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The Abby Fund: A METCO Program Legacy

by Charisse Gilmer, METCO Alumni 2004

What is the METCO program really about? Of course it’s most commonly known for its historical necessity, designed as a way to desegregate suburban schools by bussing inner city students out to these areas to offer the inner city students a better education. Even today, it is one of the oldest bussing systems still in place. But many forget that the true purpose of METCO is actually two fold. Not only does the program act as an educational opportunity for the inner city students, but it also serves as a lifetime educational experience for not just the suburban students in these towns, but the towns and their residents as a whole.

As a graduate of Concord-Carlisle Regional High School and a METCO student since the 4th grade, I was accepted into Boston College, and then successfully graduated with a Bachelors degree in Communication. Since graduating BC in 2008, outside of working full time within my field, I have been fortunate to work with a company called Leadership Team Development, where I have been a mentor for the past two years – helping to instill leadership principles and personal development techniques into passionate, entrepreneurial adults through the vehicle of sales and marketing. Around the same time that I started working with Leadership Team Development, I joined with my good friends and fellow CCHS alumni, Cherisa Hernandez and Danae Laura to create The Abby Fund.

The Abby Fund, as some may know, is a scholarship fund founded in memory of a METCO student who tragically lost his life during the summer of 2006 in a case of mistaken identity. This fund hopes to unify the communities of Concord, Carlisle and Boston through music and education. Our goal for the fund this year is to truly circle back on the original purpose of the METCO program, as I mentioned initially – to educate not just the inner city students that attend these suburban schools, but also to influence and change the lives of the residents in these towns as a whole. When I was a student at CCHS I was part of a club called UNITY, which was created with the same initiatives as The Abby Fund. Through this club I was able to truly bond with a variety of students from both Concord and Carlisle that I probably would never have met had it not been for the events that UNITY hosted and I believe the experience was mutual for the Concord and Carlisle residents as well.

Please stay tuned for our upcoming events, starting with our Drumming and Dance Workshop on November 12, 2011 from 11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. being held in the Alcott Elementary School Gymnasium. Refreshments and books will be on sale for families.

I hope to see you there!

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