Last year, Boston Public School (BPS) decided to expand East Boston High School from a 9-12 model to a 7-12 model by adding a 7th grade class for the 2021/2022 school year.
The 8th grade will remain vacant for now but next year the current 7th grade will move up to 8th grade and a new 7th grade class will enter the school making EBHS a full fledged 7-12 model.
The current 7th grade class at East Boston High School is historic in two ways.
First, the class is the first ever 7th grade class at the school.
Second, the class will become the first ever 8th grade class in EBHS’s history.
“This is what I told the class on the first day of school,” said EBHS Headmaster Phil Brangiforte. “When I met them I told them they are making history and it was the first time in the history of EBHS that we’ve had seventh graders and then next year it’ll be the first time in history that there’s going to be eighth grade so this current class is making history twice at the school. It definitely clicks with them because we have a rich history at the school and this class is going to be part of the history of this school.”
Last week Bragiforte and his staff got the chance to give BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius and Assistant BPS Superintendent Tommy Welch a tour of the new 7th grade.
Cassellius and Welch spent last Thursday meeting with students in their classrooms, talking with teachers and getting a first hand look at the curriculum at the new 7th grade class.
“It’s been excellent,” said Brangiforte, who pushed for EBHS to become a 7-12 school after dwindling enrollment. “There were some minor, minor kinks that we know we worked out but nothing major.”
Brangiforte said 100 percent of the 110 seventh grade students now at the school are from Eastie.
“We have six classrooms and the 7th graders have their own wing on the first floor of the building,” said Brangiforte. “They have a dedicated bathroom ust for them. They have their own dedicated lunch by themselves. We try to separate them as best as possible from the upperclassmen so it’s not a complete shock being in a new school with kids that are 16, 17, 18 years old. They got their own little section of the building on the parking lot side of the building. They’re really learning and the 7th grade teachers have been great. We got about 13 teachers in the 7th grade and they all went through a rigorous professional development training program five days a week in the summertime to prepare for this. It’s a really good crew down there and the kids are enjoying themselves. I go down every day to check in the different classrooms and I try to get to all the classrooms every day. I go down to lunch and talk to the kids all the time, and they seem happy.”
As the school year progresses Brangiforte said he hopes to create a mentoring program between the upperclassman at EBHS and the 7th graders.
“We’ve been looking to establish a mentor program where we’re going to take some upperclassmen and pair them with some seventh graders to mentor them, take them under their wing, and watch out for them,” he said. “The 7th graders know that they can always go to their teachers for advice, help, counseling but by establishing this program they’ll also be able to do the same with upperclassmen.”
Right now the 7th graders have all the support they need for a successful school year, according to Brangiforte. “The 7th grade has a guidance counselor and they have a social worker so there is a lot of support. They also have their own school engagement specialists to help them adapt to the school so there is a lot of extra support down there. Some educators have told me that seventh graders come with seventh grade problems but, as I said earlier, there have been very minor things here and there but so far they have been adapting to the school and embraced by the EBHS family. I just witnessed recently some of the upperclassman high fiving some of the 7th graders in the hallways as they head to class in the morning. It’s been really great to see how the school community has embraced them.”