Equity in Education – Bedford’s Fourth Annual Tenacity Challenge

By Julie McCay Turner

Bedford's Legacy Team won the
Bedford’s Legacy Team took second place overall and won the Math/Science Quiz Bowl – Image (c) JMcCT, 2015

Full of school pride and academic prowess, teams of high students descended on Bedford High School on the last, snowy Saturday in March for its fourth annual L&A Tenacity Challenge, “an annual academic scholarship competition for teams of Latino and African-American students from urban and suburban high schools across Massachusetts,” according to the Challenge’s website. The 2015 challenge theme was Equity in Education.

Checking scores
The morning’s scores were posted after lunch – Image (c) JMcCT, 2015

In all, there were 22 teams from 13 high schools: Bedford: Legacy, Scholars, and UnChained; Burlington: Creative Minds of Burlington; Fall River: Durfee Hilltoppers; Lexington: Avengers, Justice League, Fantastix, and X-Men; Lincoln-Sudbury: Los Jengas; Lowell: The Enlightenment, The Equalizers, Mill City Renaissance, and The Scholars; Natick: Galaxy Defenders; Sharon: The Determinators, The Soaring Eagles, and The Yume Dragons; Springfield: Springfield Renaissance; Taunton: Tigers; TechBoston: Bears; Weston: BosCats; and Westwood: The Wolverines.

What was at stake? Bragging rights for their school, and a scholarship for students on each of the overall winning teams.

Overall winners posed with UNH
The Enlightenment Team from Lowell High School was the overall winner of the 2015 competition. They posed with UNH Associate Director of Admissions for Diversity Richard Haynes, Jr. who presented the afternoon’s keynote speech – Image (c) JMcCT, 2015

The Enlightenment, a team from Lowell High School, captured the top overall prize, a $1,000 scholarship for each of the students. Members of Bedford’s Legacy team each garnered a $500 scholarship for second place, and Justice League of Lexington team members took home $300 for third place. The scholarships will be conferred upon the students’ graduation from high school.

Individual competition winners included:

  • The Art Banner competition was won by The Equalizers team from Lowell High School, followed by the Fantastix of Lexington and Springfield Renaissance of Springfield.
  • Lexington’s Justice League team captured the Literature prize, with Bedford’s UnChained team taking second place and Natick’s Galaxy Defenders and Lowell’s Equalizers tied at third.
  • In the History Arguments, Lowell’s Enlightenment team took top honors, followed by Lexington’s Fantastix team and the Lowell Equalizers in second and third place.
  • The Math/Science Quiz Bowl, a fast-paced contest with complex mathematics problems to be solved in three minutes or less, was won by Bedford’s Legacy team, with the Galaxy Defenders of Natick and The Enlightenment of Lowell in pursuit.

As the coordinator for Bedford’s Gifted and Talented/Enrichment program, Sarah Dorer has been involved from the start as a volunteer in Tenacity Challenge. “I love the event,” said Dorer, “it gets better and better every year. The very high quality of student work and presentations in all areas – art, literature and historical analysis and the math/science bowl – is truly impressive.

“We have students who have now participated all 4 of their high school years,” Dorer continued, “They are ambitious, hard-working, tenacious and award-winning. It is truly an honor to be part of this event.”

In praising the volunteers who helped assure the day’s success, Bedford’s Superintendent of Schools Jon Sills said, “I cannot imagine a more powerful expression of our commitment to higher order thinking, equity and collaboration than the volunteerism that made this year’s Tenacity Challenge such a success.

“Last Saturday saw 40 faculty, First Parish Unitarian Church community members, school department attorneys, alumni, BedfordTV staff, retired or former teachers, and faculty spouses serving as judges, food servers and facilitators,” Sills added. “And of course our faculty coaches and advisors gave more hours than we can count, all because these adults believe in our students and in the critical importance of educational equity.”

Bedford residents Christine and Bill Rabinowitz volunteered as judges for the Math & Science Quiz Bowl and watched the History and Literature competitions as well as the final presentations. “The event was a total delight,” said Christine Rabinowitz, “the organizers are to be commended for their stellar design of the conference, the organization was seamless from beginning to end. The challenges were exactly that, challenging.” Both found the students to be “well-prepared, enthusiastic, and inspiring to observe.”

For the second year in a row, Bedford TV filmed the proceedings. Brian Dorrington was “blown away by the students. I’m amazed at how excited they are to be doing not just school work, but extra school work!” Greg Dolan also commented on the students’ competencies, “I was incredibly impressed not only with the quality of their work but also with the level of preparation that went into it, and the pride the students took in their projects.  Many of the students I spoke with commented on how the months of work that they put into their projects helped prepare them for future academic challenges and taught them skills that they can use to work better in a collaborative environment.”

The 2015 L&A Tenacity Challenge was sponsored by the Cosette Charitable Fund, First Parish Unitarian Universalist in Bedford, IDEAS, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and the Bedford Education Association.

Watch the video that Bedford TV posted in collaboration with the Bedford School Department and the Tenacity Challenge


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April 4, 2015 9:09 am

What a great showcase of good energy, collaboration, cooperation and smarts!! I commend all participants. Thanks for posting the video. It makes me want to volunteer next year!