Comedy at the Convent 2012

Comedy at the Convent 2012

Thanks to  Patty Ross and  her fellow comedians for a great night of laughter, to our local food and beverage businesses for a great buffet,  and to all those who contributed to our silent auction. See you next year.


Hunger Games Movie Review

By Stanley Aneke

Last Friday, students from the Paraclete went to go see the movie The Hunger Games. You had to have good behavior and you had to read the book, and you had to attend the Paraclete regularly. The movie was well organized and baffled my mind.

The Hunger Games was really sad, it almost made Ms. Lucero cry. The actors and the actresses acted the movie out really well. Did you think the book was better than the movie? Think about that question. Ask Stanley, Ms. Lucero, Ms. K what you think.

My favorite character were Rue, Katniss and Peeta.  The best part was when Katniss and Peeta won The Hunger Games. I was so happy and amazed about what happened. The part that I disliked was when Katniss just forgot about Gale. I personally thought Gale won Katniss’s Heart.

Marian and Crystal liked the movie. Did you? The movie had a lot of feeling and action in it. What would you grade the movies overall percentage? For me it was a 95%. What about you?

Paraclete Gossip Column

Paraclete student Crystal Aneke has started a gossip column for the Paraclete Chronicle called “Gossip Girl.” Her first column revolves around the budding romance between two of the dogs at the Paraclete: Scout (a young English Pointer) and Boo (a black Labrador Retriever many years his senior). Check out the details below.

Boo and Scout in love? Find out now on the latest addition to part one of Gossip Girl featuring your host, Crystal Aneke.

So today I saw the cutest thing ever! Guess what? So are you ready? OK, so I saw Boo and Scout sharing a bone, then later that day I also noticed Boo and Scout awfully close. The craziest thing of all, Boo denied Ms. Lucero giving her food! Can you believe that? Boo never denies food from Ms. Lucero. NEVER!

So I saw Boo and Scout sharing a bone today on the stairs! That’s how I knew it was a official. Scout stared at Boo’s brown eyes. Boo then gracefully slept on Scout’s arm. “Awwwwwww,” I screamed. “Drama bomb!” So you didn’t hear it from me! Boo and Scout are so getting married. Just look at them.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Gossip Girl!

P.S. Casey is asking people who they think is the best looking celebrity.

Hunger Games Movie Review #2

By Marian Cruz

Last Friday, the Paraclete went to go see The Hunger Games with the 16 students that were chosen to go. Watching was incredibly exciting and everybody’s anticipation was growing. In my opinion, I believe the movie was great and showed a lot of feelings that I myself would feel if I had to fight to the death with only one person surviving. One thing that I would do to make it better is to add more mystery between the characters and more foreshadowing.

Marian asked some Paraclete students who also went to the film for their opinions:

Stanley Aneke: The Hunger Games had a lot of action and it was really sad but very entertaining.

Casey Mulligan: It was awesome. I think the book was better though.

Crystal Aneke: It was sad and made me cry. It showed a lot of emotion and I just felt as if I was in the movie. It was great.

A Great Evening Honoring Mrs. Menino

A Great Evening Honoring Mrs. Menino

Thanks to all our Sponsors and Friends  who made the event  such a success Mrs. Menino has been a friend and supporter of the Paraclete Academy since it started in 1997.  More importantly, she is a lifelong advocate for the children of Boston.  We were honored to recognize her and her work at our annual reception at Boston College High School on November 9th.   Check out the pictures on our facebook.

Paraclete Cited in Boston Globe Editorial

The Paraclete Academy is featured in a recent editorial by Lawrence Harmon in the Boston Globe about “what it takes to close the achievement gap between low-income urban students and their suburban counterparts.”

Harmon believes successful turnaround efforts “often require adding two, three, or even more hours of academic and enrichment programs to the school day.”  His solution is not to extend the hours teachers are in school but to hand off the next shift to young dedicated college graduates.  He  cites two such programs that do just that: Citizen Schools and the Paraclete Academy.

 This is what Harmon  has to  say about the Paraclete Academy:

“Some high-quality after-school programs operate without any taxpayer funding. The Paraclete Academy in South Boston is a calling for its co-founder, Sister Ann Fox. It’s also a godsend for low-income, elementary, and middle-school students who arrive at the former St. Augustine convent on E Street shortly after school and stay as late as 8 p.m. Paraclete takes considerable care to balance the ethnic and economic mix of its roughly 50 students.

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The Paraclete Library Dedicated to Boston’s First Lady

We were delighted to welcome Mrs. Angela Menino,First Lady of Boston, to the Paraclete October 6 and surprise her with the announcement that we were dedicating our library in her honor. South Bostons Paraclete Academy honors Angela Menino  (via South Boston’s Paraclete Academy honors Angela Menino She thought she was coming to read to a group of our student¸which of course she did. Later, Mrs. Menino confided that she loves reading to children; it was obvious that our children loved being read to by her. Another planned “coincidence” was the presence of many of our board and event committee members who were having a meeting about our November 9 Reception and were able to take part in the festivities. Check out our facebook for pictures.

