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2013 June Update
This spring has been busy, fun and productive at SquashBusters. The MFS Derby was a resounding success, raising almost $750,000. The group travelled to the Berkshires and Williams College for NUSEA's annual urban squash championship. Lawrence continues to thrive with a year-ending attendance rate of 95% and plans to grow next fall. 25 alums returned to welcome our outgoing graduates into the SQB Alumni Society. And 16 of 16 seniors confirmed their college plans for next fall. Enjoy the update and thank you for supporting SquashBusters.
Urban Individual Nationals
Over the beautiful weekend of June 14-16, SquashBusters travelled to Williams College for NUSEA’s annual National Individual Squash Championships. 59 boys and girls from Boston and Lawrence competed in a tournament which united three hundred urban squash scholar-athletes from 13 urban squash programs.
The event was inspirational on many fronts. It showcased the squash talent, sportsmanship, commitment to team and phenomenal impact that urban squash programs have on their participants. It also connected every student with a real college experience – sleeping in a dormitory, eating in a dining room, playing squash in a college squash facility, and touring the campus.
SquashBusters represented 20% of the entire tournament and our students excelled. As proud as we were of our on-court accomplishments, it was off the court where SquashBusters most impressively distinguished itself. Kielle Andrade was awarded top honors in the Under 15 Art Contest and her teammate Boubacar Seck was awarded top honors in the Under 15 Creative Writing Contest. The two most important recognitions of the year, the Future Stars and Urban Squash Award, were both won this year by SquashBuster students. Jennifer Mbah, 3 year team member and valedictorian of her 8th grade class, won the Future Stars Award and Darwyn Nunez, graduating senior and seven year team member, won the Urban Squash Award. These awards, voted upon by the staff of all 13 NUSEA programs, are given to the most outstanding middle school and high school student who consistently embodies the urban squash values of effort, respect for and concern about other people, integrity, character and leadership. As Darwyn stood alone before his 300 urban squash brothers and sisters, listening to a personal account of why he was the deserving recipient of the 2013 Urban Squash Award, he was overcome with the emotion of the moment only to be rushed by his fellow SquashBuster seniors who surrounded him with love and support. It was a moving moment for all of urban squash, especially for SquashBusters.
SquashBusters truly appreciates the opportunity to spend the weekend at Williams College and participate in such a phenomenal event. We thank the College for its hospitality every year and we are grateful to Tim Wyant, Executive Director of NUSEA, and Chris Spahr, Tournament Director.
Plate Finalist: Daisy Deleon (SQB Lawrence)
GU17 – Plate Winner: Jasmine Zhou
GU19 – Plate Finalist: Vania Pereira
BU13 – Plate Winner: Melbin Rojas (SQB Lawrence)
BU15 – Plate Finalist: Jason Ramon
BU17 – Plate Winner: Pedro Flores
BU19 – Consolation Finalist: Benny Sanquintin
15 and Under Art Contest Winner: Kielle Andrade
15 and Under Essay Contest Winner: Boubacar Seck
Urban Squash Future Stars Award Winner: Jennifer Mbah
Urban Squash Award Winner: Darwyn Nunez
SquashBusters Lawrence just completed its first full program year. By all accounts, the launch was a phenomenal success. All 34 of the students who were accepted onto the SquashBusters team in December completed the year. Like their Boston teammates, SQB Lawrence students participated in three weekly squash and academic practices throughout the school year, as well as community service outings, tournaments, college visits, and team trips. The Lawrence team’s average attendance at SquashBusters practices and events during the 2012-13 academic year was 94%, and five of our students ended the year without missing a single practice. Our students also showed academic growth over the course of the year – when comparing their most recent report cards to their first term report cards, 97% of SquashBusters Lawrence students either sustained averages in the A/B range, or showed a significant increase in their overall average. In addition to their development on the court and in the classroom, the SQB students have grown as individuals. As Joyce, a seventh-grade SquashBusters participant from the Wetherbee School, describes, “I think that by becoming part of a team and bonding with my teammates, it has made me a better person. I’ve started caring more about other people, and started thinking more about what I want to be like when I’m older.”
