Billerica Beat 2020-2021
The year of Covid
BILLERICA BEAT STAFF
From left to right:
Anuva Agrawal, Jake Seymour, Mr. Landry, Skylar Boilard, Caitlin Shea, Lillian Elmstrom
TABLE OF CONTENTS 2 Principal’s Message 3 Prez’s Message 4 Grad Update: Kevin Doherty 8 Stepping Up to Make Change 10 BMHS’ Response to Racism 12 Community Service 14 The Hits Keep Coming 17 In Memory of Travis Roy 20 Grad Update: Alysha Sherri 22 Filling in the Blanks 24 BMHS Languages 26 Sports & Covid 28 Club Focus: SOCA 30 Partnering with the Community 32 Final Shot: In Memoriam
Principal’s Message - Spring 2021 As we enter the final phase of the 2020-2021 school year, I am filled with so many mixed emotions. This time of year is typically filled with jubilance, anticipating the end-of-year events that allow us to commemorate another school year as we prepare to give our seniors the send-off they so deserve. Unlike last April, we have hope in our hearts, hopeful that there will be moments to celebrate our shared accomplishments amid a backdrop that still raises concern and trepidation. Wherein last year saw the discontinuation of so many of our traditions, culminating with no fewer than 17 separate truncated graduation ceremonies, this year will see the reinstatement of many of those lost moments. They may not look the same, but there will be a time to gather as a class with our friends and teachers to remember, reflect, and celebrate. As a former history teacher, I am constantly reflecting back to evaluate the future. The last time we saw the world impacted by the global influenza pandemic in 1918, it led to a great revival and a truly roarin’ decade - the 1920s. Although this experience will remain with us for our lifetime, I am hopeful that the roarin’ times are coming and that they are coming soon. It is that hope that I hold on to, and it is that hope that I share with you. Looking forward to our return to normalcy!
Pre ’s Me
Jasper Coughlin, ‘21
To BMHS and Especially the Class of 2021: Despite the recent hardships we’ve been forced to face, we’ve been able to solidify our sense of community and to make memories that will last for the remainder of our lives. Though it may feel today as if we are separated or disunified, it is my belief that we stand more united today than ever before. On April 26th, we all set foot in the same building together for the first time in over a year. For most of us, this marks the longest period of time we went without seeing our friends, classmates, or the person in the hallway who you awkwardly smile at every day even though you don’t know them. Though some of us are still remote and have yet to join us, we remain united with them because BMHS extends beyond the building and manifests in the friendships and memories fostered. As we, the Class of ‘21, arrive at the final stop of our Billerica Public Schools career, it's natural to reflect on how far we’ve come and what milestones we’ve made along the way. I would be remiss to not mention the impact that COVID has had on our high school career. We were forced to forfeit almost all the typical traditions, and fun activities, that we would’ve had for our junior and senior years, and were forced to accept watered down versions of those same events. By all accounts, we got the shortest end of the stick. While reflecting on the past is important, we must not risk dwelling upon it. To dwell is to look back and wish that things were different, or to attempt to make it seem different. This is unproductive, as the most important thing for us to do as we take the largest leaps of our lives Sincerely, Jasper Coughlin Class President
thus far is to reflect and learn. Looking back to times where you could have studied harder, played harder, been a better friend, or worn a better outfit, take time to consider how to use these memories to make yourself better, We entered high school, as freshman, and were greeted to an environment almost entirely foreign to what we were accustomed to. While the steel bars of the new high school set into place just outside our classrooms, we said our goodbyes to the old building, whom we had just met. I distinctly remember being a freshman and watching the class of 2018. Seeing their traditions, their spirit, and their successes gave me something to look forward to through the long four years of high school. Only two years later were we presented with another transition into another building. While doing so, these traditions became more abstract, and one began to wonder whether we should create new traditions or upkeep old ones. Though it may not feel like it, the class of 2021 has left its mark on the BMHS community. We served as role models for the younger classes during a time of crisis, and led them in the new school environment. We continued to learn through a pandemic and persevered through the toughest learning environment. We raised $600 for penny war together and countless contributions independently along the way. These accomplishments, however, are just a precursor to the greater impact I know you are all going to make. I look forward to the future, knowing that you all will be the ones actively shaping it, and look forward to seeing your successes along the way.
An Unorthodox Route Caitlin Shea, ‘23 “Progress isn’t linear," says Kevin Doherty, a former Billerica Memorial High School student, Boston University graduate, and Marine Inspector for the Coast Guard. And, like many others, his journey wasn’t either. As part of the graduating class of 2012, Doherty spent his time at Billerica Memorial High school immersing himself not only in school work, but in the community. In class, he discovered his love for history and science. One of his favorite courses was AP U.S History with Mr. Carey. “I really loved learning about the heritage of America," Doherty says. He also highly appreciated being able to learn from Ms. Jensen in his junior year Anatomy and Physiology course and his senior year Genetics and Microbiology course. Doherty thanks Ms. Jensen: “Ms. Jensen was a great teacher, as well as someone who taught me my love for science." In these classes, he was able to have hands-on lab experience that wasn’t available to him before. One of his favorite hands-on experiences was the fruit fly genetic experimentation his senior year. Having the opportunity to build relationships with fellow students and be a part of a team is one of the aspects of BMHS Doherty still values the most. Finding people who had similar goals as him and being able to relate to them was something he found super cool. Throughout his four years, Doherty was able to join the Billerica Beat, the boys lacrosse team, and the cross country team. He recalls late nights editing the Billerica Beat, pasta nights with teammates, and discovering his love for running–all experiences he will never forget. One of Doherty’s most fond memories from BMHS was the night after his class’s graduation at the UMass Lowell Tsongas Center. The school was putting on the Blast, a sort of last hurrah where all the seniors come back together and spend the night together celebrating and having fun. There were entertainers, like a hypnotist and a cartoonist, and even a bunch of bouncy houses. “It was one last night the class got to spend together before everyone went down their own avenues,” Doherty says. In particular, he remembered getting together with his group of friends and playing a round of jeopardy. “We got pretty heated in that game for sure," he remembers.