Learning from Rwanda

There is a nice article by Bella English in the Boston Globe about our friend Sister Augusta, a member of the Benebikira Congregation of Rwanda. Sister was interviewed while in Boston attending summer classes at Babson College. She explains why she wants to start a bakery, and why her congregation has created for-profit businesses. An equally interesting response to the article appears in a social impact blog on the website of FSG, This is the well known consulting firm founded by Michael Porter, and is in the fore front of promoting socially responsible business practices, what is often referred to as “creating shared values.” Both articles are worth the read.
We were glad to welcome Sister Augusta back for the summer. She stayed with us when she first came to Boston to learn English and obtain her associate degree in business on a full scholarship from Bay State College. Sister came to study in America because she wanted to learn from us and what a nice turn of events to read that American economists discovered that there was something they could learn from her and her Rwandan sisters.

Profound Decisions at a Young Age

As adults we tend to think that we are the only ones capable of making profound decisions. In reality, decisions are being made by children as young as ten, eleven and twelve that profoundly influence their adult lives. Let me introduce you to Louis and Darwin.

When he came to the Paraclete in the fifth grade, Louis prided himself on being street-wise. He soon befriended a group of less sophisticated boys who lived on the same block in their housing development – but never knew each other because they went to different schools. Everything was going smoothly until Louis began not showing up at the Academy. His mother was worried that she was losing him to the streets. He was hanging out with a group of older boys who thought basketball much more important than school work.

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Why Begin with the 4th Grade?

Research indicates the fourth grade is a critical transitional time for reading and social development. Our experience at the Paraclete Academy mirrors this finding. Beginning later this fall, we will expand our existing core instruction of fifth and sixth grade classes to include this crucial grade.

During the first three years of school, children learn the mechanics of reading with vocabulary words that focus on the familiar – the terminology of family and home. Almost every child feels comfortable with the words they read. Beginning in the fourth grade, reading moves into the wider world and with this transition comes less familiar vocabulary. At this age, children themselves are moving into the world and becoming increasingly influenced by what their peers think over the thoughts and opinions of the adults in their lives. The creation of a positive learning community that provides peer support for working hard in school is an important part of our program.

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Two Questions

There are two questions that often come up when talking about the Paraclete Foundation:  What does the word “paraclete” mean and how did you end up in Rwanda?   The two are actually related.

The  answer to the first question is that the word paraclete comes from the Greek word, paracletos, which means literally “to be called along side of one in need.” In Christian scriptures it was used by John as a name for the Holy Spirit.

As to the second question, our involvement in Rwanda begain in  2000, when we invited delegates from an international Harvard colloquiem, Women Waging Peace, to dine with us at the Paraclete. A respected woman leader from Rwanda saw what we were doing in education and asked for our help with education in her country. So, true to our name, we ended up in Rwanda because we were “called along side of one in need”  


Sr. Juvenal returned to Rwanda

Sr. Juvenal has returned to Rwanda and is head of school at Maranyundo, replacing Sr. Felicite who was responsible for its start-up and saw her first class take national exams and rank number 1 in the country for girls’ schools and number 3 nationally.  Sr. Felicite is now at St. Joseph’s in Nanza where she will be expanding this private primary school to include a middle school.

Marian and Lybia

One of our stellar 5th graders chose to challenge herself by reporting on the situation in Libya! Her effort and research is clearly evident in this article, which succinctly describes the early situation.

The Battle for Libya

A few weeks ago the U.S and other countries including France and the United Kingdom, began military attacks against the government of Libya. They are trying to stop the Libyan Leader, Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi, from attacking his own people. Thousands of protesters took the streets of Libya in protests similar to those in Egypt, more than a month ago. The protesters demanded that Qaddafi step down.

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Article by Selena

Our fifth and sixth grade English classes have been working on newspaper articles, and this was written by Perkins 5th grader Selena Figueroa. She is now an expert on Selena Perez. Enjoy!

Selena Quintanilla Perez

Selena was born April 13, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas. Selena was an amazing dancer and singer; she had a lot of talent. Selena was a Mexican Latin-American singer and she was really famous.

Selena started singing when she was six. When she was nine she was in a family band called “los Dinos”, that means “the dinosaurs”. In the was her father , Abraham Quintanilla, her mother, Marcela Quintanilla, her sister, Suzzette Quintanilla, and her brother Abraham Quintanilla junior the third. Selena attended O.M Roberts Elementary school in Lake Jackson. At age eleven she had became a star.
Selena ran away at age 21 and got married to Chris Perez. She ran away to get married to Chris Perez because her father didn’t want her marrying him. Selena got married in Corpus Christi.

