The Boston Scholar Athletes program increased their hours that their scholar-athletes spent in BSA Zones by 50 percent from 2011-12 to 2012-13 school year according to the BSA’s end-of-year report.
The BSA was started about four years ago to boost Boston public school athletes, establishing study rooms called Zones in all 19 BPS high schools for student athletes to learn. The program also funds Boston.com’s BPS sports page.
Released late last month, the report also says the athletic participation among scholar-athletes increased by 12.3 percent.
"We made a big push to improve our data collection process with the implementation of our Sales Force database," BSA Executive Academic DIrector Kelly Parrish said in an email. "This has allowed us to more precisely track the number of scholar-athletes in BPS. Also, we have put more of an emphasis on the recruitment of new athletes into our Zones."
Eligibility rates for BSA scholar-athletes remained relatively high as well.
Non-exam schools saw 84 percent of scholar-athletes remain eligible in the fall while 97 percent of exam-school students (Boston Latin, Latin Academy and the O'Bryant school) scholar-athletes remained eligible in the fall. Those numbers remained the same in the winter season while they jumped to 90 percent for non-exam scholar-athletes in the spring and 98 percent for exam school scholar-athletes.
Non exam school football scholar-athletes had a 78 percent eligibility rate compared to 98 percent at exam schools. Boys' basketball scholar-athletes had an 80 percent eligibility rate while exam-school basketball scholar-athletes had a 98 percent eligibility rate.
One impressive sport for eligibility all around was soccer, where both girls' and boys’ soccer eligibility rates were at 99 percent for students at exam schools while non-exam schools soccer teams saw a 91 eligibility rate for girls' soccer and an 83 percent eligibility for boys' soccer.
Parrish gives all the credit to the BSA faculty for the success in eligibility for students playing sports.
“In regards to the increase in eligibility rate, it is a testament to the work that our facilitators are doing in the Zones and the consistency of their existence for three years now," she said.
Just three percent of Zone members graduated without post-secondary plans, which includes full-time employment, training or vocational programs, military and plans of going to a college or university.
"Heading into our fourth full school year we are excited to see the first group of freshmen that started out their high school careers in the Zone go on to graduate with a plan,” Parrish said.
She says that there is always room for improvement and that they are far from finished with hopes to continue their work.
"We feel like we can always improve and are never satisfied with the results from the previous year," she said. "We will continue to do the things that have made us successful in the past.”
Globe Correspondent Justin A. Rice contributed to this report.
James Whitter is a student at the O'Bryant School who writes for Teens in Print.
It’s not common for a high school student to list one of their peers as their role model and it’s even more uncommon for a high school student to list two of their peers as a role models.
But when Madison Park BSA Zone Facilitator Breanna Akama nominated Paris Thomas for the April Scholar-Athlete of the Month award, she asked the junior cheerleader and softball player who her favorite athlete was.
Thomas’s answer: Madison Park junior twins Krystal and Amber Edwards.
“Krystal and Amber are very inspirational, they play three different sports and they keep their grades up and are honor roll,” Thomas said after being named April’s Scholar Athlete of the Month earlier this week. “They encourage me to stay up that late [to finish my homework].”
Thomas — who improved her GPA from a 1.27 as a freshman to a 3.22 as a sophomore (where it currently hovers) — was also inspired when Krystal Edwards became the first ever Scholar Athlete of the Month from Madison Park this past February.
“If she can do it, if she’s my biggest role model, than I can do it,” Thomas said. “It meant a lot because it made me feel like I reached my goals, which was playing a sport and maintaining my grades to be good. For the first time to actually be awarded for something good, it felt good being awarded for something good.”
The twins also encouraged Thomas to come out for softball this season for the first time ever.
Akama said Thomas has also made her biggest improvements in the classroom over the past few months. Since November, she has logged 121.7 hours in the Zone.