During his time at BMHS, Doherty found that having a balance between community, sports, clubs, and family obligations was really challenging. Being involved in the community meant learning to prioritize and, in order to keep up, Doherty had to grow and develop his work ethic each year. “While it is important to get good grades, and be the best student you can be, it is also important to focus on yourself and the people around you,” Doherty added, as it is one of the most important lessons he learned while at BMHS. Continuing his educational career, Doherty stayed close to home and attended Boston University for four years of undergrad. Discovering his passion for science at BMHS is what led Doherty to pursue a career in science. The brain and nervous system was something that he found super interesting. “It worked out that neuroscience was a combination of both," Doherty said. Science wasn’t the only passion Doherty carried with him from BMHS to college. He also went on to help found the inaugural Club Track and Cross Country team at BU. “That was a really cool opportunity to take the leadership skills I learned from being involved at BMHS and apply that to my college experience,” says Doherty. “The team got more and more legit as the years went on, more and more teammates joined, and we were on the competitive circuit my last two years of college." In 2016, Doherty was even able to run the Boston Marathon, raising $8,000 for the Big Brothers Big Sisters charity. During his senior year of college, Doherty was able to be a part of an internship with the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City. There, he was able to work alongside a professor conducting research on Autism Spectrum Disorder. “It was really interesting because I had never had the chance to work with animal case studies,” Doherty commented. In the lab, they would conduct experiments with rodents, essentially creating mutations in those rodents to try and find different drugs that could help alleviate some of the major symptoms of Autism. From day to day, the experiments would vary, but the average day would normally be filled with preparing the test subjects and conducting the experiment. Using data chips implanted in the rodents’ brains, they were able to collect and monitor their brain activity. They would introduce different types of drugs or pharmaceuticals to see how that would change the rodents’ behavior within the different tests. For the next couple days after that, they would spend time conducting data analysis, in hope that they got enough data to prove their thesis and, ultimately, have a scientific discovery. After graduating in 2016, Doherty decided to take a break from the classroom setting and join the
service. “I took a somewhat unorthodox route joining the military after getting my undergrad in neuroscience. Being able to serve my country was always something I wanted to do from a young age. To have the honor to be a verteran one day and be able to sacrifice for something that is bigger than you,” Doherty continued, “so joining the service seemed like an amazing thing to do.” Doherty really liked the Coast Guard because its missions were more focused on helping people. “That was an appealing factor for me,” Doherty said. After about six months of filling out forms and medical screenings, he was able to attend basic training in Cape May, New Jersey. There, you endure 5:00 am wake up calls, intense physical and mental training, and learn all about basic seamanship. After two months at Cape May, Doherty was stationed in Seattle Washington for the first time. He ended up working on one of their big boats called a High Endurance Cutter, which is about a 400-foot vessel that travels all throughout the Pacific Ocean. There, they would take care of search and rescue missions for the Coast Guard, drug interdiction, migrant interdiction, and pretty much just patrolled the coast from San Diego all the way up to Alaska. When he was aboard that ship, he got to spend a lot of time in different parts of the entire Pacific Ocean, “I had the chance to go all the way up to Dutch Harbor in Alaska. I even got a chance to cross the International Date Line out in the Pacific Ocean which was really cool. We ended up jumping to tomorrow, traveling from the eastern point of the international date line to the western portion which was pretty funky,” Doherty exclaimed. His initial intention when joining the Coast Guard was to try and qualify for the rescue swimming program. “For the Coast Guard, the rescue swimming program is the most like the special forces, it's similar to the Navy SEAL training where you need to put your body through some pretty gruesome tests in the pool and on land. You are tested a lot mentally, too, with some challenges and evaluations they put you through, and there is a very small success rate for the people that actually make it through the program,” Doherty explains, “I did like that aspect of it, the challenge." Unfortunately, while at rescue swimmer school, he ended up passing out in the pool underwater. While everything ended up okay, Doherty was medically disqualified. “Definitely a pretty devastating hit. I put a lot of time and effort into it, and it didn’t really work out which was a big life lesson,” Doherty said. After that, he was at a crossroads in his Coast Guard career. He had a few years left that he had committed, and he needed to make a decision as to what his next step was going to be. Since he had a college degree, he was eligible to become an officer and ended up applying to officer candidate school. “It was also a competitive program in the Coast Guard, but fortunately I was able to get my application in and was accepted,” Doherty says. So he moved to New London, Connecticut to continue his schooling. He had an amazing time at officer candidate school, and ended up graduating top in his class. What he thought was a
very devastating aspect to his Coast Guard career ended up opening the door to something great. Doherty now lives in Seattle, Washington and is a Marine Inspector. He runs a huge team of inspectors who investigate boats from small mom-and-pops to huge charters, making sure the boats are safe. For example, if an engine isn’t installed properly, they point it out. “I like to say the job is equal to part engineer and lawyer. You need to understand boat mechanics and law and registration,” Doherty says. In the Coast Guard, he looks up to senior leadership. These are people who have spent 25-30 years serving in the Coast Guard who are moved around every three years. “They give a lot of experience,” Doherty explains. In particular, he really looks up to Master Chief Pearson, who has served 30 plus years. “There are a lot of people from all walks of life, so being exposed to that and learning from others is an amazing experience,” conveys Doherty. He values everyone he has met along the way. “Spending time in the service is a great opportunity,” states Doherty, “You can have jobs and benefits, such as having a four-year degree paid for, and healthcare. You get to explore the world and experience some very rare opportunities." For someone who is thinking about joining the service, Doherty recommends being physically fit. He says to “know the minimum standards and exceed them." He recommends knowing how to listen, as “learning doesn’t stop in high school." He says to try and enjoy it; though it may seem like a grueling process, you learn a lot about yourself and will become a better person for it. The process brings out the best in you, letting you grow as a person and exceed your own expectations of yourself. While his path wasn’t a set one, Doherty’s is one that impacts the world in an amazing way. It makes him happy and fulfills his life as well as others’. He was able to work hard, pursue things he was passionate about, and used what he learned from life experiences to take him to where he is today. Doherty hopes that students reading this will pursue those things they are passionate about, have determination, and a good work ethic as it will take them to where they want to go in life–something he hopes everyone reading this will be able to accomplish one day.
