Letter to the Editor

CityLab Opens Its Doors… And Seacoast Closes Its Doors

Dear Editor,

I am a lifelong Revere resident and a Seacoast graduate, class of 2005. On September 7, I read an article in the Revere Journal that came across as ill-informed and I feel compelled to set the record straight. The article was about CityLab, the new high school in Revere, spearheaded by Dr. Stacey Mulligan. Congratulations on the new CityLab High School, may it be a success. So, where is the bad blood coming from? Comments were made in this article about the system at Seacoast High School being broken and alluded to kids being forced to attend Seacoast. The article implied that Seacoast High School did not offer roads to industries or higher education and did little other than get its students their diplomas. These accusations are inaccurate, outright underestimations of Seacoast.

Rewind back to 2004 with me for a moment. I was a sixteen-year-old who suffered from severe anxiety and debilitating clinical depression. I was failing courses at Revere High School because of excessive absences when a teacher suggested that I attend Seacoast. At the time I may not have recognized it, but Seacoast was exactly where I belonged. I met my future husband, Louis Pedersen, in the Automotive Shop at Seacoast.   Louis, who also lived most of his life in Revere and graduated from Seacoast in 2005, became an ASE Master Certified Heavy-Duty Auto Mechanic and attributes that success to Seacoast. He battled with attendance at Revere High School and was quite willingly transferred to Seacoast where he spent much of his time in the Auto Shop.

Anthony DiPrizio also grew up in Revere, attended Seacoast and graduated in 2005. He remains friends with my husband and me to this day. Anthony is now an integral part of Boston’s Public Works Department, promoted recently to Street Lighting Construction Inspector. I asked Anthony about his experience at Seacoast, and he replied “Mr. Misci (the former principal at Seacoast High School) helped me out more than he even knows.” When I asked Anthony where he might be if Seacoast had not been an option for him, he answered “No idea, probably struggling…”

Julia Miller, another former Seacoast student who graduated in 2005, credits her accomplishments in large part to her time there. She is now the Engage Life Director at Atria Senior Living. Julia was sent to Seacoast in 2000 and at that time described herself as no stranger to violence, someone who hated the institution and was often truant. Mr. Misci gave Julia her first job, helping the Administrative Assistant in the office at Seacoast. I asked Julia about her experience with the former principal, and she answered “He took the time to have discussions with me when I rebelled and called me out in a way that made me reflect on my actions. He actually cared.”

These are just a few of the positive experiences that can be traced back to Seacoast. There are too many to mention, stories of kids who fell through the cracks at Revere High School, deemed dropouts. A strong sense of belonging resonated through Seacoast with Mr. Misci at the helm, that evolved troubled teens, otherwise forgotten, into contributing members of society. Nurses, real estate agents, union workers, fishermen, even a lawyer whose fates were dramatically altered for the better by their time at what former students affectionately nicknamed “The Coast”.

Seacoast High School was a safety net for a troubled student body. In a sink or swim system, Seacoast was a life ring that went beyond getting students diplomas. It offered career driven vocational classes alongside academic classes. It aided unconventional learners in prepping to pass the MCAS test. It offered a universal free breakfast to all its students decades before the federally funded free breakfast programs existed. It aided students who suffered from mental health problems well before it was trendy to accommodate or even acknowledge such students. Revere is a wonderfully diverse city culturally, socially, and economically, that has benefitted from a safety net school like Seacoast High School. Shutting its doors is not doing right by the students who need the compassion, patience, and humanity that existed there.

I wish the best of luck to CityLab in its endeavor. Please, with all due respect, do not undermine the Seacoast legacy, and all those who graduated Seacoast Strong.           

Rachael Pedersen

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