Representative Michael Capuano visited our school today to meet with a group of 9th and 10th grade students, many of whom are learning English at Fenway. Representative Capuano is currently serving his ninth term in Congress for Massachusetts’ Seventh District; prior to serving in Congress, he was the Mayor of Somerville from 1990 to 1999.
As a native Bostonian, Representative Capuano connected with our students and shared stories about growing up in an Italian-Irish immigrant household in Somerville. His 10th grade class at Somerville High School had 1,110 students; by his senior year, that number had fallen to approximately 400. He spoke about the obstacles and tragedies his classmates faced: lack of opportunities for students of lesser means; little variety in employment options for girls; incarceration; and death. He encouraged our students to take every opportunity they are given, saying: “No one owes you anything, and no one will give you anything – except a chance.” While he said it is easy to go through life “playing it safe”, students should challenge themselves to take a chance. To do this, he said, you need to be prepared, and “the best way to be prepared is through education,” he added.
Students asked questions on a range of topics: the upcoming election, immigration, police shootings, and compromising across the aisle in Congress. When asked what they as individuals could do to fix a societal issue, Capuano told students: “Vote. Participate. Learn, think, and listen to other people. The most intelligent people are the people who know what they don’t know.”
Thank you to Representative Capuano for taking the time to visit with our students. As the presidential election draws nearer, our students are increasingly inquisitive about the government’s role, both on a national level and on a personal one. We appreciate Representative Capuano’s insight, candor, and advice.