Stepping up to Make Change: The Climate Crisis Caitlin Shea, ‘23; Lily Elmstrom ‘23
Change is inevitable, a constant shift in our lives that is often out of our control. Yet change is not always an uncontrollable force. Take a moment to see what's happening in the world. There are fires erupting across multiple states, polluting the world with smoke and ashes. Towns and cities are still fighting for clean drinking water. Tides are rising, ecosystems are in anguish, and animals and humans alike are losing their homes. Although alarming, it provokes the question of how we can put an end to this crisis. Consider your day-to-day life and the items you use: plastic toothbrushes and combs, shampoo bottles, food containers, shopping bags, napkins and a whole host of items you use once or for a limited amount of time before discarding. For you, once you throw the item away in the garbage or recycling the journey ends. Though for that item, the journey is only beginning. Items often disposed of in the trash are then picked up and dropped off into landfills. At these landfills, not only does much of the discarded trash pollute the surrounding environment, it is also often burned, producing a series of harmful “greenhouse” gases which trap more energy from the sun, warming Earth, and, with it, the oceans. As the oceans warm, tropical storms become more and more devastating
to humans and wildlife alike. Of the items disposed of in the recycling, only nine percent are actually recycled. Most of this plastic makes its way to the landfills, too, or into the ocean, resulting in marine pollution. Big clusters of plastic and other debris float freely in our oceans. Marine life becomes tangled and injured in this debris, and can often confuse microplastic for food, absorbing harmful chemicals. This is not only dangerous for marine life, but for humans. Since the chemicals never go away, microplastic works its way up the food chain creating a system that can only be remedied through prevention. How many animals will it take to die before we as a whole enact change? The BBC reports that “every day, up to 150 species are lost,” some from natural causes, of course, but many from the results of human behavior. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter as there is no way to get that animal back–once it is gone, it’s gone for good–but one of the causes can be reversed. Many scientists believe that humans now have caused more harm and damage than any other generation. This past decade has eaten more meat than any other, and the projections for meat consumption only grow from here and are expected to hit a 70-160% jump in 2050. Is it a large margin? Yes. and unless we as a whole do something about it, these numbers will only continue to rise. When a cow produces feces, a gas called methane is produced and absorbs the
sun's heat, warming the atmosphere. For this reason, it's considered a greenhouse gas, like carbon dioxide. As the temperatures continue to rise, global warming has become a major problem as the ice can not stand the warmer temperatures and thus breaks off into smaller pieces stranding the polar bears on small chunks of ice that then melts into our ocean which then causes the water to rise if we do not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Such change poses great problems for everyone, especially the 250 million people who live close to the sea. It will affect our ability to grow crops in coastal farms, make it difficult to maintain the quality of drinking water, and will alter the way we live in and develop our cities. Everything pours into another. We can't solve one problem without the other; we need change, and we need it fast.
The Climate Crisis is something that impacts us all. From polar bears, to coral reefs, to you and me– we’re all connected. Though the climate is now changing, it is something that we have a direct influence on, whether it's for the better, or for the worse. If we each do our part, we can make an impact. We challenge you to help make a difference.
BMHS’ Response to Racism Skylar Boilard, ‘23 In June 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement experienced a massive resurgence, resulting in widespread protests and demonstrations across the US and the world. Though some have debated the effects of the movement, many feel it has brought America closer together to reach a common goal: combating racial inequity. The conversation eventually brought itself to the education system, and BMHS, with questions for our community like what is Billerica, and specifically BMHS, doing as a community to deter racism? How effective is this? How can we grow and become better allies for our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) friends, peers, and students? The movement was curated in 2013 and in recent years has regained some of its stamina, and now, our own BMHS peers and students have started to play a more active role. What better time than the present? A group of students drafted a mission statement to Superintendent Piwowar to further the conversation about racial inequality in the school system. It was essentially a call to action, which students feel should be taken seriously throughout the community. Around this time, a sophomore at BMHS, Savior Nakirayi, created a petition for Billerica Public School systems to incorporate lessons on systemic racism throughout all grade levels. It has reached over 900 signatures. Billerica also held its own peaceful protest near the town common in the summer of 2020. Some believe that the high school has a decent handle on racism and that the right policies are in place. Others feel that while Billerica Memorial High has an anti-bullying policy, racism isn’t often talked about, or enough, in the category. A specific policy against racial discrimination could better our handlings of these situations. After speaking with some BMHS students, the common consensus was that racial inequality should be brought up more often to allow for an open dialogue. This can lead to education that might not be formally provided in the classroom. Many agreed on the fact that BMHS needs improvement, and that racial microaggressions, slurs, and
cultural appropriation have become normalized. While people make mistakes, it is also important to hold them responsible for their actions, and one way to combat this is through allyship. Allies can always improve. When posed a question asking how the BMHS student body can improve as allies, there were a variety of suggestions. One student, Boston Everett, laid it out simply: “If people hear/see it (racial injustice) happening, then they need to speak up.” To be an ally, it is not enough to be neutral–one has to strive to be actively anti-racist. Another way to be a great ally is to stay informed on issues relating to race. To be educated is to have power, and students should always strive to know more to be the most well-informed people they can. Minorities already face their own unique struggles, and the student body and faculty should work together to make the school as positive and inclusive as possible. This year has essentially been a call to action for BMHS to fight and stand against racism in our schools and communities. While the conversation has found its way to BMHS, this is only the first step. We, as a community and individuals, must actively work if we wish to better ourselves and the world around us. These strides are a great first step, but it will be important to work together to take steps towards equality. The best way to fight ignorance is with education and, together, our schools and community can continue to do better.