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Silly Willy

A poem by Joshua Curtiss, Perkins 5th grader

Silly Willy
Silly Willy is so skilly,
He’s so skilly that he gets me chilly,
Willy’s chellow is so mellow it’s
so mellow that it might turn yellow,
sore, core, trees galore DJ’s dance
on the dance floor
Jack, Nack, No Tic-Tac, just don’t
don’t squat you’ll break your back,
Look, Brooke on a log, on a log
like a frog, on the log like a frong
in the frog, Silly Willy is not silly
just his name is very nifty.

How we go to school in South Boston – 170 Different Ways

Growing up in rural Michigan, I had two choices for school:  the one room school house that taught all children in grades 1 through 8, or paying tuition to attend public school in Ann Arbor.  My mother chose the latter, driving my sisters, two boys from a nearby farm, and me back and forth every day.  The trip was ten minutes each way, considered a long commute at that time.  I was exposed to the most advanced teaching theories, and was one of the first to learn to read without phonics.

So it is particularly interesting for me to reflect on my experience in South Boston for the last 22 years, and particularly on how its children go to school.  There are almost 3,000 school age children living in South Boston, (zip code 02127) and they attend 170 different K -12 schools, not including charter schools.  170 is not a typographical error.  Included in this number are Boston Public, private, parochial, and METCO schools.  South Boston kids attend an astoundingly large number of institutions, only eight of which are in South Boston.

Are all of these schools ones that parents have chosen so their child might have a more imaginative and innovative education, as in my case?  Or in reality is parental choice more limited than one could imagine?  As a recent Globe article on how families navigate the Boston Public School system points out, many families choose their top three schools (usually ones with good reputations) but have their child denied admission simply because there were too many requests for too few seats.  And waiting for the results of the charter school application lottery is met with as much anticipation as the Irish Sweepstakes.  There is the oft-repeated story of the mother who could not get her child in the school that was literally across the street from her house.  Though there are certain “non-negotiables” such as having one child in a school guarantees that the rest of your children can attend, it can be an incredibly stressful and complex process.

In South Boston there is an added complexity.  A federal ruling limited to 20% (later raised to 50%) the number of seats available to South Boston students at the five local public schools.  The rationale of course was that white students were needed to integrate the schools in predominantly minority neighborhoods.  The irony is that now South Boston is the most integrated neighborhood in the city.  Over 50% of its school age children are non-white, primarily from immigrant families where English is not spoken at home.  As they ride the buses leaving South Boston they pass buses entering South Boston with children who look very much like themselves.

As South Boston children transition into high school there is a spectacular array of special focus schools, but the prize is to gain entrance to one of the three exam schools which are rated top in the country.   At these schools, admission does not depend upon lottery or quotas. It is based on how well your child can read, do math, and think critically – as measured by the ISSE test.  More South Boston children attend these schools than South Boston High.

When it comes to private schools there is choice, to a degree.  South Boston children attend 71 private, parochial, and suburban schools. The independent schools offer scholarships and look for city children, but there are limited number of spots and a limited number of scholarships.   South Boston’s two Catholic schools are no longer entirely neighborhood based as they recruit and accept students from other parts of the city.   Presently they enroll only 335 South Boston children, whereas just ten years ago there were five schools enrolling 1,500 students. Tuition and other fees are edging close to $5,000 which makes this option impossible for many local families.

Each year when I look at the statistics provided by the Boston Public Schools, I expect that the number of students leaving South Boston to attend school will decrease.  It never does.  It is as if our children are living in a “bedroom community” commuting to their school every day and returning home just to sleep.  Sometimes that commute is for a very good reason and to a very good school; sometimes it is not.

These statistics also ask a question about the role of our schools in our local communities.  What does it do to the fabric of a community when half its children do not attend school within its borders – by choice or not by choice?  Historically, schools were the locus of community in a neighborhood.  Parents met other parents through their children’s school.  Childhood friendships extended beyond school hours and involved learning how to manage relationships with other children, friend and foe alike, in the informal setting of a city block.

Should we ask ourselves what is the substitute for local schools as a focus for building a social network of concerned parents informally looking out for each other and the children of the neighborhood?  Extended families living in close proximity are not as common as they once were.   More typically families have grandparents on the Cape, a sister in California, a brother in New York and a best friend in Newton.  What happens for such a family when a child becomes critically sick in the night if one parent on a business trip and the other doesn’t know the parents down the street because their children go to different schools?

Having benefited from school choice myself, I obviously think there is a place for different schools and different opportunities.  But does it have to be 170?   And should we not be looking at how all of this affects the quality of life in our neighborhoods for families?