“She is a student that has consistently been in the Zone almost every day since the beginning of the year,” Akama said. “She, despite some personal challenges going on at home, has really turned things around, especially the last few months.
“She’s a leader. She’s very outspoken but in a good way, not a bad way. She’s assertive. The students really look to her but also I was looking at her transition and her improvement from freshman year to last year. It’s been a marked improvement. And this year, her first season playing softball, she’s pitching so well.”
Akama, who is a first-year Zone facilitator, said winning the Scholar Athlete of the Month is empowering for any student.
“It makes them feel like what they are doing isn’t going unnoticed, the hard work they are putting in isn’t for nothing,” she said. “What they are doing is noteworthy and should be acknowledged.”
Thomas also excels at math and her goal is to attend a four-year university before going to medical school.
She wants to be a pediatrician.
“It feels amazing to know that I have that,” she said of the award, “because I plan to go to college.”
Boston Celtics Paul Pierce, Jordan Crawford and Terrence Williams visited with students at the Jackson Mann School and Horace Mann School for the Deaf earlier this week as part of the Celtics' Stay in School program.
Sponsored by Arbella Insurance Group, the assembly honored high-achieving students and encouraged them to continue to take pride in their school work.
The players emphasized the use of the acronym P.R.I.D.E., which stands for Perseverance; Respect; Integrity; Decisions; Education. The players also conducted a mini basketball clinic and left tickets to an upcoming Celtics home game to reward students.
This year's Boston Scholar Athletes fund-raising gala will be April 30, 6-8 p.m., at Agganis Arena.
The theme of this year's event is a pep rally.
"Listen to the sounds of success as this year's Boston Scholar Athletes bang the drum loudly in a chorus of excitement!" a flier for the program reads.
For tickets and sponsorship information, contact Katharine Powell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year's gala was at TD Garden.
The Boston Scholar Athletes program recently announced it’s Most Valuable Scholar-Athletes for the winter season. The award is given to student athletes who epitomize what it beats to be both a scholar and an athlete.
Here's the list:
Prince Unaegbu, Another Course to College; Edwin Porro, Latin Academy; Mike Parham, Boston Latin; Jesse Bland, Burke; Jotham Stepenson, CASH; Jimmy Edwards, Charlestown; Darius Patterson, Dorchester Academy; Connor Henry, East Boston; Stanley Davis, English High; Mojeed Olaogun, Fenway High; Terrell Mathews, Madison Park; Jared Butler, O’Bryant; Solomon Aboiye, South Boston; Nikolas Patsaouras, Snowden; Deven Robinson, West Roxbury.
Shantal Solomon, Boston Community Leadership Academy; Virginia McCaughey, Latin Academy; Deirbnile Martin, Latin School; Patricia Rodrigues, Brighton; Elis Perez-Castillo, Burke; Karlita Cambers-Walker, Charlestown; Cheyenne Resende, Dorchester; Annie Mora, English; Laura Escolero, Fenway; Amber Edwards, Madison Park; Raven Kelsey, O’Bryant; Joicenina Carvalho, South Boston; Stephanie Morales, Snowden; Marissa Serrette, West Roxbury.
Esther Niwah, Boston Community Leadership Academy; Malik Anderson, Latin Academy, Seth Philistin, Brighton; Omotoyosi Ojedeji, Burke; Renic Franklin, Charlestown; Jordan Carter, English; Erjon Mile, South Boston; Shawuan Richards, Snowden; Marion Duncan, TechBoston Academy; Dianca Dy, Latin Academy; Grace O’Brien, Latin School; Sheree Letford, Burke; Danielle White, English; Evelise Moreno, Madison Park; Vanessa Vibert, Snowden; Jerika Adams-Harrison, TechBoston Academy; Monique McPherson, West Roxbury.
Mark Guerard, Latin Academy; Conor Moccia, Latin School; Sean O’Hallaran, East Boston; Eliza Laden-Mauro, Latin Academy; Pam Rioles, Latin School.