Some popular books and films that address race
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Kayla Dias, ‘25 We live in a world surrounded by loved ones and tons of adoring memories that we will cherish forever, and we have our community to thank for that. Our community is the base of everything we’re thankful for, and it’s so important to give back. Helping the community can even benefit your well-being by just being proud of yourself. Community service is like building a stronger connection with your community by improving it to make it a better place for you and other people to live in, which is why it’s so important. Even the littlest things can impact a life dramatically, so if you ever get an opportunity to do something that even a stranger in your community could benefit from, take that opportunity. A community isn’t just the environment around us, it’s also the people who you see everyday and call your second family. There are multiple different ways to help your community and the most popular way to do this is volunteering. There are other benefits from volunteering besides the fact that it has a positive impact on the way you feel about yourself and your community. For example, it can help you practice life skills and knowledge that you are going to need in the future. You may be asking yourself how to even start volunteering and, well, it’s pretty self explanatory. To start, you might look for local food pantries, clothing drives, or anything else that involves helping out in your area. You could even go to a hospital near where you live to donate blood that could save a life. You could also volunteer at libraries, animal shelters, homeless shelters, and even donating to local fundraisers and charities. If you can’t find any public things to do around your community, a quick check-in at a local church or park will find many opportunities to give back through things like mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or other groundskeeping tasks. There are tons of things you could do to help your community, and many only take a few hours to complete (for those worried about time management). Your school is also considered part of your community as well. It’s where we make hundreds of memories and spend years of our lives, so helping out around your school is a great way to give back. You could help setting up fundraisers, different types of school events like pep rallies, or even just contribute to the many various collections throughout the year.
For those who are seeking ways to contribute to the BMHS and Billerica communities, we are lucky enough to have a school-based organization, Key Club, that is focused on guiding students through various community-based activities. The club, based around community service, can incorporate your love for school and helping the community into one fun activity! In Key Club, students organize fundraisers to raise money for the school and necessities they needed for certain community service tasks. One example is when the club raises money by selling candy canes around the school to buy gifts for children in need during the holidays. It’s so rewarding for them to know that they put a smile on a child’s face during a hard time. Not only do you accomplish so much in the community, but you also meet amazing people and make so many friends who you can connect with easily since you all have an interest in helping the community. You may be noticing that I haven't addressed the big elephant in the room, Covid-19. It’s no secret that this virus is affecting the way we live, making it harder in many ways to get the same community service opportunities that we had before Covid-19 as everyone is trying their hardest to keep as safe as possible. Key Club, though, continues to work and has been very flexible and kind enough to continue their projects of community service safely by having online meetings and finding unique ways to continue forward with their mission of serving the community. If you ever feel bad or disappointed that you couldn't help out as much because of social distancing, just remember that you didn’t put anyone at risk which helps out the community more than anything else during this tough time. Even with Covid-19, there are still many ways to help out the community safely. Most things we normally do for community service are still happening, just with small alterations to the procedures. For example, some organizations are using smaller groups of people who have taken the Covid-19 test and having their results come back negative. To be involved, participants have to always be wearing a mask and social distancing throughout the whole time of the activity. Other organizations, such as for clothing drives or food pantries, have moved their services outside to maintain the safest possible environment.. You usually drive up to the place where it's happening and drop off food or clothes depending on what you are doing. Typically, when you volunteer at food pantries, there is an option to help sort the food, but to keep the process safe and simple, that’s limited to only a few people as well. This is a time when many are feeling worried or on edge because of this virus, but imagine what the less fortunate are feeling during this time. So many people have lost their jobs because of Covid-19 and are struggling even more now, which is why we need to try to help out as much as possible. Most everyone is over ‘20 completely, so it’s time to see what the new year has to offer and what we can do to make it better than the last!
The Hits Keep Coming Lillian Elmstrom ‘23 2020 hasn’t been easy on anyone in the slightest. We know that we want to move forward and forget the past, but it’s important to remember what got you to where you are now good or bad. The following is a list of events and dates that shaped our 2020 into being the 8th worst year in history. So here’s to 2021 being a better year!
1.9.2020 1.30.2020 Covid-19 was announced as The World Health Organization a deadly virus in Wuhan, declares the coronavirus China outbreak a public health emergency
2019-2020 Australian bush fires lasted from December 2019 into the new year
1.26.2020 Kobe, his daughter, and seven others die in a horrific helicopter accident
3.13.2020 Breonna Taylor is shot and killed in her home in Louisville, KY, by police serving a narcotics warrant in search of a suspected drug dealer.
2.9.2020 Parasite sweeps the oscars, Bong Joon Ho becomes first Asian to win best director 3.20.2020 Tiger king becomes a national hit on streaming service Netflix 3.11.2020 The NBA suspends its season indefinitely over the pandemic.
4.2020 Crayola releases new 24 pack of inclusive skin tone crayons
5.25.2020 Minneapolis police officer is filmed while forcing his knee on George Floyd’s neck for about eight minutes, killing him, as three other officers stand by. Video of Floyd’s death goes viral; the four officers are fired the next day.
8.4.2020 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate were accidentally detonated in beirut causing a devastating explosion
5.30.2020 SpaceX launches astronauts into space for the first time.
8.28.2020 Chadwick Boseman dies at age 43 after a four year battle of colon cancer
8.2020 Polio was officially eradicated in the African continent. 5.3.2020 The U.S. faces an invasion of “murder hornets,” which threaten domestic bees.
