfast MetroWest Students Honored at Diversity Breakfast MetroWest Students Honored at Diversity Breakfast
Dorcas Thete experienced the beginning of a war at a very young age in her native county The Democratic Republic of Congo. She and her family fled the country to a refugee camp in neighboring Cameroon, where she lived for two years.

In 2000, Dorcas and her family were granted asylum and arrived in America, settling in Portland, Maine.  But when Dorcas turned 14, she decided to embark upon another journey by going away to study at Walnut Hill School in Natick.
Friday morning, she was one of 16 students honored at the Alliance for MetroWest Unity held the 22nd Annual John P. Garrahan MetroWest Community Prayer Breakfast.

At Walnut Hill, Dorcas, a theater major, made a profound impact on her peers with her work ethic and positive attitude, according to the Alliance for MetroWest Unity. "Dorcas survived through war, displacement, and adjusting to a new country, yet she thrives and sharpens her focus as she journeys through her intellectual endeavors. She is a living testament of self-empowerment and not allowing the challenges encountered in life to deter one from their dreams."

The Alliance for MetroWest Unity's mission is to "bring together all groups within the MetroWest region to celebrate our diversity and to increase our understanding of the community in which we all live."

The Alliance for MetroWest Unity's Betsy Soule presented the 2014 Nancy King Award A Place to Turn.

The breakfast honors high school students with Leaders in Diversity award. The 2014 winners were:
  • Alexandra (Lexie) Koziel of Algonquin Regional High School
  • Faridat (Toyin) Yusuf of Ashland High
  • Hasanat (Tobi) Yusuf of Ashland High
  • Alexandra Blizard of Dover-Sherborn Regional High 
  • Christopher Jean Louis of Framingham High 
  • Erica Linnell of Holliston High 
  • Reilly Kopp of Hopkinton High 
  • Jenna Kennally of Joseph P. Keefe Technical School
  • Michael Aponte of The Learning Center for the Deaf 
  • Iyla Driggs of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High 
  • Glorimar Rivera of Marian High School
  • Yael Rothman of Natick High
  • Sierra Rother of St. Mark’s School
  • Dorcas Thete of Walnut Hill School for the Arts
  • Madeline Schwartz of Wayland High 
  • Irene Justina Benites of Westborough High 

More about the student winners, with ties to Framingham:

Christopher Jean Louis of Framingham High: "His teachers say that Christopher brings his “best game” to Framingham High School every day. An aspiring physician whose first language is Haitian Creole, he has maintained perfect school attendance, walking and arriving early, no matter the weather or the obstacles.  He is Framingham High School's nominee for the statewide Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship, providing college funding assistance to Massachusetts high school students who have overcome major adversity in their lives and demonstrate academic 
promise and desire to attend post-secondary institutions. Chris has found  his own voice at FHS, yet he readily steps forward to help and volunteer. His teachers uniformly state that they feel “fortunate” to have him as a student. He is described as always having a smile and a friendly word for adults and his peers, “with a sense of duty that would make you think of a scout helping an elderly person cross the street”.  He exceeds every expectation for honors foreign language students, has been named a school “Student of the Term”, is on the school’s Weightlifting Club, and holds a half-time job at Stop & Shop.  One teacher says that “Chris has proven to be courteous, intellectually curious, friendly, mature, helpful, hard-working, kind to his fellow classmates and extremely even-keeled. What is most impressive about Chris is his dedication and the high quality of solution to problems.”

Glorimar Rivera of Marian High School in Framingham: "Her teachers
describe Glorimar as “a force for unity”, whether it be in a Marian classroom, during her service with the school’s Key Club, or while volunteering at her St. Stephen’s Parish, which is a congregation providing a spiritual center for Spanish and English speaking parishioners.  She is described as always attentive and understanding, traits which help her excel while volunteering in the activities program at Bethany Nursing Home, and in her work with students at the Kumon Learning Center.  Glorimar reaches old, young, foreign and native students, and is nominated for the Leadership in Diversity Award because she is a “model of acceptance.”

Jenna Kennally of Keefe Technical School in Framingham: Jenna’s school states that through her leadership in school and within the local community, she exemplifies the qualities honored by the MetroWest Leadership in Diversity Award.  Jenna successfully fosters inclusion, and her innate helping nature has led her to many meaningful volunteer experiences, including: helping at a local food pantry; work at Camp Sunshine in Maine with families of children with life threatening  illnesses; organizing Keefe Tech’s Annual Blood drive; teaching children and adults with special needs how to swim; representing her school to the community as a student ambassador, and organizing National Honor Society events to raise money and awareness for charitable organizations such as the American Red Cross. Jenna ranks at the top of her class, and is an outstanding student in both her academics and the Health Careers Program  at Keefe Tech. By the end of her senior year, Jenna will complete two four credit courses at Framingham State University through the dual-enrollment  program giving her a head start on her college career. Since Jenna’s  freshman year, Jenna has served as a class officer.  She was recently  appointed to the position of Historian for Keefe Technical School’s National  Honor Society, and is an Executive Committee member of the National  Honor Society. After high school, Jenna plans to enroll in a college program to become a Physician’s Assistant.

Michael Aponte of the Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham: Michael’s teachers say that he is best described as enthusiastic and engaging.  Michael moved to Massachusetts from Puerto Rico only five years ago with very little English or signing skills.  Not only did Michael demonstrate growth in all areas of learning, he was able to pass all three MCAS tests. For a deaf student who was learning his second and third languages, this is a true testament to his motivation, commitment and 
enthusiasm of self-improvement.  Michael’s presence on campus is notable. He encourages every student to try their best and is always willing to support them. He often provides further explanation to those who do not always understand something the first time, often through non-threatening dramatic stories and scenarios.  Over the years, Michael has served in several officer positions in the high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance organization, and is currently the Student Body Government president. Michael has also served as the student manager of the volleyball and basketball teams. His 
participation and engagement is always positive and encouraging. No matter where Michael goes after graduation, it is clear the he will make the most of every situation that he encounters. He will always try his best and offer as much of himself as possible.

Presenters Friday, May 2 were Judge Robert V. Greco, the Associate Justice, Framingham District Court and Presiding Justice, Northern District Appellate Division; Susanne H. Conley, Vice President for Enrollment & Student Development, Framingham State University and Framingham Police Chief Kenneth Ferguson.

Editor's note: Originally posted on May 3. Updated on May 4.

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