Cristian Mojica, Latin Academy; Roy Perez, East Boston; Sam Kauffman, O’Bryant; Olivia McGrath, Latin Academy; Carly Cahill, O’Bryant.
Sebastian D’Amico, Latin School; Javaugh White, TechBoston Academy.
The “Dream Big! Kathy Dooley Inspiration Grant & Scholarship” is looking for high school female basketball players that meet the following criteria:
- Exhibits extraordinary courage and leadership in her athletic performance
- Values education
- Understands the importance of giving back and serves as an inspiration and role model for others
- From a low income family living in Massachusetts
In the words of her family and friends, Kathy showed all of these characteristics as a player and was compassionate, incredible, strong, loving, ambitious, intelligent, funny, motivating, athletic, kind and courageous every moment until she lost her battle with Leukemia in September 2010.
This Grant and Scholarship Award in the name of Kathy Includes:
- Attendance at an overnight basketball camp in Massachusetts in the summer of 2013.
- Sneakers, Sports Attire and Dream Big! Sports Bag
- Invitation/Recognition at a Dream Big! Event in 2013
To apply a coach or program leader must fill out the Dream Big! Equipment Grant Application at link below and note it is for the “Kathy Dooley Inspiration Grant and Scholarship Award” at: http://www.dream-big.org/content/grants-scholarships
For most, attending a new high school in their senior year would not be easy. Yet the BSA’s December Scholar-Athlete of the Month, Brighton senior Nia Rivera, is excelling.
Not only does Rivera have a 3.47 GPA due in part to her hard work in the tutoring center the Zone, but she is also a cheerleader, a member of the Bengals Dance team, and on the senior committee.
She first started attending the Zone to keep her grades up during cheerleading season, until she realized its lasting effects.
“The Zone has everything: books, laptops, and helpful tutors,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate at home, so I get everything done there.
“It gives me a sense of relief.”
Rivera usually works on AP Calculus and her college applications at the Zone, which she used to attend twice a week. Now she visits four times a week.
Rivera credits the Zone for helping her fit in at Brighton High. She started school without knowing anyone, but it helped her make friends with student-athletes and even her Zone facilitator, Caroline Correa.
“I have a great relationship with Ms. C,” Rivera said. “She has this great energy and positivity. She values education and encourages all of us to do well.
“We have a great relationship, but everyone does with her.”
Correa thinks of Rivera just as positively, and stressed her leadership skills and drive for success.
“No matter what is going on or how many projects she is involved with she never disappoints me academically,” she said. “I truly am lucky to have such a great student in my life.”
What makes Rivera so exceptional is that she can fit in socially and academically just about anywhere. While she was born in Boston, she moved to Puerto Rico in third grade and worked hard in school and started cheerleading. She has also attended Boston Arts Academy and English High.
“I fell in love with cheerleading when I was 11,” she said. “When I moved back to Boston I joined Pop Warner, cheered for English and now for Brighton.
“I have a large background with dance, and cheerleading keeps me positive.”
Rivera said she was sad when the season ended, but now she has the new Brighton Bengal dance team to look forward to.
“There’s nine of us and we’re going to dance at the boys' basketball games,” she said. “We’re going to bring great energy so everybody comes out and has a good time.”
She added that she’s especially excited now that she recruited Ms. Correa to be her coach.
“At first I only had a relationship with Nia in the Zone, but now as her coach for the school's dance team I get to see Nia as an athlete,” Correa said. “She is so committed to the dance team and I can always count on her no matter what.”
Cheerleading and dance isn’t enough for Rivera though, as she is also planning prom, pep rallies, dances, and school trips with the senior committee.
“I just really want to make sure this is my best year in high school,” she said. “I know it will be more difficult to do things in college so I want to do as much as I can before I graduate.”
Rivera hopes to continue cheerleading at Northeastern, where she would like to study nursing. Eventually she hopes to work at Boston Medical Center.