6.15.2020 The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person’s sex, also covers sexual orientation.
News started going around of the Uighur camp in China that detained Muslims in The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
9.18.2020 Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87. She was the second woman to ever serve on the supreme court justice
12.14.2020 The first COVID-19 vaccinations start in the United States. The first doses are expected to go to front-line healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities, followed by other at-risk groups.
11.8.2020 Jeopardy host Alex Trebek dies after his long battle with pancreatic cancer. 9.7.2020 Joe Biden is elected the 46th president of the United States of America
9.5.2020 The El Dorado fire erupts in San Bernardino County, sparked by pyrotechnics that was part of a gender reveal party.
9.2020 A cloud of Phosphine gas is discovered on Venus as possible proof for possible extraterrestrial life.
12.14.2020 The electoral college confirms Joe Biden’s victory over President Trump.
10.1.2020 A White House coronavirus outbreak is announced; President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump test positive.
Travis Roy: His Life and BMHS Visit Jacob Seymour, ‘21 On October 29th of last year, almost exactly 25 years after being paralyzed in a game, Travis Roy, the former Boston University men’s hockey player who became a motivational speaker, passed away. This is a summary of his life and visit to BMHS. Travis Roy was gearing up for his team’s home opener against the University of North Dakota. It was October 20, 1995, and the game marked a historic moment for the Terriers as it was their first game after winning the 1995 National Championship and symbolized the start of their Championship Tour. Unfortunately for the Terriers, something else would happen that would take over the history books forever. Eleven seconds into the game, a Boston University freshman skated towards a defender. The forward went in for a shoulder check but lost his balance and missed the defender. The forward instead hit his head off the boards. The play shortly continued until everyone in the rink realized the freshman wasn’t getting up. This was the start of Travis Roy’s legendary story. After the play, Roy couldn’t move or feel anything below his neck. Roy recalled years later that when he realized he couldn’t get up, he knew something was seriously wrong. Roy was rushed to the hospital, but, unfortunately, it was too little too late. Roy had been diagnosed with a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed. The generational superstar was now a quadriplegic and faced an enormous challenge. Roy spent his next four months laying in a hospital bed and was on and off ventilators during his stay. Although Roy would never fulfill his dreams of being an NHL player, another dream was born. Following the injury, Roy and his family established the Travis Roy Foundation. The foundation had one goal–to support people who suffer spinal cord injuries. The Travis Roy Foundation started as a group to support paraplegics and quadriplegics but has now evolved into bigger and better things. It started as a local foundation that had support from all of New England. Quickly, Roy’s story made national headlines, and so did his foundation. The Travis Roy Foundation quickly became one of the most notable in the country. The foundation collects donations from people and splits the money to help current and future spinal injury survivors.
The money donated to help future survivors is donated to research, money that has been critical to understanding how spinal cord injuries affect the brain and muscles and how to reconnect them. The other half of the donations are donated to current survivors. This money is used to help survivors pay for bills that insurance doesn’t cover. These include installing equipment to help a person drive a car, or something as simple as a wheelchair. The Travis Roy Foundation has raised millions of dollars and has been able to help thousands of paraplegics and quadriplegics.
One School, One Book: Travis Roy Visits BMHS Fast forward to the Summer of 2014, when BMHS students and faculty participated in the One School, One Book summer reading program. The premise of the program is to have the entire community read one book and have a discussion about it. BMHS chose Eleven Seconds, a biography by Travis Roy and E.M. Swift. The book details the strength Roy demonstrated after suffering his spinal cord injury. Not only did the entire school read about the courage Roy had, but they also got a glimpse of it. In the opening weeks of the 2014 school year, Travis Roy came to BMHS and spoke to the entire community about his story. The One School, One Book program was an idea that was brought to BMHS by Ms. Dyer. Looking to revamp the summer reading program, she thought this would be a great way to improve the program. I had the opportunity to connect with Ms. Dyer to discuss the One School, One Book program and Eleven Seconds. Why was it important to do the One School, One Book program? When I got to BMHS in 2012, there was a feeling that the summer reading program was stale and that students were not reading much over the summer. We decided to do something different, and I had read about other schools that had done one summer reading book for everyone. We decided to give that a try. Why did you choose Travis Roy’s book for One School, One Book? More than a year ahead of time, I invited teachers to be part of a committee to redesign summer reading. When we decided to try one book, we invited students to participate, too. As a large group, we started with a list of about ten books we wanted to consider. Teachers and three
student volunteers read each of them, and we talked about the pros and cons of each at a meeting. Ultimately, we chose Eleven Seconds because we thought it would have broad appeal to our students he's fairly local, it's about hockey but also about perseverance - it would be a positive and not-too-difficult read, and we knew we could invite Mr. Roy to speak at BMHS. We partnered with the Billerica Public Library to make hundreds of copies available for students to borrow and offered them to students before the school year ended. How were you able to get Travis Roy to speak at BMHS? With substantial help from grants from the Billerica Partners for Education and BATV, we paid his speaker's fee for September 16, 2014. BATV also secured special permission to record the visit and broadcast it just once afterward for the good of the community. What did the students think of Travis Roy’s story and speech? The day of the speech was a truly amazing moment in my career as an educator. It was mid-September in the old school gym, so it still felt like summer. We filled the gym with every BMHS student and staff member - the bleachers and half the floor were full. I was anxious that students wouldn't have the patience to sit attentively to listen but boy was I wrong. Mr. Roy used a microphone but his speech was still somewhat quiet. As they say, you could have heard a pin drop while he was speaking. At one point, he commented on the heat and on how wonderful the student audience was being - it was awesome. At the end, he was greeted with incredible applause that really felt like gratitude - students appreciated it for sure. One student commented to me that he hadn't read the book but now he regretted that. Mr. Roy invited students to come up to him afterward if they had questions and he stayed and talked with every single student who got in line - probably 30 students. He was kind and thoughtful with every student who had a question or just wanted to say thank you - not one person was rushed. Travis Roy was not only a great hockey player but a great man. Although Roy was put into an impossible situation, he made the most of it. Roy easily could have left hockey and left his spotlight in the public eye but he did the opposite. He continued to work with the public by raising money for his foundation and giving speeches to people like the one he gave to BMHS. Although Travis Roy is no longer with us, his legacy will live on through his foundation.
