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Boston’s Neighborhood House Charter School: One Student Short

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The Internet has been flooded with articles covering the Boston Marathon bombing, the suspect’s capture, how the Boston area is recovering, the victims, their families, and the local heroes, but I can’t stop thinking about the kids and staff, returning to school tomorrow, at the Neighborhood House Charter School in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, where Martin Richard, the youngest victim, attended school.

With the media focused on the capture of the suspects, the “why” behind the bad guys’ motives, and how great it was to have Neil Diamond singing “Sweet Caroline” at yesterday’s Boston Red Sox game, I’m having trouble finding  articles on the Neighborhood House Charter School. MSNBC did publish one two days ago, “A Visit to 8-year-old Martin Richard’s School: Love Conquers Hate”, in which the youngest victim is remembered as is his younger sister Jane who lost a limb in the bombing. The headmaster discusses how his school community is coping and emphasizes how they are a strong one.

Being a teacher from the Boston area, having family who grew up in Dorchester, and a spectator to the Boston Marathon for years, I feel this week’s news personally, and I can’t help but wonder how he Neighborhood House Charter School will return to business as usual when they open their doors tomorrow. What will Martin Richard’s teacher say to her students when they notice his empty chair?

Although not much has been written about NHCS, anyone associated with the school recognizes its strong sense of community and commitment to helping its students thrive, and its equal committed to helping its students and their families carry on after this recent tragedy. In a statement given to the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, Kevin Andrews, the school’s headmaster, reported that the Boston Public Schools, the City of Boston, and the Public Health Commission as well as many of the school’s partners are offering professional support, and the school is bringing in counseling for students, staff and their families.

One of the 14 original charter schools in Massachusetts, the Neighborhood House Charter School has been operating since 1995. Since it opened its doors, the student population has grown from 51 to 400 children from Dorchester and surrounding Boston neighborhoods. It is one of the most sought-after pre-K–8 public schools in the city of Boston.

Kevin Andrews reported that “Our students are primarily low income, the children of color. Many come from families who are struggling. Our goal is to give these students the same opportunities as kids who are growing up in any affluent community-to level the playing field.”

Following the Boston bombing, the kids at NHCS have now been given one more challenge: getting through tomorrow’s school day, the first day back after this city was in lockdown and terrorized.

The school’s philosophy is “Succeed Anywhere.” NHCS is a strong, tightly knit group who I believe will succeed anywhere and through anything. Somehow tomorrow, the teachers at the Neighborhood House Charter School will teach and the students will learn and my thoughts are with these kids, their families and the NHCS staff.

Donations can be made to the Martin Richard Memorial Fund by visiting the school’s home page.

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About Luanne Stevenson

Published Ghost Writer; Freelance Writer