Impact in Perspective: A Nativity Worcester Student
The following speech was delivered by Samuel (NSW Hurtado Class '14) at the Nativity School of Worcester's 10th Anniversary Gala Celebration on October 19, 2013 at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, MA.
Good evening Nativity Family
My name is Samuel Odjidja and I am a member of the 8th grade Hurtado class. I am very honored to speak with you tonight about why Nativity School of Worcester is important to me. I want to thank the school for selecting me to do this on a very special night.
I am 12 years and the oldest of three. I live with my mom, grandma, and younger sister and brother. I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, though I my family is originally from Ghana. My mother came to America like many other people hoping to get a fresh start on life. It was pretty rocky at first not knowing a lot of people here, though it all worked out with the support of friends and family.
Coming to Nativity was not the first thing on my priority list as a way to end my last three years of middle school. I was perfectly comfortable with my old school, I had people that I knew and my grades were okay. When my mom first heard about this opportunity from a Nativity Worcester graduate she thought it would be a good thing for me because we were looking for a new school so we could get a head start on the long and difficult process of high schools. Reading and then finding out about Nativity and their help with high school and college this looked like an opportunity that came down from heaven and landed right in front of us. I have to admit that I was worried because I thought I would be an outsider in the school. Because I started in 6th grade, everybody would be familiar with one another and I would be the new kid on the block and be on the sidelines all year. That changed in a heartbeat when I entered the school for the first day because the Hurtado Class and the school welcomed me into their family. There was no doubt that Nativity Worcester was the place for me.
I have been thinking about what this school does for me and all of the other students, and there are too many things to count, especially in this, my last year at the school where Nativity is making the high school application process easier for me and my family. Before I came to Nativity Worcester, high school and college hadn't even crossed my mind, though with the help Nativity gives to their current students and graduates who are moving into college, they make it easier for us while we are going through this time and to achieve our dreams.
While I still have the microphone, I want to share some things that I have done and seen at Nativity that has really made an impact on me. Every July, during our summer of service program, the 5th, 6th and 7th graders go to 3 different service sites to give back to the Worcester community and all that it has given to us. One place that I really enjoyed was painting a mural at the St. John’s Church on Temple Street. At first I had no idea I would enjoy myself so much. All that I did know was that it was a time for me to get out of school and enjoy the summer sunshine. When we talked about it in our service-learning class, it never occurred to me that the mural we would be painting would give hope to a lot of homeless or needy people in our community as they visited the food pantry at the church. This made a big impact on me by showing me that community service does not always have to be a person working at a place at a particular moment, but it’s doing something you know makes a difference in someone’s life. Like all of you. You may not be at Nativity Worcester every day, but you are making a difference in our lives.
Another thing that made a great impact on me during my time at Nativity Worcester is the loyalty and feeling of family that runs through lots of things we do. You can see it in our sports, events such as this one, and in our classes. We are like brothers. We fight like brothers, but we have each other’s backs like brothers. We are a family – from the 5th grader to our Nativity brothers in college. We are all Nativity Men.
The school has changed a lot since I started in sixth grade – a new science lab helps us with our classes and more teachers and volunteers work with us every day, but the important part of the school has stayed the same. A final word to all the donors and supporters out there in the crowd tonight. I would like to thank you for what you have done for this school and for me because if it wasn’t for you the school and I would not be where we are right now. What this school has right now is all because of the dedication and contributions you make. Some of you have had close ties to Nativity Worcester for many years or just heard about the wonderful things that we have done and you are here to support us. Most days I think about what would happen if Nativity Worcester just disbanded on its own or never existed and all of us wouldn’t have had the chance to become Nativity Men. Though I know that nightmare would never happen because of the hard work and generosity of all of you. On behalf of all of my brother Nativity Men – thank you!