Dear Billy T and Somerville/Medford News Weekly Speakup Line,
As a follow up to my last post, this is what Jessica emailed today –
To the school committee, Superintendent Skipper, Vice Superintendent Mazza, and Mayor Curtatone –
My name is Jessica Ferrelli. I’m a senior and have been going to Somerville High School for almost 4 years now.
During my freshman year I was pushed around, harassed, and excluded by seniors simply because I was a freshman. “It’ll all be worth it,” I was told. “You’ll have an amazing senior year, and you’ll practically rule the school.”
I spent my entire sophomore year being shuttled around between school and extracurricular activities in a frenzied haze, studying until 11 at night, going to school despite asbestos being released into the air, and tripping over staircases that hadn’t been updated since the 1980s. “There’s going to be a new high school,” I was told. “Everything will be fixed, and all this hard work will pay off when you get to celebrate your last year of high school.”
During my junior year I studied in classrooms that had no heat, slipped over ice just to get to history class, got shoved by security guards just because I accidentally walked the wrong way out of the mods, and continued my studies in a frustrated daze. “These problems won’t exist in the new high school,” I was told. “There’ll be better heat, and you’ll have all the resources you could ever ask for.”
When the pandemic hit, 2 weeks of closure became 2 months. 2 months became the rest of the year. I’ve always been an introvert, but I missed my friends terribly. For the rest of the year I never got to goof off with my best friend at the corner of Broadway, make beautiful music with my stand partners in orchestra class, or laugh at an inside joke with my friends at lunch.
When senior year started, the public school system filled me with false hope. I was told fairytales of hybrid reopenings and in-person gatherings, only to be met with Zoom fatigue, dystopian attempts at Halloween parties, awkward Kahoot trivia nights, and virtual winter break parties that got hacked by vulgar Zoom bombers.
And now not only myself, but the entire class of 2021 is now only a footnote on an infographic.
The seniors who dealt with a global pandemic, increased political tensions, and constant school closures, all so that we could have a senior year. The seniors who were told that senior year would be the best year of our lives. The seniors who were lied to, dismissed, and ignored by the very people who’ve controlled every aspect of their lives since the moment the class of 2021 walked into the high school as wide-eyed freshmen.
I think I speak for everyone in the class of 2021 when I say that we are fed up and tired of your lies.
We are high-needs students. We are in high need of social interaction beyond a black Zoom screen. We are in high need of a more engaging education. We are in high need of being able to celebrate the last year of our adolescence. We are in high need of getting to be teenagers, even if it’s just for a few more months, a few times a week. We are in need of the new building. We need to return to school.
Please take the time out to seriously consider what I’m saying. Please think about the consequences your actions will have.
Jessica M. Ferrelli