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Monfredo: 10th Year Anniversary of Motivational Speakers at Worcester Tech

Sunday, May 13, 2018


The jewel on the top of Sky Line Drive, better known as Worcester Technical School, has continued to be a showcase of secondary education across the country. In September 2006 the Worcester Technical High School, formerly known as Worcester Voke, opened their $90 million facility to the students.  Their goal was and still is “Creating the Future through technology, training, and talent.” This 400,000 square foot building is a state of the arts, technology-rich, six building school complex with a premier athletic field. The facility has garnered praise from educators in districts both in and out of state.

The school has had a number of awards from being recognized as a “Blue Ribbon School” to receiving through the Metlife Foundation and the National Association of Secondary School Principals one of the Breakthrough Schools for their high achievement.  In addition, the school had the honor of having President Obama speak at their 2014 graduation. It’s a tribute to the teachers of both academic and technical subjects who work together to promote achievement and create opportunities for students.  It’s also a reflection of the dedication and hard work of the students and the commitment of their parents.”  One can state that there certainly is No “trade-off” for academics and vocational training at Worcester Technical High School.   This is a high-quality school in both areas.

The school does pay close attention to testing data and is continually addressing issues in curriculum, has high expectations for their students, and continues to work on best practices with their staff.  But a non-measurable factor also takes place and that’s getting the students to buy into the concept of ‘I know that I can achieve”.   It’s the role of the motivational speakers coming in and addressing the entire student body to reinforce this concept.  The tenth anniversary of this tradition of bringing in a speaker took place just recently.   

Principal Kyle Brenner stated, “I see a tremendous value in the program. I truly believe it motivates the students as well as the faculty and staff. It comes at a great time of the year; before exams (both MCAS and finals), before graduation, it inspires students to do and be their best and faculty staff are reminded about the importance of their work and how much of a difference they can make in a students’ life.”

As for the students, Principal Brenner went on to say that students love the program. It is a special day. They dress and prepare for the event. They think it is great that they get a police escort for a nearly 40 bus long convoy through the City to the beautiful historic Hanover Theater. Students continue to comment about the program long after the event. The week we return we ask the students to submit their best quotes from the event. We then take the top ten submitted quotes and the graphic students make posters that will be hung throughout the school as constant reminders. We take the number one quote and the Paint and Design students stencil it on a wall in the C building hallway.

During the last ten years Worcester Technical High School has brought in a high caliber of speakers and they have inspired their students to reach for the “stars” and never give up. The first motivational speaker ten years was Eliz Murray, better known for book and movie Homeless to Harvard.  Then came Dr. Ben Carson author of the book, Gifted Hands. In summary, the story of Ben Carson is about the American Dream. He went from a life of destitution and underachievement to becoming a gifted surgeon dedicating his life to the service of others.

The third year brought in Erin Gruwell, a former teacher, who has the distinction of having a movie made about her making a difference in the lives of her students. The movie is entitled, The Freedom Writers.

Other outstanding speakers during the years were Chris Gardner, The Three Doctors ( Drs. Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins), General Colin Powell, Anthony Robles, Wes Moore and this year’s speaker Shabnam Mogharabi.

Shabnam is the CEO and Executive Producer of Soul Pancake an award-winning media and entertainment  company founded by actor Rainn Wilson that explores “Life’s Big Questions.”  Prior to joining the company, Shabnam was an award-winning journalist and magazine editor.

I was impressed how quickly the audience related to her talk for the main theme was about approaching everything with a positive attitude.  She spoke to the students about spreading joy to others and how it can be a most powerful tool. Her talk was about the infectious power of joy and its power to change the world was moving and the students loved it.  She emphasized that one can begin to change the world by being positive to others, reaching out and lending a helping hand and doing kind deeds.  She also mentioned that the best advice she ever received was to trust in yourself.

Shabnam  left us with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  Meaning, don’t compare yourself, your work, your life to others; take joy in who you are, what you have done, and all you have based on your own principles.

As one can see a great deal of planning goes into this event each year.  As Principal Benner stated, “Each year is different.  We need to select the speaker, coordinate schedules, secure buses and the Hanover Theatre, work on a police detail, get permission slips out, organize an agenda and much more.”

Also, when a speaker is chosen prior to the event the students are well prepared by the staff as what the speaker will address and the speakers background.  If there is a movie or a book about the topic the students are exposed to the material.

These dynamic speakers all came to our city of Worcester to help motivate our Tech students to greater heights and with the backing of the Hanover Theatre and their generous donor Henry Lusardi and the Herman Foundation success continues to come their way.  Well done WTHS!


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