Submitted by Sarah Dorer
On Saturday, March 26, Bedford High School hosted a remarkable event – the 3rd Annual Tenacity Challenge. This is an inter-district, team-based, academic competition for African-American and Latino High School youth that was created by the leadership and staff at Bedford High School in 2012 to nurture a culture of scholarship for all of our Latino and African-American students. It has become a huge success and has grown significantly in just two years.
The first year of the competition eleven teams from nine high schools teams participated, while this year, twenty-five 6-member teams from fifteen districts participated. Students came from as near as Bedford (where we had 3 teams competing) and Lexington and as far away as Scituate, Springfield and Lowell. Each team has worked for the better part of the year in their respective schools with teacher coaches who volunteer their time to help students prepare for each portion of the competition. The leadership and teachers of the Bedford Schools ran the entire event all day.
The competition lasted all day from 8:00 am – 4:30pm with four major competitive events in which all teams must participate. These included a History portion, an English portion, a Math-Science Quiz Bowl and the creation of a team banner.
The literature portion requires students to choose from a list of titles by African-American and Hispanic authors and to create an original response to one of the works. This creative response must also be accompanied by a written rationale that answers specific questions. This year, the history portion required students to develop an argument for or against the 2012 controversial Supreme Court decision to strike down a significant section in the 1965 Voting Rights act. Students were required to conduct primary research and interviews, as well as include a constitutional and historical basis for their position. This year’s Banner theme was “The Power of Me: The Individual as Change Agent”. New this year was the requirement to present an oral rationale for the design each team presented. The math/science bowl consists of 25 questions that include algebra, geometry, physics and chemistry problems and SAT math. Each event is judged separately, and semi-finalist entries for the English and History portion are performed in front of the entire group of students and coaches.
The day ends with an Awards Ceremony. First, Second and Third place prizes are awarded within each competitive event. Then, the Grand Prizes are awarded to the First, Second and Third place winners of the entire event. These prizes are monetary scholarships that are held for students until graduation. First Place prizes are $1,000 for each member of the overall winning team, Second Place prizes are $500 each and Third Place prizes are $300.
This year, the event was sponsored by The Greater Boston Students of Color Achievement Network, First Parish Unitarian Universalist in Bedford, The Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Cossette Charitable Trust Fund.
Students are already talking about their participation in the 4th Tenacity Challenge in 2015 and how they might improve on what they did this year. This is what scholarship is all about.
Editor’s Note: Bedford TV is proud to air the Tenacity Challenge video on Diversity in Bedford – at 9 pm Friday, May 30, on channels 8 and 38.