Alysha Sherri: Making it Up as She Goes Anuva Agrawal, ‘23
Right after graduating from
work. This made it difficult to get off
BMHS in 2009, Alysha
on the right foot
especially since many
began her journey of
people thought it was
becoming a blossoming
crazy to want to become
makeup artist in
a professional makeup
artist. Since Boston did
with some previous
not have many events at
the time, she made the
makeup classes in
brave decision to move
Boston and a dream of her future career, she moved to Los Angeles at
to LA to start her career. In LA she was isolated from all of
the young age of 18. While in high
her family and friends, which made it
school, she did not have many people
difficult for her to believe that she had
to look up to in her desired line of
made the right decision. Even though it was difficult, she has still found a way to thrive as a makeup artist. As soon as she moved to LA, she attended a full-time makeup school called Cinema Makeup Academy. Just four months after graduating from there, she landed her first job as a makeup artist for a music video. Since then, she and her business have both grown immensely, doing makeup and style for magazine covers, red carpets, and over 100 music videos.
Over the years, Alysha has accomplished some amazing things. Her work has been published on many popular magazine covers, such as Kerrang Magazine, Flaunt Magazine, and The Hollywood Reporter. She has also worked with many celebrities on red carpets like the Emmys and CBS Daytime Awards. Some of these celebrities include Cait Fairbanks, Inanna Sarkis, and Camryn Grimes. Alysha’s work has even been published in stores such as CVS and Ulta Beauty. Her real love, however, is found in the music scene where she has been the lead makeup artist for such musicians as Fergie, the Chainsmokers, Snoop Dogg, Sara Bareilles, and, not that long ago, Surfaces for the music video of their hit song “Sunday Best.” She has even been flown out to Paris, France and China to do makeup for people. Alysha says that it really shows how important you are to people if they are willing to fly you out to do their makeup. In just a few years, Alysha Sherri has started to climb the ranks in the
makeup industry, but it wasn't always easy. She says that many times she would ask herself if it was a good idea to continue down this path; especially since no one she knew had ever done it before. When we asked for a piece of advice for the students of BMHS, Alysha said that “if you have a dream that you feel passionate about, you should pursue it even if it feels scary at first.” In the future, she hopes to be working on set on TV shows and have an agent of her own. Through hard work and dedication, she got herself to where she is right now and continues to learn and grow as a makeup artist.
Fill in the Blanks Skylar Boilard, ‘23 COVID-19 has affected everyone in one way or another. This virus has changed all aspects of our lives, including our educational system. However, what is often overlooked is how after-school activities have adapted. Many sports and activities have been delayed or modified, and it is not talked about as often as the educational aspect. How are we, along with the school system, working to fill in these blanks in our lives? The Coronavirus has affected the way we live in our daily lives. Many sports and activities have been changed due to the guidelines that have been set in place. Athletes have to adapt to the conditions. Due to the mask mandate, sports have been proven to be far more difficult. Masks restrict breathing and can create an imbalance in one’s body. People also must stay six feet apart, which means less hands-on contact with teammates. Some sports seasons have been delayed, or have started online–which is unnerving for some to think about. All of these restrictions together can create a disconnect. However, after speaking with athletes, it's become more apparent that the overarching feeling is mostly positive. Although bitter and upset, many athletes have described that they feel more appreciative of their sport. Many are grateful that they are able to play at all-and view this as an experience for team bonding in a year when little bonding has been possible. A similar pattern can be found with many of the clubs. Many of the clubs at BMHS are flexible enough to swiftly move online. However, some of the advisors are working to keep at least a few in-person meetings. For example, SOCA, the Billerica Beat, and the BMHS Pride Alliance all hold regular in-person meetings. It just goes to show how hard we are working to try to keep a sense of normality in these changing times. At the same time, though, some clubs have been completely modified. The Drama Club, for example, is unable to have any in-person performances. Without a live audience, many activities have tried their best to fill their core purpose. DECA, for example, has moved to virtual
conferences that have allowed members to continue practicing their craft. Even though these clubs have been greatly modified, participants continue to enjoy themselves. When taking a step back and observing, one can notice that our community is simply grateful to be with each other during these times at all. Another important perspective on this matter would be from the head of a club. Mrs. Bowers runs the Italian club this year, which will be working half remote and half in-person. This club has also had a delayed start, showing just how difficult it can be to make such a quick and pivotal adjustment during a global pandemic. However, when Mrs. Bowers was asked whether or not her students were still engaged in conversations, she happily answered yes and shared the sentiment that our community wants to be “normal” again, and that we are all putting in a tremendous amount of effort to achieve it...the best we can. Our world has been turned upside down in this past year. Everyone has had to act quickly on their feet and adapt to a new normal. Although our current situation has many downfalls, as a community we have tried our best to focus on the positive. We have changed the way we spend our days after school is out, and we are filling in these blanks in our lives slowly but surely. Fortunately for many, the gap was filled by BMHS’s sense of community.
