Boston Collegiate Charter School Students Perform Once on This Island at Historic Strand Theatre

Date Published: 
December 2, 2011
News Type: 

Boston Collegiate Charter School (BCCS) students performed the musical Once on This Island on Thursday, December 1st and Friday, December 2nd at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester. Nearly 40 students in grades five through twelve performed this touching story of love, grief, and perseverance on a professional stage for the first time in BCCS history. 
The annual fall musical began six years ago and has been produced, directed, and choreographed ever since by Jaime Montesano, BCCS High School Office Manager, who has a passion for and experience in the performing arts. Jaime believes that students gain a sense of belonging and acceptance to a group when they get involved in the musical. The musical is one of many extracurricular activities that make BCCS a comprehensive and rigorous school for its students, leading to 100% of its graduates being accepted to four-year colleges upon graduation.  
Thanks to a generous grant from the Linde Family Foundation, BCCS students performed for the first time ever on a professional stage at the Strand Theatre. Once on This Island is told entirely through music and addresses the themes of love and death, making it a challenging musical for young people to perform. Having the production at the Strand enabled students to tell this complex story with the help of professional lighting and sound equipment, as well as professional dressing rooms and mirrors with lights. 
Milan Anderson, one of the musical leads, remarked excitedly, “I can’t even believe this is all real!” 
BCCS’s commitment to the arts goes well beyond the musical. As a public charter school with strong MCAS scores, BCCS, notes Executive Director Shannah Varón, has a “responsibility to think higher than the test: we’re preparing well-rounded students for college. We begin this work with a deep focus in the arts starting in the fifth grade.” BCCS fifth and sixth grade students take art and music during the school day. In addition, the support of the Linde Family Foundation has facilitated the launch of an afterschool arts program. BCCS has also partnered with the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), whose actors introduced BCCS students to the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess through a series of educational workshops, after which students saw the opera performed live at the A.R.T. September. BCCS is one of just a few public charter schools able to provide arts education as part of the core curriculum. 

About Boston Collegiate Charter School: 
Founded in 1998, Boston Collegiate Charter School is a tuition-free public school serving nearly 600 students in grades five through twelve. BCCS has a simple yet ambitious mission: to prepare each student for college. BCCS has consistently brought its mission to life: 100% of the school’s graduates have been accepted to college. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter at