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  Sunday, March 1, 2015
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An Update on the Paraclete
By Rick Winterson

     It’s still mid-summer, but the preparations for the Paraclete Center’s fall term are well underway.  Each year at the Paraclete is broken down into five parts, with each of these parts (or “sessions”) lasting approximately seven weeks.  The sessions are designed to fit between school breaks and vacations during the school year.  All sessions are in addition to the regular schoolwork required of each student during the school year.

     The Paraclete Center’s mission is “enrichment” of lives through learning, knowledge, and education.  Practically speaking, that word “enrichment” means a variety of programs.  Homework assistance and preparation for exam schools are two examples.  Robotics using Legos and “kids can cook” are two others.  Are you hooked on either music or what you see on the tube?  If you are, then how about the Paraclete’s “Ms.S’s School of Rock” or “Forensics”?  Shades of C.S.I.!

     A major new program, which is brand new this year, is called “Learning from Boston Harbor”.  It is basically a two-part writing program.  In the segment entitled “The Boston Harbor Wordsmith Project”, students will write letters to those who work in and around the harbor – a ship captain, a pilot, or a hotel manager.  Then, the student will meet his/her writing partner at a festival.

     The other segment is called “The Harbor Island Ghost Writing Contest”.  Students will visit and study ghost stories from the islands – the Lady in Black, the Fall of the House of Usher, Nix’s Mate, and so on.  Then, they’ll write their own stories, which will be read by candlelight in St. Augustine’s cemetery chapel.

     This ties into one of the themes in the Paraclete’s mission:  “Fostering global connections …”.  Boston Harbor has a long history of interacting with the world, starting back in the 1600s, when it became the third largest port in the British Empire.

     Generally, the Paraclete’s educational efforts focus on the middle school years – sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.  However, certain programs are open to interested fifth graders. 

     There’s also a Human Rights Club open to ninth graders and above.  This is a sophisticated program that takes on complex issues such as “What rights do children have?”  This program will end with a trip to the United Nations in New York.

     Space prevents listing all of the Paraclete’s programs.  There are a number of others, with new ones always being developed.  And this article deals with just the local offerings.  The Paraclete’s efforts in establishing the Marayundo School for Girls in Rwanda, which opens in 2007, is another complete and altogether wonderful story.

     The co-founders of the Paraclete Center are Barry Hynes and Sr. Ann Fox.  Hynes is now the founder and president of the Nativity Preparatory School in New Bedford.  Sr. Ann once served as the Executive Director of the Neighborhood House.  She now devotes full time to the Paraclete as its Executive Director.

     In addition to the educational activities, the Paraclete is redecorating and renovating certain areas.  Brunches and chamber music concerts are planned.  And a teacher is needed – a recent graduate with skills in math and graphic design would be ideal.  Do you know anyone?

    For information about the fall sessions (they begin Monday, September 11) and application forms, contact The Paraclete Center, 207 E Street, (617)268-5552.

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Sr. Ann Fox, Executive Director and co-founder of South Boston's Paraclete Center, preparing the fall schedule the fall schedule of activities.