Tenacity Challenge showcases Scholars’ skills



Students pose with murals they presented as part of the Tenacity Challenge. The four-part competition brought together students of color from local high schools.

Milena Kitterman, Staff Writer

Twelve students from the high school prepared for months: studying trivia, creating a mural, preparing presentations and practicing for their debate. Each one had the chance to walk away with a $1,000 scholarship.

The Tenacity Challenge is an academic competition for students of color from all over Massachusetts. Students were divided into teams of six and on March 24, they worked to impress the judges and earn the highest number of points possible. This competition is predominantly student organized, and as such it aids students in developing teamwork and leadership skills.

Students from the high school competed in this challenge a few years ago and had a very positive experience. This year Brookline had enough volunteers to send two teams.

According to African American and Latino Scholars Program teacher Stephanie Hunt, the goal of this challenge is to surround students of color with like-minded individuals.

“Just being in that environment where you are surrounded by high achieving students of color, I think our scholars are very used to that, and they have that community here at BHS,”  Hunt said. “To be able to see it extend beyond BHS, I think is going to be infectious and empowering.”

Hunt said that it provides a unique platform to display academic achievement and network with other professionals.

“This is the first year that Bedford High School, the host of the Tenacity Challenge, is having representatives from local and national colleges come too, so it’s a great opportunity to get exposure and network in that way,” Hunt explained.”I saw it as an opportunity for our students to display and showcase their excellence that I see every day, and then potentially get paid for it.”

Despite the teachers’ obvious enthusiasm, social studies teacher Oyeshiku Carr, who acts as an adviser to the teams, emphasized that the effort is largely organized by students.

Other than buying donuts and making sure the school is open for them, it’s the students that are preparing their different assignments. They are working really hard and doing a great job,” Carr said.

Senior Penelope Cruz, a participant in the Tenacity Challenge, described her personal growth from preparing for the competition.

I have learned how to budget my time when in groups, which I think is a good skill to have considering I am going off to college soon. We have all this work to do, and we have these different categories that we need to complete. If everyone is not all on board and doing what we need to do, then it’s not going to get done.”

The competition consists of four sections: the science and math quiz bowl, the Latino and African American literature response, the history argument and the mural. According to Cruz, self-reliance was not always easy, particularly during the art challenge, in which all 12 members of the group participate.

“It was hard at first to figure out what to do because the topic is ‘Hate Speech versus Free Speech.’ We weren’t really sure how to convey what we were thinking, and at first, we were not even sure what we wanted to convey, so it took a lot of brainstorming and a lot of drafting, and redrafting,” Cruz said.

Carr said that he believes this independence will help the Tenacity Challenge continue in the future.

I think that’s a problem with things that are too adult driven in the school setting,” Carr said. “It would be nice if it’s a positive experience and when the students come back, they have it on their radar to say, ‘next fall we will go out and we will recruit and we will speak to classes.’”

Brookline teams placed in the top five for both the historical debate and the math and science quiz bowl. According to an email from Hunt, this experience has fostered feelings of empowerment and inspiration, and the teams are already looking forward to next year.

It was an absolute honor to watch them shine on Saturday, and it made me giddy to hear them talk about next year and their ‘hunger for the W,’” Hunt said. “Now, that’s tenacity.”

Jordan Watts
The members of the team with the highest point total from the four categories of the Tenacity Challenge receive a $1,000 scholarship.