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Defending My Education and Alma Mater


new-bedford-high-school-logoIt is no secret that New Bedford High School (NBHS) is not the best place in the world, nor the safest of environments – this is something that has been known for decades. The student body has its fair share of problems, the school infrastructure itself has seen better days, and the administration and school system has been a little bit under par.

However, recent reports have begun to surface that are completely demolishing any ounce of the reputation that NBHS has worked diligently to build and uphold. This task is hard to accomplish in the times of distress and states of panic that the school is experiencing now, where it seems as though everyone has forgotten about the true goal of secondary education. Faculty, administration, and community members are fighting their own personal battles, which is being urged on by media attention (all of which has been negative, I might add).

As a proud alumni, I felt as though it was my responsibility to try to hold some of its reputation together by portraying to you the unique experience that I think the school offers. To me, NBHS is the only school in the area that affords students the total package in an education, and here are 5 reasons why:

  1. New Bedford High School offers an incredibly wide range of classes. There are classes in everything imaginable, ranging from cooking to auto-shop to early childhood education to forensics. There are SAT prep classes as well as classes to prepare you for writing in college/college admissions essays. Most importantly, the Advanced Placement program offers the widest range of classes in the area, offering students to study at a higher level and gain college credits in over 15 AP class offerings.
  2. The staff and faculty is composed of amazing teachers. Throughout my time at the school, I had a multitude of teachers who I saw change the lives of kids who may have not had the backing that they needed at home. Also, teachers have academic and teaching records that are quite impressive, especially those who teach AP classes- many even teach at local universities in adjunct with their teaching job at the high school.
  3. The arts program is one of the finest around. NBHS boasts an impressively talented pool of students, ranging from vocalists to musicians to actors to artists. The programs in the arts allow students to explore their talents and interests through artistic expression.
  4. NBHS has one of the most successful athletic programs in the state. Athletics offer chances for students to establish bonds, learn teamwork, stay healthy, and most importantly, gives them motivation to stay out of trouble and keep their grades up. There are more sports team to choose from than any other school around, allowing for everyone to find something that’s right for them.
  5. Most importantly, to me, diversity plays a huge role in the academic life at the school. Due to its urban setting, in a city that personifies the idea of the “melting pot,” the diversity of ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, religions, etc., is remarkable. In post-secondary education and the workforce, the ability to deal with diversity is an integral part of how successful you will be, as it is present in educational and work situations each and every day.

I know you’re probably thinking that every school offers this, but the truth is they don’t. Not a single school in the area offers every one of these things or even in the same capacity. Being at a reputable university, I quickly realized that each one of the above points has taught me a valuable skill that would be hard to be successful in college without.

The bottom line is that a majority of New Bedford High School students and faculty are doing all of the right things. There are a select few that, due to whatever reason it may be (home issues, poverty, etc.), are the constant problems within the school. However, unlike other schools in the community, NBHS cannot just get rid of them- instead, they are forced to suspend them for a few days and anxiously await their return to see what they do next. On the other hand, however, there are a multitude of students who are getting into their dream colleges, gaining admission to some of the nation’s top universities. Some of these include Harvard, Brown, Columbia, Yale, Tufts, etc. In fact, students in each of the years that I was in the school went to Ivy League schools and are doing incredibly well. This is a testament to the talented and gifted student body at the school and how well the school can prepare you for the post-secondary world.

Here’s my take: a New Bedford High School education is what you make of it. If you sit there and give in to some of the insanity that is going on around you, you are guaranteed to end up becoming part of the insanity yourself. However, if you take any bit of advantage of all of the opportunities surrounding you- incredible classes, teachers, fine arts, athletics, and diversity- you will be successful and you will find yourself gaining an educational experience like none other. I guarantee that you will become a better-rounded person than any single person who attends any other school in the surrounding community, and I guarantee that you can, and will, get into the college of your dreams.

