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Sue Bush
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Berkshire Profile: Alicia Roberts: "I Won't Waste It"

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, February 04, 2007

Drury High School senior Alicia Roberts
Welcome to Berkshire Profile, an iberkshires weekly feature appearing on Sunday. Each week, iberkshires will highlight a Berkshires resident or entity making a contribution to the Berkshires way of life.

North Adams - With America's society often split between a material world's "haves" and "have-nots," 18-year-old Alicia Roberts would likely find herself on the lesser side.

But if the criteria is intelligence, perseverance and confidence, Roberts shows evidence of having it all.

A Drury High School senior, Roberts is also a John and Abigail Adams Scholarship honoree.

In The Top 25 Percent

The scholarship - four years tuition paid to any participating state college - is awarded to high school students who score at "advanced" and "proficient" levels of a combination of the math and English sections of the 10th grade Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test.

Scholarship recipients must place in the top 25 percent of their school district to be eligible for the funding.

Roberts achieved the advanced ranking in math and the proficient score in English, she said during a Friday afternoon interview.

Her current goal is enrollment at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and a career in psychology.

For Roberts, the scholarship is proof that lives can change, people can move forward, and no one's future is beyond their control.

A Rocky Path...At First

Her future wasn't quite so rosy when she began school as a freshman, said the Washington Avenue resident.

"I used to get in a lot of trouble during my first couple years there," she said. "I didn't believe the teachers when they said that if I was more involved in [school activities] I wouldn't get into trouble."

"But then I grew up a little and now I'm into everything."

Although her MCAS scores indicated a bright, capable, student, her class work fell behind and at the start of the 2006-07 school year, Roberts was designated a junior student. Originally a member of the Class of 2006, Roberts knew she would have to work, and work hard, to graduate alongside her brother Harry Roberts.

"I worked my butt off this year and last year," she said, and the reward came after the public school holiday break; Roberts earned enough credits to become a senior and is expected to accept her diploma as a member of the Drury High School Class of 2007.

"She's really flourishing," said school Principal Amy Meehan.

Meehan said that this academic year, 30 Drury seniors qualified for the state-funded Adams award, which was signed into law by the state legislature in 2004.

"Alicia Roberts To The Principal's Office"

Roberts giggled a bit when she recalled learning she'd earned the scholarship. She'd been considering applying for several scholarships but hadn't yet filled out any applications, she said, and when she was called to Meehan's office, she was apprehensive.

"I was thinking 'oh, no, what did I do'," Roberts said. "I thought I must've done something to get in trouble but I didn't know what."

"And Ms. Meehan congratulated me in person and said 'you got a scholarship,' and I said 'how, I didn't even fill out any paperwork.' And she said 'It was because of your MCAS scores.'"

To keep the education award, Roberts must maintain a 3.0 grade point average and be enrolled as a full-time college student.

She has launched the MCLA enrollment process, she said.

"I still have to work on my essay and my resume," she said.

When Teachers Care, Students Excel

Teachers played a significant role in Robert's accomplishments, she said, and noted that high school instructors Rebecca "Becky" Cohen, Irene Canivet, and former study skills teacher Mark Karhan were among those who encouraged and assisted her. And although Karhan moved to a teaching post at the Clarksburg Elementary School, he meets with Roberts after school hours at the MCLA library and helps her keep her study edge honed, she said.

Another teacher put her feet on her career path, Roberts said.

"I remember my peace and justice teacher kind of encouraged me to become a student mediator and now I'm glad she did because mediation is a lot like psychology," Roberts said. "So I feel like I'm a step ahead."

Roberts is a school-based, REACH Community Foundation-sponsored Students Against Secondhand Smoking in Youth [SASSY] team leader.

Kick Butts Or Pick Butts, Your Call

She quit smoking a little over a year ago and successfully urged her brother to quit. Roberts said that she smoked for about five years before she quit, and didn't have any difficulty acquiring cigarettes.

Friends and older siblings do purchase cigarettes for those too young to legally purchase them but there are stores that sell to kids as well, she said.

"Part of it is kids look so much older than they are," she said. "And one bad thing about everybody having to smoke outside is that people take butts from the outside ashtrays. I know it sounds bad but people do it."

She initiated a "cut-down" strategy toward quitting and that method proved successful for her, she said.

"I did cheat here or there if I had a bad day," she said. "The last time I had one cigarette was in October and that is the last one I'll ever have."

Peer pressure and a "social smoking" concept, which describes youth who only smoke in social situations as opposed to on a daily basis, is pervasive at the school, said Roberts and her brother.

The Way To Go Is Forward

A Jobs for Bay State Grads class held at the high school and taught by Canivet is a student asset, Roberts said. She is the secretary/treasurer for the group.

The class includes career aptitude tests and teaches strategies for success, she said.

"We can learn our career path, what we want to do and how to go about doing it," she said. "We can find out what the options are and what schools we can go to."

Roberts options are limited to one direction she said; she plans to only move forward.

"I've worked hard," she said. "I've grown up a lot. And I know what I want to do. I've earned a scholarship. I won't waste it."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at or at 413-663-3384 ext. 29.
Your Comments
Post Comment
I am very proud of you.
from: Joseph Cain former third grade teacheron: 03-02 00:00:00-2007

We are all very proud of you, best of luck for continued success.
James E. Montepare
Superintendent of Schools
from: James E Montepare Superintendent of Schoolson: 02-07 00:00:00-2007

I am extremely proud of Alicia and I know that she is going to be successful in anything she puts her mind to.
from: Sharonon: 02-05 00:00:00-2007

Teachers who got involved and a student who showed initiative....kudos to the Drury teachers who helped Alicia and double kudos to Alicia for her efforts! Alicia Roberts is a true youth role model. Here's hoping she is accepted at MCLA.
from: Philon: 02-05 00:00:00-2007

What a lovely story of accomplishment! Nice to see and read about someone who is willing to work for her future. Good luck to Alicia.
from: Caroleon: 02-05 00:00:00-2007

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