We Need Beacon
At Spring Celebration this past Sunday, we were honored with the presence of legendary sports writer, Peter Gammons. His reflection on Beacon is printed in full below.
Peter seen here with Beacon Academy’s Board Chair Pam Dickinson. After Pam spoke, Gammons declared that her speech should “be devoured by all.” We have reprinted her words here.
Peter Gammons writes:
Iashi Stephens will soon graduate from American University, and move on to a life significantly contributing to all our lives. I thought a lot about her Sunday night at the Beacon Academy’s Spring Celebration, an event to savor what two remarkable people named Cindy Laba and Marsha Feinberg have done in building what may be the most significant educational program in Boston’s oft-forgotten inner city and honor our extraordinary friend Pam Dickinson, who is retiring from more than a decade as the school’s chair.
When Iashi was graduating from The Holderness School and interviewing with us at The Foundation to be Named Later for help in the form of a Gammons Scholarship we asked about her experience going from an urban childhood to the 14-month Beacon program to a small private school in Northern New Hampshire.
She frankly admitted the transition was, at times, difficult, that she was one of four or five African-Americans at the school. Asked how he adapted, she said, “we organized groups of students to meet, discuss our differences and what we had in common. It became common practice for us to meet, talk and openly discuss every issue. It was a process, a learning and growing experience.” Then she traced it to her 14 months at Beacon Academy, where she learned to embrace diversity.
Beacon’s 14-month program for inner city eighth and ninth graders prepare them for secondary, private education, often schools whose student bodies are privileged. For someone who grew up in such a privileged environment, it is a strain to comprehend how well these young people can make such a cultural and social transition, succeed and move on to American University or Georgetown. They do, because of the intense Beacon education and transition and all that is done to comprehend the privileged life before they begin their three or four-year experience at St. Paul’s or St. George’s, Groton or Holderness or Andover or Noble and Greenough.
Perhaps the highlight of Sunday’s celebration was the speech by Dennishia Bell, a member of the first Beacon class, who with two masters degrees is now a member of the Beacon Board of Trustees.
I am proud and honored for my association with Paul, Theo and Saskia Epstein, Allyce Najimy and Pam Dickinson, especially for an understanding of Beacon’s goals and success. In a time when politics are dominated by divisiveness, we need Beacon, and everything this academic, social lighthouse represents. I will follow Ms. Stephens, and all she offers our future.