“I really got inspired this year,” she said. “I want that to continue in college.”
America SCORES Boston will host the 14th annual Poetry SLAM! featuring 360 elementary school student athletes who will perform original work in front of peers, parents, friends and the Boston community on Nov. 15 from 5-7 p.m. at the Strand Theatre.
The theme of the spoken pieces that the children will share is “My American Dream.” Andre Dubus III, acclaimed author of “House of Sand and Fog,” will also speak at the Poetry SLAM!
America SCORES Boston’s mission is to promote academic excellence and healthy choices for Boston public school athletes. For more information visit americascoresboston.org.
Heather O’Reilly, a member of the US women’s national soccer team and a three-time Olympic Gold medalist, will referee at an America SCORES Boston game at 2:45 p.m. Thursday at the Orchard Gardens Pilot School. The match will feature the Orchard Garden middle school girls and the John Marshall Elementary girls' teams.
O’Reilly is a strong supporter of America SCORES Boston and recently attended the 2012 SCORES celebration in which she was awarded for her support and athletic achievement.
“From my experience as an athlete and a coach, soccer provides lasting life lessons,” she said at the gala event. “In the SCORES Program, kids are staying active, learning to work together and communicate, and also improving their writing in the classroom.”
O’Reilly has been on the national team since high school and recently competed in London to assist the US women’s national team bring home the gold medal. She also just moved to Cambridge to play with the Boston Breakers, the city’s women’s professional soccer team.
For more information visit americascoresboston.org.
East Boston Zone facilitator Dave Arinella has helped many athletes succeed in academics over the years. But none, he says, like senior Jonathan Perez.
Because of Perez's hard work and character, Arinella nominated him for Boston Scholar Athlete’s October Player of the Month, and Perez became the first from East Boston to win the award.
“He’s very outgoing, well-liked, and respected by teachers and his peers,” Arinella said. “He’s also a very talented soccer player and has been playing for a long time.
"When I was asked two weeks back to nominate a player of the week, there were several, but he was one of the most outstanding choices.”
The energetic Perez has been working hard since the first day of school and was thrilled to be chosen.
“I was so happy when I found out,” Perez said. “It showed me that all my hard work actually pays off.”
Perez works with Arinella at The Zone, a quiet place for athletes to study. His dedication to improving his GPA shows in his flawless attendance.
“Third period, every day,” he said. “I get help with calculus and English, those are the two subjects I struggle with. The work I put in [at the Zone] really shows on my progress reports.”
He also credited Arinella, swim coach of 33 years and Zone facilitator, for a big part of his improvement.
“Coach Dave has helped me so that I don’t need to worry too much about my work and I can just focus on soccer,” he said. “He motivates me and comes to all of my games.”
This is Perez’s first year receiving assistance from Arinella in the Zone, and he wishes he had known about it earlier. He decided to get help this year to improve his GPA to make sure he was eligible to play soccer this season and get accepted to college.
“I sat down with him last year and said, 'If you plan on college, you need to do better,' ” said boys' soccer coach Lorenzo Di Benedetto. “Since Day One, he’s gone in to get help with Coach Dave. He loves school, attends every day, and does all of his work. It shows academically and on the field.”
Perez hasn’t had to worry about eligibility this season, since he now has a GPA of 3.0. Di Benedetto looks at his academic success as a blessing, as Perez is one of the strongest players on offense.
“He’s scored key goals in the last couple weeks, nine total,” said the coach. “He helps pick up on offense. He’s a go-getter with initiative. He has really improved, and his teammates noticed, too.”
Both Di Benedetto and Arinella foresee a bright future for Perez, who would like to attend either Merrimack College or UMass-Amherst to study architecture next year.
“A lot of kids that come out of East Boston, all they need is an opportunity,” Di Benedetto said. “He’s making his own.”
About Boston Public Schools Sports BlogMore »
- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.