In summary, for those of you who are looking down upon New Bedford High School as a whole, shame on you. Shame on you for publically destroying the credibility of the school that is some of these kids’ only chance to do something with their lives and better both themselves and their families. Shame on you for never stepping foot in the school but making judgments just based on what you hear, and being “afraid” to send your kids there. Shame on you for focusing on the negative rather than looking at all of the positive that floods off of Paul Walsh field each and every June, as students go out into the real world and do some incredible things at some incredible institutions. That is the New Bedford High School that I know and love- Once a Whaler, always a Whaler.

-A recent NBHS graduate who is now studying Biomedical Engineering with a double minor in Public Health and Chemistry at one of the top institutions in the country.

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  1. Well written! I think this is fantastic. I went there once for work and was impressed by how articulate some of the students were…and I didn’t know they have 15 AP classes, that’s awesome! I’m glad to see this perspective out there counterbalancing the negative.

    My only criticism is I wish the writer had signed his or her name. I think it would give the editorial a lot more weight, but that could just be me.

  2. This is true. You have to understand that, given the setting and location of the school there is going to be trouble. NBHS has it’s fair share of punks and nonsense but it’s really not a bad school. Like this person said if you give in to the insanity you will be become a part of it. My junior year there I was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia and would have failed my senior year due to being in and out of psych wards and psych hospitals for a a total of 8 months but not there. I had an awesome guidance counselor who looked at me one day and said “Joe this year is my last year in this school and i’m going to make sure it’s yours too.” and she did just that. A big part was also that, like this person says, the teachers are great. My teachers and guidance counselor worked together to get me graduated my senior year. It’s really not a bad school. I think the problem is more the day and age we live in and how a lot of students don’t have the ‘best’ life at their homes.

  3. Everything in this letter is 100% true and beautifully written. I taught at nbhs for the past 8 years and saw how much it had to offer students and how it changed their lives. Unfortunately I was laid off due to budget cuts last year, but I will continue to support that school and sing its praises. There are so many wonderful students and teachers in that building. The students in that school touched my heart and gave me a sense of purpose and career fulfillment. And for that I will forever be grateful to them. Nbhs is a great place if you seek out the good.

  4. Well written, as a recent grad I could not say it any better. NBHS is what you make of it. I applied to be a science teacher there next fall but I haven’t heard anything yet…

  5. While I commend the author for having enough passion to share her opinion with us, I’m afraid that the piece is a little too naive to be taken seriously. I don’t fault her for this. She is young and has yet to discover exactly how her education has been handicapped due to being taught in an environment where the teachers and administrators all too often had their attention and resources redirected to “the insanity”.

    There certainly is no harm in acknowledging the success stories (I would not define success as simply getting accepted to a college). But it seems to me that there must not be enough attention on the problems at this school. Otherwise I would expect to see less students succumbing to “the insanity” and those making it through being as well equipped to make it in the world as their peers who have been educated outside of an inner city school system.

    In short, there is no shame in brining attention to the problems. Shame on you for thinking there is.

    • A Recent Graduate

      To Concerned:

      Why are you assuming a girl wrote this? There is nowhere in the article that states anything about the gender of this author. The author of this happens to be one of the smartest kids from my graduating class and a very good friend of mine. They know exactly what they are talking about so this article should be taken seriously. Unless you have recently been a part of the school system as a student or faculty, then I do not think you have a right to state your opinion about this because you do not know first hand what is going on. There is a teacher from NBHS above who agrees 100% with what this article says. It really is saying something when a college student takes the time out of their incredibly busy schedule during the semester to write a great article like this defending where they graduated high school from when most kids would not care or bother.

  6. Thank you to the author of this article. It certainly has enlightened me as to what this school has to offer to the ones who want to take advantage of it. And I did not come away after reading this with the notion that you in anyway are implying that it is a shame that the issues which are being brought to the public as of lately shouldn’t be made public. What I perceive you to imply is shame on those who take isolated incidents and trash talk this school when there are far more positives that go unnoticed. So thank you for making us aware of the the many opportunities offered that I for one was not aware of. Will there always be isolated unpleasant incidents at this school.??? Always have and most likely always will. With over 3000 students and I don’t see how it will go without incident. I certainly appreciate your well written, knowledgable article. You may be young and a new graduate but you are far more mature and wise than your years and are already successful as far as I can see. Good luck in all your endeavors. I see greatness in your future.