An (Ove y?) Op i s
Cons of Covid
Disconnect between peers
Brings people together in unique ways
New understanding of one another
Limitations on what we can do
No longer taking things for granted
Affected mental health
Heightened excitement for when things return
BMHS Foreign Language Options Anuva Agrawal, ‘23
Language connects us all. Not only is it essential for communicating, but through language, we can gain better insight into other people’s cultures and traditions. That is why at BMHS it is important to take two years of language in order to graduate. With all the language options at the school–Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, and Italian–which one should you choose? Mandarin is a versatile and common language that would be helpful for everyone no matter what career path you choose to take. Here at BMHS, we offer Mandarin I-IV. One-fifth of the planet speaks Mandarin, making it the second most common language in the world, only after English. Having this in your back pocket will not only be helpful, but it will allow you to better communicate with trading partners whose first language might not be English. When applying to jobs, employers will look for people who can speak more than one language, and Mandarin Chinese will definitely be one that puts you ahead of the pack. French is also the 5th most common language in the world. Along with English, is also the only language that is spoken on all 5 continents. French is used in many places in Canada like Quebec, where the majority of people speak the language. French is also an official language of many international groups like the United Nations. Not only is it helpful for international reasons but it helps one to
further understand many French works of art and literature like those that blossomed from the Enlightenment era. Italy is known as the cradle of western civilization. Sitting on the edge of the Mediterranean, many people like to learn Italian because of their families’ roots in the country. But that is not the only reason to learn it. Italian, has its origins deep in Latin. Of all of the romance languages, it is arguably the one closest to Latin which means that by learning Italian, you are not only learning another language, but you are also bettering your English skills as well. Like France, Italy is well known for its numerous works of literature. Learning Italian will help you better understand those as well. By far, the most popular language to take here at BMHS would be Spanish, and for good reason. As a person living in the United States, Spanish is an incredibly useful language to know. Almost 13% of Americans speak Spanish at home, and in places like New Mexico and Texas, that number is almost 30%. For a person going into a career path such as medicine or law, Spanish could be helpful to communicate with people whose first language may not be English. Not only that but learning Spanish may give you a better understanding and insight into the culture and the rich traditions of the area. All four of the languages offered at BMHS are incredibly helpful and not just to complete the required credits for school, but throughout life as well.
A Year in Flux: BMHS Sports in the Covid Year Jacob Seymour, ‘21 A normal year of BMHS sports starts three weeks before the school year begins. The football team gets the first practice of the year, and a week later the rest of the fall sports begin. The soccer and volleyball nets get dusted off, the Cross Country Team takes their first lap around Vietnam Memorial Park, and the lights at the stadium are turned on for Friday Night Lights. And, as quickly as the fall season starts, it ends. Then the winter season comes and goes, and the spring season wraps up the year. Even if you don’t participate on a team, you can tell when sports are in session. Whether it’s the bags lined down the hallway outside the locker rooms or the game jerseys being worn throughout the week on game days, you can always tell when it’s sports season. Sports at Billerica Memorial High School are ingrained in the culture. Most everyone who has participated in a sport says it was one of the best activities they participated in. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has ripped that out of our culture. BMHS lost the entire 2020 spring season due to the pandemic, and it broke the community’s heart. This was the first time that all athletes were forced to miss their season. Thankfully, this was the only season the pandemic stole from us, and the 2020 fall season could go on as planned. When the calendar flipped to June, athletes started preparing for the 2020 fall season. But this year it was different. Due to COVID-19, Captains couldn’t hold Captain Practices, and it was up to the individual athletes to prepare for the season. This made it difficult for teams because the offseason is when players build chemistry with one another. Going to the weight room or the practice field four days a week is the ultimate chemistry builder for any team at any level. Not only could players not practice together, but they also couldn’t go to a field to practice because most outdoor spaces were closed due to the pandemic. This left athletes to make do with what they had in their backyard or go to a gym that was open. As the summer wound down and opening day approached, the MIAA announced a series of changes to the 2020 fall season. Players and coaches knew this would be a different year than previous years, but they didn’t know it would be this different. The MIAA pushed football, swimming, and diving to February, in a new season called “Fall II.” This was in an effort to give the MIAA more time to plan how close-contact sports, like football, could operate during the pandemic. They also implemented new rules for each sport. These included wearing masks at all times, mask rules to handle players who didn’t wear their masks appropriately, and not being able to headbutt the soccer ball. These are just a few of the “COVID-19 rules,” and they changed the way teams played the game. But none of those rules mattered because players and coaches were eager to get back to work.
Although fields and gyms were starting to reopen to allow for players and coaches to practice, there was one thing missing: fans. In order to minimize the spread of COVID-19, schools decided it would be best to keep fans out of the stands and live stream their games. This presented new challenges in itself. Now, instead of having someone work the tickets at the gate, schools also needed someone who was tech-savvy to work the camera. Thankfully the new Billerica Memorial High School was optimized to do this. Fans were now able to go to YouTube and Facebook Live to watch their events from home. This made for a unique experience for everyone involved. Fans were able to watch a high school game from the comfort of their home while players experienced what it would be like to play an entire season without any fans. Whether it was a blowout or a close back and forth game, the crowd noise remained the same. Once BMHS was able to hold games safely, fans were allowed to attend games at outside venues. This was a huge step for the football, soccer, and cross country teams, but sports that took place indoors, like basketball and volleyball, were still unable to have games with fans. Although indoor sports fans couldn’t attend games, there was one exception–senior parents were able to attend Senior Night. This was a great moment for the players and parents, as they could experience their last games together. To say there were some bumps in the road during the season would be an understatement. The Athletic Department was put through a hectic 2020-21 sports season. The biggest difficulty with the sports seasons was the lack of consistency. It seemed like every other week there were new COVID-19 protocols and a series of games postponed or canceled. If a team had their games postponed or canceled, it could be detrimental to their season. There were periods of time when a team had to be shut down for two weeks because of contact tracing or a positive case. This created problems with scheduling games more than a week or two in advance. Often, of course, these issues were out of Billerica’s control. Teams could do everything right but have a game ripped away from them due to their opponents having a “COVID-19 scare.” Unfortunately, this happened more times than people would have liked, and it took away games from the already shortened season. The ‘20-’21 sports seasons will forever be remembered for how unique it was. People will point to the shortened seasons or the COVID rules when talking about this year. Although there were many negatives, however, people shouldn’t forget the lessons learned. Athletes discovered they should never take an opportunity for granted. The classic cliché coaches tell their players is “There are only a couple games left. How are you going to go out? How do you want to be remembered?” This statement is echoed throughout locker rooms at BMHS, but most don’t understand the true meaning of it until after the season. Taking Friday night games for granted this year just couldn’t happen when it could be the final game of the season, or maybe even career. People always talk about how sports teach people lessons for the rest of their lives, and the 2020-21 season did just that.
