Closing the achievement gap for students of color is a goal of the Bedford School system. To that end, an interscholastic academic competition called the LA2 Tenacity Challenge was created last year to “build academic capacity” and “nurture a culture of achievement.”
This year’s Tenacity Challenge planning committee, together with Dr. Percy Napier, Bedford’s METCO Coordinator, recently began to spread the word about the upcoming competition— scheduled for Saturday, April 6— so that potential sponsors within the community would be aware of the initiative and what it is striving to achieve.
The achievement gap is defined as a persistent educational disparity between the performances of different student groups. Research shows that peer support, cooperative learning, strong teacher-student relationships, and efforts to support college readiness improve achievement for students of color, who have consistently been underrepresented in both the most challenging course levels and the highest test score percentiles. To increase engagement, improve student-teacher relationships and provide incentives for increased attention to honing academic skills, the Tenacity Challenge was created to focus on four areas of competition: an oral history argument or debate, a literature-based essay challenge, an artistic creation, and a math/science “quiz bowl.”
Last year, at the very first Tenacity Challenge competition, 11 teams from 9 high schools—Arlington, Bedford, Brookline, Lawrence, Lincoln-Sudbury, Notre Dame of Lawrence, Scituate, and Sharon—participated in the event. This year several of the returning schools are bringing additional teams (Bedford alone will field five 6-member teams), and several additional towns including Lexington, Newton North, and Weston have registered to participate. The organizers see this increase of interest as a clear sign of the program’s success and inspiration, notable especially after only one year of competition.
As it is the desire to make the Tenacity Challenge a permanent effort, the organizers are hoping for increased community support from individuals, local businesses, community organizations, parent groups, religious communities and local colleges.
The total amount needed to finance this year’s Tenacity Challenge is $8,211, plus additional in-kind volunteer time and support. The cash contributions will fund $500, $300, and $200 scholarships; breakfast, lunch and snacks; plus T-shirts, trophies and certificates. If the level of support allows, the organizers would like to double the scholarship amounts so that the awards are more significant to the winning six-member teams.
If you are interested and able, the organizers ask you to please consider making a gift of support for the Tenacity Challenge. Contributions to the Tenacity Challenge should be sent care of Brenda Cella, Principal’s Office, Bedford High School, 9 Mudge Way, Bedford, MA 01730.
Questions about the initiative can be addressed to Dr. Percy Napier, METCO Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-275-1700 ext. 3246.