The program’s success is truly a team effort. Brooks School and Phillips Academy, our generous facility partners, share squash courts and classrooms with SQB Lawrence, and students from both schools volunteer as coaches and tutors for the program. The teachers and administrators at the Emily G. Wetherbee School and Arlington Middle School have been excellent partners in supporting the SQB students throughout the year. SQB Lawrence owes much of its success to the committed volunteers who work with our students at practices, and to our generous supporters. Last, but certainly not least, our students’ families have been crucial partners in helping our team members fulfill their commitment to SquashBusters.
This year is just the beginning for SquashBusters Lawrence. Over the summer, SquashBusters Lawrence will run four weeks of programming for our current team members on Phillips Academy’s campus. In addition, we have helped connect our students with a variety of other summer opportunities, including overnight, day, and squash camps. This year, 13 of our students will attend summer camps in Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, and many of them have been awarded full or partial scholarships to the camps. In the fall, we will add 14 new students to the team, bringing the squad to a total of 48 sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade Lawrence scholar-athletes. We look forward to continuing to help our students achieve academic success, develop strong character, and live a healthy lifestyle as we enter our second year.
16 College-Going Graduates
We are deeply proud and privileged to announce that 16 of 16 seniors will attend college next fall. These students have worked very hard in school and at SquashBusters, throughout middle and high school. They are impressive young adults, motivated athletes, and accomplished students. They have earned the opportunity to go to college through their own hard work and dedication.
Congratulations to this year’s 12th grade graduates:
|Helam Ayano||Foundation Year at Northeastern University|
|Anairys Calderon||Roxbury Community College|
|Louis Casiano||Eastern Nazarene College|
|William Fernandes||Bentley University|
|Khalilah Jones||Suffolk University|
|Kiana Lara||Newbury College|
|Jerome Mitchell||Bunker Hill Community College|
|Darwyn Nunez||UMass Boston|
|Gloria Nwaoha||Suffolk University|
|Benedict Osajie||Connecticut College|
|Vania Pereira||Providence College|
|Pierol Perez-Torres||Holy Cross|
|Zoe Russell (Posse Scholar)||Bucknell University|
|Amy Sanchez||Mount Holyoke College|
|Sadiki Solomon||Rochester Institute of Technology|
|Brianna Venus||Barnard College|
Alumni vs. High School Match
On Wednesday, May 29th, twenty alums returned to SquashBusters to compete in the 4th annual Alumni vs. High School team match. This event marks the last official day of practice for the 12th graders and serves as their inauguration into being alumni of the program.
The class of 2013 is an impressive group: 13 of the 16 students have been SquashBusters since the 6th grader, they collectively earned over ½ million dollars in college scholarship funding (per year), and they include one salutatorian and one valedictorian. The 20 alumni were on hand for the Pennant Ceremony, where the sixteen graduating 12th graders saw their college pennants mounted on SquashBusters wall of pennants, which highlights the colleges that SquashBusters currently attend. Each alum presented a rose to each 12th grader as a symbol of their inauguration to SquashBusters’ Alumni Society.
After these festivities, the match kicked off! The alumni – ranging in ability from students who currently play collegiate squash to those of have not picked up a racquet in years – have never lost this annual match, but this year it was looking like the high school team (made up of 11th and 12th graders) would be a formidable squad. In this challenge of youth versus experience, the high school team put up a great fight, but the alumni hung on to take the day for the 4th year in a row. Special thanks go out to all 20 alumni who participated in the event and who welcomed the 12th graders into the SquashBusters alumni association! Congratulations to the Class of 2013 who will attend Barnard College, Bentley University, Bucknell University, Bunker Hill Community College, College of the Holy Cross, Connecticut College, Eastern Nazarene College, Foundation Year at Northeastern University, Mt. Holyoke College, Newbury College, Providence College, Rochester Institute of Technology, Suffolk University, and UMass Boston this fall!