Dr. Mary Bourque delivered her ninth and final Opening Day speech Monday morning to teachers and staff in the Chelsea school district at the Convocation gathering inside the Saul Nechtem Gymnasium.
Dr. Bouque is retiring as superintendent of Chelsea schools at the end of the year. Dr. Almi Abeyta is the superintendent-elect.
Abeyta presented brief remarks inside the packed gymnasium. “It’s an honor to be here today,” began Abeyta. “I’m so excited to be part of Chelsea Public School. There are so many great things happening here.
“In my first 120 days on the job, I will be learning and listening so that I can keep the great work going and build upon the solid foundation that has been built.”
Lauding Dr. Bourque for her highly acclaimed tenure as superintendent, Dr. Abeyta added, “You have had an amazing leader for the last nine years – my goal will be to learn from Mary and take Chelsea Public Schools to the next level.”
“This Is US…From Now On”
Dr. Bourque said the theme for the 2019-20 school year will be “This Is Us…From Now On.”
Noting the teachers’ specially designed T-shirts and how the pictures of Chelsea Schools formed “US,” on the shirts, she said it was intentionally symbolic that US also stands for United States.
“Colleagues – we are the United States,” said Bourque. Chelsea and all we do, all we represent, who we represent…we are the United States. We welcome and educate all, and we always will.”
Dr. Bourque said the yearlong theme is a brief look back at where the school district has come from to now, “but also a vision of where we need to go.”
The accomplishments were many in the Dr. Mary Bourque Era in the Chelsea schools. An alumna herself of the Chelsea schools where she was a brilliant and popular student in the Class of 1977, Dr. Bourque said she was proud that the schools were able to build deep and lasting relationships with City Managers Jay Ash and Thomas Ambrosino and number of local organizations including the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, ROCA, the Chelsea Collaborative, ROCA, and the Chelsea Police and Fire Departments.
Always putting the students first during her time in office, Dr. Bourque cited the successful example of CHS Class of 2019 salutatorian Jocelyn Poste, who is attending Union College in New York on a four-year, full-tuition POSSE Scholarship.
“Listening to Jocelyn Poste’s speech at graduation, I knew we had deep transformational change in Chelsea schools because the students were the ones who told us,” related Dr. Bourque.
Poste had related how Chelsea students faced obstacles along their paths in their search of greater knowledge and achievements.
“Throughout these experiences, they [CHS students] learned what it means to come from Chelsea and how to portray that to the world. They learned from teachers, counselors, friends and family. It seems the most important lesson was taught by the community itself. The students took advantage of the opportunities that Chelsea gave them because they knew that coming from Chelsea was more that drugs and violence, as others believed.
Poste said that “today [graduation day] we are able to show that coming from Chelsea is a blessing, not a burden.”
Dr. Bourque credited the Chelsea educators for the transformation that allowed Poste and others to pursue and realize their dream of attending college, some like Poste, on to the elite schools in this country.
“You did this, you, the educator, you the staff who support the educator – we did this. This is us. We transformed how students see themselves, see their schools, and see their community. We transformed how others see Chelsea schools and how they see Chelsea students.”
Dr. Bourque said that that work of collective transformation as a school syste and as a school community must go on.
“From now on, let the state, the nation, and the world hear in our voices, the strength, the confidence, and the conviction that we have for our students and their futures,” proclaimed Dr. Bourque with the eloquence and emotion that any political candidate anywhere would desire to package for a campaign rally.
“From now on we show the world how deeply, deeply we love what we do and who we do it for.”
Following a beautifully orchestrated performance by the CHS choral group Cantare in coordination with a video presentation of the positive happenings in the Chelsea schools, Dr. Bourque concluded with a sincere message: “I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the honor and privilege to have served as your superintendent and to have stood before you for the last nine Convocations.”
Dr. Mary Bourque’s tenure as superintendent of the Chelsea schools may be coming to close, but her legacy – from being a Chelsea student to ascending to the top school administrative position in Chelsea – and being such an exceptional role model for women in education as she did it – will live on for many years to come.