Walsh Delivers Upbeat State of City Address

January 16, 2015
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Mayor Martin J. Walsh delivers his State of the City Address on Tuesday night at Symphony Hall.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh delivers his State of the City Address on Tuesday night at Symphony Hall.

In his first State of the City address delivered before 2,500 people at Symphony Hall Tuesday night, Mayor Martin J. Walsh covered all aspects of his stewardship of city government from fixing potholes to his vision for Boston in 2030 and pointed out the partnership at Charlestown High School with SAP and Bunker Hill Community College.

Walsh noted that in his first year more than 60 miles of roads have been repaved and 19,000 potholes have been filled as well as 1,061 guns have been taken off the streets and his continuing effort in making Boston government more representative of all Boston residents.

He pointed with pride to the fact that more than $4 billion of construction has begun with almost another $4 billion in the pipeline for future development and more than 4,000 new units of housing set to be added to the housing stock.

Walsh said that his administration is working on turning over 250 city-owned parcels to create homes for low and middle income families.

Briefly, Walsh mentioned the Olympic bid and Boston’s place in the world competition to host the 2024 Olympics. “Whatever the outcome, Boston will prove itself a global leader. The whole world will soon know what we have always known: Boston is exceptional,” he said to the audience who responded with loud applause.

But perhaps the greatest applause and the largest part of the address was devoted to Walsh’s plan for the public schools. Promising to do better, he noted how 30 per cent of high school students don’t graduate in five years and how parents deciding what schools to choose to send their children “see a great school – quite literally – as a prize in the lottery.”

Walsh noted that he will name the final candidates for the next superintendent of the Boston public schools in February. He pointed to the extended school day, a free child savings account program and establishing the first permanent school building program.

However, Charlestown High School was one of the schools singled out as the first school to partner with SAP, a global software company and Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) to create a high-tech career pipeline.

In an effort to increase the number of qualified IT professionals SAP is partnering with Charlestown High and BHCC to create, in grades 9-12, pathways in IT where students earn college credit toward an industry-recognized degree.

SAP plans to launch the program at Charlestown High and BHCC in September of 2015.

“I want to see all of Boston’s students succeed,” said Walsh. “By creating pipelines and educational incentives in high school that lead to higher education, we can ensure our students are on track to employment and a bright future. The SAP program being implemented to connect Charlestown High School and Bunker Hill Community College is focused on Information Technology, a leading field in the City of Boston.”

BHCC is a leader in the application of distance-learning technologies and computer-based methodologies that enhance and strengthen the learning environment. Charlestown High School is dedicated to graduating highly skilled, motivated, civic-minded, independent learners. In the last year, over 80 percent of their students passed the MCAS (Massachusetts standardized test) on the first try and 83 percent of their students got accepted to college, with over half attending four-year colleges.

Already SAP has drafted a memorandum of understanding and are waiting for signatures from all key stakeholders. A Pathways Coordinator has been hired to help build a bridge for faculty and students between Charlestown High and Bunker Hill. A sequence of courses between Charlestown High and Bunker Hill has been identified. Students can earn up to 30 free college credits while still in high school. Short-term work-based learning activities have been identified. SAP employees will participate in Boston Private Industry Council activities including job shadows, career academies and career fairs, and short-term and long-term internships. Long-term work-based learning includes SAP employees providing mentors and long-term internships to students in the pathway. Finally, a recruitment effort is being coordinated now to expose students in 8th grade to IT careers and professions in order for students and parents to make an informed choice about going to Charlestown High School to take advantage of this opportunity.

Walsh ended his 30 minute address recalling the determination of firefighters battling the odds in recovering the bodies of Boston Firefighters Ed Walsh and Michael Kennedy from the inferno on Beacon Street last March saying this type of determination “.. is how we’ll move forward together.”