By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Westborough – Erik Harrington has been named as the recipient of this year's Westborough Friends of Facing History and Ourselves scholarship.
The competition was open to Westborough High School (WHS) seniors who took the course “Facing History and Ourselves.” Entrants were instructed to explain how taking the class ?had changed their lives in a positive manner and how they would apply those changes going forth.
The WHS course is based on curriculum established by the nonprofit Brookline-based group of the same name. Its mission is to teach ways to combat racism, prejudice and apathy by reviewing past historical events. As part of that objective, it trains teachers in course work such as the one being taught at WHS.
Sondra Bloch, the president of the Friends group, said that Harrington's essay and letter of recommendation made him a worthy recipient of the $1000 award.
“Erik said the course was life changing and truly eye opening,” Bloch said. “He said it would help him to be an “up-stander,” not a bystander, as he faces challenges in his life.”
Harrington will be attending Worcester State College this year where he will major in political science. Bloch said he told her that he is the first of the four children in his family to attend college.
In Westborough, there are actually three parts of the Facing History program – the class started and still taught at WHS by Gregory Gallagher; the Friends group; and a WHS extra-curricular student group.
This will be the last year that Gallagher teaches the program; he is due to retire in 2013.
“Whoever takes over will have big shoes to fill,” Bloch said. “But that is part of the Friends mission – raising funds to help pay for training for teachers for this class, as well as award student scholarships.”
The group also sponsors guest speakers on occasion. In 2011, they sponsored a WHS assembly featuring Ernest Rugwizangogaa, a Rwandan genocide survivor, and last year presented a speech by Dr. Terry Roberts, one of the “Little Rock Nine”. The Friends group hopes to feature another guest speaker in the spring of 2013.
“We believe so strongly in this program,” Bloch said. “It just changes you and makes you see the world differently. We are here for the whole community – to share what we have learned through this program and to help make a positive difference in our own community.”
For more information, go to www.westborough-facinghistory.com