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Beacon Academy

Beacon Academy serves low-income students living in Boston and surrounding urban areas. Most (80%) of our students’ families live below the poverty level and the remainder of them live just above it. They don’t always have money for food, often experience instability in their housing, and are plagued by job insecurity. Of our 247 graduates and 22 current students, 57% are Black, 28% Hispanic, 9% Biracial, 3% Caucasian, and 3% Asian. 140 are female-identifying and 129 are male-identifying. Most students become the first in their families to finish high school or complete college, and many break multi-generational cycles of teenage parenthood and adult poverty. In short, Beacon students represent the most underserved Boston residents; yet they have the grit, talent, and determination to change the trajectory of their lives.

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Dennishia – Spring Celebration 2017 Speech

Beacon Academy founding class member, Dennishia Bell (’06) is off to an incredibly bright start. She will be graduating this year with two masters degrees and has been selected as the first Beacon graduate to join the Board of Trustees. Dennishia’s grace, sense of humor, and commitment to the mission of Beacon is evident in her moving remarks from our Spring Celebration. Read on to be inspired. 

My name is Dennishia Bell. I graduated from Beacon twelve years ago in the founding class. To give you a sense of how much has changed – in 2005, I was about 5 inches shorter with an attitude as big as this room.

I had just graduated 8th grade at a public school in East Boston and I was less than excited to go to Beacon Academy. All my friends were going to high school and I didn’t want to repeat a year and “miss out” on high school.  Would an extra year at Beacon make any difference at all?

What I didn’t know is that simply by choosing Beacon, in the face of all the uncertainty, my life had already begun to change. My work ethic, my commitment to excellence, my vision for my future —- it all began to develop the day I said Yes to that seemingly strange experiment of a school.

My 14 months at Beacon instilled in me discipline, perseverance and resilience. Countless nights spent studying until the early hours. I lost many of my old friends from my neighborhood. I held on to the idea that something was waiting for me on the other side.

I will never forget the Spring of that year. We were waiting to hear back from independent schools. I was filled with intense fear and broke down one day in tears at home. My mom said to me, “You’ve worked so hard. It will work out.” But I was in the darkness and I wasn’t sure if everything that Beacon promised would come to true. It did.

That Spring at Beacon,  I was accepted to Williston Northhampton with a full-ride scholarship – a 4-year package valued at $160,000. Four years later, I graduated and headed to Emmanuel College where I received my BAs in Psychology. This December I will graduate with two Masters degrees in Business Administration and Clinical Social Work. And I’ve been granted an opportunity to step onto the Board of Trustees at Beacon Academy.  

No I am not the girl who walked in on the first day. I am so grateful to the faculty, staff, leadership here at Beacon for the endless support from Day 1. To think in just 12 years, I have stepped from the classroom to the boardroom as the first alumni trustee is testament to the power of the 14 months at Beacon and their continued support in the decade that followed. I am thrilled to introduce Pam Dickinson, whose leadership inspires me. Please join me in acknowledging Pam for her service and vision of Beacon. Please join me in acknowledging Pam and welcoming her to share her experience.