HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. –
More than 35 members of the Bedford School District visited Hanscom March 9 to learn about the lives of their military-connected students.
Faculty members toured the base and met with seven Hanscom-connected Bedford High School students to hear about their challenges.
“I really enjoyed it. A couple of my teachers were in the audience and I think they got to learn a little more about me and those of us whose parents are in the military,” said Morgan Louis, an 11th-grade student at BHS.
Hosting the event was Laurel Wironen, Hanscom’s school liaison officer.
“A few years back, Brian DeChellis [BHS guidance counselor] and I were talking about making a connection, having that bridge between Bedford High School and the Hanscom community,” said Wironen. “We thought the tours were a good opportunity to make faculty more aware of where their students are coming from.”
As the school liaison officer, Wironen’s job is to bring schools, families and the Hanscom community together in meeting the educational needs of children whose parents are assigned to Hanscom.
DeChellis works with all BHS students from Hanscom.
“We work to make sure these kids feel supported and comfortable and that school is number one,” said DeChellis. “If the transition and the adjustment don’t go well, then grades and everything else start to suffer. I think that we have a lot of work to do, as far as the Bedford school system, in the sense of really making sure that these kids feel like this is their high school. We want them to feel like they are Bedford High School Buccaneers.”
The event has grown since it first began three years ago.
“We learned the value of the student piece the first year we held this,” Wironen said. “The other pieces are nice to have, but the real value was in the perspective of the students.”
The tour showed the faculty members facilities military-connected students generally could access.
“We showed them a TLF [temporary lodging facility] to provide them an example of where military families might be staying when they arrive,” Wironen said. “It was a generalized tour of the base to provide them some understanding of life on an installation.”
Approximately 110 students from active duty families attend Bedford High School.
“It’s really important to be able to go to Bedford High School as a Bedford High School student, and not a ‘base kid’ or a ‘Bedford kid’ or a ‘METCO [Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity] kid,’” said Briannah Pereira, an 11th-grade student at BHS.
According to the BHS website, METCO is a state-funded educational program designed to eliminate racial imbalance through the busing of children from Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts, to public school systems in surrounding suburban communities.
Each summer, BHS enrolls approximately 50 new students, 35 of whom come from the base. BHS also typically enrolls seven new seniors from active duty families each year.
Hanscom Primary and Middle Schools are part of the Lincoln Public School District. Students in grades nine through 12 attend Bedford High School, part of the Bedford Public School District.
For further information on the school liaison program, visit www.hanscomfss.com/school-liaison-office-1
or to contact Wironen directly, call 781-225-2765.