When I first met these brothers, they were 13 and 11. The older brother was very protective of his younger sibling. They were always clean, well spoken; very serious about school and sports. The older brother did almost all the talking as the younger one always looked on and occasionally nodded his head. They did get moved from time to time, but the DSS Supervisor always made sure the social worker kept them together.
What was striking about these two were their teachers. All reported how gifted they were. Some reported that they would be better off in a more affluent school district. I was eventually able to convince one of their foster mothers to drive the boys to Boston College campus. I had arranged to meet them there for a tour with the admissions office. We toured the beautiful campus and the boys kept saying the same thing over and over again: “This place is bigger than Chelsea.”
Multiple attempts were made to convince the older brother to apply to Boston College High School so that he could apply eventually to Boston College. He decided to go to a vocational trade school.
A little over a year later, I was sitting in my office and the phone rang. It was the younger brother. He had a question: “how do I get into BC High?” We quickly got busy with filling out the admission forms and setting up the school interview. He was accepted by BC High and Friends of CASA, Inc., paid his tuition. It was a long commute from Chelsea, but he was never late and never missed a day of school in his four years. Tellingly, his GPA increased by one or two points every semester. All his teachers reported what a hard worker he was and what a pleasure he was to have in their class.
He graduated from BC High and was accepted into Boston College with a full scholarship. He graduated from Boston College and now works for the Department of Children and Families. We see each other at least once a month. I will always remember his remark that Boston College was bigger than Chelsea. I was glad he was able to see that the world is a lot bigger and he was able to take advantage of the many opportunities it has to offer.