CCSC Graduate Steven Rodenas,’09, thriving at Boston College
CHESTNUT HILL [11/5/10] _ Walking across the Boston College campus, past maple and oak trees awash in the colors of autumn, and between the shadows of the Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Library and Alumni Stadium, Steven Rodenas boasts a smile as wide as Campanella Way.
A sophomore, Steven feels right at home among the 9,100 undergraduates chasing their college dreams in Chestnut Hill and candidly admits he never would have set foot on campus if it were not for the education and the support he received at Community Charter School of Cambridge.
“I love it here,” he says. “I know I wouldn’t be here if I had gone to high school anywhere else, and I know they (CCSC teachers) won’t believe this, but I’m thankful for the discipline. CCSC made me mature faster and helped me a lot. When I got here, I was ready. I felt prepared.”
The success of CCSC graduates like Steven at the collegiate level is beginning to resonate in and outside the walls of the Kendall Square campus. Governor Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education this fall named CCSC a 2010 Commendation School for the school’s success in closing the achievement gap. CCSC is one of only 14 charter schools statewide to earn the honor. Meanwhile, college admissions counselors across the region are becoming more aggressive in the recruitment of CCSC students. Not only did every member of CCSC’s Class of 2009 gain admission to college, but so too did every member of the Class of 2010. Even the media is paying attention to CCSC’s educational initiatives, as witnessed by recent stories in The Boston Globe, The Cambridge Chronicle, Cambridge Day and The Harvard Crimson.
“If a high school student has been pushed to work beyond his comfort zone and accomplish things he never thought possible, he realizes that he can do more than he ever thought,” says Amy La Combe, a senior lecturer at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management who was Steven’s “Intro to Business and Ethics” instructor the first semester of his freshman year. “Steven knew how to push himself when he arrived due to his high school preparation. He was incredibly dedicated to learning and he was curious by nature to understand the ‘why’ and not just the answer.”
Steven, who grew up in Cambridge’s Central Square neighborhood, says CCSC’s rigorous academic standards, the hours spent on homework each night and on every weekend, even the “Tuck in that shirt!” dress code mentality, helped ready him for collegiate life.
“This school is, first and foremost, devoted to ensuring that every CCSC graduate pursues a college degree,” says Paula Evans, CCSC’s Head of School. Steven was admitted to many good schools and made a good choice. He represents what CCSC is all about.”
The individualized attention teachers give each student, Ms. Evans says, is a big reason for the school’s success and budding reputation as one of the area’s premier college preparatory schools for 7th to 12th grade students and Steven agrees. He remains in contact - via text, email, and cell phone - with a half dozen of his former teachers. “They’re still there for me if I need them,” he says. “It’s great to know I have that kind of support.”
Aleida Sanabria is one of the teachers who checks in with Steven from time to time at B.C. “Steven was always well-prepared and thoughtful in his work,” Ms. Sanabria says. “He was a role-model for his peers and younger classmates. I know that he is still talked about, even now after a year of his being in college. I am very proud of the fact that he is doing well in college. I knew he would do well.”
Another CCSC staffer not surprised at Steven’s collegiate success is Caleb Hurst-Hiller, Head of CCSC’s Upper School. He was Steven’s basketball coach and also his 10th grade Humanities teacher.
“He blossomed as a basketball player by approaching the game as he did the classroom – working incredibly hard to improve, being a positive presence, helping those around him, listening to feedback and internalizing it immediately,” says Mr. Hurst-Hiller.
Mr. Hurst-Hiller says Steven was adept at embracing all aspects of the CCSC experience. “When he was in my Humanities class as a tenth grade student, Steven balanced being social, well-liked, and funny, with a maturity and confidence that was pretty remarkable for him, given that he was the second youngest kid in the grade. He worked incredibly hard – was meticulous with his work – and he excelled.”
Steven, who is studying business and considering law school, still relies on the lessons instilled in him during his time at CCSC. “It’s about dressing for success and the importance of being on time. It’s about not being late, doing your home work, studying for tests a week before and not cramming it all in the night before, and knowing how to prioritize,” he says. “Those are the things I’m most thankful for.”
He motions at the granite and marble buildings around him, at the brick dormitories and lecture halls, at the statute with the revolving golden eagle overlooking campus, and at the students rushing past him to their next class. “I feel like CCSC prepared me for this,” he says. “I made some great friends at CCSC. Everyone I went to school with, I still keep in touch with. They are all in college, and everybody is rockin’ it in college now. It’s cool.”