Jonathan Pierre’s laundry list of extracurriculars could hardly be more extensive. Bedford High School Class President, member of the football team, student representative on Student Council, Challenge Success Committee, National Honor Society, The Calculus Project, founder of the Ground-Up Initiative, and stints with the track, lacrosse, and wrestling teams. The young man from South Boston’s resumé certainly stands out, but for Jonathan Pierre, the road to success has not always been the most direct.
Jonathan joined the Bedford School system in 3rd grade as a Metco student at the Lane School, then moved on to John Glenn Middle School and finally Bedford High. “In elementary school I was, and still am, an impulsive person,” Pierre says, “I was smart in the classroom, but I was a class clown. I was never a bad kid, but I think I made a lot of bad decisions that kids so often do, trying to attention seek and be that class clown… I think as time passed, I matured and became the person I am today.” As he aged, he said his determination to succeed grew and grew, and pushed him to thrive.
Jonathan emphasized that for all his hard work, his success is not a one-man show as many may think. “I want to highlight the fact that my success is not my own,” he explained “I don’t want to nullify the hard work I’ve put in these past four years. There were definitely those late nights and early mornings where I was up until 2 am, and woke up at 4:45 am just to do it all over again. When I say the success is not all my own I mean there are people in my life that have pushed me to be the best, and even if they weren’t with me standing right next to my desk, their words and their encouragement have pushed me to get to where I am today.” He credits his Mom, who raised him and two sisters alone, as one of his greatest influences.
The accolades Pierre has garnered never came easy to him. While his passion for football and academics were constant driving factors, he shared that there were days when success seemed impossible. “I’d get home at like 8 pm from football practice, have to shower, eat dinner, and it would be like 9:30 pm,” he explained, elaborating on a day in his life, “I’d start studying and doing homework for a couple of hours, and then it would be like 1 am and I’d be so tired and feel like quitting. But I’d think about all the people who have invested so much into me and the people that are looking forward to my success, and that’s really what’s kept me pushing through those late nights and early mornings.”
Jonathan will attend Yale University in the fall, where he will study economics and religious studies. He credits Richard Donnelly, his economics teacher at BHS, with his decision to pursue Economics, saying he “really just pushed me to look at life in a different way.” As a devout Christian, he will pursue another passion with religious studies at Yale.
Jonathan began his career in Bedford through the METCO program. Speaking about the program in Bedford, he said, “Generally it’s been good. METCO students definitely have it more tough than their counterparts from Bedford. If I’m going to explain this in economic terms, the opportunity cost for a METCO student to do well academically, with all the things they have working against them, is a lot more than for a student from Bedford.” This support is present, and Jonathan commended Principal Heather Galante and Math Department Administrator Patrick Morrissey for their efforts. Of Principal Galante, he recognized “her commitment to making sure all students’ voices are heard and values their experiences/perspectives,” and Morrissey for “his commitment to the academic success of students of color. He’s fostered relationships with them both outside and inside of the academic setting.” Still, he explained, there is work to be done in Bedford with the METCO program. “I think our Bedford High School community definitely has some more work to do in terms of supporting us as METCO students, and I don’t mean that in a negative way but in the most progressive way possible. Of course, all of us in all facets of our school have work to do. Like I said, the opportunity cost is so much higher for METCO students to do well, especially in such a predominantly white school like Bedford High.”
As he prepares to depart for Yale, Jonathan says what he took from his time in Bedford will stay with him forever, and he is grateful “to be able to connect with so many different people no matter where they’re from and what experiences they have.” In a senior year, which has been anything but normal, he is optimistic about the future. His message on behalf of himself and the class of 2020: “Not only we as a class but we as a generation are a generation of the unprecedented. In the same way that we have been put through negative experiences that have never happened before, we can and will leave our mark on this world like never done before.”