Massachusetts DYS Students Win National BreakFree Competitions

Home E CES Stories E Massachusetts DYS Students Win National BreakFree Competitions
Article Author: Kathy Levesque
Publication Name: Collaborative for Educational Services
Article Date: 11/28/22
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Collaborative for Educational Services’ Woody Clift, Director of the DYS Education Initiative, announced that several of the students in the program had created winning entries in two national competitions sponsored by BreakFree Education. Said Clift, “It brings me great delight to join our colleagues from across the state in celebrating several of our students and their winning entries in the nationwide BreakFree contests Unsung and Unexplored!”  

BreakFree Education is a national organization that partners directly with juvenile justice agencies across the country, providing the resources, training, and networks they need to make school relevant and meaningful. The competitions sponsored by BreakFree provide engaging activities for youth, and teachers leverage these interdisciplinary resources to teach across content areas so that students can apply, reflect on and demonstrate their learning. The mission of BreakFree Education is to radically improve education in the juvenile and criminal justice systems by investing in the potential and dignity of all its students. 

One of the most recent projects sponsored by BreakFree is the Unsung initiative, through which students explore global issues that impact their lives. Students harness the power of music to create, produce, and share songs that address global issues they are passionate about. The initiative culminates in a national songwriting contest. Through this Unsung, the voices of youth justice are amplified.

Two students from the Butler Center School (DYS) made it to the top 10 for the BreakFree Unsung Challenge. Among the Unsung winners is  C.T. from Butler Treatment Center in MA. C.T. ‘s winning song focused on the theme of reduced inequalities and wowed the judges,  receiving all perfect scores in the first round. C.T. is receiving a Chromebook as their prize. You can listen to C.T.’s winning song, Unheard, Voices,  along with the other Top 5 Songs here.  Additionally, EP from Spectrum Girls won the beatbox launch contest for Unsung.

The DYS Education Initiative also celebrates a student winner of the Unexplored competition sponsored by BreakFree. Through Unexplored, students delve into the math behind NASA and space travel. Students explored slope and y-intercept and solved linear equations while investigating the risk of bone density loss and oxygen limitations for astronauts. The initiative culminated with students designing key elements to a successful spacesuit. ESOG from the Strive program in MA is our winner. ESOG had the chance to learn about the math involved in space travel and keeping our astronauts safe by participating in Unexplored. ESOG will also be receiving a Chromebook. We’re proud of both ESOG, and of EP, from Spectrum Girls, who received an Honorable Mention. 

CES is proud of all of our students and the Teachers, Teaching Coordinators, Instructional Coaches and their program colleagues who worked as a team to make these opportunities possible and who created the learning conditions for their students to participate, excel, develop agency, and a sense of pride.

The  Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) has been a partner to the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) since 2003, creating access to high-quality secondary and post-secondary education, career exploration, and workforce development opportunities for youth in the care and custody of DYS. CES is helping to equip an especially vulnerable population of young people with the tools they need to see their world, and themselves, in a new light.   

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