First Business Community Breakfast held on June 13th (6/14/2013)

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The first ever Business Community Breakfast was hosted by and for FOCRLS on the morning of Thursday, June 13, 2013 at the high school. It was a wonderful gathering of committed community members, faculty, students and parents.

Guests included the Mayor of Cambridge Henrietta Davis, City Councillors, and Harvard and MIT faculty, as well as business representatives, students, and CRLS faculty.

FOCRLS President Elaine Schear briefed guests on what this voluntary body of some 40 to 50 parents and community members does to help students succeed, focusing on the 40% who come from low income families, many of whom work after school and for whom English is not a first language.

After a round of introductions, Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis took the podium, and urged the community to invest in CRLS students. CRLS Principal Damon Smith pointed out that the CRLS renovation did not just mark physical changes but also promoted thinking in new ways. CRLS Marine Biology teacher Paul McGuiness, one of the first recipients of the FOCRLS Faculty Innovation Grants, shared his views. He said CRLS students are second to none; they do well in competitions and even beat MIT one year (!). Marjorie Decker, City Council, shared her own inspirational story, as the first person in her family to graduate from high school and go on to college (Harvard). Denise Jillson, Executive Director of the Harvard Square Business Association, talked about the breakfast event that Rotary International does for the National Honor Society. At the end, FOCRLS Board member and parent Victoria Harris, who organised the event, thanked everyone for being there and urged guests to involve others.

A special thank you to Renee McLeod, owner of Petsi Pies, for donating her remarkable breakfast confections to the day’s event and to many FOCRLS gatherings over the past six years.

For photos of the event, please click here.

Below are the names and organizations of those who attended – thank you all for your support and your valuable feedback and comments!

Mayor Henrietta Davis, Cambridge City Council
Marjorie Decker, Cambridge City Council
Craig Kelley, Cambridge City Council
David Maher, Cambridge City Council
Patty Nolan, Cambridge School Committee
Garey House, Citizens Bank – Central Square Branch
E’atimad Rizk, Citizens Bank – Kendall Square Branch
Paul McGuinness, CRLS – Staff
Rene Meshon, CRLS – Staff
Damon Smith, CRLS – Staff
Rout Asefa, CRLS – Student
Akhi Begum, CRLS – Student
Metea Koronas, CRLS – Student
Adam Manacher, CRLS Parents Council
Jason Alves, East Cambridge Business Association
Kate Berseth, Education First Educational Tours
Jon Blachly, Education First Educational Tours
Shawna Sullivan Education First Educational Tours
Ted Darling, FOCRLS
Victoria Harris, FOCRLS
Neil Rosenburg, FOCRLS
Jamie Sabino, FOCRLS
Beena Sarwar, FOCRLS
Elaine Schear, FOCRLS
Denise Jillson, Harvard Square Business Association
Thomas Lucey, Harvard University
Stacey Nichols, Hyatt Regency Cambridge
Maryann VaRence, Hyatt Regency Cambridge
Paul Paravanno, MIT Office of the President
Katherine Rafferty, Mount Auburn Hospital
Kara Cournoyer, Novartis
Amy Witherbee

Testimonies: FOCRLS student grantees

Metea Koronas, CRLS 2014
Recipient, Student Travel Fellowship
I would like to thank the Friends of CRLS for the amazing experience I was able to have because of you, to El Salvador. It was amazing to get the opportunity to travel abroad and I believe it’s an important experience to have as a student.
While I was there I was able to learn multiple topics and subjects all at once. I was able to practice my Spanish and hold conversations, learn about history I never knew about, and find a new subject I am really interested in, theological liberation.
My trip to El Salvador was amazing and the people have taught me so much. And most importantly, I was able to bring home an important life lesson: to just keep going. The people I have met there have been through so much trauma, but are still able to love and keep demanding change. This kind of spirit and motivation has inspired me so much. So once again, I would like to thank you!

Akhi Begum, CRLS 2014
Recipient, Student Travel Fellowship
At the age of 9, I moved to Fall River, MA with my family for a better life. With the absence of my father in Bangladesh, my mother struggled, but was successful in raising me and my six siblings with integrity and good manners, like saying “Salaam” (“peace”, a Muslim greeting), to everyone I see, even if they are younger, and saying thanks to all who have helped me in any shape or form.

Today, I am here at this amazing high school CRLS. This might be the epitome of a diverse, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, tolerant environment. It is definitely more diverse than back home in Bangladesh. Going to the trips to both Turkey and El Salvador has changed my view in so many ways. The exposure of different cultures and people allowed me to be an open-minded individual, to try new things and especially new food.

Without the travel fellowships from FOCRLS I would not have been able to take these adventurous journeys at all. These past two years, FOCRLS has supported me so much that helped me give a new meaning to life. They made me come out of my shell and take advantage of the opportunities around me. I had the chance to immerse myself in other places, languages and cultures, to prepare myself to be a global citizen.

Community outside the doors should support students like me because it gives so much opportunity and actually take advantage of it.

Many students don’t know where my country is. I didn’t even know where El Salvador was on the globe until I was going there. These opportunities help students to experience the diversity and respect opportunity.

Rout Asefa, CRLS 2013
Recipient, Dr. Christopher Saheed Future Educators Scholarship
My goal is to be a high school teacher. Coming from a home in which my parents can’t afford to buy me everything I need for school, the Dr. Christopher Saheed Future Educators Scholarship has allowed me to be less dependent on my parents financially.

As a result of the many donations to the Friends of CRLS from very generous members in the community, my family doesn’t have to worry about financing every little thing the summer of my freshman year going to college. Senior year is a very important year but it is a very expensive year, with SAT fees, college application fees and deposits etc, so every contribution helps.

Investing in scholarships such as this allows students like me to go to college feeling secure about our financial situation. By investing in scholarships you are also investing in not only the child’s future but also the future of the child’s family. Without your generous donations I would not be able to buy the materials I will need for college. On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all of you for investing in me.