By Amanda Alfani, AHS 2014, Boston College 2018 (expected)
As the first graduation ceremony held on the rebuilt Tozier-Cassidy Field concluded on June 6, 2014, my emotions ranged from excitement to trepidation as I walked across the stage and away from the only school system I had ever known. With my two sisters having received their AHS diplomas before me, AHS’s 145th commencement was the third and final high school graduation for the Alfani family. Because my mother serves as a paraprofessional at Studley Elementary School, I knew we would continue to be connected to the Attleboro Public Schools, but admittedly, I saw my alma mater as a defining element of my past more so than my future.
As I now prepare to again don a cap and gown for another graduation ceremony, I have observed the debate unfolding over whether to build a new AHS. In doing so I have gained deeper insight into the values that were instilled in me as an AHS student. These values, and the recognition of what it means to be a member of the Attleboro community (or any community) have prompted me to share why I believe approving the new AHS is so very vital.
In my sophomore year, the heating system shut down in A Building for a few days. Makeshift classrooms were devised throughout B Building from closets, science labs, and storage areas. Teachers were forced to modify their schedules and operate without any of their normal supplies. Ingenuity, perseverance, and maintaining good humor was not in their lesson plans, but the example the staff set has stayed with me ever since.
When Boston College did not provide me with an adequate financial aid package, I burst into tears before my guidance counselor, Julie Little, and class adviser, Darbie Sawyer. They immediately began working the phones and devising a strategy to ensure I would have options despite the deposit deadline having already passed. They sat with me, making me feel that, somehow, things would be alright. I hope to one day work in a school as a mental health counselor, and it is their example of empathy I hope to emulate.
As a Boston College student, I have been immersed in the Jesuit mantra of “service to others.” For me, this represented a continuation of the culture at AHS, where my classmates and I were encouraged to lead organizations aimed at fighting cancer, facilitating clothing drives, and providing services to senior citizens. In these endeavors we enjoyed robust support from an AHS faculty that personified Attleboro’s values.
When I asked my mom how she planned to vote on April 3rd she commented on how the AHS project’s approval will result in her taxes going up, a very understandable response especially from someone whose children have already graduated from AHS. But then without skipping a beat, she told me that she would indeed be voting “yes” because despite the very clear sacrifice that this project represents, it is necessary to move the school system and our community forward.
The impact AHS had on me as a student becomes clearer to me every day. In the context of the AHS campaign, what is most apparent to me is how students will notice the decision that is made. They will notice the investment residents are making. They will notice the sacrifice taxpayers are making. They will notice the confidence the community is showing.
They will notice, and years later, they will remember and be grateful.
Amanda Alfani is graduate of Attleboro High School (2014) and currently a senior at Boston College majoring in Applied Psychology.