Clemente Celebrates 40 Years!

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Over the weekend, Roberto Clemente Community Academy hosted a trio of events to celebrate the school’s 40th anniversary. Events honored the legacy of Robert Clemente the humanitarian, the educational philosophy of Clemente as a school, and the community whose vision and support helped to found and sustain the school for the past four decades.

On Friday night, the Open House kicked off with a slideshow from the past 40 years, building tours, and an appetizer buffet prepared by our Culinary Arts students.  The formal program opened with a speech by Roberto Clemente, Jr. and presentation of the first annual “Puerto Rican of the Year” award to Reverend Wilfredo “Choco” De Jesús, senior pastor at New Life Covenant Church.  Matt McCanna debuted a video short capturing the spirit of Roberto Clemente, followed by a showing of PBS’ documentary “Roberto Clemente: American Experience”

An educational symposium on Saturday morning featured keynote speaker Orlando Hernández, who shared the life and educational canon of Eugenio María de Hostos. He was followed by welcoming addresses from Roberto Clemente Jr. and Principal Marcey Sorensen, and an explanation of the Community as a Campus model by Marvin Garcia.  The symposium ended with 3 panels of speakers focusing on Educational Canons and the IB Philosophy, Critical Race Theory, and a Pedagogical Framework for Citizenship of the Americas.

 The weekend celebrations culminated in a gala at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, attended by community members and Clemente faculty and featuring dinner from Nellie’s and a performance by Bomba con Buya. Keynote speaker Pablo Medina discussed his experiences growing up in the Humboldt Park community and the challenges for equity and citizenship that persisted then as well as today.  At the close of the weekends’ celebrations, both community members and staff are hopeful that the recent changes at Clemente and pursuit of IB authorization will continue to transform the school into an institution that provides equitable opportunities for all.