With 100 students enrolled, Bedford’s program is neither METCO’s largest or smallest partner, but the Town has an important history since the program opened here in the early 1970s. This year’s Bedford High School graduates Cristina Delgado, Sage Hull, Jonathan Pierre, Esmeralda Puello, and Aaliya Valentine joined Class of 2020 graduates from 29 school departments to participate in Saturday afternoon’s virtual METCO graduation gala.
METCO CEO Milly Arbaje-Thomas reminded the 260 graduates that they are witness to a moment in racial justice history not unlike the time in 1966 that led to the creation of METCO itself. Dr. Jean McGuire, METCO’s fourth Executive Director and designated ‘Living Legend’, spoke to the importance of keeping good friends; always having a book at the ready to forestall boredom; and being kind. But most of all she encouraged graduates to vote.
“Voting is your most important role as a citizen,” Dr. McGuire said. “People gave their lives, their fortunes, their everything so that you can use the ballot box to choose who will be your leader.”
Bedford’s METCO Director Akil Mondesir added, “In this time of uncertainty, I would like to congratulate the METCO Class of 2020 from Bedford but also every student from every district that has accepted the program.
“In this time, I am forever reminded of Booker T. Washington’s words, “that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached, but rather by the obstacles which they had to overcome while trying to succeed!
“Class of 2020, you have overcome many obstacles and you continue to succeed!”
Additional Celebration speakers on the video include Governor Charlie Baker; Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; Boston Mayor Marty Walsh; Senators Sonia Chang-Diaz and Jason Lewis representing METCO’s State House Caucus, along with Representatives Alice Peisch and David Linsky.
Boston City Council President Kim Janey presented the METCO Alumni Keynote and Wayland High School’s Shawn Bernier presented the Class of 2020 Keynote.
After the virtual processional, special guests included Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots; Jackie Bradley, Jr. of the Boston Red Sox. METCO Board Chair Patrick Kimble closed the program.