BMHS Club Spotlight: Students of Color Association Grace Kombo, ‘21
BMHS’s Students of
known as the African
Together, students from
and Caribbean Heritage
this mix of global
Society, has enjoyed its
cultures have shared
second year as part of
their thoughts and
the BMHS community
experiences with each
and is continuing to grow. In spite of the
other on topics regarding race and social
pandemic around us, the club has thrived
issues, learning of others’ viewpoints, and
because of the willing and determined
coming to a better understanding of what we
students who make up the club with their
can do to change the society around us.
online presence each second and fourth Thursday of the month.
A cornerstone of SOCA is having students’ voices heard and also making sure
Started by teacher Madame Bynoe and
that as a club we educate the community in
student Abigail Mitchel in 2019, the goal of
which we live about race and racial equity,
the club is to celebrate diversity and learn
starting with our school. We started this
about cultures from around the
work during Black History
world. It is also a safe and brave
Month by having trivia questions
space for students to share their
each week and having a new
feelings and opinions on current
slideshow presentation with
events or situations in the local
various influential people, but we
community and school. SOCA is
will not stop there. We plan to
open to all students, regardless of
have special guest speakers tell
race, and it currently holds a
us of their experiences regarding
diverse group of students from
racial divide in order to further
various cultures including,
educate ourselves and learn from
Indian, Guatemalan, Haitian, Nigerian,
those who have come before us.
A typical meeting usually includes a
2020 election–resulting in the first
game of some sort to learn about people
African/Asian-American female vice
and events that had a great impact on
president–and also the terror felt during
racial equality and were influential figures.
the Capitol riots in January. These times of
In February, Black History Month, a
discussion were the best moments of the
meeting was held
club, to hear other
each week where
the club played a
what was taking
place and finding
that one person’s
have a discussion
with many others
on some of the
in the club as
That is one of
the game. One week, the movie Hidden
the many reasons that people have joined
Figures was watched to celebrate the
SOCA: to have the opportunity to talk to
success of black women who persevered
people like them who have gone through
during a time period of severe racism and
the same experiences they have and share
their own thoughts without fear of being
Every meeting is filled with learning
judged. It is safe to say that from the many
about influential people of color and
discussions that have taken place in SOCA
appreciation for what they did to make the
over the past few months that there are
life we see around us now possible. In the
human rights activists and advocates right
beginning months of school, however,
here in our school who will continue to
current events were the main focus of
spread their knowledge and insight for
discussion, including the Black Lives
years to come, thanks to this club that has
Matter protests that had taken place over
allowed all students' voices to be heard.
the summer, the great significance of the
C mu y:
n B le
Chelsey Mathews, ‘21 Billerica Memorial High School has many active clubs and organizations. Most, if not all, of these clubs, are not only active in the school’s community, but in the whole town and even in local towns. BMHS organizations go above and beyond to create a meaningful impact in the lives of others. The impact these clubs have on the community sets BMHS apart from other high schools and paves the way for other clubs and organizations to receive similar support. The BMHS FIRST Robotics Team has built a great relationship with the local community that allows them to help the community and receive support in return. Team 4909 has created a well-organized sponsorship program that allows local business to support the team and in turn, the students on the team show their gratitude in a variety of ways, including but not limited to, images of the company logo on team apparel, weekly updates on the team activity and progress, and live demonstrations for the company of our robot. The team is extremely grateful for all of those who contribute whether they donate support for one fundraiser or continue the support throughout the season each and every year. Team 4909 also hosts and participates in community events. The team walks in the Yankee
Doodle Parade and has a booth afterward to encourage students to learn about STEM and get involved in programs the town has to offer. They also host events for children in the community including classes at the library, and events to help local girl scout troops earn robotics-related badges. The BMHS Key Club, organized by Mr. Peterson, also has formed and continues to prioritize its relationship with the local community beyond the school. While they have faced some challenges this year due to the ongoing pandemic, they have been able to come up with new ideas and will continue to participate in other events once they are once again able to do so. One event the Key Club works on that has been put on pause, but they are eagerly awaiting the day they will be able to return, is the work they have done with the Billerica Food Pantry. Many of the members love these events because they are a great way to see the impact you have on others. Although the Key Club has been unable to do their work with the food pantry, they have been able to remain very active in the community. This year they have written letters to individuals and families in immigration detention centers. These letters help to uplift spirits and provide hope to those who needed it in these dark times. Around Christmas time, the Key Club worked to put together Christmas Shoeboxes for kids in need of gifts. The Key Club recognized the need for children to feel the Christmas spirit this year, especially with the major impact COVID-19 has had on many families. They were able to provide some relief to this problem and put smiles on the faces of many children. Once Valentine’s Day rolled around the Key Club got to work yet again to write cards for the elderly. They recognized the despair many elderly can face on Valentine’s Day as many of them may have lost their valentine. The Key Club worked hard on letters that would put a smile on their faces. After this successful event, their work didn’t end. The club is currently working hard to come up with new ways to show appreciation for the community.
In memory of all those we lost through the Covid pandemic
Billerica Memorial High School 35 River Street Billerica, MA 01821 www.billericak12.com
The Billerica Beat, a student-produced school newspaper journal, is published once or twice a year and focuses on school happenings, clubs,...
Published on May 11, 2021
The Billerica Beat, a student-produced school newspaper journal, is published once or twice a year and focuses on school happenings, clubs,...