Kevin Toro is one Revere High School (RHS) senior that is on the move, but right now he is very happy to be sitting still in Revere.
Toro is one member of a huge senior class – nearly 400 students – who will graduate today, Wednesday, June 9, at 6 p.m. in Harry Della Russo Stadium as part of the Class of 2010. However, Toro – who will be headed to Boston College this fall – is not your typical student; he has overcome more than a few hardships in order to land on the campus at Chestnut Hill.
Toro told the Journal that during his school years he moved from Malden to several locations in Chelsea, and then to Orlando. Then, he moved back to Chelsea and then to New Hampshire, and from New Hampshire to the Greater Tampa area (Plant City).
The 18-year-old has never lived in one place for more than seven years.
Two years ago, he moved from Plant City, FL to Revere – where he has found friends and success that he never thought he’d find.
“When I came here, I didn’t think I was a good enough student to get into Boston College or any other good college,” he said. “As soon as I got here, the teachers helped me…Plus, my mom has always told me I’d better get A’s and B’s. Also, our family here in Revere really pushed me to apply to good schools.”
In fact, it is his pick-up-and-go past that has helped to motivate him rather than discourage him.
“My father used to sell drugs,” he said in very exact terms. “That’s part of the reason we had to move around so much. It really affected how everything came out. You see these things on the news and say ‘Wow, drugs are bad.’ I actually saw them tear apart everything right in front of my eyes. He wasn’t exactly the best father, but influence-wise, I can’t thank him enough because it’s been the best motivation in the world for me not to go down that same path.”
And Toro has certainly taken a different path.
He said he will be going to Boston College this fall in order to study medicine, or possibly teaching. Either way, he’s become a serious student and is very involved in RHS.
When he came here, though, he wasn’t the outgoing guy that he is now.
In fact, he said that in Florida, he was actually reclusive – which his friends here might find hard to believe.
“I didn’t talk to anyone at first when I came to Revere,” he said. “Then, people actually came up to me and started talking…For my first two years of high school in Florida, I was pretty reclusive. Those weren’t good years. It was all cliques down there. Here, the first day I walked in kids were asking me about myself. Everyone is really open and outgoing here. There’s no animosity between people. Everyone trusts you and I wasn’t used to that. They really brought me out of myself at RHS.”
Toro’s Advanced Placement (AP) English teacher, Nancy Barile, said that it is remarkable how RHS has embraced Toro in just a couple of years. She said it shows just how students and teachers are ready to help each other no matter what the pedigree.
“[Superintendent Paul] Dakin talks a great deal about ‘urban resiliency,’ and I truly feel that Kevin embodies that concept,” said Barile. “Our kids are tough, and they bounce back from adversity, and I’d like to think that we, as teachers, always let them know that we have high expectations for them, and there’s always a Plan B, C, D, E, and so on. We’re never out of the game.”
In fact, the turnaround for Toro has been so great that he said Revere has offered him the best time of his life.
“These past two years have been the most exciting and influential in my life,” said Toro. “Everything just boiled over and my life really blew up. Everything I have been hoping would happen actually happened. My new friends here, getting into Boston College, doing community service, and teachers and my family helping me so much. It’s the whole experience together…I love Revere now.”
In addition to his academics, Toro is very active in the Culture Club, the Future Teacher’s Club and somewhat active in the Power of Know Club. He recently was bestowed with the prestigious title of ‘Mr. RHS.’
Toro is the son of Millie Pujals, who works in the medical profession at Tufts Medical Center. They live on the Parkway with Toro’s aunt, former Chelsea City Councillor Marta Rosa, and uncle, Tito Rosa. His grandmother, Miriam Bey, also lives in Revere.