Talented Students – Farewell Dinner
Fifi Garcia, the creator of the Academically Talented Children program, bid farewell to some of those that will be departing to different colleges and private high schools to continue their education at the Clemente Abascal Community Room en Lawrence.
As special guests, García presented Pavel Payano and Eric Mane as “Children super-super-super talented.” Pavel studies psychology at UMass Amherst and Eric graduated from Bentley College.
Several biographies were read by Victor Vargas, among them one from Ramón Tejada. Tejada came to the United States at age 6, from Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic.
In his biography, Tejada explained how he entered the Community Day Charter School where six months later he had learned enough English to communicate with his new friends. Upon his eighth grade graduation with straight As, he earned a full scholarship to the prestigious Governor Dummer Academy in New Hampshire valued at $30,000 each year, absolutely free, where he maintains a B+ average.
Tejada thanked first God for protecting him and guiding him throughout his life and then Fifi García for her encouragement. Truly, Tejada represents a great example of success to our children. He grew up in the projects, “where drugs abound but I always stayed far away from them and I don’t even smoke,” he said to those gathered at the celebration.
Martha Graciano also lived at the projects and like Tejada, she managed to always stay focused in her studies and community work. “I was able to get ahead in spite of all the awful things I’ve witnessed like drugs,” she said. Graciano is the first one in her family to graduate from high school and the first one to attend Salem State College, where she plans to become a nurse.
10-year-old Jose Bedoya, son of a Dominican mother and Colombian father, is another talented child. In his biography he points out that after attending the Lawrence Family Development Charter School with excellent marks, he is now studying at the Pike School in Andover, “a very expensive school,” in his own words.
Sasha Lissete Torres is another talented girl. After attending the Community Day Charter School, Torres was accepted at the most prestigious schools of this area for her excellent marks, such as Greenough, Central Catholic, Presentation of Mary, Pingree and Nobles. She chose Nobles which gave her a full scholarship for $33,300 per year. “I plan to continue playing basketball at this school and not deviate from my church’s teachings but above all, to preserve the good principles that my mother taught me.”
Lunara Devers, also with a talented path, is now studying at the University of Long Island in New York and could not attend this dinner so, her father Council President Marcos Devers, approached the microphone after Mr. Vargas read her biography. “Lunara is at the University of Long Island and I miss her a lot,” was all he could say with trembling voice and tears forming in his eyes.
If there is anyone deserving of a special mention it is Belen Tournas. Tournas is a single mother who has raised four excellent children: Federico, Pedro Jose, Belen Indira and Katheryn Belen, and she also just finished her own Master’s degree. Federico and Pedro study and work. Federico is studying Computer Science and History at Ithaca College where he is a senior. Pedro Jose is also a senior at UMass/Lowell, and he studies business and mathematics, while he is a counselor.
Belen Indira has always been an academically talented student and since she was seven years old she started dancing at Lawrence Ballet Academy. Today, at 15 years of age, she is in her third year of high school while attending an arts school in Boston.
Katheryn was an honor student during her entire primary education which earned her a scholarship at Presentation of Mary Academy. She works at Centro Adelante! in her free time helping children with their homework and during the Bread & Roses Festival she was seen working as a volunteer with the recycling department in this city.
Katheryn was selected among a group of Massachusetts students with an interest in the law to participate at a lawyers’ congress held in Washington, D.C. for a period of two months and this summer she earned another scholarship for her high marks to attend a summer camp at Phillips Academy. This camp was granted internationally to students interested in pursuing a legal career.
Katheryn was Queen of the Dominican Night 2003 and is also mentioned in the Who’s who among American High School Students.
By Alberto Surís