  7. As a parent of two recent graduates of NBHS, I am very pleased with the education my children received while at the school. My daughter was able to take 9 AP classes from dedicated and devoted teachers. Because of this, she will be graduating a semester early and saving thousands of dollars in tuition fees. This would not have been possible without all of the support she received from teachers and a wonderful guidance counselor. My son was heavily involved with the arts program at NBHS. He was afforded the opportunity to perform and learn from outstanding music teachers. He qualified for districts and was accepted to every music college he applied to. Again, this would not have been possible without excellence at NBHS. While it makes spectacular headlines when one studens behaves in a despicable manner, we never hear about the students who are achieving and making good decision about their education, It’s just not sensational enough. I commend all the faculty and staff at NBHS who have had to endure this year. May the upcoming school year bring some relief from the chaos so the school community can focus on the importance of learning.

  8. I graduated with honors from NBHS, had no problems throughout my 4years attending. The problems begins with the lack of discipline the kids are not receiving at home. They disrespect their parents, teachers, peers, and just anyone in general! It’s sad and I fear for our society in the future.

  9. I'm one of them

    Yes I am one of the 170 teachers at New Bedford High School. I attend school every day that I humanly can so that I can have the pleasure of teaching many of New Bedford’s finest young people. I have issues with those in our community that continue to bash the school, the teachers and especially our students. First I’d like to address our kids. They are great! They are kids. Kids make mistakes. Some come to school with problems that need to be addressed, problems that they had no part in creating. We have a number of students that are homeless, we have kids that can’t be sure where Mom will be after school, kids that must find work to supplement the income of the family…… I can go on. That’s not to say that they need to be held accountable when they mess up. The teachers, most are the best in the business. In the past ten years our leadership has changed so many times it’s hard to keep count. Longo, Oliver, Bizzarro, Vasconcelos, Kulak, and now Dawson. Superintendents- Silva, Longo, Bonner, Francis, Shea, Durkin. Budget craziness – cut, cut, cut. Rules that are created and signed off on but not enforced. Some should be city wide. Kids – social promotions, unprepared to do work asked of them. Teachers afraid to enforce rules, unable to teach due to classroom issues, attendance issues, discipline issues, no text books or teaching materials. Finally the rape of NBHS to build other schools with new/better technology. That doesn’t mean it’s not needed. Nothing has ever been done to keep the High School up to par.
    If you look at our kids, truly look at our kids, they are well prepared to go on and do whatever they choose. They are the reason I teach. What I would like to see if the people who are supposed to be responsible or this mess say that they screwed up. I’m calling on those school committee member to take responsibility. All of them, even if they have just been elected or have left years ago. These people are responsible for our district. They won’t. They are the people that created this mess. I am a resident of New Bedford which means I vote. I will be more than happy to hold these people accountable when elections rolls around.

  10. To Concerned & others who share that opinion,

    As the parent of a current student at NBHS it disgusts me that adults are so negative about these children. Let’s be reminded that the surrounding high schools have had far more dangerous/serious incidents occur but all of that has been swept under the rug. Yes there are children who are out of control but did you ever take a minute to question why? Some of these children have endured so much already that some adults may never have to go through so yes they are angry. That in no way excuses their behavior however we are adults & should take a moment to attempt to help a child. No you will not save everyone but if you can make a difference in the life of 1 doesn’t that mean something? Let’s stop the ignorance. And let me just inform you that if you could see who the actual author of this article & their good friend your jaw would hit the ground. Good job just as I knew who the 2 of you are I’m sure you know who I am! My love & pride are with you always!

  11. I totally agree with this. There are so many positive aspects of NBHS. It had a lot of programs and some pretty good teachers.

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