Concord-Carlisle High School
Class of 1995

My high school years were deeply formative for me and were shaped and guided by the influence and support of many: friends, coaches and teachers. All were pivotal in helping me grow, learn, and develop my own sense of self. As the years roll past and bundle into decades, it has become clear to me that perhaps the most influential people of that time for me were not adults or those who stood before me as my elders, but two of my dearest friends.

Anthony Halls and Keenan Smith were not only part of the fabric of my high school years as my friends, but they were also teachers. Their lessons still resonate with me each day, and even more so now that my wife and I have welcomed our first son into the world this past year. To understand how the Halls-Smith Scholarship came to pass, you have to understand the profound impact that the qualities of sacrifice, discipline, persistence, and compassion can have when they are being acted out before you by your peers themselves.

I met Keenan and Anthony when high school basketball brought us together for what would turn out to be countless hours. The time on the court paled in comparison to the hours we spent together away from the game, in both time and value. As METCO students who lived in Boston, Keenan and Anthony often spent nights at my house in Carlisle. The time commitment and discipline that is demanded of students in the METCO program are significant and often unrecognized. It begins with an alarm clock that goes off in the early hours of the morning while their peers at Concord-Carlisle High School are still hours away from waking. METCO students begin their school day with a commute from Boston to arrive at Concord-Carlisle High School for the same start time as their counterparts, and their school days end at night with the same commute in reverse. Factor in homework, extracurricular activities, and the anxieties that all high school students are coping with, and you can see that this is not the path of least resistance.

I was certainly aware of the sacrifices and discipline that Keenan and Anthony were putting forth on an everyday basis when we were in our formative ages; however, my respect for their efforts and persistence has only grown over time. Both men are examples of good friends, good people, and strong values, but they were also, without their knowledge, teachers. They were demonstrating a focus, a consistency, and a compassion that would not fully resonate with me until I reached the level of awareness and maturity that they were operating with in their mid- to-late teenage years.

A lot of students who grow up in the Concord- Carlisle system aren't aware or appreciative enough of the paths some of our peers take, just to have the same opportunities that others have been afforded by zip code. Therefore, when good friend Ken Anderson of The Scholarship Fund of Concord and Carlisle and also a key influencer in my high school years called me about the potential to initiate a scholarship, I immediately thought of beginning the Halls-Smith Scholarship as a way to attempt to reciprocate the lessons that Anthony and Keenan had unknowingly imparted on me. The opportunity to be around these two friends, and to witness their silent determination, taught me more than any textbook or homework assignment I was ever given during those years. They were teaching me foundational lessons and making me ask tough questions about my own appreciation and awareness.

All three of us are proud of what the scholarship represents. The Scholarship Fund of Concord and Carlisle Halls-Smith Scholarship is awarded every year to a METCO student who has achieved a high level of academic success through his or her dedication and commitment, as Anthony and Keenan did. The scholarship combines things that the three of us are passionate about: athletics, academics, the METCO program, and Concord- Carlisle. Just like Anthony and Keenan, the recipients are well-rounded, disciplined, and are teaching others through their everyday actions and commitment.

I have had the opportunity to talk with some of the recipients over the years. I find it incredibly rewarding because the recipients express genuine curiosity about the individuals for whom the scholarship is named. Connecting the current recipients with those who have forged the path of the METCO program previously is the only way to ensure that the program can thrive and evolve from the point at which we know it today.

When I was at Concord-Carlisle High School, I remember the feeling I had about our community when I received a Scholarship Fund of Concord and Carlisle scholarship. It was very meaningful to learn that there were people I did not know who were willing to help support my goal of earning a college education. It had meaning because it spoke not only of an individual's compassion and selflessness, but also of the power and reach of communities such as Concord-Carlisle High School and Concord-Carlisle at large. Being able to help provide the same support for deserving METCO students is a privilege, but being able to highlight and raise the awareness of the METCO program and all that it fosters for everyone in the Concord-Carlisle High School system is truly an honor.